British Vets Denounce Homeopathy-But Refer Clients for it Anyway?

This is a guest post from a colleague in the United Kingdom, Arlo Guthrie

As the editor of, the leading online community for veterinary surgeons in the UK, I thought it would be interesting to assess British vets’ attitudes to homeopathy. So I joined forces with Alex Gough MA VetMB CertSAM CertVC MRCVS, Head of Medicine Referrals at Bath Veterinary Referrals to conduct a survey of our members.

The survey generated a response from 460 veterinary surgeons, which equates to about 2.4% of all 18,000 or so vets in the UK, including those that don’t work in general practice. So, a good sample size. First we asked whether respondents practised homeopathy themselves. 6.2% did, which means that there was some bias in favour of homeopaths (a survey carried out in 2006 found that 4.6% of British vets claimed complementary medicine as a speciality). We also asked whether homeopathy is routinely available to clients through the respondent’s practice. 7.7% said it was.

So to the first question to assess practitioners’ attitudes to homeopathy. We asked: ‘In your opinion, are there any veterinary medical conditions for which homeopathy could be an effective treatment? We deliberately couched this question in the broadest possible terms: ‘any’ and ‘could’. Despite this, a resounding 83.4% said ‘NO’.

In our next question, we sought to judge the depth of disbelief surrounding homeopathy. We asked: ‘Which would best describe your opinion of veterinary homeopathy?’. 77.4% answered ‘An ineffective form of veterinary medicine’. 9.5% said: ‘A rarely effective form of veterinary medicine’. 8.6% said: ‘An occasionally effective form of veterinary medicine’, and a paltry 4.5% said: ‘A reliably effective form of veterinary medicine’.

As a further indication of how strongly British practitioners believe that homeopathy is ineffective, 73% said that they believe that owners should sign a statement that they understand that in trials, homeopathy has been shown to be ineffective.

We also asked: ‘Do you feel it is appropriate for veterinary surgeons to practise homeopathy?’. 78.5% said ‘NO’.

All in all, a unequivocal result. Simply put, the overwhelming majority of British veterinary surgeons think homeopathy is wholly ineffective.

But how do they respond when asked by a client to refer a pet for homeopathy? In our survey, 24.3% of respondents said they would refer to a homeopath. A further 33.8% said they would explain that homeopathy does not work, but refer the case anyway. So that’s nearly 60% that would be prepared to refer, despite the majority believing that homeopathy is completely ineffective. 17.6% said they would explain that homeopathy does not work, and that the client will need to self-refer. 24.3% said they would explain that homeopathy does not work, and recommend the client does not self refer.

There are a number of possible hypotheses as to why vets may be prepared to refer clients for homeopathy, including a belief that they may retain some measure of control over the case, a fear of alienating the client, and the oft-stated argument that ‘it’s water, it’ll do no harm’.

We would argue that it’s the bigger picture that general practitioners need to consider; that the very act of referring endows homeopathy with a cloak of respectability which is simply not supported by science (on the contrary, it would require that we dismiss most of the proven laws of physics and chemistry).

It’s estimated that over £40M is spent on homeopathy annually in the UK, including £4M by the National Health Service. The sooner that more veterinary surgeons and their colleagues in human medicine are prepared to join the 24% of vets that refuse to endorse homeopathy, the sooner this money could be spent on effective methods of relieving suffering, both human and animal.




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93 Responses to British Vets Denounce Homeopathy-But Refer Clients for it Anyway?

  1. Love Art’s post: “Yet over 50 % of us seem to thing it ok to sell or refer to another vet who will sell medicine with nothing in the bottle but water. ”

    I’d better take a screen shot before it’s deleted. Economics 101 the health care industry, for pets or people, is a market driven one. That 50% of “us” will be growing, and growing, and growing. Accept it, or be left behind at the station.

  2. skeptvet says:

    You seem to have ignored the fact that <5% of AMericans have every tried homeopathy and that most of the homeopathic hospitals in the UK have been closed in the last 10 years. Ignoring inconvenient facts does seem to be a habit of yours. STill "Economics 101" seems to show that homeopathy represents only a tiny fraction of the healthcare market, which is dominated by science-based medicine. Of course, as I've said before, popularity is not a measure of truth, but homeopathy has so far failed on both levels.

