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Keywords:

  • analgesia;
  • homeopathy;
  • knee ligament reconstruction;
  • pain

What is already known about this subject

• The efficacy of homeopathy is still under debate and a recent meta-analysis recommended further randomized double-blind clinical trials to identify any clinical situation in which homeopathy might be effective.

What this study adds

• The complex of homeopathy tested in this study (Arnica montana 5 CH, Bryonia alba 5 CH, Hypericum perforatum 5 CH and Ruta graveolens 3 DH) is not superior to placebo in reducing 24 h morphine consumption after knee ligament reconstruction.

Aims The efficacy of homeopathy is still under debate. The objective of this study was to assess the efficacy of homeopathic treatment (Arnica montana 5 CH, Bryonia alba 5 CH, Hypericum perforatum 5 CH and Ruta graveolens 3 DH) on cumulated morphine intake delivered by PCA over 24 h after knee ligament reconstruction.

Methods This was an add-on randomized controlled study with three parallel groups: a double-blind homeopathic or placebo arm and an open-label noninterventional control arm. Eligible patients were 18–60 years old candidates for surgery of the anterior cruciate ligament. Treatment was administered the evening before surgery and continued for 3 days. The primary end-point was cumulated morphine intake delivered by PCA during the first 24 h inferior or superior/equal to 10 mg day−1.

Results One hundred and fifty-eight patients were randomized (66 in the placebo arm, 67 in the homeopathic arm and 25 in the noninterventional group). There was no difference between the treated and the placebo group for primary end-point (mean (95% CI) 48% (35.8, 56.3), and 56% (43.7, 68.3), required less than 10 mg day−1 of morphine in each group, respectively). The homeopathy treatment had no effect on morphine intake between 24 and 72 h or on the visual analogue pain scale, or on quality of life assessed by the SF-36 questionnaire. In addition, these parameters were not different in patients enrolled in the open-label noninterventional control arm.

Conclusions The complex of homeopathy tested in this study was not superior to placebo in reducing 24 h morphine consumption after knee ligament reconstruction.