Evidence-based human homeopathy and veterinary homeopathy, and their potential to help overcome the problem of antibiotic resistance – an overview
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Prof Michael Frass, Dr Thomas Peinbauer, Dr Liesbeth Ellinger and Dr Petra Weiermayer, two human physicians and two veterinarians, have written a narrative review in the spirit of “One Health” entitled “Evidence-based human homeopathy and veterinary homeopathy, and their potential to help overcome the problem of antibiotic resistance – an overview “, which has been published in the Swiss Archives of Veterinary Medicine. 1
The authors clarify the factual situation, which shows evidence for the effectiveness of human and veterinary homeopathy in general, and in homeopathic treatment of infections in particular. On the basis of evidence, they criticize the approach taken in the second Australian NHMRC (National Health and Medical Research Council) Report and the EASAC (European Academies Science Advisory Council) Statement.2, 3
This review serves, among other things, as a foundation for a cooperation with universities in Austria, Germany and Switzerland regarding research projects to evaluate the potential of homeopathy and phytotherapy for the reduction of antibiotics. In view of the demands of the European Green Deal (Farm2Fork Strategy) and the EU Organic Regulation 2018/848:
- to reduce the use of antibiotics by 50% throughout the EU by 20304
- to increase the number of organic farms in the EU from 8% to 25% by 20304
- to give preference to homeopathy and phytotherapy in organic farms before conventional medicines including antibiotics are used5
the application of these complementary medical disciplines in the sense of integrative veterinary medicine, i.e. to combine conventional and complementary medical therapy procedures (“best practices”), is proactive and innovative.
The conclusion of the narrative review clearly discusses the legal and scientific foundations of homeopathy. Evidence level 1a studies are reviewed regarding external evidence on the general use of human and veterinary homeopathy, and, when focusing on external evidence on the use of homeopathy in infections, some evidence level 1a, 1b, 2c studies are described in more detail. They conclude:
“The current national laws (Switzerland, Austria, Germany) and EU legislation guarantee the quality and safety of homeopathic medicinal products as well as the safety of homeopathic therapies carried out lege artis.6 – 14
Evidence for the effectiveness of human and veterinary homeopathy in general, and in particular in the treatment of infections, is sufficiently proven for further research in this field. Five of the six meta-analyses on different indications up to 2014 (see Table 2) concluded that the effectiveness of homeopathic therapy differs from placebo.15 – 19 Only the systematic review with meta-analysis of 2005 as well as the second Australian NHMRC Report and the EASAC Statement, where more than 90% of the studies were excluded from the analysis in each case, did not show any effectiveness of homeopathy beyond placebo.20, 2, 3 A review in 2013 already confirmed that more than 90% of all studies must be excluded in order to conclude that homeopathy is not effective.21 Individualized homeopathy especially demonstrates effects at all quality levels according to Cochrane criteria, even in the methodologically high-quality studies. Obviously non-scientific interests consequently led to misinformation about homeopathy.22
In addition to studies on the proof of effectiveness of homeopathy for infections, data from health care research, so-called Real World Data, show the potential for a significant reduction in the use of antibiotics through homeopathic treatments (see Table 3). Not least because of the global threat posed by the problem of antibiotic resistance, further methodologically high-quality studies are urgently needed in human homeopathy just as in veterinary homeopathy.
Implementation of studies at university facilities is a prerequisite for quality assurance, which can only be achieved by integrating complementary medicine including homeopathy at the universities. This absolutely necessary consequence and demand in the interest of the patients is already asserted by the American Consensus Guideline for university continuing education in integrative veterinary medicine and is legally anchored in Switzerland according to the Medical Professions Act for teaching and research at the university. 23, 24“1
- Weiermayer, P., Frass, M., Peinbauer, T., Ellinger, L. (2020): Evidence-based human homeopathy and veterinary homeopathy, and their potential to help overcome the problem of antibiotic resistance – an overview. 162(10): 597-615.
- NHMRC Information Paper, Evidence on the effectiveness of homeopathy for treating health conditions. Australian Government National Health and Medical Research Council. 2015. Canberra, Australia. https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/sites/default/files/images/nhmrc-information-paper-effectiveness-of-homeopathy.pdf (last accessed 20.10.2021).
- European Academies Science Advisory Council. Homeopathic products and practices: assessing the evidence and ensuring consistency in regulating medical claims in the EU, 2017. Halle, Germany. https://easac.eu/fileadmin/PDF_s/reports_statements/EASAC_Homeopathy_Statement.jpg (last accessed 20.10.2021).
- European Green Deal. Organic farming – action plan for the development of EU organic production. EU Commission. Brüssel, Belgien. https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/better-regulation/have-your-say/initiatives/12555-Action-plan-for-the-development-of-EU-organic-production (last accessed 20.10.2021)
- Regulation (EU) 2018/848 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 May 2018 on organic production and labelling of organic products and repealing Council Regulation (EC) No 834/2007. Brussels, Belgium. https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:32018R0848 (last accessed 20.10.2021).
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