  3. ChristyRedd says:

    Sorry to burst your bubble, skeptvet, but homeopathy is growing quickly in the U.S. and is now covered under Obamacare. Private insurance companies are going to love it, too. At the last check 3.9 million U.S. adults and about 900,000 children use homeopathy.

    Homeopathy is recognized as a system of medicine or medical specialty and is supported under national health care programs by the governments of 19 countries.

    Sales of homeopathics have grown in the UK by a whooping 18% since 2008. The market was worth a staggering 213 million pounds a year, but experts expect an increase to 282 million pounds by 2014. People connected with con med are worried for good reason.

    We all fully understand why homeopathic hospital services have been cut in the UK. The combination of a huge growth in the use of homeopathy – and other CAM’s – and the continued failure of conventional treatments puts con med in a difficult position. Drug companies are exerting pressure on the government in order to maintain their market share and profits. Doubt it? Read the papers. Things become even more clear when you consider the results of an analysis done by the BMJ of 3,000 common treatments offered on the NHS. It found that only 11% of those treatments are actually evidence-based, that is, proven to be beneficial. In fact, the BMJ appended this statement to their analysis: “However, the figures above (in the pie chart at the link below) suggest that the research community has a large task ahead and that most decisions about treatments still rest on the individual judgements of clinicians and patients.” —– And that includes the judgments of vets using homeopathy and their patients’ owners.

    To further point this up, the BMJ’s previous analysis found that only 13% of the common treatments it analyzed were actually evidence based.

  4. skeptvet says:

    The same NIH survey which you cite is the one that indicated only 3.65% of Americans have ever tried homeopathy, which actually would be closer to 11 million people. The point is that as a proporton of the ppulatio, that is insiginificant given that nearly 100% use conventional medicine. And the same agency from which you got those figures states, on their generally pro-CAM site, “There is little evidence to support homeopathy as an effective treatment for any specific condition….Several key concepts of homeopathy are inconsistent with fundamental concepts of chemistry and physics.” Still cherry picking your information to generate misleading impressions.

    Whether the Patient Protection and Affordable Healthcare Act willultimately mean a growth in the reimbursement of homeopathy is unclear, though it very well might. That has, as I said, nothing to do with whether or not it works, only with the politics of CAM. If you are trying to hold up government policy as the best measure of what is effective or ineffective, you clearly don’t know much about how government works!

    As for the issue of how much of conventional medicine is “evidence-based,” this is a popular bit of misdirection CAM proponents love. By the strictest definition, high quality RCTs and systematic reviews, there is certainly a lot of inadequately validated medicine in common use, no doubt about it. We can definately do better. That said, the evidence-base for conventional medicine is far superior to that for most CAM (1, 2). And the fact that homeopathy consistently fails to show any efficacy above placebo doesn’t change regardless of the level of evidence for other therapies, so the point is irrelevant to the subject of whether or not hoemopathy works.

    Again, you would like to create the impression that homeopathy is widely popular and growing more so all the time. Apart from the fact that the evidence shows this not to be true, it still doesn’t say anything about whether or not it is effective. In any case, here are some facts you will undoubtedly choose to ignore regarding the position of governments on the subject:

    Even National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) of the National Institutes of Health, which is specifically charged with investigating alternative therapies, acknowledges the lack of scientific evidence for efficacy:

    “Most rigorous clinical trials and systematic analyses of the research on homeopathy have concluded that there is little evidence to support homeopathy as
    an effective treatment for any specific condition.”

    “Homeopathy is a controversial topic in complementary medicine research. A number of the key concepts of homeopathy are not consistent with fundamental concepts of chemistry and physics. For example, it is not possible to explain in scientific terms how a remedy containing little or no active ingredient can have
    any effect. This, in turn, creates major challenges to rigorous clinical investigation of homeopathic remedies. For example, one cannot confirm that an extremely
    dilute remedy contains what is listed on the label, or develop objective measures that show effects of extremely dilute remedies in the human body.”

