EEG alpha sensitization in individualized homeopathic treatment of fibromyalgia

Iris R. Bell, Daniel A. Lewis, Sabrina E. Lewis, Gary E. Schwartz, Audrey J. Brooks, Anne Scott, Carol M. Baldwin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Fibromyalgia (FM) patients show evidence of sensitizability in pain pathways and electroencephalographic (EEG) alterations. One proposed mechanism for the claimed effects of homeopathy, a form of complementary medicine used for FM, is time-dependent sensitization (TDS, progressive amplification) of host responses. This study examined possible sensitization-related changes in EEG relative alpha magnitude during a clinical trial of homeopathy in FM. A 4-month randomized, placebo-controlled double-blind trial of daily orally administered individualized homeopathy in physician-confirmed FM, with an additional 2-month optional crossover phase, included three laboratory sessions, at baseline, 3 and 6 months (N = 48, age 49.2 ±9.8 years, 94% women). Nineteen leads of EEC relative alpha magnitude at rest and during olfactory administration of treatment and control solutions were evaluated in each session. After 3 months, the active treatment group significantly increased, while the placebo group decreased, in global alpha-1 and alpha-2 during bottle sniffs over sessions. At 6 months, the subset of active patients who stayed on active continued to increase, while the active-switch sub-group reversed direction in alpha magnitude. Groups did not differ in resting alpha. Consistent with the TDS hypothesis, sniff alpha-1 and alpha-2 increases at 6 months versus baseline correlated with total amount of time on active remedy over all subjects (r = 0.45, p = .003), not with dose changes or clinical outcomes in the active group. The findings suggest initiation of TDS in relative EEC alpha magnitude by daily oral administration of active homeopathic medicines versus placebo, with laboratory elicitation by temporolimbic olfactory stimulation or sniffing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1195-1220
Number of pages26
JournalInternational Journal of Neuroscience
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2004


  • EEG alpha
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Homeopathy
  • Olfactory administration
  • Oscillation
  • Time-dependent sensitization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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