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

Is homeopathy an effective treatment for PMS?

No, how could it?

Previous studies have thus had mixed results:

A feasibility study of 2018 showed that, in Germany, the study could not proceed because of legal limitations. In Sweden, recruitment proved extremely difficult. In the Netherlands and Sweden, 60 women were randomized (UC + HT: 28; UC: 32), data of 47/46 women were analyzed (ITT/PP). After 4 months, relative mean change of DRSP scores in the UC + HT group was significantly better than in the UC group (p = 0.03).

A case series with 23 women suggested that homeopathic treatment was well tolerated and seemed to have a positive impact on PMS symptoms. Folliculinum was the most frequent homeopathic medicine prescribed. There appears to be scope for a properly designed, randomized, placebo-controlled trial to investigate the efficacy of individual homeopathic medicines in PMS.

And a pilot study reported that homeopathic treatment was found to be effective in alleviating the symptoms of PMS in comparison to placebo. The use of symptom clusters in this trial may offer a novel approach that will facilitate clinical trials in homeopathy. Further research is in progress.

The authors of this pilot include several prominent homeopath who have honoured their word by publishing their definitive study. This double-blind placebo-controlled RCT tested the efficacy of individually prescribed homeopathic medicines in women with premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

In an outpatient department of a university clinic in Jerusalem, Israel, women with PMS, aged 18 to 50 years, entered a 2-month screening phase with prospective daily recording of premenstrual symptoms by the Menstrual Distress Questionnaire (MDQ). They were included after being diagnosed with PMS. A reproducible treatment protocol was used: women received a homeopathic prescription based on symptom clusters identified in a questionnaire. The symptoms were verified during a complementary, structured, interview. Only women whose symptoms matched the symptom profile of one of 14 pre-selected homeopathic medicines were included. Each participant was administered active medicine or placebo via random allocation. Primary outcome measures were differences in changes in mean daily premenstrual symptom (PM) scores by the MDQ. Analysis was by intention-to-treat.

A total of 105 women were included: 49 were randomized to active medicine and 56 to placebo. Forty-three women in the active medicine group and 53 in the placebo group received the allocated intervention with at least one follow-up measurement and their data were analyzed. Significantly greater improvement of mean PM scores was measured in the active medicine group compared to placebo.

The authors concluded that individually prescribed homeopathic medicines were associated with significantly greater improvement of PM scores in women with PMS, compared to placebo. Replication, with larger sample size and other refinements, is recommended to confirm the efficacy of this treatment in other settings.

Not being able to assess the full paper – remember, I was fired from the journal’s editorial board – I am unable to scrutinise this trial properly. As I suspect that the authors were the victim of some hidden biases, I concur only with the second part of their conclusion: replication is needed before we can accept these findings – but please, make it an INDEPENDENT replication!

12 Responses to A positive trial of homeopathy for pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS)

  • You are one of the most honestly acting critic of homeopathy since you´re also writing about positive evidence for this therapy aproach. Most critics are only saying: There is no evidence, homeopathy is a scam, science is settled and that´s that. Not only follower of homeopathy can be trapped by a filter bubble. I think it´s important to keep an open mind!
    You have it! I like to read the nteresting articles on yor great website!
    Best wishes
    Jens Christian Heuer

  • Seems to me to be a pretty old test essentially that was firts published 2002:

    Yakir M, Kreitler S, Brzezinski A, Vithoulkas G, Bentwich Z: ‘Successful treatment of premenstrual syndrome by classical homeopathy’ in: Proceedings of future directions and current issues of research in homeopathy’ (Tagungsband), Freiburg 2002, S. 134-143

    Apparently this is not available online but I have a full text scan. Whoever ist interested to have a closer look at it, please give me a note here. Edzard, you got mail.

    • @NorbertAust

      “Effects of homeopathic treatment in women with premenstrual syndrome: a pilot study.”
      Yakir M1, Kreitler S, Brzezinski A, Vithoulkas G, Oberbaum M, Bentwich Z.

      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11479782

      • That has a different title, doesn’t it? Maybe Dr Aust can confirm whether it’s the same trial?

        But did you notice what it is, Sandra? What do you believe it shows?

        And did you notice that Mathie et al. noted it’s existence but then rejected it for his systematic review? Any idea why that might be?

      • Tut-tut Sandra.
        Have you still not learned the difference between a pilot study and a full study, even after years of following this very informative blog?
        The authors actually do admit in the title that this is only a pilot study. It has only a handful of subjects but still they pretend to draw a conclusion which this study cannot and does not support. A pilot study by definition cannot be interpreted to reveal a difference between groups. It is only a method of testing the methodology in preparation for a fully powered study. They make also make many of the thoughtless errors so commonly made (used?) by those who let wishful thinking guide their efforts.
        Before yet again revealing your ignorance Sandra, you should have read the comment to this article published in the journal BMJ sexual and reproductive health, which is referred below the abstract. It says enough for most ordinary people to understand that this study does not substantiate homeopathy at all.

      • This is a 2001 pilot study with about twenty participants. The study from my above citation gives the same data as Edzard cited.

  • Yes of course – but it may take me a few days. Just returning from travel with a lot of work to do.

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