    “Certain homeopathic products (called “nosodes” or “homeopathic immunizations”) have been promoted by some as substitutes for conventional
    immunizations, but data to support such claims is lacking. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) supports the Centers for
    Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendations for immunizations/vaccinations.”

    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates medical therapies and drugs. Homeopathic remedies are categorized as a drug and exempt from FDA requirements for
    pre-market clinical trial evaluation because they were grandfathered into the Food, Drug and osmetic Act of 1938 by the author, a senator who also practiced homeopathy. However, the FDA clearly states that while homeopathic remedies may be freely marketed for this
    historical reason:

    “FDA is not aware of scientific evidence to support homeopathy as effective.”

    With regard to veterinary use, the FDA considers homeopathic unapproved animal drugs but has made no attempts to regulate their use or require any evidence of safety and efficacy.

    European Union Regulations, designed to accommodate a variety of countries some of which have a historical tradition of homeopathic medicine and others which do not,
    acknowledge that these remedies have no therapeutic indication and requires they be labeled to indicate this. These remedies can be marketed so long as:

    They contain no active ingredient:
    “there is a sufficient degree of dilution to guarantee the safety of the medicinal product; in particular, the medicinal product may not contain either more than one
    part per 10000 of the mother tincture or more than 1/100th of the smallest dose used in allopathy with regard to active substances whose presence in an allopathic
    medicinal product results in the obligation to submit a doctor’s prescription.”

    They are acknowledge to have no recognized therapeutic use:
    “The proof of therapeutic efficacy shall not be required for homeopathic medicinal products.”

    The label indicates the absence of any recognized therapeutic use with the words:
    “homeopathic medicinal product without approved therapeutic indications.”

    The Australian National Health and Medical Research Council, in a draft statement in
    2010, has said:

    “NHMRC’s position is that it is unethical for health practitioners to treat patients
    using homeopathy, for the reason that homeopathy (as a medicine or procedure)
    has been shown not to be efficacious.”

    The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee conducted an in-depth investigation into the scientific merits of homeopathy in 2010
    and concluded that the fundamental principles behind the practice were implausible and inconsistent with established science, that there was adequate evidence to
    conclude the practice was ineffective, and that there was little justification for further research on the subject. After the report was completed, the Chief Scientific Advisor to the British government accepted it and stated that he could not “envisage
    scientifically credible proposals for funding research into homeopathy in the future.”

  5. v.t. says:

    ChristyRedd, you have to take children (and pets) out of your silly equation, as if they have a voice to choose or protest.

  6. ChristyRedd says:


    I’m only going to address one of your points above. The NCCAM has a board made up almost exclusively of allopathic doctors including the director herself. Clearly, they have a limited amount of information about homeopathy along with built-in biases which undoubtedly color their opinions. It looks like the only “references” you can supply to support your opinions about homeopathy are or come from people with biases:

    Edzard Ernst who claimed to be trained in homeopathy but finally admitted he never completed any courses.

    NCCAM — What would you expect from a group of people who have careers and reputations to protect?

    The UK Sci & Tech Committee — A 15-member panel out of whom only 3 voted against homeopathy (not really a majority, is it?). Of those 3, one is known for his bias against homeopathy and was voted out of his MP seat, one never attended any of the hearings, and one wasn’t even on the committee during the hearings.

    The fact remains that homeopathy is the second most used system of medicine in the world today and it’s use globally is growing tremendously because:

    It’s effective

    It’s safe

    It’s inexpensive

  7. skeptvet says:

    It is odd how you manage to simultaneously claim that homeopathy is sweeping the world, including gaining widespread government approval, and to suggest that somehow it is being repressed by entrenched interests. Ultimately, you believe the only people qualified to have an opinion about homeopathy and not so biased that they can be ignored are hoemopaths. Only the foxes get to have a say in how how the henhouse is built and secured. Pretty convenient. And yet, you seem to have no compunction in passing judgment on conventional medicine despite your own evidenct bias.

