MD, PhD, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd.

Some homeopaths claim that there is anecdotal support for the use of the homeopathic medicine Arsenicum album in preventing post-vaccination fever. As far as I know, the claim has not been tested in clinical trials. This study was aimed at evaluating the efficacy of this approach in preventing febrile episodes following vaccination.

In the community medicine out-patient of Mahesh Bhattacharyya Homoeopathic Medical College and Hospital, West Bengal, a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial was conducted on 120 children. All of them presented for the 2nd and 3rd dose of DPT-HepB-Polio vaccination and reported febrile episodes following the 1st dose. They were treated with Arsenicum album 30cH 6 doses or placebo (indistinguishable from verum), thrice daily for two subsequent days. Parents were advised to report any event of febrile attacks within 48h of vaccination.

The groups were comparable at baseline. Children reporting fever after the 2nd dose was 29.8% and 30.4% respectively for the homeopathy group and control group respectively [Relative Risk (RR)=1.008] with no significant difference (P=0.951) between groups. After the 3rd dose, children reporting fever were 31.5% and 28.3% respectively for the homeopathy group and control group respectively (RR=0.956) with no significant difference (P=0.719) between groups.

The authors concluded that empirically selected Arsenicum album 30cH could not produce differentiable effect from placebo in preventing febrile episodes following DPT-HepB-Polio vaccination.

I can hear it now, the chorus of homeopaths:

  • this is part of a conspiracy against homeopathy,
  • the authors of this study display an anti-homeopathy bias,
  • this study did not closely follow the principles of homeopathy,
  • it lacked the input by experience homeopaths,
  • no homeopath worth his money would use Arsenicum album 30cH for this purpose,
  • no homeopath in his right mind would employ 6 doses thrice daily for two subsequent days,
  • etc., etc.

Well guys, I have to disappoint you: the authors of this paper have the following affiliations:

  • Dept. of Pathology and Microbiology, Mahesh Bhattacharyya Homoeopathic Medical College and Hospital, Govt. of West Bengal
  • Dept. of Community Medicine, Mahesh Bhattacharyya Homoeopathic Medical College and Hospital, Govt. of West Bengal
  • Mahesh Bhattacharyya Homoeopathic Medical College and Hospital, Govt. of West Bengal
  • National Institute of Homoeopathy, Ministry of AYUSH, Govt. of India
  • Central Council of Homoeopathy, Vill, Champsara

So, perhaps it’s true: highly diluted homeopathic remedies are pure placebos.

 

2 Responses to Homeopathy for preventing complications of immunisation: another study and another negative result

  • I must say that I’m frankly surprised by these homeopaths’ honesty with regard to this study and its outcome. No attempt whatsoever is made to put a positive spin on this thing.
    And what’s more, it would appear that this study is conducted properly, something that is also rather unusual with homeopathy studies – although one would have to look at the actual details to say more about this(*).
    The third thing that strikes me is that there isn’t any criticism of vaccination per se, and that they studied actual, known side effects of this vaccination.

    Unfortunately, many homeopaths completely overstep the boundaries of reality when it comes to vaccination. They claim that vaccination causes all manner of mayhem, up to and including brain damage and death, and that they see ‘vaccine injury’ in almost every vaccinated child that they come across. And, of course, they try selling worried parents their homeopathic sugar crumbs to alleviate this purported vaccine injury.
    Even worse, quite a few homeopaths sell their useless sugar crumbs as an alternative for regular vaccination. In my opinion, this is criminal endangerment of children’s health, as parents are made to believe that this quackery protects their children from potentially deadly diseases. Yet nobody appears inclined to do anything about this.

    So I think that we should at least credit these homeopaths here with their honesty, even if it is merely one study, and even though they probably will continue to be homeopaths, selling shaken water and sugar crumbs pretending that it’s an effective medicine…

    *: I just realized that I am just as prone to bias as any other human being, i.e. that I tend to accept studies without further in-depth checking if they agree with science in general and my view of the matter in particular – whereas I meticulously pick apart any study that disagrees with that I think…

    • Excellent: the hallmark of a critical thinker their criticism of their own critical thinking.
      Love this fine example of a science-framed mind.
      Thank you RichardR

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