Medical researchers from around the world have been investigating the ability of homeopathy to treat cancer. A new study adds to the controversy.
Researchers from India’s Jaypee University of Information Technology conducted an experiment to test the ability of homeopathic medicines to alter cancer growth while controlling any apparent placebo effect.
The researchers utilized human cancer cell lines to test the effectiveness of homeopathic remedies that have been utilized by homeopathic practitioners for cancers. The researchers conducted a series of laboratory tests using four dilutions of three different homeopathic remedies on three different types of cancers.
The dilution rates used in the tests were 30C, 200C, 1M and 10M. Each of these dilution rates represents an ultra dilution. The 30C represents that the substance has been diluted to 1/100th of its original dilution multiplied by 30 times (reduced). For a 200C dilution this would be multiplied by 200 times. A 1M dilution would represent 1,000 times the dilution of 1/100th, and 10M would represent that dilution multiplied by 10 times that dilution.
In other words, we are talking about very large dilutions, which according to most scientists, represents the ending solution having few if any physical molecules of the substance left in the dilution.
The researchers tested these dilutions of the homeopathic remedy Sarsaparilla (Smilax regelii) using the human cancer cell line for renal adenocarcinoma — kidney cancer.
Homeopathic dilutions of Sarsaparilla were also applied to canine kidney cancer cells — these were non-malignant cancer cells (MDCK).
The researchers then applied homeopathic dilutions of Ruta graveolens to human colon cancer cells (COLO-205).
And finally, thee researchers applied homeopathic dilutions of Phytolacca decandra to a human breast cancer cell line (MCF-7).
The tests conducted by the researchers utilized the conventional methods of gauging cancer cell cyto-toxicity (cell death), using the MTT method (3-(4,5-dimethylthiazolyl-2)-2, 5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide), as well as a blue staining method using trypan, and a double-staining method using dyes ethidium bromide and acridine orange.
These procedures are typical among cancer drug research.
The researchers found that all three homeopathic remedies produced cancer cell death and significant reductions of proliferation among the human cancer cells. They found these effects were greatest among the higher dilution rates — the 1M and 10M dilutions.
The researchers noted that:
“hallmarks of apoptosis were evident including cell shrinkage, chromatin condensation and DNA fragmentation.”
This said, the Sarsaparilla homeopathic remedy did not have any effect upon the canine non-malignant cancer cell line.
The researchers concluded their findings by saying:
“This study provides preliminary laboratory evidence indicating the ability of homeopathic medicines as anticancer agents. Further studies of the action of these homeopathic remedies are warranted.”
Even greater than this, the study illustrates something that many in conventional medicine cannot accept: That decreasingly minute dilutions to the point where there is little if any physical molecule of the original substance left may produce physical effects upon the body. The fact that the greater dilutions (less original substance) had greater effects upon the cancer cells possibly illustrates what homeopathic provings and over two centuries of clinical use have possibly been indicating: That there is a potential residual energetic effect — an electromagnetic effect — produced as the homeopathic remedy is diluted according to the methods of homeopathic medicine.
Homeopathy in cancer care – and in general – has been controversial, and there is a lack of clear evidence that it is effective in cancer treatment. While many practitioners and even multiple clinical studies have apparently shown homeopathy can reduce cancer growth, there are others that show little or no effects upon the cancer growth.
Reviews of these studies have shown some research with homeopathy had positive results, for example, by researchers from France’s University Claude Bernard, who wrote after reviewing sixteen clinical studies (among 2,617 patients) fulfilling their quality criteria:
“There is some evidence that homeopathic treatments are more effective than placebo; however, the strength of this evidence is low because of the low methodological quality of the trials.”
Other reviews, when lower quality studies were eliminated, showed a lack of effectiveness – such as one from the UK’s University of Exeter and and U. of Plymouth reflected regarding the six remaining clinical studies:
“Our analysis of published literature on homeopathy found insufficient evidence to support clinical efficacy of homeopathic therapy in cancer care.”
Thus we arrive at a lack of clear clinical evidence, yet some clinical evidence indeed does exist. This of course is underscored by the controversy regarding the very nature of the homeopathic proposal.
Yet we cannot deny that hundreds of thousands of clinical medical doctors in Europe and Asia are finding success as they treat patients with homeopathy. Is it all placebo effect?
This situation was described eloquently in 2010 by Dr. Moshe Frenkel, M.D. a professor of medicine at the University of Texas after a review of the research:
“Homeopathy is a controversial system of care that is practiced extensively in Europe, Asia, and South America primarily for functional and minor ailments. In this review, published studies on homeopathic remedies and cancer were examined. Data were obtained from multiple research disciplines, ranging from basic science to scientifically valid animal and clinical studies. The data from a few laboratory experiments in cancer models show some beneficial effect of homeopathic remedies on selected cancer cell lines. However, in the clinical arena, this effect is not clear. Several published outcome studies and some randomized controlled trials have shown that there may be a role for homeopathy in symptom relief and improving quality of life in patients touched by cancer. Such effects have not been demonstrated unequivocally, and specific antitumor effects have not been shown in any controlled clinical research to date, which raises the need for further clinical trials to investigate the use of homeopathy in cancer care.”
Arora S, Aggarwal A, Singla P, Jyoti S, Tandon S. Anti-proliferative effects of homeopathic medicines on human kidney, colon and breast cancer cells. Homeopathy. 2013 Oct;102(4):274-82. doi: 10.1016/j.homp.2013.06.001.
Cucherat M, Haugh MC, Gooch M, Boissel JP. Evidence of clinical efficacy of homeopathy. A meta-analysis of clinical trials. HMRAG. Homeopathic Medicines Research Advisory Group. Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 2000 Apr;56(1):27-33.
Milazzo S, Russell N, Ernst E. Efficacy of homeopathic therapy in cancer treatment. Eur J Cancer. 2006 Feb;42(3):282-9. Epub 2006 Jan 11.
Frenkel M. Homeopathy in cancer care. Altern Ther Health Med. 2010 May-Jun;16(3):12-6.