Is Homeopathic Veterinary Medicine Scientific?
Effectiveness and Cost-Effectiveness
When integrated into national health care systems, homeopathy has been shown to be effective as well as cost-effective., In the United Kingdom, each of the homeopathic hospitals on the National Health Service (NHS) reported clinical outcomes for a wide range of medical complaints. Positive outcomes were approximately 70% at each hospital.58,,,, A twelve-month outcome survey from the Liverpool Department of Homeopathic Medicine found that of 1100 patients surveyed, 76.6% reported an improvement in their condition with 60.3% reporting a major improvement; and 52% of 814 patients who were taking conventional medication were able to reduce or stop these medications.
A cost-effectiveness study of recurrent acute rhinopharyngitis in 499 children showed that the homeopathic approach yielded significantly better results than antibiotic treatment in terms of effectiveness, number of complications, and quality of life, with lower direct medical costs covered by the French Social Security system. Parents of the patients incurred less sick leave as well. A cohort study of 493 patients with chronic diagnoses in Germany showed greater improvement in patients’ assessments after homeopathic versus conventional treatment, as well as more favorable physician assessments for children who had received homeopathic treatment. A study in Switzerland of cost-effectiveness of CAM v. conventional medical therapies from 1999-2005 showed 15.4% lower costs for homeopathy versus conventional medicine. Fewer adverse effects were reported for CAM therapies. In a multicenter cohort study in Germany, 83 elderly patients receiving homeopathic treatment for the first time were monitored over a two-year period. The severity of their complaints decreased significantly over this time. A retrospective observational study of patients with respiratory diseases (asthma, allergic complaints, Acute Recurrent Respiratory Infections) in Italy found that homeopathic treatment was associated with a significant reduction in the use and costs of conventional drugs, and that costs for homeopathic therapy were significantly lower than those for conventional pharmacological therapy. An eight-year study of chronically ill patients receiving homeopathic treatment for the first time in Germany and Switzerland showed that disease severity decreased significantly, while physical and mental quality of life scores also increased considerably.
Homeopathic remedies are more prudently administered by veterinarians trained in veterinary homeopathy. The AVH offers a certification in veterinary homeopathy which is granted after completion of a minimum of 125 hours of approved homeopathic education. The applicant must demonstrate proficiency and knowledge in homeopathic prescribing by a written exam and submission of case reports. The trained veterinary homeopath is able to perform a thorough patient examination and evaluation; select the appropriate remedy including its potency, dose, and individualized repetition; evaluate the response to the remedy which includes recognizing any homeopathic aggravation; and manage the case which may include judicious dose adjustments or withdrawal of conventional medications.
AVH does not advocate that clients medicate their own animals without veterinary supervision. The trained veterinary homeopath is able to evaluate all medical records, order further diagnostic testing, recognize zoonotic diseases, and recommend a change in treatment modality when indicated.
The trained veterinary homeopath is educated to follow ethical practice. Veterinary homeopaths are legally obligated to make sure that the client has been informed of any conventional treatments that may exist for the patient’s condition. Informed clients opt for professional homeopathic care for many reasons, including concerns about safety and side-effects of conventional therapies, the absence of any safe or effective conventional alternative, cost, and personal preferences which may include their prior use of homeopathic remedies., EBM recognizes personal preferences in tailoring a treatment plan for the patient. Although only a few studies exist directly comparing the efficacy of homeopathic treatment to conventional therapies in veterinary medicine, clinician expertise, another basic tenet of EBM, also plays an important role in counseling clients on their treatment options.49,,
Besides the clinician-driven safety of homeopathy, the constituents and method of preparation of remedies are regulated in the United States by the Food and Drug Administration. A systematic review of English language papers of adverse effects of homeopathic remedies found that effects were slightly higher than those of placebo but minor, transient and comparable to those of placebo. Case reports in conventional medical journals pointed more to adverse effects of mislabeled “homeopathic products” (using various herbal and mineral components) than to true homeopathic remedies. The one sample of contamination that the authors of the white paper cite occurred in remedies marketed in Croatia.
The 2006 Swiss PEK report cited previously found that not only could the effectiveness of homeopathy be supported by clinical evidence, but when applied properly, homeopathy has few side-effects and the use of high potencies is free of toxic effects.56