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Homeopathy for Migraine Prophylaxis

Clinical bottom line: There is no evidence that individualised homeopathic remedies are more effective than placebo for the prevention of migraine or tension-type headache. The few trials of adequate methodological quality show no difference between homeopathy and placebo. The one trial reporting homeopathy as more effective than placebo is of inadequate methodological quality.


Homeopathic texts suggest that headaches respond favourably to homeopathic treatments and recommend its use for that condition. Sceptics attribute the effect of homeopathy to that of placebo.

Systematic review

Ernst E. Homeopathic Prophylaxis of Headaches and Migraine: A Systematic Review. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management 1999; 18(5): 353-357

Date review completed: August 1998

Number of trials included: 4

Number of patients: 284 in active and control groups

Control group: placebo

Main outcomes: Headache frequency, intensity and duration of attacks; analgesic consumption.

Inclusion criteria were randomised; double-blind, placebo-controlled trials of individualised homeopathic treatments for prevention of headache or migraine attacks. No restriction to language of publication.

Reviewers conducted extensive searching including the main databases, reference lists of retrieved reports, homeopathic journals and books. Trial reports were scored for methodological quality using the Oxford rating scale (Jadad et al., 1996). Reviewers provided a descriptive summary of trial findings.

Findings

Homeopathic remedies were prescribed individually at different potencies and administration schedules. Outcomes measures were variable and assessed from 12 weeks to five months. Migraine diagnostic criteria were not defined in two trials, and migraine diagnosed by International Headache Society (IHS) criteria in two trials. Trial findings were not supported by statistical tests in the review.

Three double-blind, RCTs with about 220 patients failed to demonstrate a significant difference between homeopathy and placebo for the main outcomes headache frequency, severity and duration of attacks.

One RCT, with questionable blinding, on 60 patients reported significant improvement in all outcomes, but this is not supported in the review with statistical tests.

Adverse effects were not reported in the review

Further reading

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