The placebo effect and homeopathy

Homeopathy. 2010 Apr;99(2):119-29. doi: 10.1016/j.homp.2010.02.001.


Background: Like other forms of medicine, including Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM), homeopathy elicits expectations in patients. The physician-patient relationship, personal and comprehensive treatment and lack of adverse effects are elements in creating positive expectations. Other elements may be associated with negative expectations.

Methods: We conducted a systematic literature review on placebo and nocebo effects in acupuncture and homeopathy using Medline.

Results: Findings on the psychophysiological and neuromediating mechanisms of the placebo-nocebo phenomenon are reviewed. Studies of these effects reveal how expectations and unconscious conditioning can be measured by imaging and EEG methods. They result in significant, non-specific therapeutic effects, which may confuse the evaluation of the specific therapeutic effects treatment, hampering selection of the simillimum.

Conclusions: Directions for future research on non-specific therapeutic effects of homeopathy to improve clinical practice and clinical research are discussed.

Trial registration: NCT00822406.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Therapy*
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / drug therapy
  • Homeopathy*
  • Humans
  • Pain / drug therapy
  • Pain / physiopathology
  • Parkinson Disease / drug therapy
  • Placebo Effect*

Associated data