Medicinal and Placebo Effects of Homeopathic Remedies: A Comparative Study of Patients with Somatoform Low Back Pain and Patients with Pathological Low Back Pain
05 February 2020 (online)
Introduction: Low back pain is the most common musculoskeletal disorder reported in clinical practice. Chronic low back pain is also a leading symptom of somatoform pain disorder, where the physical symptoms often are not physically explainable. The study was intended to find whether there was any difference in the effect of individualized homeopathic medicines, compared with individualized homeopathic medicines when given along with placebo, compared with placebo alone, in pain and functional disability, anxiety, depression and wellbeing in patients with pathological low back pain and in patients with somatoform low back pain.
Methods: A pre-post experimental design was used for the study, with pain as the primary outcome variable and anxiety, depression and wellbeing as the secondary outcome variables based on the Oswestry low back pain scale, the Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale, the Beck Depression Inventory and the PGI General Wellbeing Measure. 225 patients with pathological low back pain and 225 patients with somatoform low back pain were each divided into three separate categories, receiving either homeopathic medicine alone or homeopathic medicine with placebo or placebo alone. Institutional ethical committee clearance was obtained, and patients were enrolled only after giving their informed consent. Data were analysed using ANCOVA.
Conclusions: Major findings showed that homeopathic medicine when used alone can be more effective in managing pain and other co-morbid conditions in patients with low back pain of a pathological nature. Homeopathic medicine in combination with placebo had an effect in some cases. Placebo alone was found to be mostly ineffective on pain and disability, anxiety and depression, but was effective on the wellbeing of patients with somatoform low back pain.
Keywords: Homeopathy, placebo, low back pain