My thanks to the Irish Society of Homeopaths for this recent summary of the dangers of antibiotics and recent warnings from government agencies about their use. The summary also reviews evidence in favor of using homeopathy for viral and infectious illnesses:
November 18th, 2011 is the 4th European Antibiotic Awareness Day. Antibiotic resistance has become a global health problem. Over-use and mis-use of antibiotics has caused the development of lethal antibiotic resistant micro-organisms. Multiple prescribing of antibiotics is now also suspected of causing cancer. Can homeopathy serve as an alternative?
International warning from World Health Organisation
On 7 April 2011 the WHO used the opportunity of World Health Day to issue a major warning about the advancing crisis of antibiotic resistance1. In the EU, Norway and Iceland alone at least 25,000 people a year die from common resistant bacterial infections – figures for the rest of Europe are unknown. The estimated total cost to society of antibiotic resistance in the EU alone is estimated to be € 1.5 billion.
It is well known that antibiotics are of no use in viral infections and they should not be used in uncomplicated bacterial infections such as light ear, throat and sinus infections2. The EU funded European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) also warns that infectious micro-organisms have become increasingly resistant to existing antibiotics3. Replacement products are proving difficult to find. Governments and researchers across the world are searching for alternatives.
Antibiotics may cause cancer
A Finnish study based on three million people correlates a higher risk of developing prostate, breast, lung, and colon cancer with multiple use of antibiotics4. Researchers are currently unsure as to whether antibiotics are carcinogenic and directly cause cancer, or that cancers develop as a result of antibiotics disturbing the body’s protective intestinal micro-biotic environment.
Homeopathy – effective in infectious diseases
Research shows that homeopathy can serve as an effective alternative to antibiotics in a range of infectious conditions for which they have been commonly used5-13.
Out of 500 patients suffering from upper respiratory complaints, 82 % receiving homeopathy improved within 14 days, compared to 67 % treated conventionally10. In another study with 169 children, those receiving homeopathic treatment had significantly less symptoms and shorter duration of disease compared to other children11. Their parents also had less time away from work.
Homeopathy is effective in treating recurrent ear infections in children7-8. Over 70 % had no ear infections after homeopathy, compared to 57 % percent receiving conventional drugs8. Out of 230 children those receiving homeopathic treatment recovered 2.4 times faster than others7.
Three surveys show that homeopathy is at least as effective as conventional treatment in treating sinus infections5,12-13.
Patients receiving homeopathic treatment need antibiotics less often. Moreover, no complications are found. Homeopathy is not only effective and avoids the creation of antibiotic resistance, but is also shown to be potentially a more cost-effective solution14-16.
In summary: Homeopathy may be at least as effective as conventional treatment in treating infectious diseases. It could therefore serve as an effective first line option in treating viral and mild bacterial infectious diseases.
1. WHO Antibiotic resistance: No action today, no cure tomorrow: Factsheet: http://www.euro.who.int/en/
2. Arroll B, Kenealy T. Are antibiotics effective for acute purulent rhinitis? Systematic review and meta-analysis of placebo controlled randomised trials. BMJ 2006, doi:10.1136/bmj.38891.681215.
3. ECDC: Antimicrobial resistance http://www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/
4. Kilkkinen A, Rissanen H, Klaukka T, Pukkala E, Heliövaara M, Huovinen P, Männistö S, Aromaa A, Knekt P. Antibiotic use predicts an increased risk of cancer. Int. J. Cancer 2008, 123, 2152–2155.
5. Adler M. Efficacy, safety of a fixed-combination homeopathic therapy for sinusitis. Adv Ther 1999; 16: 103-111.
6. De Lange de Klerk E, et al. Effects of homoeopathic medicines on daily burden of symptoms in children with recurrent upper respiratory tract infections. BMJ 1994; 309: 1329-1332.
7. Frei H, Thurneysen A. Homeopathy in acute otitis media in children: treatment effect or spontaneous resolution? Br Homeopath J 2001, 90: 180-182.
8. Friese K-H, Kruse S, Ludtke R, Moeller H. Homeopathic treatment of otitis media in children: comparisons with conventional therapy. Int J Clim Pharmacol Ther 1997; 35: 296-301.
9. Jacobs J, Springer DA, Crothers D. Homeopathic treatment of acute otitis media in children: a preliminary randomized placebo-controlled trial. Pediatr Infect Dis J 2001; 20: 177-183.
10. Riley D, Fischer M, Singh B, Haidvogl M, Heger M. Homeopathy and conventional medicine: an outcojmes study comparing effectiveness in a primary care setting. J Altern Complement Med 2001; 7: 149-159.
11. Steinsbekk A, Fønnebø V, Lewith G, Bentzen N. Homeopathic care for the prevention of upper respiratory tract infections in children: A pragmatic, randomised, controlled trial comparing individualised homeopathic care and waiting-list controls. Complementary Therapies in Medicine 2005, 13, 231-238.
12. Weber U, Luedtke R, Friese KH, Fischer I, Moeller H. A non-randomised pilot study to compare complementary and conventional tretaments of acute sinusitis. Forsch Komplementarmed Klass Naturheilkd 2002; 9: 99-104.
13. Wiesenauer M, Gaus W, Bohnacker U, Haussler S. (Efficiency of homeopathic preparation combinations in sinusitis. Results of a randomized double blind study with general practitioners.) Arzneimittelforschung 1989; 39: 620-625.
14. Rossi E, Crudeli L, Endrizzi C, Garibaldi D. Cost-benefit evaluation of homeopathic versus conventional therapy in respiratory diseases. Homeopathy 2009, 98, 2–10.
15. Trichard M, Chaufferin G, Dubreuil C, Nicoloyannis N, Duru G. Effectiveness, quality of life, and cost of caring for children in France with recurrent acute rhinopharyngitis managed by homeopathic or non-homeopathic general practitioners. Dis Manage Health Outcomes 2004, 12(6): 419-427.
16. Van Wassenhoven M, Ives G. An observational study of patients receiving homeopathic treatment. Homeopathy 2004, 93, 3–11.