Context: Children frequently suffer infections accompanied by fever, which is commonly treated with acetaminophen (paracetamol), a use not devoid of risk.
Objective: The effect of a complex homeopathic medicine (Viburcol, Heel Belgium, Gent, Belgium) was compared with that of acetaminophen in children with infectious fever.
Design: Non-randomized observational study.
Setting: Thirty-eight Belgian centers practicing homeopathy and conventional medicine.
Patients: Children <12 years old.
Interventions: Viburcol (drops) or acetaminophen (pills, capsules, or liquid form) for a maximum of 2 weeks.
Main outcome measures: Fever, cramps, distress, disturbed sleep, crying, and difficulties with eating or drinking. Symptoms were graded by the practitioner on a scale from 0 to 3. Severity of infection was evaluated on a scale from 0 to 4. Data were captured on body temperature, subjective impression of health status, time to first improvement of symptoms, and global evaluation of treatment effects. Tolerability and compliance were monitored.
Results: Both treatment groups improved during the treatment period. Body temperature was reduced by 1.7 degrees C +/- 0.7 degrees C with Viburcol and by 1.9 degrees C +/- 0.9 degrees C with acetaminophen; fever score (scale from 0 to 3) from 1.7 +/- 0.6 to 0.1 +/- 0.2 with Viburcol and from 1.9 +/- 0.7 to 0.2 +/- 0.5 with acetaminophen (all values mean +/-SD). The overall severity of infection (scale from 0 to 4) decreased from 2.0 +/- 0.5 to 0.0 +/- 0.2 with Viburcol and from 2.2 +/- 0.7 to 0.2 +/- 0.6 with acetaminophen. There were no statistically significant differences between treatment groups in time to symptomatic improvement. Viburcol was noninferior to acetaminophen on all variables evaluated. Both treatments were very well tolerated, but the Viburcol group had a significantly greater number of patients with the highest tolerability score.
Conclusions: In this patient population, Viburcol was an effective alternative to acetaminophen treatment and significantly better tolerated.