The many truths of homeopathy

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Homeopathy research

Homeopathy is controversial - also in research. Anyone who believes that science provides objective knowledge and thus society and politicians "the truth" as a basis for decision-making can learn something from homeopathy research: science and its results can be very heterogeneous, even contradictory.

And so there are "several truths" in a research area. This becomes immediately clear to the various experts, who hold conflicting opinions with regard to the effectiveness of homeopathy: "Taking internal and external validity criteria into account, the effectiveness of homeopathy can be regarded as proven, and professional, professional use can be considered safe." This is the conclusion For example, a Health Technology Assessment (HTA) carried out by the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health (BAG) as part of the Evaluation Complementary Medicine (PEK) program. The aim of this comprehensive investigation by the BAG was to provide a basis for the effectiveness, appropriateness and economy of complementary medical medicine. In contrast, the Swiss BAG sees that Prof. Dr. Windeler, head of the Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG): “The medical benefit of homeopathy has not been proven. You don't have to do any further research, the thing is done, ”Windeler is certain.

Squabble Potentiation A major point of contention between homeopaths and orthodox doctors has been potentiation since homeopathy was founded - in other words, the dilution and shaking of homeopathic medicines. So far, no scientific model has been able to fully explain the mechanism of action of so-called high potencies, in which no molecule of the starting substance can be detected. Even if the effects of potentized drugs have already been proven in laboratory tests (see below). And “because what can not be cannot be,” the lack of an explanatory model often leads to the accusation that homeopathy can only be placebo medicine instead of addressing the open questions.

Clinical research and health services research Modern clinical research concentrates almost exclusively on the effectiveness of homeopathic medicinal products, whereby the role of the patient's medical history or the way in which the homeopathically suitable medicinal product is found is usually ignored. In a reductionist approach, the "total package" of homeopathic treatment is broken down into individual parts, the effects of which are evaluated separately from the other parts.

However, homeopathy is more than the sum of its parts, as can be seen in daily medical practice, patient satisfaction and, last but not least, the influx of doctors who can be trained in homeopathy. The number of homeopathically trained doctors more than doubled from 1995 (around 3,000) to the present day (over 7,000). For some this is a sign of the delusion of the medical profession, for others the conclusive implementation of a functioning healing method.

The contrast to the reductionist research approach can be found in so-called health services research. By definition, this research area examines the care of patients under everyday and practice conditions. Here homeopathy is considered as a holistic healing method. In health services research, the effectiveness of homeopathy is regarded as proven even by critics. In addition to the Swiss HTA report already mentioned, there are relevant studies by the Charité Berlin and some health insurance companies. Overall, health services research shows that homeopathy works effectively in practice and is less expensive than conventional medical procedures. A homeopathic practice therefore only costs half the cost of an average primary care practice, homeopathically treated patients have to be treated less inpatient, use less expensive special treatments and suffer less from side effects of medicines than conventionally treated patients. In addition, homeopathy in chronically ill patients achieved "significantly greater improvements" in direct comparison with conventional medicine (model study homeopathy by the IKK Hamburg).

From a social science perspective Against the background of different perspectives, it is not surprising that heated discussions in research circles about homeopathy arise. The social science perspective shows that these are mostly debates in the “ivory tower” of science that are not very relevant for patients - for example, the results of an Allensbach survey (2009) representative of Germany: 57 percent of Germans therefore use homeopathic medicines - A total of a quarter of the population are "convinced users" of homeopathic medicines and are convinced of their effectiveness without restriction. Only two percent of the population consider homeopathic medicines to be ineffective.

According to a Forsa survey (2010), reporting for "convinced users" plays a very minor role: 98 percent of them stated that critical reporting does not detract from their confidence in homeopathy. From this, the conclusion could be drawn that a directly experienced healing experience has more weight for a person than any knowledgeable intellectual access to the healing method. (Guest article German Central Association of Homeopathic Doctors, December 17th, 2010)

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