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Here you can find news about developments in Europe that are important for homeopathy, news from the European homeopathic community and from the ECH itself

The whole news archive is available below

Swedish court rules: 'Doctors can recommend homeopathy'.

The Supreme Administrative Court has recently ruled that Swedish doctors can openly recommend homeopathy to their patients. Until recently homeopathy had not been accepted by the Swedish health authorities as an official therapeutic approach, and doctors in Sweden were not allowed to prescribe homeopathic medicines.

The court case began several years ago when a medical doctor, who was trained in homeopathy in the UK and used this therapy in his practice, was put on probation by the Medical Responsibility Board (Hälso- och Sjukvårdens AnsvarsNämnd - HSAN). The doctor appealed the decision on the grounds that he just used homeopathy when the patient requested it and only when conventional treatment had turned out to be ineffective. After being sentenced in two lower courts, he was forbidden to use homeopathy. The verdict claimed that homeopathy is unscientific, thus ignoring the growing evidence base of the effectiveness of homeopathy.

Just recently, after years of discrimination against him and his patients, his case came at last to the highest court. This court decided that patients were not exposed to any danger and the doctor had used scientific knowledge when it was necessary.

The implications of this decision are that from now on qualified medical personnel are allowed to use homeopathy. The verdict has already led to much publicity in Sweden and a rapidly increasing interest in homeopathy and other complementary therapies.

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Doctor Patricia Le Roux has passed away

On 17 October 2011 Doctor Patricia Le Roux, in the full bloom of her life, passed away after a terrible traffic accident in Paris. Her death leaves a huge gap in the homeopathic community.

Patricia Le RouxAn expert homeopathic paediatrician, she had a busy practice and worked in the emergency ward of the Hôpital de la Timone in Marseille. In her practice she was adored by her children-patients and their parents for her love, dedication, thoughtfulness and expertise.

Dr Le Roux served many years on the ECH Council as General Secretary and on the Board of the French Syndicat National des Medecins Homéopathes Français. She was coordinator of the Groupement des Pédiatres Homéopathes d’Expression Française and in that capacity organised seminars and congresses in paediatrics. Within the Société Savante d’Homéopathie she was able to bring the various homeopathic schools together and make them agree on a common educational programme.

She participated in the work of the Hahnemannian school of Fréjus, directed by Dr Didier Grandgeorge who was her teacher during her training at university. Later on she worked with a group of homeopathic doctors, the Collègues Homéopathes Unicistes Marseillais studying materia medica, became a teacher herself and gave lectures in various countries in the world. She was also a prolific writer of books on homeopathic practice, many of them translated into English and German.

She was not only a dedicated homeopathic doctor, teacher and writer. She had a great musical talent, studied music, was a gifted flute player and participated in a chamber orchestra. She shared her love for music with the members of the Massalia Consort choir which she founded and conducted. She was an all-round personality, had a truly European background, having a Scottish mother, a French father and an Italian grandmother. She was a polyglot, spoke French, English, Italian and German.

And amidst her hectic professional life, all her love, her protection and her wisdom went to her family and her four children. As one of our colleagues so rightly said, simplicity, dignity and empathy were the qualities that touched everyone who has known her.

Our community extend our thoughts to her family, her children, her parents. We wish them strength for the time to come where they will have to cope with this enormous loss.

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Systematic review of clinical trials supports homeopathy in fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome

A well-conducted systematic review from a research team in the USA has scrutinised randomised placebo-controlled trials (RCTs) of homeopathy in psychiatric conditions.

RCTs were included if they met 7 criteria and were assessed for possible bias using the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN) 50 guidelines. Identified studies were grouped into anxiety or stress, sleep or circadian rhythm complaints, premenstrual problems, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, mild traumatic brian injury, and functional somatic syndromes. Twenty-five eligible studies were identified; study quality according to SIGN 50 criteria varied, with 6 assessed as good with respect to minimizing bias, 9 as fair, and 10 as poor. Outcome was unrelated to SIGN quality.

In the category of functional somatic syndromes 5 of the 6 studies provided some evidence for efficacy in either fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome. The low placebo response (4%–15%) and modestly consistent rates of response to homeopathy (26%–50%) in these disorders and the larger sample size of over 200 patients may have yielded more precise estimates than in the other categories. Findings for other conditions were mixed and inconclusive. There was no evidence of publication bias.

Reference:
Davidson JR et al (2011) Homeopathic treatments in psychiatry: a systematic review of randomized placebo-controlled studies. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 72:795-805 [PubMed]

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Measuring the effectiveness of homeopathic care through objective public health indicators

A team of Italian researchers evaluated the effectiveness of homeopathic treatment through standard objective public health indicators of well-being. They compared homeopathic users with the general population in the same area and by comparing patients before and after homeopathic treatment, and obtained indicators of hospitalization and drug use from the Health Statistical Documentation System of Tuscany for two homeopathic centers in the Local Health Authority of Pisa, Italy.

