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Is Homeopathic Veterinary Medicine Scientific?

The Connecticut Veterinary Medical Association Resolution entitled, “Homeopathy has been identified as an ineffective practice and its use is discouraged” and accompanying “White Paper: The Case Against Homeopathy”contain many unsubstantiated allegations and subtle, subversive and unfounded assertions about veterinary homeopathy. These documents hold homeopathy to a higher standard of “evidence” than that adhered to by most conventional therapies. The paper emphasizes the need to use only therapies that have undergone the highest quality clinical trials, while dismissing clinical experience and client preferences, basic tenets of EBM. In fact, if one were to expand the authors’ proposed resolution to include all of veterinary medicine, then as practitioners of conventional medicine, we would find ourselves working with a significantly limited selection of therapeutic options. The authors make outdated and inaccurate statements about the presence and quality of studies in homeopathy, and where studies show a favorable outcome, they allege, often inaccurately, that such studies have only been published in homeopathy journals. Further, in spite of well-documented publication bias favoring areas of “hot” research for publication in a handful of high-visibility journals, the authors insinuate that publication in a journal dedicated to one field, but only if that subject is homeopathy or CAM, is somehow biased.

As stated in the White Paper, all medicine involves balancing risks against benefits. In the case of homeopathy, the risks are negligible in the hands of trained veterinary homeopaths, and the benefits in even some of the most severe cases can be strong.

Submitted by the Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy
Shelley R. Epstein, VMD, past-president

In the homeopathic proving, the human test subjects are given small doses of substances and asked to record the symptoms they develop.  These symptoms are subsequently collated and categorized. The results identify the toxicological properties of the substance for later medicinal applications. Samuel Hahnemann, the founder of homeopathy, proved 106 remedies in his lifetime. These remedies are still used today, although representing only a small portion of the more than 2000 remedies in clinical use.

Trituration=The process by which the starting solid material is ground with milk sugar in the initial steps of remedy preparation.

Succussion=The shaking of the glass container that contains the solution with the homeopathic remedy.

Hormesis is a term used by toxicologists to refer to a biphasic dose response to an environmental agent characterized by a low dose stimulation or beneficial effect and a high dose inhibitory or toxic effect. For example, at low doses,  (0.5-1mg/kg) erythromycin enhances gastric motility and emptying, but at higher doses, (10-20mg/kg) it may cause emesis.  (Erythromycin in Plumb’s Veterinary Drug Handbook. Seventh Ed.) In the fields of biology and medicine, hormesis is defined as an adaptive response of cells and organisms to a moderate (usually intermittent) stress.

Similia similibus curentor, “Let likes cure like.” The underlying principle which forms the basis for selection of homeopathic remedies for patients. The remedy is matched to the patient’s unique set of symptoms based on the known symptoms that the remedy can cause when given to healthy people in the homeopathic provings. (See footnote i.)

The term “modality” in the homeopathic context refers to the specific sensitivities of the patient to conditions such as heat, cold, weather conditions, movement, etc. In selecting a homeopathic remedy, of great importance are the modalities that make the patient’s condition better or worse.

Homeopathic aggravation= An occasionally seen  transient worsening of symptoms which precedes the curative response

According to “Hering’s Direction of Cure,” over time the patient’s healing occurs from above downward, from more important to less important organs, and in reverse order in time of symptom appearance.

Score for Assessment of Physical Experiments on Homeopathy. SAPEH had been developed to assess the quality of physical research in homeopathy.(Becker-Witt C, Weisshuhn TE, Ludtke R, Willich SN. Quality assessment of physical research in homeopathy. J Alt Compl Med 2003;9:113-32.) It is based on three quality constructs – methodology, experiment standardization, presentation – that divide into eight items, checking for ten criteria. Each item scores one point for an affirmative answer, except controls and experiment standardization with two points each.
The methodology items check that the experimental design uses techniques to control factors that may cause bias (e.g. systematic or random errors).
The modified SAPEH should be read at item level to assess an experiment. The total SAPEH score and its subscores support only rough global impressions and should always be accompanied by score details. For the purposes of the present study, six or seven points with controls of equal contamination would indicate a reasonable control for bias, and more than seven points including two for controls would strengthen this.

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