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

This systematic review evaluated individualized homeopathy as a treatment for children with attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) when compared to placebo or usual care alone.

Thirty-seven online sources were searched up to March 2021. Studies investigating the effects of individualized homeopathy against any control in ADHD were eligible. Data were extracted to a predefined excel sheet independently by two reviewers.

Six studies were analyzed:

  • 5 were RCTs
  • 2 were controlled against standard treatments;
  • 4 were placebo-controlled and double-blinded.

The meta-analysis revealed a significant effect size across studies of Hedges’ g = 0.542 (95% CI 0.311-0.772; z = 4,61; p < 0.001) against any control and of g = 0.605 (95% CI 0.05-1.16; z = 2.16, p = 0.03) against placebo. The effect estimations are based on studies with an average sample size of 52 participants.

The authors concluded that individualized homeopathy showed a clinically relevant and statistically robust effect in the treatment of ADHD.

This is a counter-intuitive result (to put it mildly), and it is, therefore, wise to have a look at the 6 included studies:

1.Frei, H. et al. Homeopathic treatment of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: a randomised, double blind, placebo controlled crossover trial. Eur. J. Pediatr. 164, 758–767 (2005).

This was a trial with just 62 patients who had previously responded to homeopathy. The study was conducted by known proponents of homeopathy and had a highly unusual design. The results suggested that homeopathy was better than placebo.

2. Oberai, P. et al. Homoeopathic management of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: a randomised placebo-controlled pilot trial. Indian J. Res. Homoeopathy 7, 158–167 (2013).

This one was published in an obscure journal that I could not access.

3. Jacobs, J., Williams, A. L., Girard, C., Njike, V. Y. & Katz, D. Homeopathy for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: a pilot randomized-controlled trial. J. Altern. Complement. Med. 11, 799–806 (2005)

This study showed that there were no statistically significant differences between homeopathic remedy and placebo groups on the primary or secondary outcome variables.

4. Jones, M. The efficacy of homoeopathic simillimum in the treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD) in schoolgoing children aged 6-11 years (2009).

This was a small unpublished (and not peer-reviewed) thesis. Its results showed no statistically significant effect of treatment.

5. Lamont, J. Homoeopathic treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Br. Homeopathic J. 86, 196–200 (1997)

This was a small (n=46) trial with an unusual design. Its results suggested that homeopathy was better than placebo.

6. von Ammon, K. et al. Homeopathic RCT embedded in a long-term observational study of children with ADHD—a successful model of whole systems CAM research. Eur. J. Integr. Med. 1, 27 (2008).

Even though the journal is Medline-listed, I was unable to find this paper. I did, however, find a paper by the same authors with the same title. It turned out to be a duplication of the paper by Frei et al listed above.

_________________________

All in all, this brief analysis of the available abstracts (most full papers are behind paywalls) leaves many questions as to the trustworthiness of this systematic review unanswered. The fact that H. Walach (and other apologists of homeopathy) is its senior author does not inspire me with overwhelming confidence. In any case, I very much doubt that the authors’ conclusion is correct. I therefore would encourage someone with access to all full papers to initiate a more thorough analysis; the abstracts obviously leave many questions unanswered. For instance, it would be crucial to know how many of the trials followed an A+B versus B design (I suspect most studies did, and this would completely invalidate the review’s conclusion). I am more than happy to co-operate with such an evaluation.

20 Responses to Individualized homeopathy as a treatment for ADHD: a new systematic review

    • Couple of points about that paper:

      There is no indication of actual full assessment for and diagnosis of ADHD in any of the study children, just an ambiguous statement about “meeting DSM criteria”, which is not that same thing at all;

      The outcome measures are severely limited, being short form of parents’ Conners and short form CGI-IS, which itself is not any measure of ADHD symptoms. No other measures or observations are used to support those.

      Colour me not very convinced by that.

  • Fun fact: Walach’s declaration of interest – “H.W. has no conflict of interest.”

