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Physicochemical Investigations of Homeopathic Potencies: A Systematic Review of the Literature
05 February 2018 (online)
Introduction: To direct future fundamental research on homeopathic potencies, it is necessary to have a solid overview over previously used methods and experimental results. For this systematic review, we focused on laboratory experiments that investigated physico-chemical properties of homeopathic potencies and compared them to controls or between several potency levels.
Methods: Relevant publications were searched in pertinent databases, article references, and personal collections of literature. All articles found were rated by two reviewers according to a manuscript information score (MIS). Articles could score between 0 and 10 points, as 0 to 2 points were given each for description of experimental procedure, materials, measuring instruments, potentization method, and controls. Articles with an average MIS ≥5 were retained for further review. The further review process included a detailed analysis of the used potencies, controls, materials, and methods, the quality of the study design, the statistics used, and finally the reported results. All information was extracted also by two reviewers. The included experiments were classified into groups regarding the used physico-chemical methods, that is, spectroscopy, luminescence, Raman spectroscopy, nuclear magnetic resonance, chromatography, analytical methods, electrical impedance, electrochemistry, calorimetry, imaging methods, and various physical methods. The results per method will be summarized for publication.
Results: One hundred and eighty-three publications were submitted to information scoring. Sixty-one publications were excluded due to low MIS, and 122 publications were included in the further review. The categories with the highest number of experiments were electrical impedance, spectroscopy, analytical methods, and nuclear magnetic resonance. High-quality research was characterized by the use of independent production series of the potencies, adequate controls, blinding, randomization, and statistical analyses of the results.
Discussion: A rigorous methodology was necessary to receive meaningful results due to the large number of methods and different study designs. We try to identify promising areas for future research.
Keywords: Homeopathy, physico-chemical methods, review, fundamental research
No conflict of interest has been declared by the author(s).