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.