Immunomodulatory effects of homoeopathic medicines: A review of pre-clinical studies

V. K. Gupta1*, Mohit Mathur2 

1CCRH, Ministry of AYUSH, Government of India, 2Department of Practice of Medicine, NHMC and H, New Delhi, India 

Immunomodulation is a kind of regulatory modification in the immune system so as to bring the desired response. In this review the immunomodulatory effects of homoeopathic medicines – Rhus toxicodendron, Mercurius solubilis, Echinacea, Aconitum, Lachesis and Apis – and homoeopathic combination remedy Canova® are discussed. The review was conducted using PubMed and references from the relevant articles. The keywords comprising the names of above homoeopathic medicines along with terms ‘immune function’, ‘cytokines’, etc., were used for search. The review shows that homoeopathic medicines produced modulation of immune function at multiple levels such as modulation of expression of genes, stimulation of macrophage and polymorph nuclear cells, changes in expression of surface receptors and induction of cytokines. Extensive studies are required to explore the immunomodulatory effects of vast number of homoeopathic medicines. Studies based on human-derived immune cells specifically need more attention. 

Below is the review of some homoeopathy pre-clinical studies performed to explore the immunomodulatory action of homoeopathic medicines – Rhus toxicodendron (rhustox), Mercurius solubilis (Merc sol), Echinacea, Aconitum, Lachesis and Apis – and homoeopathic combination remedy Canova®. Canova® is a Brazilian medical formulation based on homoeopathic technique. It is composed of Aconitum napellus, Thuja occidentalis, Bryonia alba, Arsenicum album and Lachesis muta and <1% ethanol in distilled water. The medicine is also called by the name of Metodo canova (MC, Canova method). The following review was conducted using PubMed and references from the relevant articles. The keywords comprising the names of above homoeopathic medicines along with terms ‘immune function’, ‘cytokines’, etc. were used for search. 

Conclusion
The results obtained from pre-clinical studies show that homoeopathic drugs, in various potencies, can influence mice bone marrow cells, macrophages, lymphocytes and PMN cells. The medicines produced modulation of immune function at multiple levels. These include modulation of expression of genes that code for receptors and other proteins in mice macrophages, stimulation of macrophages as evidenced by change in their morphology, expression of receptors on macrophage surface, chemotaxis of PMN cells and production of cytokines and reactive nitrogen and oxygen species from these immune cells. The homoeopathic medicines differed among themselves in respect to the type of cytokines they induced in mice macrophages. This evidence suggests that homoeopathic treatment has the potential for individual-specific immunomodulation.

Variation in homoeopathic medicine action was also observed between different powers of homoeopathic dilutions used which corroborate the difference in their action observed on clinical plane. So far, the numbers of homoeopathic medicines studied for their immunomodulatory function are few as compared to the vast repertoire of homoeopathic medicines available to the profession. Majority of these studies utilised the mouse model. As such, the results of these studies may not be directly applicable on humans. In future, more pre-clinical studies are needed to explore the action of homoeopathic medicines at cellular level and their possible role in individual-specific immunomodulation. Pre-clinical studies based on human-derived immune cells merit particular attention. 

Full paper available at : http://www.ijrh.org 

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