Background: Homeopathic drug provings or pathogenetic trials (HPTs) are the pillar of homeopathy. This review summarizes the authors' findings and interpretations derived from a series of homeopathic drug proving between 1994 and 2015. It gives an overview over a series of attempts to use modern scientific experimental methodology to answer the question, whether such HPTs produce symptoms in healthy volunteers that can be distinguished from placebo symptoms.
Methods: Various experimental models were used: repeated crossover trials with categorical data collection, and a single-case, randomised study. Final models use diligent qualitative data-collection in experienced volunteers. In those, raters decide whether symptoms are typical for a remedy delivered or not. The design is triple-blind and placebo-controlled.
Result: While previous attempts were inconclusive, this new model allowed to separate placebo symptoms from verum symptoms repeatedly in a series of two definitive studies following promising pilot studies. Results were statistically significant. Also, some signs of the purported non-local signature of homeopathic effects were visible, and the consequences for future methodology is discussed.
Conclusion: Provided some cautionary notes are taken into account, HPTs can be used to separate out true specific symptoms from placebo symptoms. By the same token this is a road to experimental proof that homeopathic remedies are not just placebos. However, this needs to be taken forward by independent groups.
Keywords: Double blind experimental studies; High dilutions; Homeopathy; Pathogenetic trials; Remedy provings.
Copyright © 2015 The Faculty of Homeopathy. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.