Author: Jan Scholten
"Homeopathy cures a larger percentage of cases than any other method of treatment” Ghandi
There is abundant evidence for the effectivity of homeopathy. In the first place the patients in 200 years that have had homeopathic treatment. Homeopathy has been favoured by them despite all the drawbacks. And doctors have turned to homeopathy, often after have been strong adversaries. But these days proof is asked, mostly in the form of double blind studies, called RCT, Randomized Clinical Trials. In meta-analyses many of these kind of studies are taken together to come to a conclusion about a certain kind of treatment. There have been done several meta-analyses.
1. Kleijnen en Knipschild analyzed 107 researches. Their conclusions: At the moment the evidence of clinical trials is positive.
2. Boissel and Cucherat analyzed 15 studies. Their conclusion is: There is some evidence that homeopathic treatments are more effective than placebo. The results of our meta-analysis are not compatible with the hypothesis that the clinical effects of homeopathy are completely due to placebo.
3. Linde analyzed 89 studies in 1998 and concluded: The results of our meta-analysis are not compatible with the hypothesis that the clinical effects of homeopathy are completely due to placebo.
4. Linde analyzed 32 studies in 1998 and concluded: The results of the available randomized trials suggest that individualized homeopathy has an effect over placebo.
5. Mathie analyzed 93 studies and concluded: This represents a body of research where the null hypothesis has been rejected in favour of homeopathy.
All 5 meta-analyses concluded that homeopathy was an effective medicine and the result could not be explained as placebo. In general it is regarded as sufficient to have 2 positive meta-analyses for a science to be recognized.
Another study by Shang received much of attention in the media, where they pronounced "the end of homeopathy". Shang made a careful selection of only eight studies and compared them with another selection of eight studies in conventional medicine and then came to the conclusion that homeopathy was due to a placebo effect. That conclusion made headlines of the media. Although Shang came to the conclusion that there is evidence for a specific effect of homeopathic remedies, he attributed the homeopathic effects to be placebo.
Rutten and others have argued successfully against Shang's last conclusion and showed that almost any kind of selection would show homeopathy to be effective, except the selection chosen by Shang. Aside from this, the study of Shang is not a meta-analysis as such, it is a comparison of homeopathy and conventional medicine.
The above meta-analyses show that homeopathy is effective and that the effects cannot be explained by placebo. Reading the conclusions, one can sense that the authors were not very pleased with the results of their own studies. It is as if they are excusing themselves for the results, as if they are trying to reason the results away.