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The diversity of veterinary homeopathy
13 December 2017 (online)
Veterinary homeopathy goes back to the very beginnings of the discipline; Hahnemann himself wrote and spoke of the use of homeopathy in animals,[ 1 ] The development of isopathy as an associated and overlapping discipline was due to a veterinary surgeon, Lux,[ 2 ] although some may not thank the profession for that!
More recently, veterinary homeopathy has been invoked by medical colleagues in the ongoing argument over the placebo effect, and its role in the homeopathic treatment process. It can be argued that an oversimplistic view has sometimes been taken and the attitude that any success in the veterinary field automatically validates the specific effects of remedies is open to question. In the companion animal field there is frequently a complex relationship between the animal and its guardian/owner that can produce non specific effects. The situation with regard to farm animals is different, the non specific effects of the encounter are certainly much less, although to dismiss them entirely in all circumstances may still be somewhat naive. The report by Lobreiro in this issue is a case in point.[ 3 ] The potential and value of this animal would certainly have ensured it special attention compared to the rest of the herd.
However, it is in this context that rigorous investigation of homeopathy within the veterinary field can be particularly valuable. Some of the constraints that apply to humans are absent in the veterinary situation. The three papers published in this issue demonstrate the range and diversity of endeavour in the veterinary field.
The pilot study reported by Mathie et al was conducted in the UK and involved the companion animal component of veterinary practice. It has already given rise to plans for a large-scale survey and is providing valuable pointers to potentially fruitful areas of further research.[ 4 ] One of those areas is epilepsy, also the subject of the paper by Varshney describing an Indian experience using Belladonna to treat the condition in a series of dogs.[ 5 ] At the other end of the veterinary spectrum is the case report by Lobreiro on the successful treatment of infertility in a prize bull, with major direct financial advantage to the owner and indirect advantage to the quality of the bovine stock in Brazil.[ 3 ]
All three studies would no doubt be attacked by homeopathy's critics as being, respectively, too small, not controlled and a lucky anecdote involving an animal which was improving anyway. However, that would be to miss the point. The pilot study was designed as just that, a pilot and nothing more; and it is surely of some significance that the results are comparable with those obtained by similar methodologies on a larger scale involving human prescribing.[ 6–8 ] Belladonna is often quoted as a remedy of use in epilepsy[ 9 ] and some systematic validation of that is of value. The paper concerning the Nelore bull is as much a validation for the clinical methodology as for the remedy itself, and also points to a possible approach to a problem that orthodox medicine can do little to help.
The geographic spread of these papers could easily be matched by other combinations of any three countries. Wherever there is a human homeopathic presence the veterinary side follows, and the blank areas on the map are mainly those where there is a similar dearth of medical activity. The veterinary world both feeds and feeds off the medical side—a truly symbiotic relationship, and long may it continue.
- 1 Hahnemann CFS. Homoopathishe Heilkunde der Haustiere. Karl-Marx Universitats Bibliothek Leipzig, (Handsebriftenabteillung), c1813.
- 2 Lux WJJ. Zooiasis or Homeopathy in its Application to the Diseases of Animal, 1837.
- 3 Lobreiro JCT. Homeopathic treatment for infertility in a prize Nelore bull. Homp 2007; 96: this issue. doi:10.1016/j.homp.2006.10.003
- 4 Mathie RT, Hansen L, Elliott MF, Hoare J. Outcomes from homeopathic prescribing in veterinary practice: a prospective, research-targeted, pilot study. Homp 2007; 96: this issue. doi:10.1016/j.homp.2006.10.002
- 5 Varshney JP. Clinical Management of idiopathic epilepsy in dogs with homeopathic Belladonna 200c: a case series, Homp 2007; 96: this issue. doi:10.1016/j.homp.2006.09.002
- 6 Spence D. et al. Homeopathic treatment for chronic disease. a 6 year University hospital based outpatient observational study. J Altun Compliment Medi 2005; 5: 793-798.
- 7 Clover A. Patient benefit survey: Tunbridge Wells Homeopathic Hospital. Br Hom J 2000; 89: 68-72.
- 8 Richardson W.R. Patient benefit survey: Liverpool Regional Department of Homeopathic Medicine. Br Hom J 2001; 90: 158-162.
- 9 Saxton J., Gregory P. Textbook of Veterinary Homeopathy. Beaconsfield, UK: Beaconsfield Publishers; 2005.