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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

Individualised homeopathy as effective as Prozac

A research group at the Federal University of Sao Paulo, Brazil recently demonstrated that the effectiveness of individualized homeopathy was statistically equivalent to fluoxetine (Prozac), a standard effective treatment in acute depression.

Ninety-one outpatients with moderate to severe depression were assigned to receive an individualized homeopathic medicine or fluoxetine 20 mg per day (up to 40 mg per day) in a prospective, randomized, double-blind double-dummy 8-week, single-center trial.

Primary efficacy measure was the analysis of the mean change in the Montgomery & Åsberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS) depression scores, using a non-inferiority test with margin of 1.45. Secondary efficacy outcomes were response and remission rates. Mean MADRS scores differences were not significant at the 4th (P1/40.654) and 8th weeks (P1/40.965) of treatment.

Non-inferiority of homeopathy was indicated because the upper limit of the confidence interval (CI) for mean difference in MADRS change was less than the non-inferiority margin: mean differences (homeopathy–fluoxetine) were 3.04 (95% CI 6.95, 0.86) and 2.4 (95% CI 6.05, 0.77) at 4th and 8th week, respectively. There were no significant differences between the percentages of response or remission rates in the homeopathy group vs. the fluoxetine group.

Patients treated with fluoxetine reported more troublesome side effects and there was a trend toward greater treatment interruption for adverse effects in the fluoxetine group. This study illustrates the feasibility of randomized controlled double-blind trials of homeopathy in depression and indicates the non-inferiority of individualized homeopathic medicines as compared to fluoxetine in acute treatment of outpatients with moderate to severe depression.

The study can be downloaded here.

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EU awards € 1.5 million grant for CAM research

Within the 7th Research Framework Programme of the European Union a pan-European consortium of researchers has been selected to carry out a project on Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM): CAMbrella. The consortium includes researchers from the departments for Complementary Medicine at various universities and institutes in Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Norway, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

The expected EU contribution will be € 1.498.598. The aim of this project is to develop a roadmap for future European research in CAM that is appropriate for the health care needs of EU citizens, and acceptable to the EU Parliament, as well as their national research funders and healthcare providers. The specific objectives are to develop an EU network involving centres of research excellence for collaborative research, to develop consensus-based terminology widely accepted in Europe to describe the major CAM interventions used clinically in Europe, to create a knowledge base that allows to accurately evaluate the patient demands for CAM and its prevalence, to review the current legal status and policies governing CAM provision in the EU and, to explore the needs, beliefs and attitudes of the EU citizens with respect to CAM. Based on this information, a roadmap will be created that will enable a sustainable and prioritised EU research roadmap for CAM.

These overall objectives will be achieved in 3 years. The project will be managed by a Steering Committee with the support of a Scientific Committee and an Advisory Board and will involve all the major European stakeholders in the field of CAM.

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Homeopathy works in eczema and psoriasis

In 2006 a prospective, multi-centre cohort study was conducted by a research team at Berlin’s Charité University (Germany), including 103 primary care practices with additional specialization in homeopathy in Germany and Switzerland. In this study the use and effects of homeopathy under conditions of usual care were investigated. The study involved 3981 patients who consulted a physician for classical homeopathic therapy in 103 primary care practices in Germany and Switzerland. Disease severity and quality of life demonstrated marked and sustained improvements following homeopathic treatment period. The study indicates that homeopathic medical therapy may play a beneficial role in the long-term care of patients with chronic diseases.

In recent publications the results of homeopathic treatment in two subgroups of the above-mentioned study were described, one subgroup of children with atopic eczema and another subgroup of 82 adults with psoriasis.

The study on atopic eczema included 225 children with a disease duration of 3.6 ± 3.8 years who were followed up for 24 months. Over the course of the study patients received 7.3 ± 6.4 homeopathic prescriptions, most frequently Calcium carbonicum (8.2%), Tuberculinum (7.2%), and Medorrhinum (6.8%). In total, 137 different homeopathic remedies were used. The strongest improvement in diagnoses and medical complaints was seen in the first 3 months, and it continued during the full observation period. After 24 months, the atopic eczema as well as the other baseline diagnoses were considerably relieved, while reductions in use of conventional medicines were observed.

The other study was aimed at evaluating details and effects of homeopathic treatment in patients with psoriasis. Forty-five physicians treated 82 adults, who had had psoriasis for an average of 14.7 years and of whom 96.3% had been treated before. Patients received 6.0 ± 4.9 homeopathic prescriptions. Diagnoses and complaints severity improved markedly with large effect sizes. In addition, the quality of life improved, while conventional treatment and health service use were considerably reduced.

