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Research on Eczema & Homeopathic Medicine

Mar 2011
by Tim Fior, MD

In the study of eczema (dermatitis), there have been 3 good clinical studies published. Keil and colleagues from the Institute for Social Medicine, Epidemiology, and Health Economics in Berlin, Germany studied 118 children suffering from atopic eczema. 54 children were treated with homeopathic medicine and 64 children were treated with conventional dermatology drugs. Both groups were followed for a period of 12 months. Children in both groups had their eczema symptoms improve. Disease-related quality of life improved equally in both groups. However, improvement of eczema as observed by physicians was significantly greater in the homeopathic group (p<0.001). (Keil T, et.al. Complement Ther Med. 2008: Feb; 16(1): 15-21.) In Japan, Itamura and Hosoya studied 17 patients with intractable atopic dermatitis. These patients had previously failed conventional dermatological drug therapy. They were then treated with individualized homeopathic medical therapy, in addition to conventional dermatology therapy. The study's follow-up period was 6 to 31 months. The efficacy of homeopathic medicine was measured by objective assessments of the skin condition and the patients' own assessments, using a 9 point scale. 1 patient cleared completely, 7 patients partially cleared (=80% better), and 9 patients partially cleared (=50% better). Importantly, 5 of 17 patients (29%) were able to stop the use of topical steroid ointments. (Itamura R, Hosoya R. Homeopathy. 2003: 92; 108-114.) In an observational study, Witt and colleagues studied 225 children with atopic eczema. The children were treated with homeopathic medicine and were allowed to also use conventional dermatology drugs. They were followed for 24 months. The severity of eczema in these patients improved and the changes in severity assessment were of large effect size. Reductions in the use of conventional dermatology drugs were observed. (Witt CM, et.al. Acta Dermato Venereol. 2009: 89(2); 182-183.
In a randomized, placebo-controlled double-blind trial, Cavalcanti and colleagues studied the effect of homeopathic treatment on itching of hemodialysis patients. Kidney failure patients undergoing dialysis treatment often have severe itching, which is difficult to control. The researchers assessed the role of individualized homeopathic treatment in this situation. Itching was evaluated using a previously published scale. Patients were classified as responders if they had greater than 50% reduction of itching. 20 patients were analyzed. Reduction of itching was statistically significant at every point of observatiion (p<0.05). According to the patients' own assessment at the end of the study period, the homeopathic treatment reduced the itching score by approximately 49%. (Cavalcanti AMS, et.al. Homeopathy. 2003: 92, 177-181.) Mousavi and colleagues studied the effectiveness of the homeopathic remedy, Ignatia 30C in the treatment of oral lichen planus, a painful inflammatory dermatological disease. In this single-blind randomized clinical trial, 30 consecutive patients with oral lichen planus were randomized into two groups: one group received homeopathic Ignatia and the other group received placebo. The patients were treated for 4 months. The results showed that the size of the oral sores decreased significantly in favor of the homeopathic Ignatia treated patients. Also, the average pain was significantly lower in the homeopathic Ignatia group. The researchers concluded homeopathic Ignatia has a beneficial effect in the treatment of oral lichen planus in selected patients. (Mousavi F, et.al. Homeopathy. 2009: 98, 40-44.) Pommier, et.al. published a phase III single-blind randomized comparison trial of homeopathic calendula ointment versus trolamine ointment in the prevention of acute radiation dermatitis in women undergoing post-operative radiation treatment for breast cancer. The researchers studied 254 patients. They found that the occurrence of acute radiation dermatitis (grade 2 or higher) was significantly lower (41% versus 63%; p<0.001) in the homeopathically treated calendula ointment group. The homeopathic group also had less frequent interruption of radiation therapy and less radiation-induced pain. The researchers concluded that homeopathic calendula ointment is highly effective for the prevention of acute radiation dermatitis of grade 2 or higher. (Pommier P, et.al. J Clin Oncol. 2004: 1447-1453.) In an animal model study, de Paula Coelho and colleagues evaluated the homeopathic remedy Dolichos pruriens in the treatment of heat-induced itching in laboratory rats. The researchers found that in this blinded study, homeopathic Dolichos pruriens significantly demonstrated therapeutic effects in the inhibition of itching. The homeopathic remedy had no adverse effects. It is possible that the homeopathic remedy Dolichos pruriens could potentially be useful in humans with generalized itching without an eruption (e.g. "itching of unknown origin"). (de Paula Coelho C, et.al. Homeopathy. 2006: 95(3); 136-143.)

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