“An exhaustive study of homeopathic remedies for Eczema“, this is the title of an article I just stumbled across. It leaves no doubt that homeopathy is effective for eczema (which is also what I was told all those years ago when I trained in a homeopathic hospital). Here are a few excerpts from the article:
The appropriate internal remedy will usually be one of the following, according to the indications:
In the simpler forms of eczema, and when there is much febrile disturbance. Acute cases, with stinging and pricking of the skin, in plethoric persons.
Hard crusts on the scalp, face and extremities. Gnawing itching, worse in the evening, not relieved by scratching. Aggravated on alternate days and from eating new potatoes. Dryness of the skin.Constipation.
Eczema in the bends of the extremities. Excoriations between the legs, and about the anus and genitals. Violent itching relieved by scratching. Aggravated by either cold applications or hot poultices. In children.
Acute eczema on the face, neck and chest. Intense itching usually aggravated, but occasionally relieved by scratching. Redness of the skin with eruption of small vesicles. Sensitiveness to draught.
Pustular eczema about the face and joints. Painful cracks in the corners of the mouth. Violent itching and burning, better in the open air, worse after bathing. Thick, heavy, yellow crusts upon the face. Gastric derangement with thick white coated tongue. In children who grow fat.
Eruptions about the nose and eyes, neck and shoulders, and back of the ears. Vesicles surrounded by a red areola. Pustules, as large as peas. Itching worse in the evening, better in the open air. Eruption leaves bluish-red stains upon the face. Child wants to be carried; cries if touched.Desire for acids ; aversion to milk. Rattling cough.
Red and edematous skin, with burning and stinging. Better from cold applications, worse after warm applications. Large vesicles. Urine scanty and high colored.
Eczema on the genitals. Urging to urinate. In children who eat too much sweets.
Eczema on the face, legs and genitals. Intense burning of the surface. Itching worse during the first hours of sleep. Better from external heat ; worse from cold or from scratching. Dry scaly eruption with parchment-like skin. Falling out of hair in patches. Useful in chronic cases.
Eruption on the chest, upper extremities and behind the ears. Intolerable itching, crawling sensation, especially over the loins and shoulders. In young children.
Thick crusts on the scalp. Enlargement of the lymphatic glands. Clay colored stools.
Smarting, itching papular eruption on the lips or above the pubis. Constant desire to be out in the open air. In corpulent old people. After abuse of mercury.
END OF QUOTE
And the evidence, where is the evidence for these seemingly detailed recommendations?
The answer is, there is none, at least not in this article.
So, I look into Medline. Apart from some observational studies, the most recent relevant paper on controlled clinical trials happens to be my very own systematic review published in the British Journal of Dermatology entitled “Homeopathy for eczema: a systematic review of controlled clinical trials.” Here is its abstract:
Homeopathy is often advocated for patients with eczema.
This article systematically reviews the evidence from controlled clinical trials of any type of homeopathic treatment for any type of eczema.
Electronic searches were conducted in Medline, Embase and the Cochrane Library with no restrictions on time or language. In addition, the bibliographies of the retrieved articles and our departmental files were hand searched. All controlled trials of homeopathy in patients with eczema were considered. Their methodological quality was estimated using the Jadad score.
One randomized and two nonrandomized clinical trials met the inclusion criteria. All were methodologically weak. None demonstrated the efficacy of homeopathy.
The evidence from controlled clinical trials therefore fails to show that homeopathy is an efficacious treatment for eczema.
So, what does that tell us?
I think it demonstrates the following relevant points:
- Homeopaths seem convinced to be able to treat eczema effectively.
- They teach this to junior clinicians and tell it to their patients.
- They trumpet this message out on the internet (a Google search on ‘homeopathy for eczema’ generates 242 000 hits).
- They even claim that they have done ‘exhaustive studies’ that prove their point.
- Yet, the actual evidence fails to show that homeopathy works for eczema.
Does that mean homeopaths are lying?
Does that mean homeopaths mislead their patients thus causing needless suffering?
Does that mean homeopaths care more about their cash-flow than the welfare of their patients?
What do you think?