Priorities and methods for developing the evidence profile of homeopathy Recommendations of the ECH General Assembly and XVIII Symposium of GIRI
To achieve scientific acceptance, homeopathy must investigate several questions:
The activity of very highly diluted preparations. The consensus of the meeting was that there is clear evidence of this.
The content of very highly diluted homeopathic preparations. More research is needed but evidence exists that a specific signal is present in homeopathic preparations.
A theoretical framework in which the effects of homeopathic diluted preparations can be explained. The ‘Body Information Theory’ is such a theory.
The clinical effectiveness of homeopathy. Because they avoid the placebo effect, animal studies are a priority.
For human trials using Quality of Life questionnaires, studies on the activity, content and theoretical basis of homeopathic preparations were reviewed approximately 70% of cases; more in children showed improvement. Homeopathy reduced costs and allowed a better improvement in work-days lost compared with conventional practice. Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) implicitly test the placebo hypothesis; RCTs have been performed and meta-analyses conclude that there is clear evidence of efficacy which cannot be attributed to placebo effect.
Priorities depend on the audience. More research is needed especially regarding the content of homeopathic preparations and the transmission of information. Theoretical issues are also important to avoid incorrect design of research protocols. More effort should be dedicated to veterinary research. Clinical effects analysis in humans remains important. Many other questions should be prioritised, such as the potential of homeopathy to avoid invasive procedures in children and the long-term effects of homeopathy in preventing chronic complications.