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Forsch Komplementmed. 2012;19(1):13-9. doi: 10.1159/000335827. Epub 2012 Jan 27.

Is it possible to distinguish homeopathic aggravation from adverse effects? A qualitative study.

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Department of Community Medicine, National Research Center in Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NAFKAM), University of Tromsø, Norway.



Homeopathic aggravation is a temporary worsening of existing symptoms following the administration of a correct homeopathic prescription. The aim of this study was to explore and compose criteria that may differentiate homeopathic aggravations from adverse effects.


A qualitative approach was employed using focus group interviews. 2 interviews, with 11 experienced homeopaths, were performed in Oslo, Norway. The practitioners have practiced classical homeopathy over a period of 10-32 years. Qualitative content analysis was used to analyze the text data. The codes were defined before and during the data analysis.


We found that aggravations were subtle and multifaceted events. Moreover, highly skilled homeopaths are required to identify and report aggravations. Adverse effect may be defined as an 'undesirable effect of a remedy'. This definition is pragmatic, flexible, and more in line with the holistic paradigm that the homeopaths represent. 8 criteria that distinguish aggravation from adverse effect were found. Highly sensitive persons hold a unique position regarding safety, as it is important to identify these patients in order to treat them correctly and avoid undesirable effects of the treatment.


This study rigorously explored homeopaths' views and experience on aggravation and adverse effects. The 8 criteria developed in this study may ensure patient safety and support therapists in identifying an 'undesirable effect of a remedy'.

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