Nepal Study Confirms Action of Homeopathy on Childhood Diarrhea

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Physicians treating 126 Nepalese children suffering from acute diarrhea found that homeopathic medicines significantly reduced the frequency of their stools, with an 18.4% greater probability that a child would be free of diarrhea by Day 5.[ 1]

The group treated with homeopathic medicines experienced an average of 3.2 stools each day over five days compared to 4.5 stools for the control group.

This double-blind, placebo-controlled study published in the April issue of Journal of Alternative and Complementary Therapy lends support to a study published in Pediatrics (May, 1994) in which the duration of diarrhea in a Nicaraguan group of children treated with homeopathic medicines was reduced by 15%, compared to the control group.[ 2]

"Together, the Nepalese and Nicaraguan studies represent another important step on the path toward establishing that there is a scientific basis for the use of homeopathic medicines. They also suggest that homeopathy might be an effective, low-cost, easy-to-use therapy for one of the world's greatest killers of children," says Jennifer Jacobs, MD, MPH, one of the authors of the study.

In Nepal; for example, diarrhea is responsible for 40,000 deaths each year of children age five, which represents 46% of the annual infant and child mortality in this age group.

There is a growing body of double-blind placebo controlled trials which suggest that homeopathy may be clinically effective.[ 3] A recent meta analysis of 89 homeopathic clinical trials found an odds ratio of 2.45 (95%CI 2.05-2.93) in favor of homeopathy when compared to placebo, although the authors concluded that "there is insufficient evidence...that any single type of homeopathic treatment is clearly effective in any one clinical condition."[ 4]

An inherent methodological problem of any clinical trial of homeopathy is the use of more than one treatment medication. Because individualization is a key element of homeopathic treatment, one of several different medicines was used for each patient to match the specific symptom patterns of diarrhea in that child, "In this and our previous trial, we are testing a system of homeopathic therapeutics as a whole, not the individual medicines," stressed Dr. Jacobs.

The most frequently used five remedies in both studies, Podophyllum, Arsenicum album, Sulphur, Chamomilla, and Calcarea carbonica covered 85% of cases in Nepal and 73% of Nicaraguan cases.

Joining Dr. Jacobs on her research team were four other physicians: Dr. Margarita Jimenez of the University of Guadalajara, Mexico, Dr. Stephen Malthouse of Tribhuvan University in Nepal, Dr. Dean Crothers of Edmonds, Washington, and Dr. Wayne B. Jonas of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland. Rounding out the team were Elizabeth Chapman, ND, a colleague of Malthouse's at Tribhuvan University (Nepal) and Mary Masuk, NP, MPH, in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The study by Jacobs et al. was funded by Boiron Research Foundation, which supports studies related to homeopathy at major research centers throughout the world, including at the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine under the National Institutes of Health, at the University of Washington, and at the University of California-UCLA.

Correspondence:

Boiron 6 Campus Boulevard, Building A Newtown Square, Pennsylvania 19073 USA 610-325-7464 / Fax 610-325-7480 76A Pleasant Street Groton, Massachusetts 01450 USA Email: timbatchelder@sprynet.com

Jennifer Jacobs, MD, MPH

Jennifer Jacobs, MD, MPH, a family practice physician in Edmonds, Washington, specializing in homeopathy, founded and chaired the American Public Health Association's section on alternative medicine and is a past president of the International Foundation for Homeopathy.

The author of the first double-blind study on homeopathic medicines published in an American medical journal, she is an assistant clinical professor of epidemiology at the University of Washington School of Public Health and Community Medicine and a past member of the advisory council of the NIH's Office of Alternative Medicine.

Dr. Jacobs is the author of two books on Homeopathy and Alternative Medicine, and has also contributed several book chapters to other publications on these subjects. Her involvement in research has resulted in numerous publications in professional journals such as Pediatrics, and The Archives of Family Medicine.

Dr. Jacobs is currently an Editorial Board Member of the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, and the president of the American Institute of Homeopathy.

References
1. Jacobs J, Jimenez M, Malthouse S, Chapman E, Crothers D, Masuk M, Jonas W. Homeopathic Treatment of Acute Childhood Diarrhea: Results from a Clinical Trial in Nepal. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 2000; Vol. 6, No. 2: 131-139.

2. Jacobs J, Jimenez M, Gloyd S, Gale J, Crothers D. Treatment of Acute Childhood Diarrhea with Homeopathic Medicine: A Randomized Clinical Trial in Nicaragua. Pediatrics 1994; Vol. 93, No. 5: 719-725.

3. Kleijnen, 1991: Reilly, 1986; Fisher, 1989; Ferley, 1989; Jacobs, 1994; Reilly, 1994.

4. Linde K, Clausius N, Ramirez G, Melchart D, Eitel F, Hedges L, Jonas W. Are the clinical effects of homeopathy placebo effects? A metaanalysis of placebo-controlled trials. The Lancet 1997; Vol. 350, No. 9081: 834-843.

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By Jennifer Jacobs

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