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Friday, 1 March, 2002, 01:52 GMT
Homeopathy 'no benefit' to asthmatics
Child with inhaler
Asthmatics may benefit more from conventional drugs
Homeopathy is not an effective treatment for asthma, a study suggests.

The research team identified 242 asthmatic people allergic to house dust mite and gave some a homeopathic treatment and others a placebo.

However, they found no improvement in lung function or quality of life between those treated with placebo and those who received homeopathic therapy.

Previous studies have shown this type of homeopathy, where patients are given small amounts of the allergen, are effective in the treatment of hayfever and possibly asthma.


There have been four studies completed which show homeopathy does work for hayfever, asthma and perennial rhinitis

Dr Peter Fisher, Royal London Homeopathic Hospital
The research team from Southampton General Hospital say the study was needed because homeopathy is increasing in popularity.

From the original research group, 186 people in Hampshire and Dorset completed the study over 16 weeks.

A report in the British Medical Journal concludes there was no significant difference in response between the two groups.

The Royal London Homeopathic Hospital recently carried out a survey of treatments on asthmatic patients.

It followed up 24 adults and 25 children with asthma and found that 71% of the adults and 80% of the children experienced improvements in their symptoms following homeopathic treatment.

Two thirds of the adults and almost as many of the children reduced their need for inhalers and 60% of the parents of the children reported a decrease in the need to consult their GP for urgent asthma treatments.

Setback

Dr Peter Fisher, who practices at the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital, said this study was not conclusive.

He says homeopathy is about trying out different therapies on patients and not just choosing to give them a small dose of the suspected allergen.

He said: "There have been four studies completed which show homeopathy does work for hayfever, asthma and perennial rhinitis.

"This study is contradictory.

"This is not homeopathy as it is normally practised."

Patients 'positive'

Dr Fisher, who has just been appointed homeopathic physician to the Queen, thinks the study results are a minor setback for homeopathy, which has as many sceptics as admirers.

He said: "It's not helpful and there has been great scientific scepticism, but what has kept our heads above water is the patients who have been positive.

"Homeopathic medicine is good for different things.

"It can help with a very wide range of illnesses, where conventional medicine isn't very good."

Dr Fisher is an NHS GP and practices both conventional and complementary medicine to suit individual patients.

He said: "If someone had TB I wouldn't advise homeopathy, but if someone has eczema, I wouldn't advise steroid creams, but homeopathic ones."

See also:

07 Nov 01 | Health
Fresh clue to homeopath mystery
17 Aug 00 | Health
Allergies 'helped by homeopathy'
25 Jun 00 | Health
Doctors support acupuncture
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