I wanted to check with a doctor whether I had tonsil stones or not, and for this an otolaryngologist was recommended to me as one of the best in my city. She said I don’t have any problems with tonsil stones, but instead prescribed some drugs to treat my ongoing pharyngitis.

The problem is that one of the 3 prescribed drugs is classified as a “homeopathic remedy” right on its packaging. As I understand it, depending on the country and specific drug in question some drugs with such labelling may actually be somewhat effective.

However, these are the ingredients that this particular medicine consists of:

  • Atropinum sulfuricum (12.5/250mg)
  • Hepar sulfuris (10/250mg)
  • Kalium bichromicum (50/250mg)
  • Mercurius bijodatus (25/250mg)
  • Silicea (5/250mg)

And when I try searching for any of them online the first results I get are all homeopathy related promo materials.

Has Tonsilotren been proven as an effective (more effective than placebo) treatment for pharyngitis?

  • 1
    Welcome to Skeptics!. There are two questions here. "Is this particular drug effective?" That's on-topic. "How do I find out whether a drug is effective?" That's probably better left for Meta.Skeptics.Stackexchange.com (or maybe Biology.SE).
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Aug 20, 2014 at 17:03
  • 2
    For what it's worth, you really ought to ask this question of your prescribing doctor. That doesn't mean we can't answer it, and you might want to wait for an answer before you do, but you shouldn't decide to not take a prescribed medication solely based on the internet. Question a prescription, yes. Simply not take it, no.
    – Bobson
    Commented Aug 20, 2014 at 17:10
  • There seems to be an ongoing trial lasting 2013-2015: controlled-trials.com/ISRCTN19016626. I didn't check how reliable it is yet (e.g. double blind?)
    – user5341
    Commented Aug 20, 2014 at 17:35
  • I'm not sure where you got the amounts for the ingredients, on the linked website they state homeopathic dilutions from D2 to D8. At least some of the ingredients are present in amounts that could be biologically active.
    – Mad Scientist
    Commented Aug 20, 2014 at 18:39
  • The ingredient ratios were on the paper that came with the packaging.
    – Imfego
    Commented Aug 23, 2014 at 5:01

2 Answers 2


Disclaimer: I'm not your doctor, and further, I'm not any kind of doctor. Talk to one before you make medical decisions. However, I do have scientific and research training, and can assess the quality of the scientific evidence on this question.

There does not appear to be any current evidence for the effectiveness of Tonsilotren in treating any condition. For instance, a google scholar search for "Tonsilotren" returns no scholarly works at all.

At present, there is a clinical trial (mentioned in DVK's comment above) which is exploring the effect of Tonsilotren for the treatment of tonsillitis. However, the description of this study explicitly states that it has no formal hypothesis. Further, the study is not blinded at all (i.e. there is no placebo control for Tonsilotren, and both the patients and the doctors know who is getting it, and who is not). The study is funded by the German Homeopathy Union.

All that said, most or all of the ingredients mentioned (though, as far as I can tell, not in exactly that combination or dosage level) have individually been shown to provide relief of pharyngitis by some studies. Other studies have found that they perform no better than placebo. A 2011 meta-study of these issues here summarizes these contradictory findings, but concludes with the upbeat message that, at least at low dilution levels, at least some homeopathic treatments might do something useful for ENT problems. A related meta-study from 2006 focuses only on ENT treatment with homeopathic medication, and reaches somewhat similar conclusions.

However, both meta-studies note that the current state of science for homeopathic medicine is somewhat lacking, because most homeopathic doctors are not interested in a scientific approach to research, and there is relatively little funding for independent study of the subject (i.e. studies not funded by homeopathic medical suppliers). Consequently, I remain pretty skeptical of this work, although I cannot rule out the possibility that, in these low-dilution doses, these medicines might be helpful for treating pharyngitis. I'd personally summarize the state of evidence as something akin to a cure suggested by rural grandparents. There might be something to it (your grandparents weren't born yesterday, and their past experience says it works), but there's not rigid scientific evidence that it works better than a placebo.


I got this off of an article here (via Google Translate): http://www.vasezdravlje.com/izdanje/clanak/1874/

Friese K. H., Timen, GE, Zabalotny, SJ, Homeopathy bei Kindern myth Streptokokken-freier Tonsillitis, Der Kassenarzt 46 (6): 40-42 (2006)

/// In Germany, the study on efficacy and tolerability Tonsilotrena in children with acute, nestreptokoknim tonsillitis. The study was double-blind and placebo-controlled, and was conducted on 158 patients, aged from six to 10 years, in which the symptoms reported in the past 48 hours. They observed the following symptoms: difficulty swallowing, sore throat, the amount of saliva (saliva), redness and fever. The conclusions of the study are to Tonsilotren significantly reduces all symptoms tonzilisa and tolerability was very good in 97.5 percent of cases.

  • 1
    I don't speak German but to me it appears that "Der Kassenarzt" isn't a peer reviewed publication. So caveat emptor
    – user5341
    Commented Aug 20, 2014 at 17:42
  • The publication doesn't seem to exist anymore, and it doesn't look like there is any reasonable way to get old issues. It is pretty much impossible to follow that reference now.
    – Mad Scientist
    Commented Aug 20, 2014 at 18:30
  • @Fabian - perhaps someone in Germany can find in an offline library. My Google-fu failed otherwise
    – user5341
    Commented Aug 20, 2014 at 21:45

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