Clinical Study Published in Pediatrics Demonstrates Effectiveness of Homeopathic Treatment in Acute Childhood Diarrhea

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Clinical Study Published in Pediatrics Demonstrates Effectiveness of Homeopathic Treatment in Acute Childhood Diarrhea

Homeopathic therapy can be an effective treatment for acute childhood diarrhea, the number one cause of death for children under the age of five in developing countries, according to the results of a study published in the May issue of Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Currently, the only recommended treatment for acute childhood diarrhea is oral rehydration therapy which is effective in preventing death from dehydration, but does not decrease the amount or shorten the bouts of diarrhea, explained Jennifer Jacobs, M.D., M.P.H., clinical assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Washington.

Facts

- Eighty-one children between the ages of six months and five years with acute diarrhea (three or more unformed stools during the previous 24 hours) were included in the randomized, double-blind clinical trial which was conducted in two municipal health clinics in Leon, Nicaragua.

- In keeping with the individualized treatment approach that is a characteristic of homeopathy, each child was examined and the parents interviewed to collect information, including the nature of the child's stools, abdominal pain and/or vomiting, the child's mood and temperament, degree of thirst and appetite, presence of fever, abdominal bloating, sleep disturbance, and perspiration.

- Of the 81 children, 40 were randomly selected to receive the prescribed homeopathic medicine; the other 41 received a placebo instead. Neither the researchers nor the parents knew which children were receiving the medicine and which were receiving the placebo.

- Each child also received standard oral rehydration therapy along with intensive follow-up consisting of daily visits by community health workers for five days.

- Children who had a history of diarrhea for more than one week; were suffering from severe dehydration; or had received more than one dose of an antibiotic, anti-parasitic or antispasmodic within 48 hours were not included in the study.

Results

- Results were measured by the number of days until there were less than three unformed stools for two consecutive days.

- According to Dr. Jennifer Jacobs, homeopathic treatment shortened the diarrhea episodes by about one day.

Background

- Although there had been numerous anecdotal reports of successful treatment of acute childhood diarrhea with homeopathic therapy prior to this study, this is the first time a formal clinical trial has been conducted to confirm these reports, Dr. Jacobs noted.

- Homeopathy is a therapeutic method that uses microdoses of natural substances derived from plants, animals and minerals to stimulate the body's natural self-defense and healing systems.

- Homeopathy has long been widely practiced throughout Europe, Latin America and Asia.

- In the United States, homeopathic medicines are recognized as drugs in the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and are regulated and supervised as such by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

- Although the publication of this study in Pediatrics marks the first time a homeopathic treatment clinical trial has been published in a peer-reviewed medical journal in the United States, others have been published in European medical journals including The Lancet, the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology and the British Medical Journal, noted Thierry Montfort, Vice President of the Boiron Research Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to conducting and promoting scientific, medical and pharmacological research in homeopathy. As part of its ongoing commitment to support homeopathic research in the United States and worldwide, The Boiron Research Foundation provided the majority of funding for the clinical trial on acute childhood diarrhea.

Implications

"One of the major reasons the Boiron Research Foundation chose to fund this research is because we believe that providing an effective, economical treatment for an illness that is the leading killer of young children in developing countries has great public health significance," Montfort said. "That makes the results of this research important not only for homeopathy, but for all of medical science."

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