Is Homeopathic Veterinary Medicine Scientific?
The following research summary was written in response to inaccuracies in the anonymous “white paper” sent by CT to the AVMA.
The Evidence Base for Homeopathy
The AVMA has recognized CAVM as a category of practice meriting separate guidelines. Veterinary homeopathy falls under the AVMA’s definition of CAVM. The guidelines apply the same standards to all practices of veterinary medicine: “The AVMA believes that all veterinary medicine, including CAVM, should be held to the same standards.”
While stating the ultimate goal of evidence-based medicine, that “Claims for safety and effectiveness ultimately should be proven by the scientific method,” the guidelines also recognize that most therapies and procedures used in all of veterinary medicine have not been thoroughly studied via clinical trials and replications of clinical trials, but rather are largely based on extrapolation and clinical expertise, the latter being an important arm of evidence-based medicine. The AVMA guidelines state, “Circumstances commonly require that veterinarians extrapolate information when formulating a course of therapy. Veterinarians should exercise caution in such circumstances. Practices and philosophies that are ineffective or unsafe should be discarded.”1
Veterinary homeopathy differs from mainstream conventional medicine in two important regards. First, the medicines used in homeopathic practice are often administered in highly diluted form in either water or on lactose pellets. It is hypothesized that their mode of action differs from those of substances given in pharmacologic doses and having direct agent-dependent effects on the body.
Second, its method of testing predates the emergence of RCT as the gold-standard of experimentation, instead employing the pathogenetic trial, or “proving,” in its testing of medicines. Homeopathy has been in practice for 200 years, but it is only recently that the RCT has been applied to confirm the principle of “like cures like” as well as to fine-tune such elements of homeopathy as the pathogenetic trial and remedy selection.
In spite of these two important differences from mainstream veterinary medicine, the large number of cases documented in the historic homeopathic medical literature as well as the clinical experience of current human and veterinary homeopaths have shown that homeopathy offers the potential for veterinarians to expand the realm of therapy for patients. With the reemergence in the past 20 years of veterinary homeopathy in the United States and Canada, and with the growth of veterinary homeopathy in South and Central America, Europe, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Africa and the Middle East, a highly trained and experienced crop of veterinary homeopaths is emerging. It is hoped that in time academic institutions will employ qualified professionals trained in veterinary homeopathy. With these fundamental prerequisites achieved, the evidence pyramid for veterinary homeopathy can begin to grow.