Another new study by Sinha, et al. was just published in January 2012 showing the effectiveness of homeopathy for treating acute ear infections (otitis media).(1) In a previous blog, I wrote about some studies that have proven that homeopathy is safe and effective for treating acute and recurrent ear infections (a.k.a. otitis media). One study showed that homeopathy resolves ear infections 2.4 times faster than placebo.(2) Another study showed that children with recurrent ear infections who were treated with homeopathy came down with less recurrent ear infections in the following year compared to those treated conventionally.(3)
This newest otitis media study is exciting because it was a randomized controlled trial that pitted homeopathy versus conventional medicine in a head-to-head fashion. Acute ear infections are one of the most common reasons children go to the pediatrician and 75% of children have an ear infection by the time they reach 3 years old. This is a very important area of research to look for effective alternatives to antibiotics, because it is known that antibiotic overuse has led to antibiotic resistance, which has led to treatment failures for acute ear infections.
Additionally, use of antibiotics in early childhood is associated with increased risk for developing childhood asthma. In fact, kiddos who have antibiotics within their first 6 months of life are 3 times more likely to develop allergies to pets, ragweed, grass and dust mites and are also more likely to suffer from asthma later in childhood.(5)
This latest study by Sinha, et al. had 80 children split into two groups with a randomized method. They were evaluated by an ENT specialist (otolaryngologist). Forty children were treated homeopathically and 40 were treated with conventional medicine.
In the conventional group they attempted to use a recommended “observation period” where the symptoms were treated symptomatically with pain relievers, anti-inflammatory and fever reducing medications for 3 days. Unfortunately, that was not very successful because only one child was cured and the other 39 all required antibiotics after 3 days because their ear infections had not resolved. The antibiotics prescribed were Azithromycin (17 patients) and Amoxicillin (22 patients). However, the antibiotics did prove effective and all 39 cases treated with antibiotics were cured.
By comparison, in the homeopathy group, 38 patients (95%) were cured and 2 (5%) had their data lost because they failed to follow up. No antibiotics were required at all in the homeopathy group. Additionally, symptomatic improvement was faster in the homeopathy group than the conventional medicine group and 4 cases were completely cured by the 3rd day in the homeopathy group while only 1 was completely cured by that time in the conventional medicine group.
These results are promising because they showed that homeopathic treatment of acute ear infections was as effective as conventional treatment, and was able to avoid antibiotic use. Additionally, we know from the prior research showing that homeopathically treated children had less recurrent ear infections than conventionally treated children(3), which seems to indicate that homeopathic treatment strengthens children’s immune systems and does not have the harmful effects of antibiotics with increased risk of future allergies and asthma. In fact, there is another study that just came out in January 2012 showing that long-term homeopathic treatment (over 8 years) decreased progression to asthma in children with atopic dermatitis (a.k.a. eczema) 20% more than children treated conventionally.(6) I will go in more depth about that study in a future blog, but have linked to the abstract on PubMed in the reference section below for those who are interested. For now, it is exciting and promising that we have another study proving the safety and effectiveness of homeopathy for acute ear infections, which may be a good alternative to avoid antibiotic overuse.
- Sinha, MN, et al. Randomized controlled pilot study to compare Homeopathy and Conventional therapy in Acute Otitis Media. Homeopathy, 2012 Jan;101(1):5-12. Click here to link to the study abstract on PubMed.
- Frei H, Thurneysen A. Homeopathy in Acute Otitis Media in Children: Treatment Effect or Spontaneous Resolution? British Homeopathic Journal, 2001, Oct, 90, 4, 180-182. Download full-text study here.
- Friese KH, Kruse S, Ludtke R, Moeller H. The Homoeopathic Treatment of Otitis Media in Children. International Journal of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 35, 7, 1997, 96-301. Download full-text study here.
- National Institute of Deafness & other Communication Disorders. Ear infections in children; what causes ear infection: para – 01st
- Noverr MC, Noggle RM, Toews GB, Huffnagle GB. Role of antibiotics and fungal microbiota in driving pulmonary allergic responses. Infect Immun 2004; 72: 4996-5003.
- Rossi E, Bartoli P, Bianchi A, Da Fre M. Homeopathy in pediatric atopic diseases: long-term results in children with atopic dermatitis. Homeopathy, 2012 Jan;101(1):13-20. Click here to link to the study abstract on PubMed.