HomeopathyPain-KneeProf. ErnstSurgery

Homeopathic treatment and the need for pain medicine following knee surgery

Homeopathic treatment was not better than placebo in reducing morphine use after knee ligament reconstruction, according to researchers at INSERM in Grenoble, France.

First, the details.

  • 158 adult patients were randomly assigned to homeopathic treatment, placebo, or usual care following surgery of the anterior cruciate ligament.
  • Homeopathic treatment included Arnica montana 5 CH, Bryonia alba 5 CH, Hypericum perforatum 5 CH, and Ruta graveolens 3 DH.
  • Patients controlled the dosing of their morphine (PCA: patient controlled analgesia).
  • Patients did not know if they were getting placebo or homeopathic treatment (blinded).
  • Treatment was started the evening before surgery and continued for 3 days.

And, the results.

  • There was no difference between homeopathic and placebo treatments in the amount of morphine used during the first 24 hours after surgery.
  • Homeopathic treatment had no effect on morphine use between 24 and 72 hours vs placebo.
  • There was no difference between groups based on the visual analogue pain scale or the SF-36 questionnaire for quality of life.
  • There were no differences compared to the usual treatment group either.

The bottom line?
Professor Edzard Ernst, who looks upon homeopathy with skepticism, wrote an editorial with his perspective on these results.

He starts, “Homeopathy is not better than placebo in reducing morphine consumption after surgery.”

And continues, “Proponents of homeopathy would object to this statement. Even though the study was well-made, it did only suggest that a certain homeopathic remedy fails to be effective for a certain type of pain. Other homeopathic medicines might be effective and other types of pain might have produced different results.”

Get ready…

“There are hundreds of different homeopathic remedies, which can be prescribed for thousands of symptoms in dozens of different dilutions. Thus, we would probably need to work flat out for several lifetimes in order to arrive at a conclusion that fully substantiates my opening statement.”

He concludes…

“This seems neither possible nor desirable.”

2/11/08 18:14 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 www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.