Research: LEWITH and colleagues,

Listed in Issue 77

Abstract

LEWITH and colleagues, Medical Specialities, Southampton General Hospital, Southampton, Hampshire SO16 6YD, UK, GL3@soton.ac.uk, evaluated the effects of homeopathic immunotherapy on lung function and respiratory symptoms in people with asthma and allergy to house dust mites .

Background

Methodology

This was a double-blind, randomized, controlled trial involving 38 GP surgeries in Hampshire and Dorset, UK. The participants were 242 asthmatics who had a positive response to a skin prick test for house dust mite allergy . The subjects entered a 4-week baseline assessment period, after which they were given oral homeopathic immunotherapy or a placebo treatment . They were assessed over 16 weeks, During which they were assessed in the clinic (3 visits) on lung function (measurements of forced expiratory volume in 1 second [FEV1] ), quality of life and mood . They also assessed themselves on morning and evening lung function (measurements of peak expiratory flow [PEF], using a portable PEF meter) and on severity of asthma (using a visual analogue scale [VAS]), quality of life and daily mood ; and they recorded their findings in a diary . 202 of the subjects completed the clinic -based assessments and 186 completed the diary -based assessments.

Results

For most of the outcome measures, there were no differences between homeopathic immunotherapy and placebo treatment. Three of the diary assessments showed a different pattern of change between the 2 groups over the period of the trial: morning PEF ; severity of asthm a; and mood . The researchers were unable to explain the reasons for or the significance of these differing patterns of change. With homeopathic immunotherapy, severity of asthma increased significantly and mood deteriorated compared with placebo treatment. Participants' belief in complementary medicine was unrelated to any improvement in asthma.

Conclusion

The oral homeopathic immunotherapy used in this study was ineffective for treating patients with asthma and house dust mite allergy.

References

Lewith GT et al. Use of ultramolecular potencies of allergen to treat asthmatic people allergic to house dust mite: a double blind randomised controlled clinical trial. British Medical Journal 324 (7336): 520. Mar 2002.

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