In patients with COVID-19, an earlier recovery has been reported among those treated with an adjunctive individualized homeopathic regimen together with integrated standard of care, compared with standard of care alone, according to the results of a randomized, placebo-controlled, single-blind study published in the journal Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice.
The researchers sought to evaluate the efficacy of adjunctive homeopathic medicine in treating COVID-19 among adult patients at least 18 years of age who were admitted to Chirayu Hospital — a designated COVID-19 treatment, tertiary care facility located in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India. All of the study participants were positive for SARS-CoV-2 infection based on the results of reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing.
The primary study outcome was clinical recovery, which was determined through change in a participant’s total symptom score. The severity of each symptom was measured with use of a 10-point numerical patient-reported rating scale. All participants needed to rate the symptoms they had experienced over the past 24 hours, with 0 representing no symptoms to 10 representing the worst imaginable suffering from the symptom. Secondary outcomes included time to fever clearance and time to clinical recovery.
The 300 patients participating in the study were divided into 2 groups: (1) standard of care plus homeopathy (SC+H; n=151), in which the participants were prescribed homeopathic medicine, which was chosen according to the totality of their symptoms and administered as an adjunct to the standard of care for COVID-19, and (2) standard of care plus placebo (SC+P; n=149), in which the participants received sucrose globules impregnated with dispensing ethyl alcohol (as the placebo). The mean patient ages were 42.54±13.57 years and 41.51±14.27 years in the SC+H and SC+P groups, respectively. Approximately 63% of the participants were male. The most common comorbidities among patients included hypertension, diabetes, and chronic lung diseases. At the time of enrollment, 62.9% of those in the SC+H group and 51.0% of those in the SC+P group had pneumonia. Among all of the participants, 1.39% had an SpO2 of less than 90%.
The homeopathic medications were dispensed through medicated sucrose pills. In a similar fashion, the placebo pills were imbued with ethyl alcohol. The homeopathic medications used in the SC+H group and the sucrose pills administered in the SC+P group were given in small vials and consecutively numbered for each of the participants according to the randomization schedule. Both the homeopathic medication and the placebo were dispensed to participants by the treating homeopathic physicians.
The participants received standard of care based on the current recommendation of the state government, which included azithromycin 500 mg once daily, pantoprazole
40 mg once daily, calcium 500 mg twice daily, montelukast 10 mg/levocetirizine 5 mg once daily (during hours of sleep), zinc 50 mg once daily, and vitamin D3 60,000 IU weekly.
Participants were classified according to their disease presentation: (1) mild disease: symptomatic patients who fulfilled the case definition for COVID-19 with no evidence of viral pneumonia or hypoxia; (2) moderate disease: adolescents or adults with clinical symptoms of pneumonia (ie, fever, cough, dyspnea, rapid breathing) but no signs of severe pneumonia, including oxygen saturation (SpO2) of at least 90% on room air; and (3) severe disease: adolescents or adults with clinical signs of pneumonia (ie, fever, cough, dyspnea, rapid breathing) plus a respiratory rate of more than 30 breaths per minute, severe respiratory distress, or SpO2 of less than 90% on room air.
Per Kaplan-Meier analysis, the time to clinical recovery was about 2 days earlier in the SC+H arm than in the SC+P arm (SC+H: 5.95±0.16 days, 95% CI, 5.63-6.27; SC+P: 7.69±0.12 days, 95% CI, 6.58-7.03; P =.0001). Further, the resolution of fever was 20 hours earlier in the SC+H group compared with the SC+P group (SC+H: 35.04±6.48 hours, 95% CI, 22.32-47.75; SC+P: 55.79±9.05 hours, 95% CI, 38.04± 73.54; P =.04).
On day 10 of treatment, 75.50% of participants recovered in the homeopathy arm, compared with 36.91% in the control arm. The likelihood of a participant becoming symptom-free was 8 times higher in the SC+H group than in the SC+P group (adjusted odds ratio, 8.36; 95% CI, 4.63-15.07; P =.0001). Additionally, after 5 days of treatment, a significant number of patients in the SC+H arm were relieved of their symptoms (SC+H/SC+P: dyspnea 60.66%/29.73%; sputum production 85.29%/21.05%; fatigue 68.57%/21.82%; cough 64.63%/33/33%; and headache 84.09%/78.13%).
A major limitation of the current study is the fact that because of the large number of COVID-19 patients at the hospital, follow-up laboratory tests could not always be performed because of a resource crunch. Further, restricted access to patients because of the high transmissibility of COVID-19 limits the number of homeopathic prescriptions, since various patient attributes and disease characteristics need to be known when selecting these medications.
The researchers concluded that additional double-blind, controlled studies were warranted to confirm the current study results.
Nayak D, Gupta J, Chaudhary A, et al. Efficacy of individualized homeopathy as an adjunct to standard of care of COVID-19: a randomized, single-blind, placebo-controlled study. Complement Ther Clin Pract. Published online May 8, 2022. doi:10.1016/j.ctcp.2022.101602