Research: OBERBAUM and co-workers,

Listed in Issue 92


OBERBAUM and co-workers, Institute of Research on Complementary Medicine and The Center of Integrated Complementary Medicine, Shaare Zadek Medical Center, Jerusalem, Israel,, have reviewed (27 references) clinical trials of classical homeopathy and reflected on appropriate research designs. Abstract: The difficulties encountered in attempting to study complementary medicine using methods developed for conventional medicine are the result of the different paradigms underlying the two different branches of medicine, and the differences in the healing processes. This paper suggests two possibilities of studying homeopathy using conventional research methodology. One is the randomization into placebo and treatment group after an individual remedy has been chosen for each patient. This method requires an experienced homeopath and is reproducible only by the same homeopath in the same population. However the success rate can be expected to be high. Another method is the prescription according to keynotes, a set of symptoms known to respond to a particular remedy. This method is more suitable to a conventional design of clinical studies and can be reproduced by anyone. The expected success rate is however much lower. Some general considerations that may have particular relevance to homeopathy are discussed including the need for sufficiently high powered trials to detect relatively small effects, strategies to manage patient preference, and embracing the use of 'active control' pragmatic trial designs.






Oberbaum M, Vithoulkas G, Van Haselen R. Clinical trials of classical homeopathy: reflections on appropriate research designs. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 9 (1): 105-111, Feb 2003.


Papers like this, which attempt to find intelligent solutions for the methodological difficulties in researching complementary treatments, are highly welcome.

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