Short-term effects of repeated olfactory administration of homeopathic Sulphur or Pulsatilla on electroencephalographic alpha power in healthy young adults
Received13 November 2010
revised03 June 2011
accepted22 June 2011
30 December 2017 (online)
Introduction: Homeopathic pathogenetic trials usually rely on symptom self report measures. Adding objective biomarkers could enhance detection of subtle initial remedy effects. The present feasibility study examined electroencephalographic (EEG) effects of repeated olfactory administration of two polycrest remedies.
Methods: College student volunteers (ages 18–30, both sexes) from an introductory psychology course were screened for good health and relatively elevated Sulphur or Pulsatilla symptom scores on the Homeopathic Constitutional Type Questionnaire (CTQ). Subjects underwent a series of 3 once-weekly double-blind sessions during which they repeatedly sniffed the remedy matched to their CTQ type and solvent controls. Each remedy was given in a 6c, 12c, and 30c potency, one potency per week, in randomly assigned order. Solvent controls included both plain distilled water and a water–ethanol (95%) solution. All sniff test solutions were further diluted just prior to laboratory sessions (0.5 ml test solution in 150 ml distilled water). Within a session, remedies and control solvents were administered via 2-s sniffs (8 sniffs of each of 4 different succussion levels for the potency in randomized order). Primary outcome variable was relative EEG power (alpha 1 8–10 Hz; alpha 2 10–12 Hz) averaged over 19 electrode sites, including all succussions for a given potency.
Results: Mixed-effect models revealed significant main effects for remedy type (Sulphur > Pulsatilla) in both alpha bands, controlling for gender, baseline resting EEG alpha, and solvent control responses. Additional analyses showed significant nonlinear interactions between dilution and time (weekly session) in alpha 2 for both remedies and alpha 1 for Sulphur.
Conclusion: EEG alpha offers an objective biomarker of remedy effects for future studies and potential method for distinguishing time-dependent effects of specific remedies and remedy potencies from one another.
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