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 VetSurgeon.org, 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. Rita says:

    Again: where is the ruling by the governing body?

  2. v.t. says:

    I’ve always held the belief that if vets would stop shrugging, homeopathy could eventually be abandoned in referral and practice. Likewise, other forms of alt med. As the survey shows, those vets who shrug are in fact giving legitimacy to something that doesn’t work and are not helping the client or pet by doing so.

    Unfortunately, now you have clients who believe in “health freedom” that extends to their pets. The “health freedom” term is not even what they think it means, and just as difficult to deal with as the client’s alt med mindset.

  3. Art says:

    VIN.com has a thread today called homeopathic remedy 4. The vinners are promoting the need when owners want homeopathic medicine for cancer to treat the importance of a trained homeopathic veterinarian. So far none of the 8000 vets that are allowed to post on vin have wanted to know why you need to be trained to sell medine with nothing in the bottle but water. I would ask couldn’t that training for a veterinarian best gotten in jail rather than required by law CE on VIN.com.
    Art Malernee Dvm
    Fla Lic 1820

  4. v.t. says:

    Aren’t you banned from VIN yet, Art? 🙂

  5. v.t. says:

    Heh, that was a funny one for sure.

    Not so funny, however, when vets push homeopathy to treat cancer (or any other health issue). To me, that is just criminal.

  6. Art says:

    . I agree its just criminal. The state boards should not allow vets to sell medicine with nothing but water in the medicine bottle. How can you regulate any business where people in the business are allowed to sell an imaginary product?
    Art Malernee Dvm
    Fla Lic 1820

  7. Living in Florida where fleas on pets is a huge problem, I have used homeopathic Ruta graveolens in all my dogs’ water dishes for the past four years. The use of Ruta to deter fleas was mentioned in the book “Homoeopathy for Farm and Garden” by Vaikunthanath Das Kaviraj which I purchased on Amazon. Before I knew that this remedy could solve the problem safely and inexpensively, I had paid hundreds of dollars for flea shots, dips and whatever else I could get my hands on. None worked. I am so pleased to be able to use something this inexpensive and non-toxic for my dogs.

  8. Art says:

    Sandra, have you tried homotoxicology? This seems to be what’s new in the field.
    Art Malernee Dvm
    Fla Lic 1820

  9. @Art

    I am not a homeopath, only a student and person who over the past 8 years transcribed and edited an 8 volume set (3,000 pages) of case histories of a classical homeopath here in the United States.

  10. v.t. says:

    So, Sandra, does that give you a special authority to claim homeopathy works?

  11. ChristyRedd says:

    I’ve used homeopathy for myself for many years with such success and satisfaction that it’s now my primary form of medicine so it was only natural to think about using it with my animals. Not surprisingly, it was equally successful for them. A nasty mammary condition was banished in three or four doses of the correct remedy (in this case phytolacca). Boils and infected paws are resolved quickly, inexpensively and at home. If an animal is so unfortunate as to be bitten by fleas, ledum will have him itch-free in no time. I certainly would never hesitate to have more serious conditions including cancer treated homeopathically.

  12. ChristyRedd says:

    Homeopathy is successful in treating rattle snake bites, too. This man’s dog was bitten by a rattle snake and was given 3 vials of anti-venom by catheter but his face continued swelling and his platelet count was low (at this point the bill was already over $4,000). Since this vet had no more anti-venom the owner was referred to another vet who did have some on hand. On the way, he decided to stop at a vet who used homeopathy. He’d already seen a cat successfully treated for asthma and another dog for an enlarged elbow. Within two days of beginning homeopathic treatment (along with an anti-biotic and echinacea) the dog’s swelling was almost gone, reduce to a mere wattle under his snout.

    Was it the anti-venom or the homeopathy? Charles Loops, DVM, has been using homeopathy exclusively for 20 years. He’s treated rattle snake bites regularly with homeopathy and anti-biotics but without anti-venom. Dr. Loops said “Most dogs lived. The ones who died were old dogs with other complications, dogs bit on the tongue and puppies who were overwhelmed.”

  13. skeptvet says:

    Easy to say, but of course no evidence. Anyone can claim miracles.

  14. skeptvet says:

    This is a classic example of the bizarre logic behind homeopathy. After extensive conventional treatment, a little bit of magic water is tossed at the patient and then given the credit for the recovery. It is far more likely that time and the effects of the anti-venin saved this dog. Dr. Loops is a well-known proponent of homeopathy, but like you he has only anecdotes and no real evidence. I’ve treated plenty of rattlesnake bites as well. Every one of them has lived, including the ones who couldn’t afford the anti-venin (about half). If I had given them homeopathy, I would undoubtedly be claiming that is why they lived, but that would be naive.

  15. Indiana, a Lucky Dog an article by Shelly Epstein, a veterinarian who combines homeopathy with her practice. Source for entire article with before and after photos is provided.

