Objective: To investigate whether the finding in a previous study that homeopathic medicines decrease the duration of acute diarrhea in children could be replicated in a different study population.
Design: Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.
Setting: Private, charitable health clinic in Kathmandu, Nepal.
Subjects: A consecutive sample of 126 children, 6 months to 5 years of age, who presented during April through June, 1994, with more than three unformed stools in the previous 24 hours.
Intervention: Children received either an individualized homeopathic medicine or placebo, to be taken one dose after each unformed stool for 5 days. Parents recorded daily stools on diary cards, and health workers made home visits daily to monitor children.
Outcome measures: Predefined measures were based on the previous study: (1) duration of diarrhea, defined as the time until there were fewer than three unformed stools per day, for two consecutive days, and (2) Average number of stools per day for each group.
Results: Of the 126 children initially enrolled, 116 completed treatment. The mean number of stools per day over the entire 5-day treatment period was 3.2 for the treatment group and 4.5 for the placebo group (P = 0.023). A Kaplan-Meier survival analysis of the duration of diarrhea, which included data from all patient visits, showed an 18.4% greater probability that a child would be free of diarrhea by day 5 under homeopathic treatment (P = 0.036).
Conclusions: These results are consistent with the finding from the previous study that individualized homeopathic treatment decreases the duration of diarrhea and number of stools in children with acute childhood diarrhea.