  8. @skeptvet who said: “Only the foxes get to have a say in how how the henhouse is built and secured. Pretty convenient.”

    Been living under a rock? This has been the status quo for a few hundred years. Just as I said earlier……..the health care industry is a market driven entity. When the “foxes” find out that conventional medicine is junk, they will take their dollars and gravitate towards something that does. In this case, homeopathy. Better get on board the train full of the “shruggies” (who you call those who support homeopathy within your field). It’s about to leave the station without you.

  9. v.t. says:

    One can only argue with stupid for so long.

    If a thousand homeopaths performed scientific research on homeopathy under the same standards as science-based-medicine, and if those homeopaths all admitted honestly that their results were not in favor of homeopathy, Sandra and ChristyRedd would still loudly proclaim homeopathy works and the world will be going to hell in a handbasket because they just know better than the rest of the world.

  10. ChristyRedd says:


    I’m not passing judgment on con med at all except to say that my own personal experiences with it have been dismal. That’s why I turned to homeopathy which has done so much for me, my family and friends and our animals. For certain things, like insulin or thyroid hormone or surgery if it’s truly needed, con med is the place to go. The people passing judgment on con med are members of your own industry. Their judgments are the result of the quality of its products and the actions taken by drug companies themselves.

    Re the British Medical Journal — an orthodox journal dedicated to conventional treatments — if you don’t like the results of the BMJ’s analyses, you’ll have to take it up with editor. I have absolutely nothing to do with their conclusion that only 11% of common treatments are evidence based or that it was previously only 13%.

    Through their own actions drug companies have forced the public and government offices to pass judgment on them. The U.S. Attorney General’s Office and the State Attorney General’s Offices have filed suits against big pharma for criminal marketing of drugs and other offenses. Of course, big pharma pleads guilty and pays the fines at the same time they continue those very same illegal practices with other drugs. They consider the fines nothing more than “the cost of doing business”.

    Medicine is now a business — medicine for profit — not an industry based on a real caring for humanity or other living things like our farm animals and pets although I am certain there are some doctors and vets who do have those feelings.

    For example:

    GlaxoSmithKline fined 1.8 billion pounds to settle three separate legal suits over the sales and marketing of Paxil, Wellbutrin, Avandia and 6 other drugs.

    AstraZeneca (a contributor to Sense About Science registered in the UK as a “charity”!) settles with U.S. and pays a fine of $520 million for illegal marketing of Seroquel.

    Forest paid more than $313 to settle criminal and civil complaints that it illegally promoted Celexa for use in CHILDREN.

    Pfizer pled guilty and settled by paying a $430 million fine for illegally marketing Neurontin for conditions it had already been proven incapable of treating.

    From, once again, your own orthodox medical journal the BMJ, 2002; 325:1332-3:

    “But new research reveals that doctors should think twice before prescribing anti-depressants, and patients should think three times before taking them. Anti-depressants are a far more deadly family of drugs than even their critics realized, research from Canberra Hospital in Australia shows. Perhaps in the light of these new findings, these (counseling and self-help) and less dangerous approaches to the epidemic of depression will now be given their rightful place.”

    Statins don’t work for conditions they’re prescribed for, and anti-depressants have been proven in Harvard study to work no better than placebo.

    784,000 Americans die every year as a result of choosing conventional care and conventional treatments. This figure is based on statistics from the CDC and material presented in peer-reviewed journals. The full discussion and breakdown of numbers can be seen in the report “Death by Medicine”.

    Think of the numbers world-wide.

    From “Undue industry influences that distort healthcare research, strategy, expenditure and practice: A review” published in the European J. of Clinical Investigation, 2013:

    “We located (an) abundance of consistent evidence demonstrating that the (pharmaceutical) industry has created means to intervene in all steps of the processes that determine healthcare research, strategy, expenditure, practice and education. As a result of these interferences, the benefits of drugs and other products are often exaggerated and their potential harms are downplayed, and clinical guidelines, medical practice and healthcare expenditure decisions are biased.”

