Independent replication of pre-clinical research in homeopathy: a systematic review

Forsch Komplementarmed. 1999 Dec;6(6):311-20. doi: 10.1159/000021286.


Objective: To determine whether any pre-clinical research in homoeopathy has been independently replicated.

Search strategy: CISCOM was searched using the key words 'homeopathy' and 'basic research'. Further references were obtained from reviews, bibliographies, citation tracking and contact with experts.

Selection criteria: Studies comparing the effects of one or more homoeopathic medicines to no homoeopathic treatment on any live biological material apart from humans or animals under veterinary care. Research on intoxication and basophil degranulation was excluded.

Data collection and analysis: Publications were grouped in experimental models. Studies were considered to comprise the same model if the outcome variable, biological material and homoeopathic treatment were the same. Publications relating to each experimental model were then arranged in chronological order. A model was considered to have been independently replicated if the first author was different and fewer than half of all authors had previously published research using that model.

Results: 120 papers reported 61 different experimental models. Only three models were investigated by different research teams: growth of yeast, growth of wheat coleoptiles and ultra-violet-induced erythema in albino guinea pigs. In the case of yeast, attempts to replicate findings showing increased growth after treatment with Pulsatilla were unsuccessful. For wheat, two experiments by different research teams were conducted, but no single hypothesis was tested in both papers with the same result. Different research teams conducted very similar experiments on erythema treatment by Apis, but the methodological quality of the publications was low.

Conclusions: There is a lack of independent replication of any pre-clinical research in homoeopathy. In the few instances where a research team has set out to replicate the work of another, either the results were negative or the methodology was questionable.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bias
  • Homeopathy* / methods
  • Homeopathy* / standards
  • Humans
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Research / standards*