Aims: Homeopathic medicines are frequently purchased over the counter (OTC). Respiratory complaints are the most frequent reason for such purchases. Children with upper respiratory tract infection (URTI) are frequent users of homeopathy. This study investigates the effect of self treatment with one of three self selected ultramolecular homeopathic medicines for the prevention of childhood URTI.
Methods: A double-blind randomized parallel group placebo controlled trial was carried out in 251 children below the age of 10 years, recruited by post from those previously diagnosed with URTI when attending a casualty department. The children were randomly assigned to receive either placebo or ultramolecular homeopathic medicines in C-30 potency (diluted 10(-60)) administered twice weekly for 12 weeks. Parents chose the medicine based on simplified constitutional indications for the three medicines most frequently prescribed by Norwegian homeopaths for this group of patients. The main outcome measure relates to the prevention of new episodes of URTI measured with median total symptom score over 12 weeks.
Results: There was no difference in the predefined primary outcome between the two groups (P = 0.733). Median URTI scores over 12 weeks in the homeopathic medicine group were 26.0 (95% confidence interval (CI) 16.3, 43.7) and for placebo 25.0 (95% CI 14.2, 38.4). There was no statistical difference between the two groups in median number of days with URTI symptoms or in the use of conventional medication/care.
Conclusions: In this study there was no effect over placebo for self treatment with one of three self selected, ultramolecular homeopathic medicines in preventing childhood URTI. This can be due to the lack of effect of the highly diluted homeopathic medicines or the process of selection and type of medicines.