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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

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Large majority of patients with joint diseases use manual therapies, acupuncture or homeopathy

A research team in the Netherlands explored patients’ perspectives towards the use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM), its integration in primary care and the specific role of the GP therein.

The study included a survey on use, attitudes and disclosure of CAM, an e-panel consultation and focus group among patients with joint diseases. A total of 416 patients responded to the survey who suffered from osteoarthritis (51%), rheumatoid arthritis (29%) or fibromyalgia (24%).

The following four research questions were addressed: (1) What is the prevalence of CAM use among Dutch patients with joint diseases? (2) What are these patients’ attitudes toward CAM use? (3) Do these patients disclose CAM use to their GP? (4) How do these patients envision integration of CAM therapies in primary care?

The study demonstrated a high prevalence of CAM use among patients with joint diseases. A two-year prevalence of 86%, including the use of CAM home remedies, and 71% of patients visiting a CAM practitioner. Reasons for CAM use include a wide range of factors. The primary pull factors were an integrative approach to disease management, advice from a different angle and having received positive information about CAM practitioners. Push factors for CAM use were searching for an alternative to conventional medication and no further progress with conventional treatment. These results largely confirm earlier observations, that nowadays patients intentionally seek CAM because they want to be treated in an integrative or holistic way, rather than for reasons of negative experiences with conventional treatment.

Manual therapies, acupuncture and homeopathy were most frequently used. Currently, there seems to be a gigantic gap in conventional medicine between patients who would like to discuss CAM and physicians who do not talk about it with their patients. A minority (30%) actively communicated CAM use with their General Practitioner (GP). The majority (92%) preferred a GP who informed about CAM, 70% a GP who referred to CAM, and 42% wanted GPs to collaborate with CAM practitioners. Similar attitudes were found in the focus group and upon e-panel consultation.

Interestingly, almost one quarter of patients with joint diseases reported to use less conventional medication and to pay less visits to their GP upon CAM use. Since conventional medication, especially those for rheumatoid arthritis, is associated with high expenditure of healthcare costs, this observation may indicate possible cost-effectiveness upon CAM use.

The authors conclude that most patients in primary care want a GP who listens, inquires about CAM and if necessary refers to or collaborates with CAM practitioners.
To meet needs of patients, primary care disease management would benefit from an active involvement of GPs concerning CAM communication/referral. This study presents a model addressing the role of patients and GPs within such an integrative approach.

Jong MC, et al.(2012) Integration of complementary and alternative medicine in primary care: What do patients want? Patient Education and Counseling, [PubMed]

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Promising plant model for research into homeopathy

In a recent study, a team of Swiss, Dutch and Danish researchers evaluated the potential of a seedling-biocrystallisation method. They investigated the effects of a treatment with either Stannum metallicum 30x or water 30x on growing cress seedlings (Lepidium sativum L.) using the biocrystallisation method.

A major challenge in basic research into homeopathy is to develop bioassays that yield consistent results. During recent years various studies have been reported that successfully used healthy plants (e.g., wheat, peas, duckweed) as test organisms.

Stannum metallicum 30x (or D30) is an ultramolecular preparation. It contains tin from the starting material in a nominal dilution of 10^−30 (8.4 × 10^−30 M). This preparation was compared to water 30x (or D30), that is, water that has undergone 30 analogous steps of dilution and agitation.These ultra-molecular dilutions are the main cause of scientific scepticism surrounding homeopathy because they are diluted beyond the point at which theoretically any molecule of the starting substance is present.

In a series of 15 independent experiments, evaluation of the resulting biocrystallograms with computerized texture analysis yielded highly significant differences between the two groups, i.e. there were some specific biological effects of Stannum metallicum 30x on the germinating cress seedlings, compared to water 30x as control.

Experiments were performed independently in two laboratories in Denmark and in the Netherlands and were fully randomized and coded (blinded).

The biocrystallisation method seems to be a promising complementary outcome measure for plant bioassays investigating effects of homeopathic preparations.

Baumgartner S, Doesburg P, Scherr C, Andersen J.-O.(2012) Development of a Biocrystallisation Assay for Examining Effects of Homeopathic Preparations Using Cress Seedlings. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Article ID 125945, doi:10.1155/2012/125945 [PubMed]

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Over 50% of European adults and children use CAM

A recent European review, performed by combining data from published surveys with expert perspectives, indicates that CAM appears to be popular not only among adults in Europe, but also for children.
Over 50% of European adults and children use CAM

CAM statistics

All European countries with a minimum of 5 million habitants were initially included for which any data about CAM use in children were published in the last 10 years (29 countries), then expanded to include 2 smaller countries. Corresponding authors from these publications were contacted in each country, and they were asked to provide information about paediatric CAM use in their countries.

