Background: Homeopathic medicine is a branch of integrative medicine that has been gaining increasing popularity. However, its clinical application remains controversial. To improve the understanding of homeopathy, observational studies-which monitor the effects of homeopathy in real-life clinical settings-are a helpful adjunct to randomized controlled trials. The goal of this controlled observational study was to investigate the role of the homeopathic medicine in preventing respiratory tract infections (RTIs).
Methods: This retrospective analysis of patients' medical records focused on a single centre from 2002 to 2011, and examined 459 patients, out of whom 248 were treated with homeopathic medicine (specific extract of duck liver and heart) and 211 were not treated. All patients were followed-up for at least 1 year, and up to a maximum of 10 years.
Results: A significant reduction in the frequency of onset of RTIs was found in both the homeopathic medicine and untreated groups. The reduction in the mean number of RTI episodes during the period of observation vs. the year before inclusion in the study was significantly greater in the homeopathic-treated group than in untreated patients (-4.76 ± 1.45 vs. -3.36 ± 1.30; p = 0.001). The beneficial effect of the homeopathic medicine was not significantly related to gender, age, smoking habits or concomitant respiratory diseases when compared to the effect observed in untreated patients.
Conclusion: These results suggest that homeopathic medicine may have a positive effect in preventing RTIs. However, randomized studies are needed before any firm conclusion can be reached.
Keywords: Comparative study; Homeopathy; Integrative therapies; Observational study; Oscillococcinum; Respiratory tract infections.