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

Papillomas of dogs are benign growths caused by the canine papillomavirus. The oral mucosa and commissures of the lip are most frequently involved. Papillomas often regress spontaneously within a few weeks, and treatment is usually not necessary.

This Indian study tested the combination of 4 homeopathic drugs (Sulfur 30C, Thuja 30C, Graphites 30C, and Psorinum 30C) in 16 dogs affected with oral papillomatosis which was not undergone any previous treatment. Dogs affected with oral papillomatosis, which have not undergone any initial treatment and fed with a regular diet. They were randomly divided into two groups, namely, homeopathic treatment group (n=8) and placebo control group (n=8). The homeopathic combination and placebo (distilled water) was administered orally twice daily for 15 days. Clinical evaluation in both groups of dogs was performed by the same investigator during 12 months. Dogs were clinically scored for oral lesions on days 0, 5, 7, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 45, 60, 90, 120, and 150 after initiation of treatment.

The homeopathic treatment group showed early recovery with a significant reduction in oral lesions reflected by clinical score (p<0.001) in comparison to placebo-treated group. Oral papillomatous lesions regressed in the homeopathic group between 7 and 15 days, whereas regression of papilloma in the placebo group occurred between 90 and 150 days. The homeopathic treated group was observed for 12 months post-treatment period and no recurrence of oral papilloma was observed.

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The authors concluded that the current study proves that the combination of homeopathy drugs aids in fastening the regression of canine oral papilloma and proved to be safe and cost-effective.

This could well become the worst SCAM study of 2020. In case you have not already spotted its flaws, here are some of them:

  • the trial was truly tiny; thus the results could easily be false-positive;
  • to make any conclusion about safety after treating 16 subjects is nonsensical;
  • cost-effectiveness was not assessed and therefore conclusions about it are not warranted; if, however, one made a ‘back of the envelope’ calculation, one would be hard-pressed to not find tap water more cost-effective than 4 homeopathic remedies;
  • the graph looks to me very suspect – could it be that someone has been busy prettifying the data?

Nevertheless, I think this paper is remarkable, if only in the way it teaches us how NOT to formulate conclusions of a study. Even if we had 200 dogs in this trial, its findings would not PROVE the efficacy of the intervention. Proof is something a single trial will never deliver. Proof is a debatable concept even after several independent replications, particularly when dealing with something as implausible as homeopathy.

In any case, if your dog has papillomas, do me a favour and avoid homeopathic vets!

8 Responses to A new study ‘proves’ that homeopathy works … or perhaps it doesn’t?

  • Homeopathy like so many Scam modalities ride on the coat tails of the tincture of time, always adding something to the situation, crediting the intervention and not giving credit (bodies innate healing capacity) where credit is due.

  • This study was indeed small…and yet, it is much more difficult for such small studies to have such substantially different results between the treated group and the placebo group as was observed in THIS trial.

    Further, this study was randomized and placebo controlled, and it is still accurate to consider these results to be interesting and compelling, though not “proven” or “verified.”

    It is so typical of you to suggest that a study may be the “worst” of the year despite the trial be conducted in a reasonably secure way that seemed to have a relatively low risk of bias.

    • a low risk of bias?
      thank you Dana, in these worrying times, you managed to make me laugh out loud.

      • Eddie…your “critique” of the trial provided no critique of the trial itself.

        Whose laughing now?

        • the trial was truly tiny; thus the results could easily be false-positive;
          to make any conclusion about safety after treating 16 subjects is nonsensical;
          cost-effectiveness was not assessed and therefore conclusions about it are not warranted; if, however, one made a ‘back of the envelope’ calculation, one would be hard-pressed to not find tap water more cost-effective than 4 homeopathic remedies;
          the graph looks to me very suspect – could it be that someone has been busy prettifying the data?

          • If tap water is more effective than homeopathic medicines, please show us all THAT study.

            Once again, you did NOT provide ANY critic of this study, only its conclusions.

            And your statement about suggested unethical behavior is more evidence of your unethical assertions that have NO evidence. If you have evidence, show it…but it is so typical of you to demand evidence but rarely provide it yourself.

          • you really must learn how to read properly, Dana.
            I did not state that it’s ‘more effective’
            this is what I wrote: “one would be hard-pressed to not find tap water more cost-effective than 4 homeopathic remedies”
            GOT IT?

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