    And finally, although by no means the end, on average big pharma pays every U.S. physician over $750 per year to push its products. If you doubt that, go the the ProPublica web site and search dollarsfordocs. Put your doc’s name in the blank space and find out what he or she received from big pharma and for what. Drug companies, as a result of the suits above, must provide that info on their web sites. ProPublica collects it and posts it in one place.

    So, as I’ve already said, it isn’t at all surprising to me that people want to bash homeopathy on the net, in print or anywhere else. I’m not bashing con med. Con med does that all by itself.

  11. ChristyRedd says:

    And now, good night! Best wishes to you and be well.

  12. skeptvet says:

    Still missing the point.

    1. Yes, pharmaceutical companies do all kinds of bad things. No, that doesn’t mean homeopathy works. No, it doesn’t mean homeopaths or herbal medicine companies, or any other commercial interest in the CAM field don’t do bad things. The solution is to crack down on Big Pharma and demand better standards of evidence, not to give up and turn to a placebo as an alternative.

    2. I’m not disagreeing with the BMJ assessment that the evidence base for much of conventional medicine needs improvement. I’m simply pointing out that has nothing to do with the much poorer evidence base for homeopathy.

    You seem to feel that if you say enough bad things about conventional medicine that will somehow make the case that homeopathy works, but the two are unconnected. Even when the bad things you talk about are true (as in the sins of Big Pharma), they don’t magically make your claims for homeopathy true. They might be why some people distrust conventional medicine, but they don’t make alternative medicine a better bet.

  13. v.t. says:

    Thanks, Art, I needed that! I love Mitchell and Webb!

  14. v.t. says:

    ChristyRedd said: Medicine is now a business — medicine for profit — not an industry based on a real caring for humanity or other living things like our farm animals and pets although I am certain there are some doctors and vets who do have those feelings.

    Actually, the majority of MD’s and DVM’s truly care about their patients as well as practice good medicine. Homeopaths do not possess extraordinary skills, nor are they exempt from being bad doctors, on the contrary.

    As for the medical “industry”, you forget it includes people from the receptionist at a health clinic to lab specialists to practitioners to CEO’s of companies. All of whom have families they care about.

    So, homeopaths aren’t in their own “industry” for profit? Let’s see – they charge for consultations (often on a continued basis of course, since they have to find the right remedy), they sell products containing water or sugar tablets for huge sums of money to unsuspecting consumers, and they encourage patients to forgo effective conventional treatments. Most people would call that fraud, so beyond your appeal to emotion, what do you call it?

  15. Why not ask your “shruggie” vets if they are seeing positive results with their adjunct use of homeopathy. Oh no, can’t do that…..their responses might burst your anti-homeopathy bubble.

    The only damage the anti-homeopathy vets are doing is not to the growth and practice of homeopathy, but to their own bank accounts.

  16. v.t. says:

    Sandra said: Why not ask your “shruggie” vets if they are seeing positive results with their adjunct use of homeopathy. Oh no, can’t do that…..their responses might burst your anti-homeopathy bubble.

    Because in absence of controlled clinical trials suggesting any effect, the result can only be anecdotal. The plural of anecdote does not equal data. Next question?

    The only damage the anti-homeopathy vets are doing is not to the growth and practice of homeopathy, but to their own bank accounts.

    So you admit, then, that homeopathy in veterinary practice is indeed profit driven. Finally, the truth slips out.

  17. @v.t. who said “So you admit, then, that homeopathy in veterinary practice is indeed profit driven. Finally, the truth slips out.”

    Close mouth before inserting foot. Of course it is. You have not read my posts? I already said that here in my comment to skeptvet on 8/25 at 3:22 p.m. Go read it. Every aspect of the health care industry is market driven. The growth of homeopathy is directly related to the failure of conventional medicine. Why do you suppose that Merck is getting into the research and marketing of their own proprietary homeopathic remedy for grass allergy. Profit my man, profit.

  18. v.t. says:

    You’re contradicting yourself, Sandra.

    Let’s recap.

    Homeopathy is not medicine. When or if it is proven to be equal to or better than medicine known to work, it will cease to be homeopathy and will become medicine. At this point, it is health care fraud.

