Background: Homeopathy, a common form of alternative medicine worldwide, relies on subjective patient reports for diagnosis and treatment. Polysomnography offers a modern methodology for evaluating the objective effects of taking homeopathic remedies that clinicians claim exert effects on sleep quality in susceptible individuals. Animal studies have previously shown changes in non rapid eye movement sleep with certain homeopathic remedies.
Methods: Young adults of both sexes (ages 18-31) with above-average scores on standardized personality scales for either cynical hostility or anxiety sensitivity (but not both) and a history of coffee-induced insomnia participated in the month-long study. At-home polysomnographic recordings were obtained on successive pairs of nights once per week for a total of eight recordings (nights 1, 2, 8, 9, 15, 16, 22, 23). Subjects (N=54) received placebo pellets on night 8 (single-blind) and verum pellets on night 22 (double-blind) in 30c doses of one of two homeopathic remedies, Nux Vomica or Coffea Cruda. Subjects completed daily morning sleep diaries and weekly Pittsburgh sleep quality index scales, as well as profile of mood states scales at bedtime on polysomnography nights.
Results: Verum remedies significantly increased PSG total sleep time and NREM, as well as awakenings and stage changes. Changes in actigraphic and self-rated scale effects were not significant.
Conclusions: The study demonstrated the feasibility of using in-home, all-night sleep recordings to study homeopathic remedy effects. Findings are similar though not identical to those reported in animals with the same remedies. Possible mechanisms include initial disruption of the nonlinear dynamics of sleep patterns by the verum remedies.
Copyright © 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.