New Meta-Analysis on Homeopathy: Better than placebo

A current meta-analysis on homeopathy concludes that drugs prescribed on the basis of an individualized homeopathic similium have a small but specific effect. Homeopathy worked better than a placebo.

Last year the Swedish Professor for Anesthesiology and Intensive Care, Robert G. Hahn, critically reviewed the evaluation of the meta-analyses on homeopathy that have been published. He came to the conclusion that most of the conducted meta-analyses on the efficacy of homeopathy are biased in their approach. These studies reached negative conclusions because they inappropriately ruled out study data or applied inappropriate valuation methods. Since the appearance of this work, the results of the working group around G. Mathie are anticipated with great interest.

For the First Time: A Focus on Individualized Homeopathy

The work of Mathie and colleagues is, meanwhile, the fifth meta-analysis on homeopathy. What is special about it: it is restricted to those studies that consider the so-called single remedies or individualized homeopathy. Additionally, this work is grounded on intensive research of the literature which the studies brought to light and which had not been taken into account in earlier analyses.

22 Studies Were Analyzed

The researchers evaluated the studies on the basis of a protocol in turn based on WHO classifications, which was used to evaluate the degree of distortion with respect to the respective study results. At the same time, the scientists attempted to take the heterogeneity of the selected studies into consideration in the statistical analysis.

Mathie et al. selected 32 randomized and double-blind studies that compared the individualized homeopathy to placebo therapy. Of these studies, 22 were included in the meta-analysis. The work considered a total of 24 diagnoses.

Homeopathy Shows Therapy Effects

All 22 studies resulted in a slight superiority of homeopathic treatment over the placebo (odds ratio 1.53 - 95%, confidence interval 1.22 - 1.91; p < 0.001). That means that the homeopathically treated patients had about a 53% greater chance of experiencing a curative effect than the placebo-treated study subjects of the control groups.

The authors of the study concluded from this that the investigated studies on the single-remedy homeopathic preparations had a therapeutic effect compared to the placebo that was small but still statistically significant. However, the scientists pointed out the relatively poor quality of the existing studies, which makes a final assessment difficult. Similar to Hahn, these authors also call for further randomized controlled quality studies in order to generate new and reliable data.


Mathie, R. T., Lloyd, S. M., Legg, L. A., Clausen, J., Moss, S., Davidson, J. R., et al. (2014). Randomised placebo-controlled trials of individualised homoeopathic treatment: systematic review and meta-analysis. Systematic Reviews, 3(142). doi:10.1186/2046-4053-3-142

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