    Homeopathy is not as widely accepted, nor “growing” as you think it is (beyond your world of the internet, that is).

    Homeopathy is not in existence today due to the failures of conventional health care, what a silly assertion. Advances in medicine and science have allowed us to live longer, identify specific health problems and treat them effectively. Homeopathy has contributed absolutely nothing to the advancement of medicine. In over 200 years, not one homeopath has proven homeopathy to work, not one, not ever. It’s time to discard it, and for homeopaths to stop preying on desperate and vulnerable people.

    What’s your point about Merck? They sell vitamins too, your point is? Whether they produce a homeopathic product or not, does not conclude that homeopathy works.

    The bottom line, homeopathy has never been proven to work beyond placebo. To prescribe water or sugar pills to humans who don’t know any better, and worse, to children and pets, is not only unethical, but fraudulent and criminal. To persuade human patients or clients with ill pets to forgo medicine that can resolve a health issue or save life, in favor of homeopathy is pure negligence and should be treated as a criminal offense.

    You can argue homeopathy until the cows come home, but it does not conclude that homeopathy works.

  19. I never commented here to change your opinion. I am not that batty or arrogant to quote the author and journalist Jerome Burne of the UK. I comment to expose the opinion of the skeptics, which I have done here.

    One last word…let yourself be deceived about the effectiveness of homeopathy, then whine and sputter all you want when the “shruggie” (your term) colleagues’ bank accounts leave the skeptics in the dust. One thing is sure, it does not matter what your opinion is. The health care consumer will demand what they know works, is more effective for their family and pets. Market driven. For profit.

  20. v.t. says:

    As a skeptic, I’m quite confident in my “opinion”, thank you, however, it is not the “opinion” of skeptics you have to worry about, it is the facts they present to you that homeopathy is complete and utter nonsense . Until it is proven to work, it will remain complete and utter nonsense. Two hundred plus years, it still doesn’t work!

    The only one deceived here, is you.

  21. Patrick Mathews says:

    If homeopathy works then every person who has had a a successful outcome to a solution then excretes urine containing water with the memory and that should then treat that disease for everyone on the planet via the water cycle because after all water has memory of that.
    Thus lots of diseases should be wiped out if they have had treatments made or am I am missing something ? perhaps gullibility?

  22. fluidtherapy says:


    Holy crap, that’s an excellent theory; and would seem to make sense. At least, it’s fun to read. But I suspect that the homeopaths would argue (cite anecdotes) that the “individualism” of the remedy is lost when it passes through mother earth’s bowels, where the energy is resorbed and the water rendered inert. So, homeopathy still works.

  23. Oh my goodness…look at all these stupid people. Why don’t they listen to the skeptics?

    “Alternative veterinary medicine goes mainstream, Pet owners willing to spend hundreds on acupuncture, massage and other treatments”. By Kim Pemberton, Vancouver Sun August 30, 2013

    The “other treatments” include homeopathy. What are the skeptics going to do now?

  24. v.t. says:

    Cherry-picking again, Sandra?

    Intertwined between paragraphs of alt vets making anecdotal statements about alt med and a survey/research group’s comments of the pet care industry:

    More than half (55 per cent) of Americans say they are willing to spend whatever it takes to maintain their pets’ health, and two-fifths believe preventive health care is a must, according to a recent report by Mintel, a global market research company.

    In a report published last March, Mintel found pet owners are demanding quality in pet health care and better food choices to help maintain their pets’ health. Pet food took the biggest share of pet-related retail sales in 2012 at 39 per cent ($19.7 billion), followed by veterinarian services at 24 per cent.

    The title of the article you quoted, is glaringly misleading. I suppose this is how you read research papers as well, citing only the parts of an abstract that suits your agenda, while ignoring the complex parts of the entire study.

    These types of spun journalism appear in the media every day. Alt med vets are quoted their silly alt med claims, but none of it means diddly when the subject matter has not been proven to be medicine, work safely or effectively, or proven to be equal to or better than conventional medicine. Hype sells.

