By Lilian Anekwe
Homeopathy is effective for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, a randomised controlled trial of patients in primary care has found – but the effect may be due to a consultation with a practitioner, and not the homeopathic remedy itself.
The study comes just a week after the Parliamentary science and technology select committee found there was no evidence for homeopathic remedies, and as such it should not be funded by the NHS.
The trial by UK and US researchers randomised 83 patients to homeopathy with or without a consultation with a homeopathic practitioner for a 24 week course with 12 weeks of follow-up, and analysed how many patients experienced an improvement in their symptoms as measured by a 20% increase in the American College of Rheumatology criteria.
No differences were observed in symptoms’ severity, but researchers did find significant differences in secondary outcomes.
Patients who received a consultation showed a significant improvements of 0.6 points on a disease activity score, and improved by 3.04 points in swollen joint count, 9.12 points in current pain, and 6.01 points in weekly pain.
Patients also had a less negative mood, with a -5.92 mean difference compared with patients who did not receive a consultation.
Dr Sarah Brien, senior research fellow in complementary medicine at the University of Southampton, concluded: ‘Homeopathic consultations are associated with clinical benefit for patients with active stable rheumatoid arthritis through the consultation and not the remedies.’
The research will be presented at the South West Society for Academic Primary Care annual research conference in Oxford next month.
Last month a Pulse survey of 800 GPs revealed 80% did not feel the Department of Health should not continue to provide funding for homeopathy, and earlier this week a snapshot survey of over 100 pharmacists by Chemist and Druggist magazine also found two thirds of respondents did not believe homeopathic remedies were beneficial as medical treatments.
The research suggests the effectiveness of homeopathy is linked to consultation with a practitioner rather than a homeopathic remedy itself The research suggests the effectiveness of homeopathy is linked to consultation with a practitioner rather than a homeopathic remedy itself