Previous studies have shown inconclusive results of homeopathy in the treatment of warts. A team of Indian homeopaths aimed to assess the feasibility of a future definitive trial, with a preliminary assessment of differences between effects of individualized homeopathic (IH) medicines and placebos in the treatment of cutaneous warts.
A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial (n = 60) was conducted at the dermatology outpatient department of D.N. De Homoeopathic Medical College and Hospital, West Bengal. Patients were randomized to receive either IH (n = 30) or identical-looking placebo (n = 30). Primary outcome measures were numbers and sizes of warts; the secondary outcome was the Dermatology Life Quality Index (DLQI) questionnaire measured at baseline, and every month up to 3 months. Group differences and effect sizes were calculated on the intention-to-treat sample.
Attrition rate was 11.6% (IH, 3; placebo, 4). Intra-group changes were significantly greater (all p < 0.05, Friedman tests) in IH than placebo. Inter-group differences were statistically non-significant (all p > 0.05, Mann-Whitney U tests) with small effect sizes-both in the primary outcomes (number of warts after 3 months: IH median [inter-quartile range; IQR] 1 [1, 3] vs. placebo 1 [1, 2]; p = 0.741; size of warts after 3 months: IH 5.6 mm [2.6, 40.2] vs. placebo 6.3 [0.8, 16.7]; p = 0.515) and in the secondary outcomes (DLQI total after 3 months: IH 4.5 [2, 6.2] vs. placebo 4.5 [2.5, 8]; p = 0.935). Thuja occidentalis (28.3%), Natrum muriaticum (10%) and Sulphur (8.3%) were the most frequently prescribed medicines. No harms, homeopathic aggravations, or serious adverse events were reported.
The Indian homeopaths draw the following conclusion: As regards efficacy, the preliminary study was inconclusive, with a statistically non-significant direction of effect favoring homeopathy. The trial succeeded in showing that an adequately powered definitive trial is both feasible and warranted.
No, the findings are not inconclusive at all! Read the results again: they confirm that homeopathy is a placebo therapy.
So, why is this trial worth writing about?
Surely, we did not expect anything else than a negative outcome from such a study?!
No, we didn’t.
But there is still something quite remarkable about this study: I have previously noted that virtually all studies of homeopathy by Indian researchers report positive results. AND THIS ONE DOESN’T!!!
Alright, it tries to hide the fact that the findings were negative, but this already seems to be a step in the right direction. So, well done, my Indian friends!!!
Perhaps one day, you will be able to admit that homeopathy is a placebo therapy?