Limitations created by a lack of representative studies, varying definitions of CAM use, and what qualifies as CAM in different countries was partially overcome by integrating local experts to summarise information available only in the national language and provide their perspectives about CAM availability, quality, use and popularity in their countries using a semi-structured questionnaire. Local and international published surveys were summarised, and the prevalence of CAM use was extrapolated.
Data from 20 European countries were available, representing 69% of the European population. Some data about CAM use by the general population were available for 90% of the examined countries, whereas peer-reviewed published surveys were available for only 60%. The authors extrapolated that 56% (range: 10—90%, adjusted for population size) of the European population in general had used CAM at least once in the past year. Surveys in CAM use by children were available for 55% of the investigated countries. The extrapolated prevalence of CAM use by children in Europe was 52% (range: 5—90%, adjusted for population size). Paediatric CAM experts reported an increasing awareness for and use of CAM in healthcare institutions.

Conclusion: This precursor for further surveys indicates that CAM appears to be popular not only among adults in Europe, but also for children. Development of a pan-European definition of CAM use and CAM therapies are required to achieve surveys comparable between European countries. Additionally, more research investigating the efficacy and potential adverse effects of CAM therapies is needed because of increasing CAM use by children in Europe.

Zuzak TJ, et al. Use of complementary and alternative medicine by children in Europe: Published data and expert perspectives. Complementary Therapies in Medicine (2012), doi:10.1016/j.ctim.2012.01.001

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Homeopathy popular in India

Homeopathy in India has grown to a large extent according to recent statistics from the ASSOCHAM - Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
Homeopathy popular in India

Homeopathic Pharmacy in India

It is not just the fact that the size of the present domestic homeopathy market has been placed around Rs 27,580,000,000 (395 million Euro), but that with a 30 per cent annual increase, it will reach Rs. 46,000,000,000 (659 million Euro) in a few years. These figures place India second to France in the ranking of the homeopathy market.

Other facts and figures make the role of homeopathy very impressive. With a hundred million people in the country totally committed to homeopathy, it is expected that the number will go over 160 million in three years. Right now, there are 500,000 registered homeopaths and every year there are 20,000 more being added. There are 185 homeopathic colleges in the country, and 11,000 homeopathic hospital beds.

According to D.S Rawat, the Secretary General in ASSOCHAM, people turn to allopathy (= conventional Western mainstream medicine) only in emergency situations. But in chronic illnesses like skin and hair disease, respiratory problems, obesity, diabetes, homeopathy, although said to be slow, offers sure treatment.

The main factors that make homeopathy popular are the affordability of the treatment and the personalized interaction doctors have with their patients, which the World Health Organization also acknowledges.

Although countries like Britain continue to be critical of the approach, this 250-year old treatment regimen has become very popular, especially in India.

Source: MedIndia - Network for Health
ASSOCHAM - Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

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German medical students love homeopathy

The Wilseder Forum that brings together medical students interested in homeopathy has just celebrated its 20th anniversary in Essen, Germany (30 March-1 April 2012).

The Wilseder Forum has a unique status in the current homeopathic scenery of Germany. It was established in 1992 to bring medical students closer to homeopathy, because at that time medical curricula at universities did not pay any attention to homeopathy. Around 650 students attended the Forum in the past ten years. The Forum provides the opportunity to discuss the work of the various university working groups. These working groups are comprised of medical students who would like to have a good and critical look at homeopathy and convene several times a year.

The Forum is a 3-day event taking place twice a year. In addition to workshops dealing with the university working groups, the Forum offers the possibility of a more in-depth study of homeopathy to all interested medical students. It is an event run by students for students. The students themselves determine the main focus of the programme. For each selected topic speakers are invited for scientific lectures and plenary discussions.

The Wilseder Forum was initiated by the Karl and Veronica Carstens Foundation, a foundation established by the late President of Germany Karl Carstens (1914-1992) and his wife Veronica Carstens MD (1923-2012). The main objective of the Foundation is the integration and broader acceptance of homeopathy and complementary medicine in today's medical community.

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