Anxiety (Panic)/DepressionHomeopathyIrritable Bowel Syndrome

A flawed study of homeopathy to treat anxiety, depression, and IBS

The objective here is to illustrate how not to conduct a study on the value of homeopathy — or anything else for that matter.

This study does more to hurt the credibility of homeopathy than to support it.

Here’s why.

  • The responses to homeopathic treatment by 14 homeopathic physicians in more than 900 patients who returned for at least one follow-up visit were recorded.
  • Positive outcomes were reported in 76% of patients.
  • The most frequently treated conditions were anxiety, depression, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Here’s the problem.

In many patients these conditions get better, worse, and better again over time, regardless of treatment. In the absence of a placebo group to compare to or perhaps a laboratory test that documents a positive response, how do we know that the outcomes didn’t just occur by chance?

There’s no way to tell.

Homeopathy is already under attack as summarized here. It has two options — it seems to me — simply declare it has benefits and don’t do clinical trials, or conduct clinical trials that have a chance of providing credible outcomes.

11/4/06 10:50 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.