  • Hmmm…based on your logic, nobody should accept any and all research published testing conventional drugs because they are conducted by people who “believe” in conventional medicine and who often “practice” it, thereby creating a conflict of interest.

    Some people here may claim that conventional physicians and scientists do not always published “positive” studies on conventional medical treatments, but guess what, neither does Harald Walach (if you had dome your simple homework, you would know this…and I predict that you DO know this, but like that former American President whose name I don’t like to mention because he is so evil), you too have a difficult time with information that doesn’t fit your narrative.

    • please show me where I claimed that nobody should accept any and all research published testing homeopathy because they are conducted by people who “believe” in homeopathy and who often “practice” it, thereby creating a conflict of interest.
      SAD TO SEE THAT YOUR ABILITY TO READ HAS NOT IMPROVED, DANA

    • @ Dana Ullman:

      Disclosure of a conflict of interest is intended to help the reader determine whether bias may be at play. In a sense, it is a service to the reader.

      In “normal” drug studies, this is now largely standard practice, and of course it does not mean that the study results are necessarily untrustworthy.

      For your information: https://www.icmje.org/recommendations/

      Only in German: https://scienceblogs.de/gesundheits-check/2019/08/04/interessenkonflikte-wir-doch-nicht/

    • Mr Ullman, I am glad you have looked in!

      Can you spare a moment now to name a laboratory that can distinguish between homeopathic water and other water, which in this Blog you claimed “only fools or liars” doubted can be done?

      Thirty-sixth time of asking. Thank you.

    • Ah, Mr Ullman, good to see you again – I still have some unanswered questions with regard to homeopathy, and I wondered if in the meantime, you might have found some solid evidence for the viability of the following foundational principles of homeopathy:
      – The similia principle, or “Like Cures Like”: can you name even a single substance that a) causes certain symptoms in healthy people, and b) cures sick people who suffer from those symptoms? I have been looking for substances like this for the better part of the past 20 years, but I failed to identify even one substance exhibiting these properties.
      – The law of infinitesimals, or “Higher Dilution = More Potent Medicine”: all my efforts to confirm this ‘law’ have so far remained fruitless. I have not found even a single medicine where decreasing doses consistently produced increasing effects. Maybe you can name one such medicine?
      – The concept of Proving, or “Identifying Medicines by Given them to Healthy People”: this too does not appear to work. Please point me to proper provings where a particular homeopathic substance consistently elicits particular, well-defined effects in groups of healthy people.

      Please note that any supporting evidence that you choose to come up with must be based on at least several high-quality trials all showing significant effects, replicated by several independent research groups, just like it is done in real medicine.

      • Richard

        I believe radioactive substances qualify – they both cause and are used in the cure of cancer.

        Not that this has any relevance to homeopathy and the delusions of Dana and his friends. I remember reading of one remedy where the mother tincture was made by standing outside a nuclear power station. It might’ve been plutonium – arch-nutcase Jeremy Sherr has published a proving of the remedy. My how everyone laughed.

        • The Homeopathic Proving of Plutonium Nitricum by Jeremy Sherr, The Dynamis School

          “Pluto, son of Uranus,(Chronos), was eaten by his own father before being spewed out from the darkness of his parent’s belly. … A central theme of Plutonium is a deep feeling of suffering originating from one’s forefathers, like a punishment echoing down the generations. Hence its affinity with DNA, bone marrow, and very serious pathologies such as Cancers, Leukaemia, Radiation, AIDS, Thyroid problems and deep mental pathologies. Heaviness, fatigue and burdened responsibility show up in the Proving, alongside lightness and floating – confirming its up / down axis, and similarities with other remedies such as Helium and Hydrogen.

          Plutonium is, of course, a remedy for our times – where nuclear arms proliferation runs amok alongside our toxic environment, made ever more so as nuclear reactors spew out their 24,000-plus years of indestructible waste into it.