  25. Train is pulling out of the station. Better hop on before it’s too late.

  26. Rita says:

    Sandra’s emphasis on money-making, marketing, profit, bank balances and the like falls strangely on the eyes of those of us who were brought up in countries with full free health coverage. I realise things are different in the US, but surely medicine (even veterinary medicine) must be just a little disinterested? The tone of Sandra’s posts seems to suggest that practitioners who do not believe in the clinical efficacy of homeopathy should “hop on” its train purely to cash in on the big (?)financial benefits. I certainly wouldn’t take my animals to a vet who I thought had simply selected the most lucrative profession he or she could enter, let alone one who would thoughtlessly recommend any old treatment to make a fast euro.

    There is a current abroad which says, cynically, “we can always rely on self-interest as a motive, let’s make it the ONLY motive available in society” . This is part of the neo-liberal agenda which is wreaking such destruction on the world at the present time – it is sad to see it being pushed in the case of sick animals.

  27. The tax payers in Europe pay for the “full free health coverage”. Nothing is free. Health care consumers and their pets are eager to pay their usually hard earned dollars or euros to support health care that is effective, safe and relatively inexpensive. Homeopathy works for both acute and chronic conditions. Conventional medicine is outstanding for acute life saving threats, such as heart attacks, strokes, etc. Conventional medicine for chronic conditions is a dismal failure. The failure(s) of conventional medicine in the treatment of pet owners’ pets are the reason people seek CAM, including homeopathy. It has nothing to do with emotions. Market driven by successes. What works and is effective will naturally be profitable. Simple concept that for some is obviously not a “sugar pill” but a bitter pill to swallow.

  28. skeptvet says:

    The idea that market demand is somehow evidence of success is naive. Cigarettes still generate more revenue than homeopathy. Is that a signs of the wisdom of the market? People choose to pay for things for many reasons, and these are frequently against all logic and their own interests. People pay for hoemopathy becasue they are depsarate, grasping at straws, or misled by placebo effects and the marketing propoganda of folks like you, not because hoemopathy actually benefits them.

    And if you truly believe that the market share of a therapy is a reflection of the effecacy of that therapy, you seem at a loss to explain how dramatically conventional medicine has out competed homeopathy for over 150 years.

  29. v.t. says:

    I’m beginning to think Sandra doesn’t even have a clue what homeopathy is, and what it isn’t, beyond the propaganda and copypasta littered across the net.

  30. From one of my blog pages. Just in case someone with an unbiased view visits this page.

  31. v.t. says:

    Careful, Sandra, you’re skating on thin ice.

    Btw, I would certainly hope you do not support an incompetent vet (whom you shamelessly linked to) who doesn’t have a clue about heartworm, but obviously has no qualm telling pet owners how to kill their pets if they follow his crap advice. How shameful, pathetic, unethical and criminal can it get?!

  32. @v.t. who says:

    “Careful, Sandra, you’re skating on thin ice.”

    Exactly what does that warning mean?

  33. v.t. says:

    Two of skeptvet’s rules already stated to you and ChristyRedd:

    Link spam to propoganda sites are not allowed.
    Links that are opinion pieces on pro-homeopathy sites.

    Skeptvet can correct me if I’m wrong.

  34. Diane says:

    Wow, I find the string of pro-homeopathic comments here perplexing, sad, bizarre, and disturbing.

    Perplexing because why are you even reading this blog, when you have no interest in the topic (rigorously evaluating the effectiveness and safety of vet treatments based on evidence)?

    Sad because skeptvet pours so much thought and time and effort (for free!!!) into trying to elevate the quality of veterinary medicine, protect pets and clients from ineffective and/or unsafe choices, and provide advice and support to individual readers who come here seeking help for a given situation with their pet…And yet so many commenters respond by lashing out irrationally, sometimes with such vitriol, for no apparent reason except that the evidence doesn’t support their opinion.

