The effectiveness of homeopathy As a treatment for any disease, it is usually based on “amie functionalism”. If it worked for someone or if they think it worked, they will proclaim it to the four winds. If it had no effect on him, he won’t say anything and we’ll never know. With the clinical tests the same thing happens. If only those with the most positive results are published, it will give a false idea of what this treatment entails. And that’s what actually seems to be happening, according to a study just published in BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine in which it is demonstrated that only the clinical trials most suited to their results are registered.
Although there are still pharmacies that sell it and many people consider it a medical device, homeopathic treatments are not medicines. Therefore, they do not require going through many stringent requirements that drugs must meet. It may look like a Punishment to the homeopathy, but in reality it is quite a gift, since those who are interested in it can register or publish your clinical trials only when they get the desired data.
This is a phenomenon known as reporting bias and can cause data to be overestimated. homeopathy results. But to what extent are the results skewed? We will see what is concluded in this study, not without briefly recalling the history of homeopathy.
The false superpowers of homeopathy
Homeopathy was developed in the 19th century by the German physician Samuel Hahnmanwhich was based on the principle that similar similar cures. The doctor came to this conclusion after trying a little cinchona, a tree bark that was used at the time to treat malaria.
He immediately felt typical symptoms of malaria, such as fever, chills or joint pain. He was simply suffering from an adverse reaction to this natural remedy, but he believed that what was really happening was that cinchona cured malaria by producing similar symptoms. He believed that to avoid these symptoms, the ideal would be much dilute the compound in question. So much so that in the end only water would remain. But he had a so-called ace up his sleeve: the water memory. According to him, this precious liquid is capable of recall the effects of what has been diluted there. All he needed was a little vibration for it, which he achieved by hitting the solution with a Bible.
If you think about all this coldly, it didn’t make any sense. And he still doesn’t, actually. However, two centuries later, homeopathy still has many followers, despite all the Scientists progress that happened in those times. In pharmacology, these advances have been presented on the basis of studies and clinical trials. Homeopathy was no less. There are also many published studies on this. In fact, their advocates cling to them to defend their foundation tooth and nail, despite the plethora of evidence that belies their effectiveness. But reading a few studies is not enough. In science, we should not focus on just one tree. To understand a concept, you have to look at the whole forest. And in the forest of homeopathy, more trees have been felled than necessary.
The Benefits of Recording and Publishing Only What’s Convenient
To carry out this study, its authors, since Danube University (Austria), analyzed the files of clinical trials on homeopathy until April 2019.
Its purpose was to verify how many of those that had been launched had already been recorded and also how many that had been published. Let’s not forget that registering a clinical trial is not the same as publishing its results. With drugs, everything is very regulatedbut with homeopathy it is perfectly possible to publish without registering the clinical trial, or to register it but not to publish any study.
By analyzing the situation of clinical trials on homeopathy, they note that since 2002 “almost 38% of homeopathy trials Registered trials remain unpublished, while more than half (53%) of published randomized controlled trials have not been registered. In total, “nearly a third (30%) of randomized controlled trials published in the past 5 years were unregistered”.
A randomized controlled trial it is one where the treatment in question is only offered to half of the participants, while the other half receives nothing or receives a placebo. So you can control if there really is an advantage compared to someone who takes nothing. It is considered one of the most reliable experimental models in science and that is why the numbers in this study are striking.
Moreover, as explained at hypertextual its main author, Gerald Gartlehner, “unregistered trials reported more positive results than registered trials”. Therefore, it appears that “many unregistered trials were probably never published because they did not show the expected effects”. That is, some tests They weren’t registered.perhaps because they weren’t designed properly, but their results were published because they were positive and practical for researchers.
In conclusion, it should be noted that “homeopathic trials were more likely to be registered after they started (retrospectively) than before starting (prospective registration)”. And as if that were not enough, “a quarter of the primary results published were not the same as those initially recorded”.
All this leads to a overestimating the effectiveness of homeopathy. and also to a lack of ethics by the journals that publish this type of study. For many people this is not surprising, but for others this study may be an eye-opener.