PA Homeopathy - Dr. Bernardo A. Merizalde

PA Homeopathy Blog

Nov 29, 2017

Homeopathy and psychiatry


As I pointed out in this article on homeopathy and psychiatry, there are no "one size fits all" treatment protocols for a given diagnosis or set of symptoms. However, homeopathy has played a part in mental wellness for over 140 years.

The first homeopathic hospital for the mentally ill was founded in Middletown, New York, in May 1874. One prominent physician who used homeopathy at the time to treat the mentally ill was Charles Frederick Menninger, founder of the Menninger Clinic, which is still in operation but no longer uses homeopathy.

Menninger was an active member of the American Institute of Homeopathy and is quoted as saying,

Homeopathy is wholly capable of satisfying the therapeutic demands of this age better than any other system or school of medicine ... it is imper¬ative that we exhaust the homeopathic healing art before resorting to any other mode of treatment, if we wish to accomplish the greatest success possible. (Menninger, 1897)

Few studies on the use of homeopathy in mental health have been published that follow good scientific methodology, though some meta-analysis of the studies that exist has suggested overall positive effects that warrant further research. In one review, 8 of 10 reasonably high-quality studies on the treatment of mental or psychological problems, including depression, insomnia, nervous tension, agitation, aphasia, and behavior problems in children, showed positive effects from homeopathic treatment. Although none of those studies has been replicated, they cumulatively suggest potential value and the need for further exploration of homeopathic treatments (Kleijnen, Knipschild, & ter Riet, 1991; Linde et al., 1997).

Some interesting studies worthy of mention have been published since that review. One study suggested that homeopathy may be useful in the treatment of some patients with anxiety or depression, either as an adjunctive or sole treatment, in patients who specifically request it (Davidson, Morrison, Shore, Davidson, & Bedayn, 1997). Of course, such selection bias of the intervention can influence the placebo effect. In addition, the authors noted several limita¬tions to this study, concluding that only larger, double-blind, controlled trials can provide answers to the questions that arise when using homeopathy in the treatment of disease, in general, and in psychiatry in particular.

Chapman et al. performed a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study on 6o patients with persistent mild traumatic brain injury. Their results suggested that homeopathy alone, or used concurrently with conventional phar¬macological and rehabilitation therapies, may be effective in treating patients with persistent mild traumatic brain injury, a condition for which there are lim¬ited treatment options (Chapman, Weintraub, Milburn, Pirozzi, & Woo, 1999). Lamont performed a double-blind, placebo-controlled study on the treat¬ment of 43 children with a diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, showing statistically significant improvement in the homeopathy group as compared to the control, supporting the notion that homeopathic treatment is superior to placebo (Lamont, 1997).

Another set of studies also address the treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. One double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 115 children in Switzerland found positive results from a course of homeopathic treatment over a period of 3 months. These children were treated according to a more classical homeopathic approach, in which the remedy selection was individualized to the particular patient's symptoms. (Frei & Thurneysen, 2001) This same research group decided to do a "crossover" phase of the study and stopped the remedies. They found that the children who had improved with homeopa¬thy deteriorated when the placebo was given and then responded again when the remedy was reinstated (Frei et al., 2005).

Frei and colleagues, in a retrospective analysis of their published work, noted difficulties performing research in homeopathy with the individualizing of the medicine and setting up placebo conditions. Studies purporting to determine the clinical efficicacy of one or even several homeopathic medicines will easily miss correct medicine for a particular individual. They found that an average of 3 homeopathic medicines (range 1 to 9) are often used before finding the best medicine, something not unusual in conventional medicine. The researchers identified patients who responded to an individualized homeopathic medicine during the pre-trial and an average of five months to find the positive response necessary to be included in the randomized controlled, cross-over, phase of the trial; seventy patients (84%) were included in the study. Their conclusion was that an optimal homeopathic medicine needs to be identified before a placebo controlled trial in order for the trial to be reliable (Frei, H., Everts, R., Von Ammon, K., Kaufmann, F., Walther, D., & et_al., 2007).

Hundreds of case reports were published in homeopathic journals during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries about patients suffering from mental disorders who were treated with homeopathy. Even though some of the cases inadequately present the diagnoses, many of these patients would have met criteria for a mental disorder according to the DSM-V and would have been candidates for conventional pharmacotherapy in the present day.

Below is a brief overview of some case reports that have relatively clear and thorough descriptions of the disorders and treatment effect. They are mainly provided as a reference for those who would like more in-depth examples of the homeopathic process. Although case reports are not the gold standard of investigational inquiry in conventional biomedicine, some CAM modalities such as homeopathy consider case descriptions and outcomes crucial because of the individualized treatment approach of the intervention. Also, some feel that detailed case reports in the homeopathic literature are important and relevant to establishing its evidence base (Slonim & White, 1983).

