Treatment of Acute Childhood Diarrhea with Homeopathic Medicine: A Randomized Clinical Trial in Nicaragua

The purpose of this study was to determine whether homeopathy is useful in the treatment of acute childhood diarrhea, the leading cause of pediatric morbidity and mortality worldwide. Two of its authors (Jacobs and Crothers) are experienced homeopathic practitioners, as well as MDs. They decided to do something about the lack of rigorous scientific studies of this type of alternative medicine by carrying out a well-designed investigation that would either support or discredit the numerous anecdotal reports of successful treatments with homeopathic medicines.( 1-3) Acute diarrhea is such a global problem (there are an estimated 1.3 billion episodes of diarrhea and 5 million deaths each year from this illness in children less than age 5) and there is no standard allopathic treatment that would have to be withheld in a randomized double-blind clinical trial.

The current recommended treatment for acute childhood diarrhea in the developing world is to give oral rehydration solution along with continued feeding. The authors note that while this treatment is effective in preventing death from dehydration, it neither decreases the amount of diarrhea nor shortens the duration of individual episodes of diarrhea. Antibiotics are not recommended in most cases of childhood diarrhea, but they are inappropriately used in many areas of poorer nations of the world.

Nicaragua was chosen as the site for this randomized double-blind pilot trial, in part because diarrhea is the primary cause of death during the first year of life, accounting for nearly 20 percent of all outpatient visits involving children between the ages of one and four years.

(1.) Coulter HL. Divided legacy: a history of the schism in medical thought. Washington, DC: Wehawken Book Compnay; 1973;III:285-316.

(2.) Bell J. The homeopathic therapeutics of diarrhea, dysentery, cholera, cholera morbus, and cholera infantum. Philadelphia: F. E. Boericke; 1888.

(3.) Panos M, Heimlich J. Homeopathic medicine at home. Los Angeles: J.P. Tarcher, Inc; 1980:135-136.

Article copyright Ina May Gaskin.

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