For a year, homeopathy has been under heavy attack from certain doctors, learned academies or the Ministry of Health. It is criticized, far too quickly, for its lack of therapeutic efficacy, risk-taking for patients who do not take “real drugs” and who risk worsening their condition, a cost for the State linked to its reimbursement. and for the most virulent, accusations of quackery against the homeopathic doctors who prescribe it.
On closer inspection, however, there are many serious studies that show the therapeutic benefit of homeopathy, on the low cost for the patient and for Social Security and on the reduction in the use of conventional drugs.. which , have certain costs and side effects.
The attacks against homeopathy in France for the past year have mainly focused on the alleged low value of the scientific evidence of its effectiveness and its mode of action. For the mode of action, science still has to provide explanations as to the “water memory” hypothesis that would be at work in the functioning of a homeopathic medicine.
Remember that a homeopathic medicine is made following multiple dilutions of an active ingredient in water. This mixture which, at the first stage, contains many molecules of the active principle on a weight scale (quantifiable), will then be diluted and diluted, etc., until there is no longer any quantifiable trace of the principle. active. The water used for its dilution has kept the “memory” of the effect of the active principle. This is a theory that was explored in particular by the researcher Jacques Benveniste and which resulted in a publication in the prestigious scientific journal Nature in 1988. (Human basophil degranulation triggered by very dilute antiserum against IgE. Nature 1988 333:816 -818)
Research on how homeopathy works hasn’t advanced much since then, but when it comes to scientific evidence, you just have to stoop to pick it up. The latest is the most significant.
A study conducted over 7 years on 8559 patients
The EPI 3 study was carried out between 2005 and 2012 and coordinated by the independent firm LASER, headed by Professor Lucien Abenhaïm, former Director General of Health. EPI 3, the largest study carried out to date in general medicine in France, describes and compares medical practices. The main objective of this study was to assess the place of homeopathy in general medicine in France. It also made it possible to describe and compare patients according to the practices (conventional, homeopathic or mixed) chosen by their general practitioner, whether or not he is their attending physician.
Data collection in the field took place between March 2007 and July 2009. Launched in 2005, bringing together 8,559 patients and 825 participating physicians, the EPI 3 research program required 5 years of work: 1 year for the protocol, 1 year and a half for the recruitment, 1 year for the collection of physician and patient data, and 1 year for the analysis of the data. The first publication took place in 2011; the last in 2016.
3 cohorts of patients with pathologies representing 50% of consultations
Three cohorts of patients were followed to describe the impact and the public health interest of the therapeutic strategies adopted in 3 groups of pathologies:
– musculoskeletal pain (DMS)
– anxiety-depressive and sleep disorders (SAD),
– and upper respiratory tract infections (IVAS).
The patients of these 3 cohorts presented frequent pathologies which represent 50% of the reasons for consultation in general medicine.
The EPI 3 program has made it possible to evaluate medical practices based on 3 evaluation criteria:
– The clinical evolution of the patients followed by the different types of doctors: are the pathologies for which the patients have consulted improved?
– The impact on drug consumption: do patients consume more or less conventional drugs?
– The potential loss of chance: do some patients escape a treatment that would be more suitable for them and does this lead to complications?
In terms of prevalence, more than half of the patients in the study consulted for musculoskeletal pain, anxiety, depression and sleep disorders.
The 3 cohorts of the EPI 3 research program have been the subject of scientific publications in reference peer-reviewed journals.
Homeopathy: benefits on musculoskeletal pain, ENT infections and anxiety and depressive disorders
1) Results for the so-called DMS musculoskeletal pain cohort (1,153 patients, 12 months of follow-up).
Patients followed by a homeopathic doctor show a comparable clinical improvement compared to patients followed by doctors with conventional practice. They used 2 times less NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs) than patients followed by doctors in conventional practice. These patients are therefore less exposed to the adverse effects of NSAIDs. These pathologies represent approximately 10% of the reasons for consultation in general practice in France.
2) Results for upper respiratory tract infection cohort known as IVAS (518 adults and children, 12 months of follow-up)
For patients followed by a homeopathic doctor, the improvement in symptoms is comparable and the probability of complications is globally the same in the different groups. They consumed 2 times less antibiotics and antipyretics / anti-inflammatories compared to patients followed by doctors with conventional practice. It should be remembered that in these pathologies, the health authorities are confronted with the misuse of antibiotics.
3) Results for the sleep anxiety depression so-called SAD cohort (710 patients, 12 months of follow-up)
The rate of clinical improvement in their anxiety or depression is slightly higher for patients of homeopathic doctors compared to patients followed by doctors with conventional practice (statistical test at the limit of significance). Patients followed by a homeopathic doctor used 3 times less psychotropic drugs than patients followed by doctors with conventional practice. The probabilities of complications are comparable in the different groups. In this area, France is characterized by an overconsumption of benzodiazepines.
Homeopathy: convincing results
The study concluded that homeopathy:
– has a comparable clinical course,
– with a lower consumption of drugs raising questions of misuse and therefore of public health,
– and without loss of chance (risk of complications),
In addition, the economic interest of homeopathic care has been the subject of a publication. A patient followed by a homeopath costs 35% less to Social Security, taking into account the cost of the consultation and the cost of the prescription.
