Entanglement in Provings
28 December 2017 (online)
I applaud the Walach et al for their attempts at applying quantitative methods to qualitative research[ 1 ]. Having myself conducted 70 homeopathic drug provings following GCP guidelines, one with 110 subjects and an equal placebo group, I view this research as important in trying to evaluate whether or not it is possible, in a proving, to distinguish reliable symptoms specific to a medicine from random, non-specific symptoms. Many well-proven and commonly prescribed homeopathic remedies have ‘keynotes’ that did not appear in a homeopathic drug proving.
However, I have some questions. Since we know that placebo symptoms in conventional medical research vary significantly across clinical trials for the same disease and also among different organ systems I am unclear how the authors concluded that what was experienced during the proving period was different from background noise.
The sharp increase in both atypical and typical symptoms could be explained by the fact that subjects in this study went from a medicine free baseline period to a period of taking a homeopathic remedy. In addition the subjects were students in homeopathic schools which suggests that they may have been unusually sensitive to homeopathic remedies and, perhaps, suggestible and likely to experience symptoms during a proving.
There was a trend for Cantharis to stimulate more symptoms typical of that remedy than atypical ones. If the typical Cantharis symptoms, as determined by the homeopathic expert, were symptoms commonly associated with non-specific or placebo responses then the increase in symptoms could be explained by other causes.
The local and non-local hypotheses are also not mutually exclusive, both could operate at the same time and may be dependent on a variety of factors.
Thank you for this thought provoking article.
- 1 Walach H, Sherr J, Schneider R, Shabi R, Bond A, Rieberer G. Homeopathic proving symptoms. result of a local, non-local, or placebo process? A blinded, placebo-controlled pilot study. Homp 2004; 93: 179-185.