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Homeopathy for Pollinosis

Clinical bottom line: Galphimia glauca, D4 dilution (mother tincture diluted 1 in ten parts water, four times), is not very effective for the relief of ocular symptoms due to acute pollinosis. The NNT was 9.0 (5.2 to 31) on more than 500 patients. The NNT for the C2 dilution (1 in 100, twice) was 3.8 (2.6 to 7.0) based on a small number of patients. However, these trials have all been conducted by the same research group and to date have not been independently replicated.

The plant Galphimia glauca is a homeopathic remedy that is used to ameliorate the symptoms of acute pollinosis. Trials all conducted by one study group are analysed and reviewed by themselves in this publication.

Systematic review

Wiesenauer M and Ludtke R. A Meta-Analysis of the Homeopathic Treatment of Pollinosis with Galphimia glauca. Forschende Komplementarmedizin 1996; 3:230-234

Date review completed: Search completed 1994

Number of trials included: 11

Number of patients: A total of 1032 in active and control groups

Control group: Placebo

Main outcomes: Improvement in ocular symptoms (patient assessment) using 4 point ordinal scale (no improvement, slight improvement, noticeable and soothing relief, symptom free). Outcomes in all trials were assessed after a four-week treatment period.

Inclusion criteria were trials of the homeopathic remedy Galphimia glauca for acute pollinosis

All 11 studies included in the meta-analysis were conducted by the reviewers (3 were unpublished). Medline and a complementary medicine database were searched for further studies, but none were found. Reviewers converted the ordinal rating scale into a dichotomous outcome. Treatment was considered successful if the patient experience noticeable and soothing relief or was completely symptom-free, and not successful if no or only slight improvement was found. Reviewers calculated the relative risk for each of the placebo controlled trials. We calculated the relative benefit (RB) using the random effects model, or number-needed-to-treat (NNT) for each potency using the dichotomous outcomes presented by the reviewers. We assumed significant benefit if confidence intervals did not cross one.

Findings

Seven of the studies were randomised, double-blind placebo-controlled multi-centre trials. One study compared four different potencies of Galphimia glauca but efficacy data were not presented in the review. The remaining three were uncontrolled studies and are not considered further here. The diagnostic criteria for pollinosis was identical in all seven RCTs and included: pollinosis due to flowering plants and grasses, > 2 year duration, swollen and inflammed conjuctiva, burning eyes, tingling and scratching in the nose, frequent sneezing, with no concommitant use of corticosteroids or anti-histamines.

Five trials of D4 potency with 262 patients given Galphimia glauca and 247 patients given placebo generated an NNT of 9.0 (95% CI 5.2 to 31) for complete relief or significant improvement of ocular symptoms due to flower or grass pollen at four weeks (Table and Figure). This means for every nine patients treated with Galphimia glauca for four weeks, one will have ocular symptoms improved that would not have done had they been treated with placebo.

There was one trial of C2 potency. Eighty five patients were given Galphimia glauca and 86 patients given placebo . The NNT for complete relief or significant improvement of ocular symptoms due to flower or grass pollen at four weeks was 3.8 (2.6 to 7.0).

There was no significant difference between D6 potency and placebo based on a small number of patients (Table).

Potency
Number of trials
Number improved with homeopathy
Number improved with placebo
Relative benefit
(95% CI)
NNT
(95% CI)
C2
1
75/85
53/86
1.4 (1.2 to 1.7)
3.8 (2.6 to 7.0)
D4
5
192/262
153/247
1.2 (1.0 to 1.5)
9.0 (5.2 to 31)
D6
1
28/35
24/37
1.2 (0.9 to 1.6)
nc

Abbreviations: nc=not calculated as relative benefit not significant; C2 = mother tincture diluted 1 in 100, twice; D4 = 1 in 10, four times; D6 = 1 in 10, six times

Treatment related adverse effects were not reported by any patient in any of the studies.

Further reading

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