    “Indiana was running out of options. He had been suffering from severe bone destruction in his head as a result of an advanced and uncommon fungal infection, nasal aspergillosis. He was in extreme pain- even picking up a toy with his mouth was too painful. He had received the finest and most advanced care at the Matthew J. Ryan Veterinary Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, including intranasal infusions of clotrimazole, CT scans, and endoscopy, but was not responding. After months of trying, his doctor had discussed euthanasia with his guardians. The owners decided to come to me for a holistic opinion. At the time of the first consult, they were paying $800 a month for itraconazole, an antifungal drug, although their most recent purchase was reduced to $300 a month thanks to the discovery of a Canadian pharmacy! Indiana was not responding to this medication or to the numerous other antibiotics that were prescribed for the secondary bacterial infections. At the first visit, I discussed how homeopathy could help.”

  16. ChristyRedd says:

    The European Parliament backed phasing out anti-biotics for farm animal diseases. The EU is investing 1.8 million in a pilot project to study the use of homeopathy to replace them.

    http://avilian.co.uk/2011/11/eu-to-phase-out-antibiotics-for-farm-animal-diseases/

    This may be one of the reasons for its expenditure:

    “In homeopathy we find the techniques to cure disease and to actually improve health in all species of animals, and how to do so without reliance on polluting pharmaceuticals. Homeopathy medicines are from naturally occurring substances so they can be used within the guidelines of most organic production systems. Most importantly, because of their infinitesimal dose, they can be used without leaving toxic residues in our food chain, or in the waste excreted back into our environment.”

    Led by Glen Dupree, CVH, DVM

    Well worth reading by anyone who has an interest in healing animals, ourselves and the earth we live on.

  17. ChristyRedd says:

    The Avilian site is down for maintenance right now and will be up again in a week or so.

  18. v.t. says:

    Oh yes, ChristyRedd, I’ve seen the myriad of conditions you’ve posted on the net that you’ve cured yourself, family and pets of. Typical of homeopathy proponents. My only question to you would be, are you generally not well most of the time?

    If the homeopathy proponents want to debate homeopathy, put up some evidence. The anecdotes and stories without one shred of evidence is old and boring. Link spamming doesn’t cut it, and only serves to make you look foolish.

    Not one of you has ever cured a pet or your families with homeopathy. Not one homeopath has ever cured any health condition with homeopathy. Not one homeopath has ever proven homeopathy works for any health condition. Ever.

  19. v.t. says:

    ChristyRedd: I certainly would never hesitate to have more serious conditions including cancer treated homeopathically

    In pets or yourself? I’m willing to bet you would not treat your own cancer or that of a family member with homeopathy, that is, if you had any expectation to live. Yet, you’d be totally willing to subject your pet to pain, suffering and potential early death. Is that what you’re saying?

  20. skeptvet says:

    Just more uncontrolled anecdotes. Anyone with the slightest familiarity with science or the history of medicine understands why we can’t rely on miracle stories to choose therapies.

  21. skeptvet says:

    Empty claims. Homeopathy actually doesn’t cure anything, which is why it is so dangerous. Here are some examples of how this false belief harms people:

    What’s The Harm in Homeopathy?

    Freckelton I. Death by homeopathy: issues for civil, criminal and coronial law and for health service policy. J Law Med. 2012 Mar;19(3):454-78 states:

    “In India, England, New South Wales and Western Australia civil, criminal and coronial decisions have reached deeply troubling conclusions about homoeopaths and the risk that they pose for counter-therapeutic outcomes, including the causing of deaths. The legal decisions, in conjunction with the recent analyses of homoeopathy’s claims, are such as to raise confronting health care and legal issues relating to matters as diverse as consumer protection and criminal liability. They suggest that the profession is not suitable for formal registration and regulation lest such a status lend to it a legitimacy that it does not warrant.”

  22. ChristyRedd says:

    skeptvet:

    I’ve read the cases of harm the skeptic site what’s the harm attributes to homeopathy along with the back-up the site provides with each case. It’s clear that:

    Most of the material was gleaned from newspaper reports rather than documented medical sources
    Some of the people never used homeopathy at all
    Some of the people used con med first, found that it failed and then turned to homeopathy
    The site confuses homeopathy with other systems of medicine – even nutritional supplements – and attributes harm to homeopathy

    Freckelton clearly either has no knowledge of homeopathy, is biased against it or has ties to organizations supporting conventional medicine.

  23. skeptvet says:

    This response shows a stunning level of hyprocrisy. The What’s the Harm site provides exactly what you provide: anecdotes. You reported on a dog who had conventional treatment and then homeopathy and eventually got better, and you chose to attribute the improvement to hoemopathy, which is clearly not a valid inference. If it were that simple there would be no need for science.

