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Individualized Medicine and Homeopathy: An Inseparable Entity? A Review of Current Research and Literature
05 February 2018 (online)
Background: Personalized and individualized medicine is becoming increasingly relevant in actual discussions on the future of healthcare. While the term ‘personalized’ is mainly used for the orientation of medicine toward individual genetic and molecular characteristics of a person, others have located and embedded the concept of PM in the framework of integrative medicine taking into account that patient-centered healthcare not only focuses on biological but also on mental, sociocultural and spiritual aspects of the patient.
Aim: Based on a review of current research and literature, we aimed at illuminating the practice, the historical foundations, and some scientific questions concerning homeopathy in the context of individualized medicine.
Materials and Methods: We searched the databases PubMed and Google Scholar for publications concerning homeopathy in the context of individualized medicine. Articles were sub-divided into theoretical works (i.e., historical notes of Hahnemann), basic research and clinical research and then condensed.
Results: Taking a historic look at the homeopathic understanding of sickness and disease, a dichotomy between a “specific” (Hahnemann’s considerations on “diseases with a constant character”) and individualized approach becomes evident. This dichotomy is also reflected in clinical and preclinical research. Clinical homeopathy is easier to fit in the scheme of a common randomized controlled trial since a certain complex of symptoms is attributed to a certain remedy, which can be tested against placebo. In preclinical research, individualized test designs were found to be difficult. At present, preclinical test systems for individualized homeopathy have been used only for human ex vivo in vitro systems.
Discussion: Homeopathy involving individualization as well as generalization is very well suited to serve as an example to test different methodological approaches to study individualized medicine. Our short review implies that further investigations should be done to move research forward in this field.
Keywords: Diseases with a constant character, individualized medicine, basic research, clinical research