          This very thorough proving will give you an insight into the element, planet, mythology, astrology and themes of Plutonium.”
          https://www.helios.co.uk/en/shop/homeopathic-proving-of-plutonium

          See also
          https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Jeremy_Sherr

    • Dana,

      I am not interested in curing illnesses, but I am trying to use the law of infinitesimals to stretch a bottle of whiskey. I made whiskey solutions of various potencies from 1C thru 200C and tested them on myself. The primary end points being 1) taste 2) magnitude of drunkenness. According to the law of infinitesimals, a 200C whiskey solution is more potent than a 10 ml of straight whiskey therefore it should taste better and get one drunk faster. However, no matter how much of 200C whiskey solution I drink, it tastes like water, and I don’t get drunk at all.

      All I am trying to do is to avoid buying a bottle of whiskey every week and save some money. What am I doing wrong, Dana? I’d appreciate if you could help me out. Eagerly waiting for your response.

      • You’re just showing your ignorance of the power of homeopathy. The potentisation of whiskey means the taking of the remedy will make you more sober if you are first drunk. The proving should provide feelings of Scottish glens. Or something. You might have the wrong profile or have exposed the remedy to bad thoughts.

        The idea that homeopathy is a crock of shite is of course totally wrong.

        • I do think it is important here not to confuse homeopathy with isopathy.

          The symptoms of lead poisoning would not in homeopathy be treated with a homeopathic potency of lead. Instead, they would be treated with a homeopathic potency of something that in a healthy person would cause symptoms LIKE, BUT NOT QUITE THE SAME AS, those of lead poisoning. Similimum similibus curentor. Like cures like; not same cures same.

          Thus, it occurs to me that homeopathic Whisky (or Whiskey, if made in Ireland) might be a suitable remedy for transient ischaemic attack, as the symptoms may be similar – dizziness, slurred speech, mobility problems, personality change etc.

          Do you feel I may be on to something here?

          • In that case, could a potentized solution of a substance that causes transient ischaemic attack be used to induce drunkenness?

            I strongly believe that clever application of homeopathic principles can provide a safe drinking experience, without damaging the liver.

          • That seems eminently reasonable!

        • Pardon my ignorance, Lenny. You mean to say whatever this is, is certainly not a crock of shite?

          https://www.narayana-verlag.de/homeopathy/pdf/The-Homoeopathic-Proving-of-Plutonium-Nitricum-Jeremy-Sherr.07300_1contents_introduction.pdf

          My initial experience with Plutonium nitricum is promising. I have succeeded in offering therapeutic help in many cases, this includes patients that have not responded to previous homoeopathic treatment. I have received frequent reports of successful cases of Plutonium nitricum, based on the proving, from homoeopaths around the world. I have no doubt that the toxicology and repertory of ionising radiation, published in this book, will lead to an even greater number of cures.

          It is particularly interesting to note the great number of genetically related metaphors that arise in this proving. References to DNA and double helixes abound. The toxicology shows latency in appearance of symptoms and genetic mutations that affect second and third generations. Provers experienced hereditary emotional symptoms that originated in previous generations, a feeling of ‘sins of the fathers visited onto sons’. One prover felt like a Neanderthal man. Others saw or dreamt of primitive ancestor warriors throwing rocks and daggers at each other. These are outward reflections of the internal Plutonium disease.

          Emphasis mine. Perhaps the provers watched opening scenes of 2001: A Space Odyssey before they did the proving?

          • There’s nothing like reading through the report of a proving to expose the wilful levels of crackpotted self-delusion embraced by the homeo loons. The pompous layers of handwaving and aggrandisement as they desperately try to seek validation for their nonsense. It is pathetic, laughable intellectual circle-jerking.

  • Having now seen at least some of the full papers, I realize that I made several errors in the post, e.g.:

    the studies included in the SR were not those I listed but:
    Filbert
    Filbert
    Oberai
    Jones
    Frei
    Jacobs
    However, my doubts about the validity of the conclusion stand.
    I will try to explain more in a later post.

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