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

Pre-hypertension, or stage 1 hypertension as it is also called, is usually defined as a systolic pressure reading between 120 mmHg and 139 mmHg, or a diastolic reading between 80 mmHg and 89 mmHg. It remains a significant public health challenge and appropriate intervention is required to stop its progression to hypertension and cardiovascular diseases.

This double-blind, randomized, two parallel arms, placebo-controlled study tested the effects of individualized homeopathic medicines (IH) against placebo in intervening with the progression of pre-hypertension to hypertension.

Ninety-two patients with pre-hypertension were randomized to receive either IH (n = 46) or identical-looking placebo (n = 46). Both IH or placebo were applied in the mutual context of lifestyle modification (LSM) advice including dietary approaches to stop hypertension (DASH) and brisk exercises.

The primary endpoints were systolic and diastolic blood pressures (SBP and DBP); secondary endpoints were Measure Yourself Medical Outcome Profile version 2.0 (MYMOP-2) scores. All endpoints were measured at baseline, and every month, up to 3 months.

After 3 months of intervention, the number of patients having progression from pre-hypertension to hypertension between groups was similar without any significant differences in between the groups. Reduction in BP and MYMOP-2 scores were also not significantly different. Lycopodium clavatum, Thuja occidentalis and Natrum muriaticum were the most frequently prescribed medicines. No serious adverse events were reported from either group.

The authors concluded that there was a small, but non-significant direction of effect favoring homeopathy, which ultimately rendered the trial as inconclusive.

We have come across this terminology before; homeopaths seem to like it. It prevents them from calling a negative trial by its proper name: A NEGATIVE TRIAL. In their view

  • a positive trial is a study where homeopathy yields better results than placebo,
  • a negative trial is a study where placebo yields better results than homeopathy,
  • an inconclusive trial is a study where homeopathy yields results that are not significantly different from placebo.

Is this silly?

Yes, it is completely bonkers!

Is it dishonest?

Yes, in my view, it is.

Why is it done nonetheless?

Perhaps a glance at the affiliations of the authors provides an answer:

  • 1Dept. of Organon of Medicine and Homoeopathic Philosophy, D. N. De Homoeopathic Medical College and Hospital, Kolkata, West Bengal, affiliated to The West Bengal University of Health Sciences, Govt. of West Bengal, India. Electronic address: drsouvikdutta@gmail.com.
  • 2Dept. of Organon of Medicine and Homoeopathic Philosophy, D. N. De Homoeopathic Medical College and Hospital, Kolkata, West Bengal, affiliated to The West Bengal University of Health Sciences, Govt. of West Bengal, India.
  • 3Principal and Administrator D. N. De Homoeopathic Medical College and Hospital, Kolkata, West Bengal, affiliated to The West Bengal University of Health Sciences, Govt. of West Bengal, India.
  • 4Dept. of Practice of Medicine, D. N. De Homoeopathic Medical College and Hospital, Kolkata, West Bengal, affiliated to The West Bengal University of Health Sciences, Govt. of West Bengal, India.
  • 5Dept. of Practice of Medicine, Mahesh Bhattacharyya Homoeopathic Medical College and Hospital, Howrah, Govt. of West Bengal, affiliated to The West Bengal University of Health Sciences, Govt. of West Bengal, India.
  • 6Dept. of Organon of Medicine and Homoeopathic Philosophy, National Institute of Homoeopathy, Block GE, Sector III, Salt Lake, Kolkata 700106, West Bengal, India; affiliated to The West Bengal University of Health Sciences, Govt. of West Bengal, India.
  • 7Dept. of Organon of Medicine and Homoeopathic Philosophy, State National Homoeopathic Medical College and Hospital, Lucknow, Govt. of Uttar Pradesh, affiliated to Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar University, Agra, Govt. of Uttar Pradesh), India.
  • 8Dept. of Repertory, D. N. De Homoeopathic Medical College and Hospital, Kolkata, West Bengal, affiliated to The West Bengal University of Health Sciences, Govt. of West Bengal, India.

