Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory skin disorder, affecting the trunk and extensor surfaces of limbs and scalp predominantly. Its prevalence ranges between 0.1 and 11.4% and in India between 0.4 and 2.8%. Psoriasis remains a frequently encountered condition in homeopathy practice, but there is a dearth of evidence supporting its use.
This 6-month, double-blind, randomized trial was conducted on 51 patients suffering from psoriasis at the National Institute of Homoeopathy, India. Patients were randomized to receive either individualized homeopathic medicines (IHMs; n = 25) in LM potencies or identical-looking placebos (n=26). Psoriasis area and severity index (PASI; primary), psoriasis disability index (PDI), and dermatological life quality index (DLQI; secondary) were measured at baseline, and every 2 months, up to 6 months. The intention-to-treat sample was analyzed using a two-way repeated measure analysis of variance.
Although intra-group changes were significant in both groups, improvements were significantly greater in the IHMs group than in the placebo group regarding the PASI scores after 6 months (F1, 49 = 10.448, P = 0.002). DLQI daily activity subscale scores also yielded similar significant results favoring IHMs against placebos after 6 months (F1, 49 = 5.480, P = 0.023). Improvement in PDI total (F1, 49 = 0.063, P = 0.803), DLQI total (F1, 49 = 1.371, P = 0.247), and all remaining subscales were higher in the IHMs group than placebos after 6 months, but non-significant statistically. Calcarea carbonica, Mercurius solubilis, Arsenicum album, and Petroleum were the most frequently prescribed medicines.
The authors concluded that IHMs exhibited better results than placebos in the treatment of psoriasis. Further research is warranted.
- Psoriasis is a genetically determined condition, and I find it hard to believe that homeopathy can change its natural history.
- The symptoms of psoriasis fluctuate and can be influenced by a range of factors, including stress.
- We learn nothing about any concomitant interventions which are always necessary, e.g. creams, or compliance with them.
- It is conceivable that patients in the verum group received inadvertent reassurance which, in turn, reduced stress and improved compliance with external treatments.
- It is unclear whether patients were successfully blinded or whether inadvertent de-blinding occurred.
In any case, I would caution that this trial needs independent replications before we can take its findings seriously.
Thanks to several readers, I now have the full text and can add the following points:
- The authors report adverse events as follows: ” No adverse events were reported during the treatment period from either group that could be attributed causally to either IHMs or placebos. Some minor events unrelated to study medications, like common cold and injury occurring in both groups were treated with acute homeopathic medicines irrespective of allocated codes, and once those acute phases were over, the patients were returned to originally allocated groups again.” This is odd because homeopaths would expect aggravations in a high percentage of cases.
- I am not sure that I understand the blinding procedure; it is described as follows: “Double-blinding method was adopted by masking the trial participants, investigators, outcome assessors, pharmacists, and data entry operators throughout the trial. Identical-looking vials were coded as either “1” or “2” and contained either medicines or placebos. The codes remained the same for all the randomized participants. Codes were assigned randomly and confidentially by another independent third party. Both medicines and placebos were repacked in identical glass bottles and labeled with code, name of medicine, and potency, and were dispensed according to the random number list. The vials were destined for each patient by the random number chart. The participants got the medicines dispensed personally at the hospital pharmacy. Codes were broken at the end of the trial after the dataset was frozen.”
- The affiliations of the authors are interesting:1 Dept. of Materia Medica, National Institute of Homoeopathy, Ministry of AYUSH, Govt. of India, Block GE, Sector 3, Salt Lake, Kolkata 700106, West Bengal, India; affiliated to The West Bengal University of Health Sciences, Govt. of West Bengal, India
2 Dept. of Repertory, National Institute of Homoeopathy, Ministry of AYUSH, Govt. of India, Block GE,
Sector 3, Salt Lake, Kolkata 700106, West Bengal, India; affiliated to The West Bengal University of
Health Sciences, Govt. of West Bengal, India 3 Dept. of Repertory, The Calcutta Homoeopathic Medical College and Hospital, Govt. of West Bengal, 265, 266, Acharya Prafulla Chandra Road, Kolkata 700009, West Bengal; affiliated to The West Bengal University of Health Sciences, Govt. of West Bengal, India
4 East Bishnupur State Homoeopathic Dispensary, Chandi Daulatabad Block Primary Health Centre,
Village and Post Office: Dakshin Gouripur, Police Station Bishnupur, South 24 Parganas 743503, West
Bengal, under Department of Health & Family Welfare, Govt. of West Bengal, India 5 Dept. of Repertory, D. N. De Homoeopathic Medical College and Hospital, Govt. of West Bengal, 12, Gobinda Khatick Road, Tangra, Kolkata 700046, West Bengal; affiliated to The West Bengal University
of Health Sciences, Govt. of West Bengal, India.
I think it is safe to repeat that independent replications would be essential.