Detinis presented six interesting cases of patients suffering from depression with suicidal ideation, chronic pain, sleep disorder, premenstrual syndrome, and anxiety disorder treated homeopathically (Detinis, 1994). Bodman pres¬ents a series of cases of depression, anxiety, sleep disorder, phobias, neurosis, cerebral sequelae from a stroke, Meniere’s disease, migraines, and other con¬ditions treated successfully with homeopathy (Bodman,1990). Boltz (1968) and Phalnikar (1962) presented cases of patients with acute psychosis; SaMe (1997) presented a series of cases of patients with psychosis, manic-depressive disorder, obsessions, and neurosis. Shevin (1989) presented several cases of patients with dissociative disorders, character pathology, and posttraumatic stress disorder treated homeopathically. Gallavardin (1960, 1990) published a series of cases of patients treated for alcoholism, and Grazyna and Trzebiatowska-Trzeciak (1993) presented a series of 3o men treated for alcohol withdrawal.

Some authors have presented cases of children with various cognitive handi¬caps, including traumatic brain injury (Haidvogl, Lehner, & Resch, 1993). One case series of twenty children with enuresis and behavioral problems reported 50% improvement in both symptoms. Unfortunately, this investigation was not done as a controlled study, making it difficult to evaluate (Cortina, 1994).

References:
Bodman, F. (1990). Insights into homeopathy. Beaconsfield Press, England: Davies and Pinsent Editors.

Boltz, 0. (1968). Some original investigations on the treatment of schizophrenia and associated symptoms due to a functional disturbance of integration in the dien-cephalon using the principle of Similia Similibus Curantur. Journal of the American Institute of Homeopathy, 61(4), 219-234.

Chapman, E. H., Weintraub, R. J., Milburn, M. A., Pirozzi, T 0., & Woo, E. (1999). Homeopathic treatment of mild traumatic brain injury: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation, 14(6), 521-542.

Cortina, J. (1994). Enuresis and its homeopathic treatment: Study of 20 cases treated with ilex paraguenses. British Homeopathic Journal, 83(4), 220-222.

Davidson, J., Morrison, R., Shore, J., Davidson, R. T., & Bedayn, G. (1997). Homeopathic treatment of depression and anxiety. Alternative Therapies, 3(1), 46-49.

Detinis, L. (1994). Mental symptoms in homeopathy. London, England: Beaconsfield Pubs.

Frei, H., Everts, R., von Ammon, K., Kaufmann, F., Walther, D., Hsu-Schmitz, S. E, et al. (2005). Homeopathic treatment of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, a randomised, double blind, placebo controlled crossover trial. European Journal of Pediatrics, 1- h

Frei, H., & Thurneysen, A. (2001). Treatment for hyperactive children: Homeopathy and methylphenidate compared in a family setting. British Homeopathic Journal, 90, 183-188.

Frei H., Everts R., von Ammon K., Kaufmann F., Walther D., Hsu-Schmitz S.F., Collenberg M., Fuhrer K., Hassink R., Steinlin M., Thurneysen A. (2005). Homeopathic treatment of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, a randomised, double blind, placebo controlled crossover trial. European Journal of Pediatrics, 164, 758–767.

Frei, H., Everts, R., Von Ammon, K., Kaufmann, F., Walther, D., & et_al. (2007). Ransomised Controlled Trials of Homeopathy in Hyperactive Children: Treatment Procedure Leads to an Unconventional Study Design. Homeopathy, 96, 35-41.

Gallavardin, J. (1960/90). Psychism and homeopathy. New Delhi, India: B. Jain Publishers.

Grazyna, M., & Trzebiatowska-Trzeciak, 0. (1993). Homeopathic treatment of alcohol withdrawal. British Homeopathic Journal with Simile, 82(4), 249-251.

Haidvogl, M., Lehner, E., & Resch, D. (1993). Homeopathic treatment of handicapped children. British Homeopathic Journal, 82(4), 227-236.

Kleijnen, J., Knipschild, P., & terRiet, G. (1991). Clinical trials of homeopathy. British Medical Journal, 302 (6782), 316-323.

Lamont, J. (1997). Homeopathic treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder-a controlled study. British Homeopathic Journal, 86,196-zoo.

Linde, K., Clausius, N., Ramirez, G., Melchart, D., Eitel, F., Hedges, L. V., et al. (1997). Are the clinical effects of homeopathy placebo effects? A meta-analysis of placebo-controlled trials. Lancet, 359(9081), 834-43.

Menninger, C. (1897). Some reflections relative to the symptomatology and materia medica of typhoid fever. Transactions of American Institute of Homeopathy, 430.

SaMe, A. (1997). Psychiatric Patients: Back to the Roots: Steps in case taking. Eindhoven, Netherlands: Lutra Services.

Shevin, W. (1989). Case presentations. Journal of the American Institute of Homeopathy, 77(2): 59-66.

Slonim, D., & White, K. (1983). Homeopathy and psychiatry. Journal of Mind and Behavior, 4 (3): 401-410.


This excerpt, written by Bernardo A. Merizalde, originally appeared in Integrative Psychiatry, edited by Daniel A. Monti and Bernard D. Beitman and published by Oxford University Press.

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