Homeopatic therapy in Cancer Treatment

From the article by E. Ernst [url=http://medicdebate.org/?q=node/286] "Efficacy of homeopathic therapy in cancer treatment"[/url] A recent European survey has shown that homeopathy is amongst the most commonly used complementary therapies for cancer in 7 out of 14 European countries [3]. As a palliative or supportive treatment, homeopathy is used mainly to strengthen the body in its fight against cancer, to improve general well-being, and to alleviate pain resulting from disease or conventional treatments [2,3]. Homeopathy is controversial as no plausible mode of action has been identified for substances that are so highly diluted that they can not be measured [4]. Homeopathic remedies are believed to be most effective when they are selected to address a total set of symptoms and characteristics [5] and in classical or individualized homeopathy, choice of remedies are based on the match of a patients particular symptoms with a remedy picture rather than conventional diagnosis [6]. Prescribing homeopathic substances is based on its proposed law of similars that suggests that ‘‘like cures like’’ [7]. Although Hahnemann initially diluted these substances in order to reduce toxicity, he came to believe that the actual process of diluting and shaking imparted additional potency to each solution [5]. His process of testing natural substances in healthy individuals became known as ‘‘drug proving’’ and results continue to be collected into an encyclopaedia of homeopathic drug effects known as the Materia Medica [8,9]. In ‘‘classical homeopathy’’ single remedies are given to patients, whereas in ‘‘complex homeopathy’’ several homeopathic medicines are combined into one formula, where concentration tends to be below 24X and usually below 12X [10] (the numbers indicate the dilution of the homeopathic remedy; that is, remedies are obtained by ‘‘decimal dilution’’, one part substance to nine parts alcohol, and then labelled by the letter X or D). In the 1950s, Hans H. Reckeweg developed a new form of homeopathy known as homotoxicology [11], which generally uses formulations that contains measurable amounts of homeopathically prepared active ingredients, designed to work with the bodys defence mechanisms and facilitate the bodys elimination of toxic substances (homotoxins). Homotoxicological remedies are prepared according to the rules of homeopathy and are used in combinations as complex remedies. Some experts fail to differentiate between homeopathic and homotoxicological medicines. However, there are important differences. Homeopathy follows the ‘‘like cures like’’ principle, while homotoxicology does not [12]. Homotoxicology often makes use of biological material that would be atypical in homeopathy, such as material from pigs. Some reports suggest the efficacy of homotoxicology for defined conditions, but many caveats exist [12]. Isopathy is another subset of homeopathy that was developed by Johann Lux in the 1830s. It differs from homeopathy in that remedies are prepared from those substances that cause the illness (e.g., allergens or bacteria) [13] and several trials have suggested its clinical efficacy [14].
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