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Schwabe News Volume 5 | Issue 7-9 | July - September 2014

Research news

Supportive homoeopathy therapy in cancer patients: Retrospective survival data from a homoeopathic outpatient unit at the Medical University of Vienna

This is a data research aimed to find the efficacy of homoeopathic support in cancer patients. Current literature suggests a positive influence of additive classical homoeopathy on global health and well-being in cancer patients. Besides encouraging case reports, there is little if any research on long-term survival of patients who obtain homoeopathic care during cancer treatment. Data from cancer patients who had undergone homoeopathic treatment complementary to conventional anti-cancer treatment at the Outpatient Unit for Homoeopathy in Malignant Diseases, Medical University Vienna, Department of Medicine I, Vienna, Austria, were collected, described and a retrospective subgroup-analysis with regard to survival time was performed. Patient inclusion criteria were at least three homoeopathic consultations, fatal prognosis of disease, quantitative and qualitative description of patient characteristics, and survival time.

As per the data, in four years, a total of 538 patients were recorded to have visited the Outpatient Unit Homoeopathy in Malignant Diseases, Medical University Vienna, Department of Medicine I, Vienna, Austria. 62.8% of them were women, and nearly 20% had breast cancer. From the 53.7% (n = 287) who had undergone at least three homoeopathic consultations within four years, 18.7% (n = 54) fulfilled inclusion criteria for survival analysis. The surveyed neoplasms were glioblastoma, lung, cholangiocellular and pancreatic carcinomas, metastasized sarcoma, and renal cell carcinoma. Median overall survival was compared to expert expectations of survival outcomes by specific cancer type and was prolonged across observed cancer entities (p < 0.001).

Extended survival time in this sample of cancer patients with fatal prognosis but additive homoeopathic treatment seems interesting. However, findings are based on a small sample, and with only limited data available about patient and treatment characteristics. The relationship between homoeopathic treatment and survival time requires prospective investigation in larger samples possibly using matched-pair control analysis or randomized trials.

Reference: Katharina Gaertner et al., Additive homoeopathy in cancer patients: Retrospective survival data from a homoeopathic outpatient unit at the Medical University of Vienna, Complementary Therapies in Medicine, Volume 22, Issue 2, April 2014, Pages 320–332

 

Homoeopathy in the public health system: Outcome data from the Homoeopathic Clinic of the Campo di Marte Hospital, Lucca, Italy (1998–2010)

It is again a retrospective study. The aim of this study was to summarize 12 years of homoeopathic clinical practice in the Homoeopathic Clinic of Lucca Public Hospital (Italy) with particular attention to socio-demographic features of the patients, distribution of different diagnoses, follow-up and clinical outcome. Data was reviewed from 2592 consecutive patients with a variety of clinical problems between 1998 and 2010. A smaller sample of 1129 patients returning for at least one follow up visit were analysed in order to evaluate changes in their clinical symptoms as assessed by Glasgow Homoeopathic Hospital Outcome Score.

The mean age of patients was 31 years, they were predominantly female and in many cases had already used conventional medicine for their diseases. The most common presentations were for symptoms concerning respiratory (29.4%), digestive tract (17%) and dermatological (14.7%) diseases. A total of 47% of patients reported major improvement or even resolution of their clinical picture (GHHOS +3+4); an extremely low percentage of treatment with no results (10%); and a negligible percentage of worsening (0.5%). The younger the age the more successful the therapy outcome (p<0.001) and longer treatment appeared to give better results (p<0.001).

The results support previous findings suggesting that homoeopathy may be associated with symptom improvement for a range of chronic and recurring diseases, although this claim needs to be supported by more thorough, randomized and controlled studies. The integration of homoeopathy in a public health system can ensure safety and the equity in access for the patient.

