Background: Homeopathy is frequently used to treat asthma in children. In the common classical form of homeopathy, prescriptions are individualised for each patient. There has been no rigorous investigation into this form of treatment for asthma.
Methods: In a randomised, double blind, placebo controlled trial the effects of individualised homeopathic remedies were compared with placebo medication in 96 children with mild to moderate asthma as an adjunct to conventional treatment. The main outcome measure was the active quality of living subscale of the Childhood Asthma Questionnaire administered at baseline and follow up at 12 months. Other outcome measures included other subscales of the same questionnaire, peak flow rates, use of medication, symptom scores, days off school, asthma events, global assessment of change, and adverse reactions.
Results: There were no clinically relevant or statistically significant changes in the active quality of life score. Other subscales, notably those measuring severity, indicated relative improvements but the sizes of the effects were small. There were no differences between the groups for other measures.
Conclusions: This study provides no evidence that adjunctive homeopathic remedies, as prescribed by experienced homeopathic practitioners, are superior to placebo in improving the quality of life of children with mild to moderate asthma in addition to conventional treatment in primary care.
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The study was coordinated by the Department of Complementary Medicine, School of Sport and Health Sciences, University of Exeter, UK.
The trial was planned and conducted by AW, PS, CH, and EE. AH was responsible for statistical analysis of the data. All authors contributed to the final version of the paper.
Funding: The Prince of Wales's Foundation for Integrated Health, London provided a grant for the trial; Ainsworth's Pharmacy, London funded the remedies; and GlaxoSmithKline funded the CAQ questionnaire booklets.
Conflict of interest: none.