In general, results were significant for the drug usage indicator: the population of homeopathic care users uses fewer drugs than the standard population. Furthermore, it can be seen that the number of drugs and the drugs expenditure reduce significantly after homeopathic treatment. Hospitalization indicators tended to favour patients who had received homeopathic treatment but were not always statistically significant.

This paper demonstrates a new methodological approach to assess the effectiveness of a therapeutic modality, without ad-hoc clinical trials. The assessment of effectiveness is crucial for public health institutions that integrate non-conventional medicines into the public health care system: this methodological approach implies a reduction in timing and costs and, moreover, it permits to monitor more patients. The results suggest that use of homeopathy is associated with lower use of prescribed medication.

Reference:
Leone L et al (2011) Measuring the effectiveness of homeopathic care through objective and shared indicators. Homeopathy, 100:212-219 [PubMed]

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Meeting in European Parliament on CAM Research

The need for research into health promotion and CAM (Complementary and Alternative Medicine) was the title of the third meeting of the MEP CAM Interest Group of the European Parliament held on October 11th, 2011 in the Parliament.

The need for research into health promotion and CAM (Complementary and Alternative Medicine) was the title of the third meeting of the MEP CAM Interest Group of the European Parliament held on October 11th, 2011 in the Parliament. The meeting was chaired by MEP Sirpa Pietikäinen, PEP Fin. The meeting participants first listened to a presentation entitled ‘CAM and the Research Framework Programmes’ given by Mr. Ole Olesen, Senior Scientific Officer, Infectious Diseases & Public Health unit, DG Research and Innovation. This was followed by a presentation on The Contribution of Complementary Medicine to European Public Health – Towards a Research Agenda by Prof Dr Harald Walach, of the European University Viadrina Frankfurt/Oder, Germany.  

After a brief introduction to DG Research and the structure and content of the health theme in the current EU FP7 research framework programme, Mr Olesen referred to two current research projects in CAM (CAMbrella and TCM) funded under FP7 that take up most of 5.5 million euros currently invested in CAM research. He then presented the change in thinking within DG Research that will underpin the new research framework programme FP8 or ‘Horizon 2020’, 2013-2020. The switch is to a broader common strategic framework that includes common strategies with a focus on ‘societal challenges’. Among the societal challenges identified is ‘Health, demographic change and wellbeing’  - how to provide better health while maintaining an economically sustainable healthcare system.  Under this challenge three main areas of activity were outlined, prevention, treatment and healthcare sustainability, all of which CAM has the potential to contribute to. In conclusion he stated that he thought Horizon 2020 may aim at a broader, more holistic approach to health, including additional focus on well-being. but that, as always, research activities selected for funding are selected on competitive basis of scientific excellence, impact and implementation.   

In describing the added value of CAM as a patient oriented multi therapeutic approach to treatment and health, Prof. Walach outlined the advantages of CAM as well as the problems and obstacles which confront CAM in receiving sufficient support for much needed research. Mainstream orientation and predominance in classical pharmacological research as well as very little industry support and marginal support, mostly from small charitable sources, prohibit adequate large scale research in CAM in Europe. International comparisons reveal that WHO has declared CAM and traditional medicines important elements in healthcare worldwide and also demonstrate that considerable funds are dedicated to CAM research in other countries (e.g. USA $128 million for 2011). As a way forward, Prof. Walach strongly recommended the provision for funding for CAM research be included in the health research strategic framework of Horizon 2020. He argued in favour of a ring-fenced approach focusing on model validity and European consortia, asked for specific and knowledgeable reviewers to be included in evaluation panels and recommended as a strategy following the recommendations of the roadmap that will be outlined by the CAMbrella project towards the end of 2012.

In the ensuing discussion on the objectives of Horizon 2020, the potentially new and open as well as holistic approach of the programme was underlined.  In principle it would seem to offer CAM much better research opportunities than before. It was agreed that CAM has to be seen as an important ‘innovation factor’ in Horizon 2020. However, the selection criteria for projects, the traditional orientation of conventional reviewers and the role of the Programme Committee (national governments) in setting the priorities for the Framework - and for the Annual Work - Programmes are still existing barriers for CAM research at EU level. Members of the CAM Interest Group agreed that the European Parliament has an important role to play in introducing and safeguarding the opportunities for CAM research in the new research programme during its forthcoming discussion in Parliament and that these issues must be taken up accordingly.

Presentations and background document can be found here.

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