Reference: Rossi Elio et al., Homoeopathy in the public health system: Outcome data from the Homoeopathic Clinic of the Campo di Marte Hospital, Lucca, Italy (1998–2010), European Journal of Integrative Medicine, Volume 6, Issue 1 , Pages 39-47, February 2014

 

Usefulness of classical homoeopathy for the prevention of urinary tract infections in patients with neurogenic bladder dysfunction

Recurrent Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) is a frequently encountered clinical problem in patients with neurogenic lower urinary tract dysfunction due to Spinal Cord Injury (SCI). Conventional preventive measures are often not successful. This study was aimed to treat the patients of SCI suffering from recurrent UTI with classical homoeopathy as add-on to standard urologic care. After exclusion of morphological abnormalities and initiation of a standard regime for prophylaxis, all patients with a neurogenic lower urinary tract dysfunction due to SCI, with more than three symptomatic UTI/year, were offered additional homoeopathic care. Symptoms were fever, incontinence, increased spasticity, decreased bladder capacity or pain/decreased general health combined with significant bacteriuria. Descriptive statistics was used for analysis.

Eight patients were followed up for a median period of 15 months. At the end of the study, five patients remained free of UTI, whereas UTI frequency was reduced in three patients. This initial study with homoeopathic prevention of UTI as add on to standard urologic prophylactic measures seems encouraging. For an evidence-based evaluation of this concept, prospective studies are required. Keys for the positive outcome of this case series are co-operation of well-qualified partners, mutual respect and the motivation to co-operate closely.

Commonly used drugs in UTI are Acidum benzoicum, Baryta carbonica, Berberis vulgaris, Cantharis, Causticum, Conium maculatum, Echinacea angustifolia & purpurea, Equisetum, Hydrangea, Kreosotum, Nux vomica, Sabal serrulata, Verbascum, etc.

Reference: Pannek J, Pannek-Rademacher S, Jus MC, Jus MS. Usefulness of classical homoeopathy for the prevention of urinary tract infections in patients with neurogenic bladder dysfunction: A case series. Indian J Res Homoeopathy 2014;8:31-6

(Italics are our addition – Editor)

 

Basic research model based on spatial allocation effects

The mode of action of ultramolecular homoeopathic preparations is still unknown. According to scientists, interactions between objects or entities can be grouped in four main general scientific categories: material, force-/field-like, entanglement-like or informational. Should homoeopathic preparations have a field-like mode of action, there is greater probability of cross-contamination as long as the means to “shield” objects from each other is unknown. A field-like interaction would also lead to treatment at a distance effects that are distance-dependent. Researchers had analysed a set of experiments with Arsenicum album 45x treated wheat seedlings regarding a possible distance-dependent cross-contamination. They had performed an a posteriori analysis of a set of 17 independent experiments with wheat seedlings pre-treated with 1% arsenic. Three treatments were applied (Arsenicum album 45x, water 45x, or unpotentized water) with 150 seedlings in each treatment group per experiment. Seedlings were arranged in hanging plastic bags side-by-side in identically treated blocks of 10 seedlings. The 3x15 blocks were coded and randomly allocated to the three treatments. Wheat shoot length was measured after 7 days. Treatment effects were analysed as function of the position (1–10) within the blocks of 10 seedlings.

Analyzing all data, Arsenicum album 45x exerted an inhibiting effect (–3.2%, p=0.01) compared to both water and water 45x. When restricting the analysis to the outermost seedlings of all subgroups (pos. 1, 10), the treatment effect vanished (0.3%, p=0.92). In contrast, the innermost seedlings of all subgroups (pos. 5, 6) showed a treatment effect of –5.6% (p=0.02). Intermediate pairs of positions (pos. 2–4, 7–9) showed intermediate effects. Regarding shoot length, dependency on spatial position was observed for the plants of the water control groups, but not for the plants treated with Arsenicum album 45x.

Whilst the effect of Arsenicum album 45x on wheat-shoot growth was not dependent on the spatial position within the subgroup, the water-control plants became smaller the closer they were to Arsenicum album 45x-treated seedlings. This observation is compatible with the existence of a field-like effect of homoeopathic dilutions. Another possible explanation that cannot be ruled out by the present experiments, is contamination through the gas-phase. Future investigations of ultramolecular homoeopathic preparations should control any such effects since they may mask treatment effects, leading to false-negative results. Closer investigation of the nature of this distance-dependent effect might contribute to identification of the mode of action of ultramolecular homoeopathic preparations.

Reference: Stephan Baumgartner, Lucietta Betti, Mascha Binder, Peter Heusser, Ursula Wolf, Spatial allocation effects within a potentization basic research model – evidence for field-like effects of homoeopathic preparations?, International Journal of High Dilution Research, Vol 13, No 47 (2014)

 

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