Homeopathy 2013; 102(01): 3-24
DOI: 10.1016/j.homp.2012.10.002
Original Paper
Copyright © The Faculty of Homeopathy 2012

Randomised controlled trials of homeopathy in humans: characterising the research journal literature for systematic review

Robert T. Mathie
1   British Homeopathic Association, Hahnemann House, 29 Park Street West, Luton LU1 3BE, UK
Daniela Hacke
2   Karl und Veronica Carstens-Stiftung, Am Deimelsberg 36, D-45276 Essen, Germany
Jürgen Clausen
2   Karl und Veronica Carstens-Stiftung, Am Deimelsberg 36, D-45276 Essen, Germany
Ton Nicolai
3   European Committee for Homeopathy, Chaussée de Bruxelles 132, 1190 Brussels, Belgium
David S. Riley
4   2437 NW Overton Street, Portland, OR 97210, USA
Peter Fisher
5   Royal London Hospital for Integrated Medicine, 60 Great Ormond Street, London WC1N 3HR, UK
› Author Affiliations

Subject Editor:
Further Information

Publication History

Received19 June 2012
revised19 October 2012

accepted23 October 2012

Publication Date:
02 January 2018 (online)

Introduction: A new programme of systematic reviews of randomised controlled trials (RCTs) in homeopathy will distinguish important attributes of RCT records, including: placebo controlled versus other-than-placebo (OTP) controlled; individualised versus non-individualised homeopathy; peer-reviewed (PR) versus non peer-reviewed (NPR) sources.

Aims: (a) To outline the methods used to search and categorise the RCT literature; (b) to report details of the records retrieved; (c) to compare our retrieved records with those reported in two previous systematic reviews (Linde et al., 1997; Shang et al., 2005).

Methods: Ten major electronic databases were searched for records published up to the end of 2011. A record was accepted for subsequent systematic review if it was a substantive report of a clinical trial of homeopathic treatment or prophylaxis in humans, randomised and controlled, and published in a PR or NPR journal.

Results: 489 records were potentially eligible: 226 were rejected as non-journal, minor or repeat publications, or lacking randomisation and/or controls and/or a ‘homeopathic’ intervention; 263 (164 PR, 99 NPR) were acceptable for systematic review. The 263 accepted records comprised 217 (137 PR, 80 NPR) placebo-controlled RCTs, of which 121 were included by, 66 were published after, and 30 were potentially eligible for, but not listed by, Linde or Shang. The 137 PR records of placebo-controlled RCTs comprise 41 on individualised homeopathy and 96 on non-individualised homeopathy.

Conclusion: Our findings clarify the RCT literature in homeopathy. The 263 accepted journal papers will be the basis for our forthcoming programme of systematic reviews.

d Mother tinctures are therefore excluded.

e Studies fulfilled the inclusion criteria if they used an explicitly labelled ‘anthroposophic’ or ‘homotoxicologic’ medicine prepared homeopathically and whose dilution (or that of each of its components) was ≥1X.