The homeopathic approach to symptom control in the cancer patient: a prospective observational study

Palliat Med. 2002 May;16(3):227-33. doi: 10.1191/0269216302pm539oa.


The aims of this study were to describe a population of patients with cancer referred for complementary therapies to an NHS homeopathic hospital, and to explore the homeopathic approach to symptom control and its impact on mood disturbance and quality of life. One hundred consecutive patients attending a designated research cancer clinic were seen for a consultation, lasting up to 60 min, and prescription of a homeopathic remedy. A maximum of three symptoms were identified and rated by the patient as a problem, using a numerical self-rating scale. The effect these symptoms have on daily life and overall sense of well being were recorded using similar scales. Patients completed the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) and the European Organization for Research and Treatment in Cancer--Quality of Life Questionnaire--Core 30 (EORTC QLQ-30) at the initial consultation and at four to six consultations later. After this time, the patients completed a final assessment questionnaire asking about satisfaction with the homeopathic approach, how helpful they had found the approach for the targeted symptoms and what factors they felt may have contributed to the changes perceived. One hundred patients were entered into the study. Thirty-nine patients had metastatic disease. Nine patients were refusing conventional cancer treatments. The most common symptoms were pain, fatigue and hot flushes. Symptom scores for fatigue and hot flushes improved significantly over the study period but not for pain scores. Side effects included a transient worsening of symptoms in a few cases, which settled on stopping the remedy. Fifty-two patients completed the study, and in those patients satisfaction was high, and 75% (n=38) rated the approach as helpful or very helpful for their symptoms. Results suggest that further research is warranted to explore the management of hot flushes in women with breast cancer and fatigue in the cancer diagnosis.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affective Symptoms / therapy
  • Fatigue / etiology
  • Fatigue / therapy
  • Female
  • Flushing / etiology
  • Flushing / therapy
  • Homeopathy / standards*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / complications
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Pain / etiology
  • Pain Management
  • Palliative Care / methods
  • Palliative Care / standards*
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Life