Two new studies show the potential for homeopathy to play an active role in reducing the use of antibiotics and antimicrobial resistance
Two recent trials further demonstrate the potential of homeopathic treatment in acute upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs)and thereby contribute to reducing antibiotic use and antimicrobial resistance.
The first trial published in Pulmonary Pharmacology and Therapeutics in 2014 was a randomized double-blind placebo controlled trial involving the use of homeopathic medicine for acute cough in upper respiratory tract infections and acute bronchitis.
Eighty patients were randomized to receive placebo (n = 40) or the homeopathic syrup (n = 40). All patients completed the study. In each group cough scores decreased over time, however, after 4 and 7 days of treatment, cough severity was significantly lower in the homeopathic group than in the placebo one (p < 0.001 and p = 0.023, respectively). Sputum was collected from 53 patients: in both groups its viscosity significantly decreased after 4 days of treatment (p < 0.001); however, viscosity was significantly lower in the homeopathic group (p = 0.018). Instead, the subjective evaluation did not significantly differ between the two groups (p = 0.059). No adverse events related to any treatment were reported. The researchers concluded that the homeopathic syrup employed in the study was able to effectively reduce cough severity and sputum viscosity, thereby representing a valid remedy for the management of acute cough induced by URTIs.
The same team have now followed up with a real-life preliminary observational study in a pediatric population published in Multidisciplinary Respiratory Medicine comparing those who received homeopathic treatment versus those who received homeopathic treatment plus antibiotic. The aims were: 1) to assess whether the addition of antibiotics to a symptomatic treatment had a role in reducing the severity and duration of acute cough in a pediatric population, as well as in improving cough resolution; 2) to verify the safety of the two treatments.
Eighty-five children were enrolled in an open study: 46 children received homeopathic syrup alone for 10 days and 39 children received homeopathic syrup for 10 days plus oral antibiotic treatment (amoxicillin/clavulanate, clarithromycin, and erythromycin) for 7 days. To assess cough severity they used a subjective verbal category-descriptive (VCD) scale.
The results of the study showed that both groups responded similarly to the two courses of treatment.
However, two children (4.3 %) reported adverse effects in the group treated with the homeopathic syrup alone, versus 9 children (23.1 %) in the group treated with the homeopathic syrup plus antibiotics (P = 0.020).
The researchers conclude from the data that the homeopathic treatment in question has potential benefits for cough in children as well, and highlight the strong safety profile of this treatment. Additional antibiotic prescription was not associated with a greater cough reduction, and presented more adverse events than the homeopathic syrup alone.