“ROSSIGNOL M.; BEGAUD B.; AVOUAC B.; LERT F.; ROUILLON F.; BENICHOU J.; MASSOL J.; DURU G.; MAGNIER AM; GUILLEMOT D.; GRIMALDI-BENSOUDA L.; ABENHAIM L. Who seeks primary care for musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) with physicians prescribing homeopathy and other complementary medicine?
Results form the EPI3-LASER survey in France. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, 2011, 12:21 doi:10.1186/1471-2474-12-21; 1-6. »
“ROSSIGNOL M.; BEGAUD B.; AVOUAC B.; LERT F.; ROUILLON F.; BENICHOU J.; MASSOL J.; DURU G.; MAGNIER AM; GUILLEMOT D.; GRIMALDI-BENSOUDA L.; ABENHAIM L. Benchmarking clinical management of spinal and non-spinal disorders using quality of life. Results from the EPI3-LASER survey in primary care. European Spine Journal, 2011, doi:10.1007/s00586-011-1780-z; 1-7. »
“GRIMALDI-BENSOUDA L.; BEGAUD B.; LERT F.; ROUILLON F.; MASSOL J.; GUILLEMOT D.; AVOUAC B.; DURU G.; MAGNIER AM; ROSSIGNOL M.; ABENHAIM L.; EPI3-LA-SER group. Benchmarking the burden of 100 diseases. Results of a national representative survey within general practices. BMJOpen, 2011, 1:e000215. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2011-0002; 1-11. »
“GRIMALDI-BENSOUDA L.; ENGEL P.; MASSOL J.; GUILLEMOT D.; AVOUAC B.; DURU G.; LERT F.; MAGNIER AM; ROSSIGNOL M.; ROUILLON F.; ABENHAIM L.; BEGAUD B.; EPI3-LA-SER group. Who seeks primary care for sleep, anxiety and depressive disorders from physicians prescribing homeopathic and other complementary medicine?
Results from the EPI3 population survey. BMJ Open, 2012, 2(6): e001498. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2012-001498. ; 1-10. »
“LERT F.; GRIMALDI-BENSOUDA L.; ROUILLON F.; MASSOL J.; GUILLEMOT D; AVOUAC B.; DURU G.; MAGNIER AM; ROSSIGNOL M.; ABENHAIM L.; BEGAUD B.; EPI3-LA-SER Group. Characteristics of patients consulting their regular primary care physician according to their prescribing preferences for homeopathy and complementary medicine. Homeopathy, 2014, 103(1); 51-57. »
“ROSSIGNOL M.; BEGAUD B.; ENGEL P.; AVOUAC B.; LERT F.; ROUILLON F.; BENICHOU J.; MASSOL J.; DURU G.; MAGNIER AM; GUILLEMOT D.; GRIMALDI-BENSOUDA L.; ABENHAIM L.; EPI3-LA-SER group. Impact of physician preferences for homeopathic or conventional medicines on patients with musculoskeletal disorders.
Results from the EPI3-MSD cohort. Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety, 2012, 21(10):1093-1101. doi:10.1002/pds.3316; 1-9. »
“GRIMALDI-BENSOUDA L.; ABENHAIM L.; MASSOL J.; GUILLEMOT D.; AVOUAC B.; DURU G.; LERT F.; MAGNIER AM; ROSSIGNOL M.; ROUILLON F.; BEGAUD B.; EPI3-LA-SER Group. Use of psychotropic drugs by patients consulting for sleeping disorders in homeopathic and conventional primary care settings: the EPI3 cohort study.
Homeopathy. 2015 Jul;104(3):170-5. »
“GRIMALDI-BENSOUDA L.; BEGAUD B.; ROSSIGNOL M.; AVOUAC B.; LERT F.; ROUILLON F.; BENICHOU J.; MASSOL J.; DURU G.; MAGNIER AM; ABENHAIM L.; GUILLEMOT D Management of upper respiratory tract infections by different medical practices, including homeopathy, and consumption of antibiotics in primary care: the EPI3 cohort study in France 2007- 2008. PLoS ONE, 2014, 9(3) doi: 10.1371/journal.pone .0089990. eCollection 2014; 6 p. »
“DANNO K.; JOUBERT C.; DURU G.; VETEL JM Physician practicing preference for conventional or homeopathic medicines in elderly subjects with musculoskeletal disorders in the EPI3-MSD cohort. Clinical Epidemiology, 2014, 6; 333-341. »
“COLAS A.; DANNO K.; TABAR C.; EHRETH J.; DURU G. Economic impact of homeopathic practice in general medicine in France. Health Econ Rev. 2015 Dec;5(1):55. doi:10.1186/s13561-015-0055-5. »
“GRIMALDI-BENSOUDA L, ABENHAIM L, MASSOL J, GUILLEMOT D, AVOUAC B, DURU G, LERT F, MAGNIER AM, ROSSIGNOL M, ROUILLON F, BEGAUD B; EPI3-LA-SER group. Homeopathic medical practice for anxiety and depression in primary care: the EPI3 cohort study. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2016 May 4;16(1):125. doi:10.1186/s12906-016-1104-2.