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Homeopathy for childhood diarrhea: combined results and metaanalysis from three randomized, controlled clinical trials

JACOBS, JENNIFER MD, MPH; JONAS, WAYNE B. MD; JIMÉNEZ-PÉREZ, MARGARITA MD, PhD; CROTHERS, DEAN MD

Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal:
Original Studies
Abstract

Background. Previous studies have shown a positive treatment effect of individualized homeopathic treatment for acute childhood diarrhea, but sample sizes were small and results were just at or near the level of statistical significance. Because all three studies followed the same basic study design, the combined data from these three studies were analyzed to obtain greater statistical power.

Methods. Three double blind clinical trials of diarrhea in 242 children ages 6 months to 5 years were analyzed as 1 group. Children were randomized to receive either an individualized homeopathic medicine or placebo to be taken as a single dose after each unformed stool for 5 days. Parents recorded daily stools on diary cards, and health workers made home visits daily to monitor children. The duration of diarrhea was defined as the time until there were less than 3 unformed stools per day for 2 consecutive days. A metaanalysis of the effect-size difference of the three studies was also conducted.

Results. Combined analysis shows a duration of diarrhea of 3.3 days in the homeopathy group compared with 4.1 in the placebo group (P = 0.008). The metaanalysis shows a consistent effect-size difference of ∼0.66 day (P = 0.008).

Conclusions. The results from these studies confirm that individualized homeopathic treatment decreases the duration of acute childhood diarrhea and suggest that larger sample sizes be used in future homeopathic research to ensure adequate statistical power. Homeopathy should be considered for use as an adjunct to oral rehydration for this illness.

Author Information

From the Department of Epidemiology, University of Washington School of Public Health and Community Medicine, Seattle, WA (JJ); Samueli Institute for Information Biology, Alexandria, VA and Corona de Mar, CA (WBJ); Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, MD (WBJ); Department of Public Health, Health Sciences Center, University of Guadalajara, Guadalajara, Mexico (MJP); and Evergreen Center for Homeopathic Medicine, Edmonds, WA (DC).

Accepted for publication Nov. 22, 2002.

Address for reprints: Jennifer Jacobs, M.D., M.P.H., 23200 Edmonds Way, Edmonds, WA 98026. Fax 425-771-4789; E-mail jjacobs@igc.org.

© 2003 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.