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Measurable effects of homeopathic medicines in insomnia

A research team at the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Tucson (USA) recently examined the effects of one dose of placebo versus either Coffea Cruda 30c or Nux Vomica 30c in relatively healthy young adult human subjects with a past history of coffee-induced insomnia.

They used polysomnography (PSG), which can distinguish divergent findings, if present, between subjective sleep complaints and objective all-night sleep recording assessments in certain types of insomnia.

The authors refer to multiple studies on healthy animals that have shown measurable effects on sleep of three different homeopathic medicines at potencies prepared to a dilution past Avogadro’s number (Histamine, Coffea Cruda, and Nux Vomica) compared with placebo. In these studies each medicine at a 30c potency altered sleep patterns notably with differential effects on electroencephalographic delta frequency (0.5– 2.5 Hz) power during sleep, while other investigators have demonstrated effects of Nux Vomica 30c on alcohol-induced sleep time in mice.

The authors argue that the relative lack of objective measures to evaluate homeopathy in human subjects has thus far hindered advances in both clinical care and research. Polysomnography, in their opinion, can offer a potentially valuable tool for homeopathic investigations.

In this trial young adults of both sexes (ages 18–31) were included with above-average scores on standardized personality scales for either cynical hostility or anxiety sensitivity (but not both) and a history of coffee-induced insomnia. At-home polysomnographic recordings were obtained on successive pairs of nights once per week for a total of eight recordings (nights 1, 2, 8, 9, 15, 16, 22, 23).

Subjects (N = 54) received placebo pellets on night 8 (single-blind) and verum pellets on night 22 (double-blind) in 30c doses of one of two homeopathic medicines, Nux Vomica or Coffea Cruda. Subjects completed daily morning sleep diaries and weekly Pittsburgh sleep quality index scales, as well as profile of mood states scales at bedtime on polysomnography nights.

This study demonstrated that the homeopathic medicines significantly increased PSG total sleep time and NREM, as well as awakenings and stage changes. Findings are similar though not identical to those reported in animals with the same medicines. Possible mechanisms include initial disruption of the nonlinear dynamics of sleep patterns by the homeopathic medicines.

Reference:

Bell IR et al (2010). Effects of homeopathic medicines on polysomnographic sleep of young adults with histories of coffee-related insomnia. Sleep Medicine, doi:10.1016/j.sleep.2010.03.013

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