Despite these multiple conflicts of interest, the article carries this note:

“Declaration of Competing Interest: None declared.”

12 Responses to Homeopathy is not effective for controlling pre-hypertension

  • We await the arrival of Dana and a stream of semi-capitalised incoherent twaddle.

  • I’m not sure that affiliation to an unscientific educational organisation should be considered a “competing interest”. Are these departements involved in selling homeopathics or are they for economic gain running homeopathic clinics? That would be a conflict of interest, but isn’t taking into account the academic (sensu latissimo!) affiliation of authors when drawing conclusions from presented research just standard-of-science?
    It is anyone’s right to publish research based on what ever they believe and I do not think an affiliation to an organisation equally deluded is a COI. Simply looking into the description of the journal demerits the authors efforts – but it is their right and choice to pursue this unscientific therapy and pseudoscientific (from a natural sciences point of view) publication.
    After my years in medical sciences I’m utterly convinced that there is always some bit of bias in every author regardless of what institution they are (or at least claim to be) associated with – especially when it comes to clinical outcomes! It is just something any “professional” researcher needs to be trained in (to be able to evaulate methods and premises) and consider when applying published results to daily practices.

    • “It is anyone’s right to publish research based on what ever they believe…”
      yes absolutely – but such belief can constitute a more powerful conflict of interest than money – and therefore it should be declared, in my view.

    • @Pharmacist in Exile

      True Journalism is all but dead.

      Media outlets of all type once upon a time presented the facts, and let the viewers decide for themselves how to react. Today media attempts to present a slanted view in order to persuade the population to support a given view or narrative.

      The problem today is there appears to be two… or MORE sets of “facts”. Herein lies a big problem for the population at large.
      There are even less actual good investigative Journalist, the better ones actually get close to the truth… or facts if you will.
      Today’s media is much about lying to the public. Either that, or they don’t actually know that much more than the average Joe, they just want to make you believe they do.

      What we do know is that just going from the information the CDC and WHO gave us directly over the past eighteen months, they are highly responsible for the confusion and apprehension of the population at large to put much trust in them. The only “misinformation” was on their part.
      Because of their misinformation and flip-flopping with regard to Covid-19, we for the first time have a population that has more fear of being vaccinated than contracting the disease…. hmmm.

      • as evidence evolves, one has to change views!
        you call this flipflopping – I call it good science.

      • @Listener
        I think you are fundamentally wrong regarding scientific fact – but that is just my opinion.
        And you do (I guess unintentionally) put the issue on the spot: journalism is not fact – it is story telling; and the population (apparently including you) are not trained in distinguishing story telling from fact anymore as all of the knowledgebase supposedly is available through googling…

        • Pharmacist in Exile

          You make my case, the definition of Journalism is different than what we are being fed today. Evidently you are one of the many that have succumbed to the idea that Journalism is story telling…. likely because that IS what constitutes today’s media modus operandi.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Journalism

      • Translation:

        “The reporting of media outlets consistently fails to validate my batshit beliefs. The media must be wrong.”

    • There is a very simple test for a conflict or interest:

      Would any organisation that the authors name as their affiliations, regardless of what kind of businesses they persue, exist and be able to pay salaries to their affiliates, if everybody is aware that homeopathy is useless?

      I would assume, that for any organisation, that has “homeopathy” or some derivative thereof in its name, the answer would be “no”. So here we are.

      Of course, competing interests do not automatically indicate bad science. In fact, it is hard to imagine somebody, organisation or individual, to pay money for research without having some interest in the outcome, one way or another. We just have to be on the lookout if methods, outcomes, conclusions follow good scientific practice.

      But there is another implication: If vested interest is involved and not really supported by the outcome, then we can assume this is true. Because the data would be checked and double checked and reconsidered and statistics would be recalculated etc. etc. to exhaustion. So the result of this study is something like

      “We tried hard to find anything positive in our results and tried every sound and maybe not so sound way to have the outcome support our interest, but hard as we tried, we did not find any way to push this blasted p-value below 0.05. After all, it was hard enough to come up with this small advantage of homeopathy.”

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