It has to be kept in mind that these are not experimental studies (with control group, randomization, and blinding, but observational studies which are, by their character, less rigorous than experimental studies. The aim of these studies was to provide systematic and detailed information about status and effects of homeopathic medical care in usual care. And the results clearly demonstrate that under individualized (‘classical’) homeopathic treatment, patients with atopic eczema and psoriasis improved in symptoms and quality of life.

References:

Witt CM, Lüdtke R, Baur R, Willich SN. (2005) Homeopathic Medical Practice: Long-term results of a Cohort Study with 3,981 Patients. BMC Public Health, 5:115.

Witt CM, Lüdtke R, Willich SN (2009). Homeopathic treatment of children with atopic eczema: a prospective observational study with two years follow-up. Acta Dermato-venereologica, 89:182-183.

Witt CM, Lüdtke R, Willich SN (2009) Homeopathic treatment of patients with psoriasis--a prospective observational study with 2 years follow-up. Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, 23:538-543.

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European Information Centre on CAM launched

‘Complementary and Alternative Medicine is not evidence based’ - that is the mantra that is heard over and over again when meeting political decision makers. There is a strong need to convey the message that substantial and good quality research evidence in CAM does exist, and furthermore, shows potential for contributing to significant improvements in health care delivery and in public health.
European Information Centre on CAM launched

EICCAM booklet

Acquaintance with information on the scientific underpinning of CAM is greatly lagging behind its increasing use by European citizens. To plug the information gap the European Information Centre for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (EICCAM) has been founded with the aim of providing and disseminating understandable, objective and high-quality information on the safety, effectiveness and efficiency of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM). The outcome of research on complementary medicine is usually only presented in scientific journals and to fellow scientists, using scientific terminology. Consequently there is a communication gap. As long as this exists, it will be a barrier to CAM’s greater use.

EICCAM central purpose is to collect and update scientific information on CAM on a regular basis, converting the scientific information into a summarised and understandable format for the educated non-expert public. This information is independent, comprehensive, understandable and quality assured in order to contribute to informed decision-making by politicians, legislators and other stakeholders. The centre also networks with the scientific community, with CAM stakeholders, and is intending to organise or participate in scientific events on CAM.

EICCAM has been set up as a Public Utility Foundation under Belgian Law, with a Management Board and a Scientific Board. Both boards jointly decide on actions and activities while the Scientific Board selects the information input and output and, most importantly, ensures its quality and independence. The current scientific committee includes reputable scientists working at European universities and includes expertise in the CAM field. To date, they have published several ‘EICCAM Research Facts’ on studies in the field of homeopathy, acupuncture, anthroposophic medicine and herbal medicine, all downloadable from the website. More publications are in the pipeline.

EICCAM has already obtained some funding, but more funding will be needed to keep the Centre running and to continue to produce regular research facts.  Readers of this article who interested to make a donation to the funding of EICCAM or are aware of possible funding sources are encouraged to contact the Chair of the EICCAM Management Board, Dr Susanne Schunder-Tatzber, schunder@gamed.or.at.

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Switzerland embeds CAM in constitution

On 17 May 2009 the Swiss people voted in favour of a constitutional article for complementary medicine in a national vote. 67 percent of voters supported the new constitutional article. Switzerland is the first country in Europe to set out in the constitution, authority for the state and constituent states (cantons) to take complementary medicine into consideration in the public health service.
Switzerland embeds CAM in constitution

Yes to Complementary Medicine

Over the last few years complementary medicine has been politically marginalized in Switzerland. Therefore, the complementary medicine sector, including doctors, therapists, manufacturers and specialized traders, together launched and brought about a national popular initiative. This enabled Swiss voters to obtain a referendum for a constitutional amendment if they collected 100,000 valid signatures within 18 months.

Parliament availed itself of its right to oppose the proposers’ constitutional article and suggest a slightly diluted form. Since parliament’s counterproposal adopted all the core demands on a legal level, the original popular initiative was withdrawn. Therefore, the people only had to vote on a constitutional article, which, experience has shown, increases the chances of them voting in favour. Particularly because parliament and the government support the parliamentary proposal.

On 17 May 2009, Swiss voters clearly approved the constitutional article proposed by parliament. The majority of voters per canton also voted in favour, which is likewise a prerequisite for any constitutional amendment.

In accordance with the referendum, the Swiss Federal constitution will be expanded by an article stipulating that “The Federal government and cantons shall ensure that, within the scope of their jurisdiction, complementary medicine is taken into consideration”.

On this constitutional basis, parliament and the authorities have to implement the following requirements:

1. Admission of doctors of complementary medicine in the fields of anthroposophic medicine, homeopathy, neural therapy, herbal medicine (phytotherapy) and Traditional Chinese Medicine into the obligatory public health insurance system. 

2. Creation of national diplomas for CAM therapists without a full medical education. 

3. Integration of complementary medicine into teaching and research. 

4. Safeguarding of proven remedies.

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