The Evolution of Homeopathic Theory-Driven Research and the Methodological Toolbox
by Iris R. Bell, MD MD(H), PhD)
Creating a Foundation for Homeopathic Research
Emerging data and new theoretical work are creating a quiet revolution in homeopathy of which clinicians in practice may not as yet know. These findings do not simply tilt at the windmill of trying to “prove” the validity of homeopathy to extreme skeptics (who will never be convinced), but, rather, provide a modern foundation for advancing the field overall and improving the clinical care available to patients. Skeptics and other people who are simply unaware of the research literature have the incorrect belief that there is “no” research evidence supporting the plausibility of homeopathy, biological effects of remedies, or the clinical effectiveness of homeopathic treatment. On the contrary, the evidence is published and accessible.
New Ways of Conducting Homeopathic Research
The progress falls into at least 4 specific areas: (1) introducing new strategies for designing randomized clinical trials that have greater external validity (faithfulness and relevance to actual homeopathic clinical practice); (2) developing a peer-reviewed, accessible literature of clinical observational studies on thousands of patients with acute and/or chronic conditions and adapting the tools of qualitative research methods; (3) synthesizing concepts from the cutting-edge science of complex nonlinear dynamical systems and network theory with homeopathic philosophy and practice theory to design theory-driven studies that advance understanding of the healing process; and (4) determining several different basic science laboratory methods for documenting the nature of homeopathic remedies to address the skeptics’ long-standing molecular implausibility argument against homeopathy.
Exciting Growth of Homeopathic Research
In short, homeopathic research is moving forward – internationally — in exciting ways. At the same time, reasons for the political divide between allopathic and homeopathic perspectives on health care are becoming even more clarified in the research arena. Classical homeopathy holds not only a vitalistic rather than materialistic (allopathic) philosophy at its core, but the research methodology approaches most likely to help us understand homeopathy more deeply also fall into some allopathically less well-known and/or less well-accepted scientific approaches. Even though respected in scientific fields outside biomedicine, these methods are currently at the frontiers and sometimes fringes of biomedical research, such as qualitative methods and nonlinear dynamical complex systems and network science.
Key Strategies for Homeopathic Research
A key strategy for homeopathic researchers involves learning the language and current scientific interests of allopathic researchers in order to bridge the chasm between homeopathy and allopathy. The surprising results of a dialogue will include new ways of understanding and performing research on traditional homeopathic concepts such as health and disease (attractor patterns), miasms (epigenetics), center of gravity and suppression (networks), aggravations prior to improvements (dynamical destabilization, bifurcations, cusp catastrophes), Hering’s Law of Cure (self-organization), and even succussion in remedy preparation (epitaxy and turbulence with changes in pressure within liquids).