Controlled Trial on the Homeopathic Treatment After Dental Extraction
By Dana Ullman MPH
Reference: Per Lokken, Per Atle Straumsheim, Dag Tveiten, Per Skjelbred, C.F. Borchgrevink, "Effect of Homoeopathy on Pain and Other Events After Acute Trauma: Placebo Controlled Trial with Bilateral Oral Surgery," BMJ, 310 (June 3, 1995):1439-42.
- A well-designed clinical trial was performed in Norway testing the efficacy of homeopathic medicines in the treatment of pain and other inflammatory events after dental surgery. The study was a cooperative venture between a professor of denistry, the chief of surgery at a hospital, and two homeopaths.
- The study was double-blind with a crossover design (the study compared the pain and inflammation after extraction of the wisdom teeth on one side of the mouth with that experienced after extraction of the wisdom teeth on the other side). A total of 24 patients participated.
- The surgery was performed by the same surgeon who used a standarized technique.
- Treatment with an individualized homeopathic medicine or placebo started three hours after surgery. The two homeopaths participated in individualizing a homeopathic medicine to all patients, though they didn't know when the patient received the remedy or placebo. The homeopaths used six different homeopathic medicines, each in the 30x (also called D30) with only one medicine given to a person.
- Arnica was prescribed nine times. Phosphorus was prescribed seven times, Hypericum five times, Ledum once, Staphisagria once, and Plantago once.
- There was no distinguishable difference between the pain, swelling, post-operative bleeding, or side effects that patients experienced after taking a homeopathic medicine or a placebo.
- This experimental trial might seem perfect, but it was not. There are two important, even major, flaws in this study. Although two homeopaths participated in this study, these homeopaths are general practitioners who do not specialize in dental homeopathy. The serious problem here is that the dozen or so homeopathic dentists with whom I have previously discussed therapeutic issues in their field have informed me that the most common homeopathic medicine for relieving pain and swelling after dental extraction is Ruta graveolens, a remedy which was not tested in this trial (I made reference to this remedy as the leading remedy for treating people after dental extraction as far back as 1988 in the first edition of my book, Discovering Homeopathy(1)).
- The second problem with this study is that it was not advisable to begin treatment three hours after surgery. Homeopathic dentists generally recommend treatment prior to surgery and then immediately after surgery. A three-hour delay might have reduced the potential benefits from the homeopathic medicines.
- The good news of this study is that it discourages homeopaths from relying only upon generalized information about pre- and post-surgical treatment from 19th century homeopathic texts, and it encourages homeopaths to learn from various homeopathic specialists.
Reference: (1)Dana Ullman, Discovering Homeopathy, Berkeley: North Atlantic, 1991 (2nd edition).