    And bizarre and disturbing because 1) Who wouldn’t WANT to know if they were wasting their money or putting their pet at risk? and 2) Sandra keeps repeating how popular homeopathy is, as if that’s evidence of its effectiveness; and yet at the same time exhorting “skeptics” to get on the homeopathy train because clients are willing to pay for it. I.e. If you’re smart, you’ll stop focusing on whether it’s quackery, and start focusing on how to cash in on it. I can’t even get my brain around what’s going on there. It’s downright creepy.

    Also disturbing–v.t.’s comment about supporting an incompetent vet made me curious, so I followed Sandra’s link to find out more, and holy @#$^, how does his license not get revoked?

    Which brings me back to the real topic of this article: why would vets who are fully aware that homeopathy is based on magical thinking, tacitly or actively refer clients to people like the vet mentioned above? I suspect because it’s easier than arguing. And because in the current climate, a vet who says anything negative about “alternative medicine” is likely to get branded a greedy, heartless corporate lackey who probably enjoys killing animals. Perplexing, sad, bizarre, AND disturbing all in one.

    I learn a LOT from this blog, often even more from the discussion than the original articles. So skeptvet, I hope you will not get disheartened by the detractors and just keep fighting the good fight!

  35. skeptvet says:


    Thanks for the kind comments! The whole purpose of this blog, as you say, is to provide information for vets and pet owners that helps them to make better choices, and while I understand how my comments are threatening to some, it’s always nice to hear that for others I’ve succeeded!

  36. v.t. says:

    What Diane said. 🙂

  37. Rita says:

    Yes, well said Diane: I have personally benefited from skeptvet’s generous and selfless efforts to keep us all up to speed with this complex field: he deserves all our thanks!

  38. Pingback: The Ethical Case Against Homeopathy | The SkeptVet Blog

  39. Excellent blog post, as always, Skeptvet. Thank you for all you do.

  40. Lance Steel says:

    I left this on Loop’s site, but I doubt it will be published as it requires moderation:

    Please keep in mind that diluting something past Avogadro’s number means statistically you have nothing but water, and supposedly the magical potentiation energies, in other words nothing but water.

    Note that magic energy water didn’t turn Eisen into a three-legged animal this occurred with surgery.

    Certain dogs with surgical treatment will live longer than others; that is simple random chance. A dog that lives longer than other surgically treated patients will do so regardless of magic energy water.

    This is why clinical trials are critical for showing efficacy, and there are good reasons why there is no scientifically validated support to the effectiveness of magical energy water, …because it doesn’t work.

    Contrast this to other non-traditional Western medical treatments such as acupuncture; acupuncture has been shown to work for certain conditions in clinical trials, so it is accepted as scientific fact and not magic.

    Let’s say a minority of dogs treated surgically plus magic energy water may significantly outlive the average predicted survival time of surgery alone.

    How convenient it is that the majority of other dogs also treated with magic energy water that didn’t live past the expected survival time don’t have pictures of their urns shown by the guy trying to sell you magical energy water.

    Moreover the minority of dogs that had significantly shorter than predicted survival time with surgery alone aren’t mentioned at all.

    Maybe in that last group we could claim that magical energy water actually hastened their deaths, but any scientifically-minded clinician wouldn’t say that any more than it helped in the first group because some animals treated with surgery live longer, or shorter than the majority in the middle.

    So please whatever you do not delay actual helpful treatment while playing with magical energy water, as you are actually harming your animal by allowing the cancer to spread in the mean time.

    In New Orleans we have people who can make you mojo bags that people truly believe work, and you know what, in a minority of cases it seems to, not because magic actually works, but because every once in a while someone gets lucky, like flipping three heads in a row.

    People who hold medical degrees and use their authority to profit off of other’s desperation and despair are despicable.

  41. That sure is a lot of comments, and many very long. It is somewhat humorous to read them. My congratulations to those vets who are willing to help a customer even when they do not fully believe the customer is doing the right thing.

  42. skeptvet says:

    My congratulations to those vets who are willing to help a customer even when they do not fully believe the customer is doing the right thing.

    That raises sort of an ethical dilemma, don’t you think? I mean, if what the owner wants to do is ineffective or unsafe, is it admirable for a vet to support it at the expense of the welfare of the animal?

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