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J Chiropr Med. 2004 Spring;3(2):45-52. doi: 10.1016/S0899-3467(07)60085-8.

Homeopathic treatment of headaches: a systematic review of the literature.

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1
Private Practice of Chiropractic and Homeopathic, Emeryville, CA.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To systematically review published prospective trials relating to the homeopathic treatment of tension type, cervicogenic, and migraine headache.

DATA SOURCES:

Pre-MEDLINE, MEDLINE, MANTIS, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, and AMED were searched from the initial indexing year of each database through May 2002. Studies were further identified through a manual search of obtained article references.

STUDY SELECTION:

English and non-English randomized clinical trials and prospective observational trials were included if there were at least ten subjects in the homeopathic portion of the trial and, for randomized clinical trials, if there was a placebo group. Treatment in these studies included single dose and individualized homeopathic prescription. Case studies, homeopathic provings, unpublished material, non-peer reviewed papers, and studies that combined multiple homeopathic remedies, introduced other complementary and alternative medicine therapies and/or introduced additional medical therapy for patients in the homeopathic treatment groups were excluded.

DATA EXTRACTION:

Qualitative data were extracted from each paper and entered into an evidence table.

DATA SYNTHESIS:

A critical evaluation list of 20 methodological items and their operational definitions was used, resulting in a validity score determined for each paper.

RESULTS:

Six papers met criteria for inclusion. Three out of the six papers studied migraine headache, two studied cervicogenic and tension type headache, and one included all types of headaches. Four studies were randomized clinical trials, and two were prospective observational studies. Validity scores ranged from 25.0% to 63.4%. Homeopathy was superior to placebo in one randomized clinical trial and equal to placebo in three randomized trials. In no study was homeopathy less effective than placebo in treating headache, or harmful. Two prospective observational studies demonstrated improvement in patients receiving homeopathic care.

CONCLUSION:

There is insufficient evidence to support or refute the use of homeopathy for managing tension type, cervicogenic, or migraine headache. The studies reviewed possessed several flaws in design. Given these findings, further research is warranted to better investigate the effectiveness of homeopathic treatment of headaches.

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