Individualized Homeopathy Helps Fibromyalgia Sufferers
Individually prescribed homeopathic remedies can effectively reduce pain and other symptoms in people with fibromyalgia, according to a new study published in Rheumatology (Advance access published January 20, 2004).
Fibromyalgia is a chronic, often debilitating disorder characterized by pain, tenderness, and stiffness of the muscles, tendons, and other soft tissues of the body. These symptoms are often accompanied by sleep disturbance, fatigue, and anxiety or depression. A specific pattern of tender points and the absence of other recognized causes is adequate for the diagnosis of fibromyalgia. Currently, fibromyalgia affects about 2% of people in the United States, mostly women. The cause of fibromyalgia is unknown but thought to involve multiple factors; no consistently effective treatment exists. A comprehensive treatment protocol might include stress reduction, exercise, massage therapy, heat treatments, and antidepressant medications.
Homeopathy is a system of medicine based on a principle known as “like cures like.” By this principle, if a substance in its whole form can cause a specific set of symptoms, it can be prepared through sequential dilutions into a treatment for that same set of symptoms. The formal practice of homeopathy began in the 1800s and continues to be an integral part of medical systems in Europe and Great Britain. There are 1,300 remedies described in the homeopathic pharmacopoeia, and one is chosen in each case based on the symptom picture and on the individual’s characteristics and habit patterns. Because treatment is tailored to a particular person, controlled trials of homeopathic medicine are logistically challenging. In one controlled trial of homeopathic medicine in the treatment of fibromyalgia, all of the participants had indications for the same remedy, and those who were treated with the remedy had fewer tender points and better sleep at the end of one month than those given placebo.
In the current study, 53 otherwise healthy people with fibromyalgia were each prescribed an individualized homeopathic remedy. The participants were then randomly assigned to receive either their prescribed remedy or a placebo. Homeopathic remedies were administered in LM potencies (diluted 1/50,000) that were further sequentially diluted or changed as prescribed by two homeopathic practitioners evaluating the progress of each participant. The number of tender points and the severity of tender point pain were evaluated for each participant at the beginning of the study and after three months. Self-assessments of pain, quality of life, moods, fatigue, overall health, and helpfulness of treatment were obtained through questionnaires administered at the beginning and end of the study.
Compared with placebo, three months of homeopathy treatment resulted in significantly fewer tender points and less tender point pain. Furthermore, people receiving homeopathy rated their quality of life, their overall health, and the helpfulness of treatment significantly higher at the end of the study than did those receiving placebo. Self-assessments of moods and fatigue were better in those treated with homeopathy than in those given placebo, but these differences were not statistically significant.
The results of this study demonstrate that individualized homeopathy is more effective than placebo in treating fibromyalgia. Considering that there is no consistently effective treatment for fibromyalgia, homeopathy should be considered as part of the overall treatment approach to this complex condition.
Maureen Williams, ND, received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania and her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University in Seattle, WA. She has a private practice in Quechee, VT, and does extensive work with traditional herbal medicine in Guatemala and Honduras. Dr. Williams is a regular contributor to Healthnotes Newswire.
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