Arthritis patients benefit significantly when they receive homeopathy alongside conventional treatment over a period of six months, according to study results published in the journal Rheumatology
The study, conducted by scientists from the University of Southampton
, reveals new evidence that homeopathic consultations can reduce the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
Researchers found that the arthritis patients benefited, but this improvement was due to homeopathy's consultation process and not its remedies.
"Although previous trials have shown homeopathy may help patients with rheumatoid arthritis, this is the first time that we have scientific evidence that these benefits are specifically due to its unique consultation process," said lead author Dr. Sarah Brien, in a press release
. Brien is a senior research fellow in complementary medicine at the University of Southampton.
"Homeopathic consultations differ from those in conventional medicine in that homeopaths focus on treating the patient, whereas conventional doctors tend to treat the illness. The homeopathic consultation process improves the health of these arthritis patients based on standard rheumatology measurements and does so safely and without side effects.
"What we don't yet know is if it is possible to introduce some of the techniques or approaches used within these consultations into conventional medicine."
Researchers recruited 83 people with rheumatoid arthritis from clinics in Southampton, Poole, and Winchester for the study. Each patient received a series of homeopathy consultations over a 24-week period between January 2006 and July 2008, while continuing their conventional treatment. Patients and doctors reported significant reductions in a variety of symptoms including reduced 'disease activity scores,' fewer swollen joints, reduced pain, and improved mood.
The team now plans to conduct more research into identifying which elements of the consultation process are most beneficial and if homeopathy is a cost effective treatment.
Homeopathy is medical system that was developed in Germany more than 200 years ago and has been practiced in the United States since the early 19th century, according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine
. “Homeopathy is used for wellness and prevention and to treat many diseases and conditions.”
The center highlights these key facts:
- The principle of similars (or "like cures like") is a central homeopathic principle. The principle states that a disease can be cured by a substance that produces similar symptoms in healthy people.
- Most analyses have concluded that there is little evidence to support homeopathy as an effective treatment for any specific condition; although, some studies have reported positive findings.
- There are challenges in studying homeopathy and controversies regarding the field. This is largely because a number of its key concepts are not consistent with the current understanding of science, particularly chemistry and physics.
- There is limited research on the safety of homeopathic treatments.
- Tell your health care providers about any complementary and alternative practices you use. Give them a full picture of all you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.
The three main principles of homeopathic medicine, as highlighted by ABCHomeopathy.com
- Like cures like - For example, if the symptoms of your cold are similar to poisoning by mercury, then mercury would be your homeopathic remedy.
- Minimal Dose - The remedy is taken in an extremely dilute form; normally one part of the remedy to around 1,000,000,000,000 parts of water.
Source: University of Southampton
- The Single Remedy - No matter how many symptoms are experienced, only one remedy is taken, and that remedy will be aimed at all those symptoms.
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