    However, when someone takes homeopathy and doesn’t get better, you refuse to accept that as evidence homeopathy doesn’t work. I would, of course, agree that it doesn’t prove anything, since I’ve made it clear that anecdotes never can. But I’m not the one relying on anecdotal evidence here. You are simply accepting the stories that agree with what you believe and rejecting those that don’t, which is exactly the kind of intractable bias that makes objective, controlled scientific inquiry so vital.

    As for Freckelton, you simply refuse to accept any criticism of hoemopathy as legitimate and dismiss it as “biased.” That itself is pure bias on your part. The cases he discusses, in which people relied on homeopathy and died of treatable diseases because they relied on nonsense and rejected real medicine, are well documented. Certainly as well documented as any of the case reports you tout. And yet you blithely dismiss such cases in an example of the purest form of faith-based medicine. It is clear that you are entirely closed to any evidence that doesn’t support what you already believe, and that nothing could convince you that you are mistaken. That is the defintiion of “biased.”

    And the idea that “ties to organizations supporting conventional medicine” is somehow a legitimate reason to ignore someone is ludicrous. For one thing, it means that skeptics should then be allowed to ignore the opinions or evidence presented by any homeopath since they clearly have “ties to organizations that support homeopathy.” The solution to bias is not to ignore people who disagree with you and trust those who agree. The solution is controlled, objective scientific research, which has repeatedly show homeopathy to be ineffective. I have read hundreds of research studies on homeopathy, and all the systematic reviews that evaluate them, and if there were good evidence it worked I would be happy to acknowledge this and begin learning how to use it. But clearly there is no evidence that could ever sway you, which means we have left science and medicine behind and entered the domain of religious belief here.

    Let’s see how deep your bias really goes. Some of the most compelling evidence against homeopathy has come from systematic reviews, the highest level of scientific evidence, performed by Edzard Ernst. Dr. Ernst himself trained and practiced as a homeopath and has since realized that only properly controlled scientific research is really a reliable guide to the effectiveness of a therapy. This research, as his reviews show, clearly exposes homeopathy as a placebo. What sort of dismissal of his research and conclusions, based on personal allegations of bias, will you come up with, I wonder?

    Ernst E. A systematic review of systematic reviews of homeopathy. British Journal of
    Clinical Pharmacology. 2002;54:577-582.

    “Electronic databases were searched for systematic reviews/meta-analysis on
    [homeopathy]. Seventeen articles fulfilled the inclusion/exclusion criteria. Six of
    them related to re-analyses of one landmark meta-analysis. Collectively they
    implied that the overall positive result of this meta-analysis is not supported by a
    critical analysis of the data.
    Eleven independent systematic reviews were located. Collectively they failed to
    provide strong evidence in favour of homeopathy. In particular, there was no
    condition which responds convincingly better to homeopathic treatment than to
    placebo or other control interventions. Similarly, there was no homeopathic
    remedy that was demonstrated to yield clinical effects that are convincingly
    different from placebo.
    It is concluded that the best clinical evidence for homeopathy available to date
    does not warrant positive recommendations for its use in clinical practice.”

  24. ChristyRedd says:

    skeptvet:

    I’m surprised that you’re still clinging to Edzard Ernst, an individual world-renowned for his bias against homeopathy. No study done by him could possibly be taken seriously. Additionally, he claimed for many years to have been trained in homeopathy but finally admitted in an interview “I never completed any courses.” He also did not take the pre-requisite: the German Medical Council Examination.

    The real facts: There were 17 positive systematic reviews and meta-analyses on homeopathy between 1991 and 2010. Six were comprehensive and 11 were on specific medical conditions. A 1991 global meta-analyses published in the BMJ of 105 trials, 81 of which were positive for homeopathy, concluded that placebo response could not explain homeopathy’s positive clinical responses.

    There are 304 studies published in 119 respected, national and international, peer-reviewed journals like Cancer, Pediatrics, Rheumatology, Archives of Emergency Medicine and Int’l Journal of Oncology. They show that homeopathy produces significant to substantial health benefits in a wide array of conditions. Some of them can be seen at:

    http://www.nationalcenterforhomeopathy.org/articles-research
    http://www.extraordinarymedicine.org

    Homeopathy is recognized as a system of medicine or medical specialty and/or is supported under national health care programs by the governments of 19 countries including Switzerland, UK (as you well know and wish wasn’t), India, Brazil and Mexico and now also under Obamacare. It’s rate of use is increasing annually by 10% to 30% in countries around the world because: it’s safe, effective and inexpensive (also green).

  25. Edzard Ernst failed to pass the certification examination to practice homeopathy, which resulted in his sour grapes attacks against it. He was also forced to retire early from his tenured professorship since his behavior has been a huge embarrassment to the university. He now lives in seclusion. Instead of reading and believing the skeptics, why not ask a nearby veterinarian to allow you to question him/her about their successes using homeopathy in their practice? That would seem a much more wise way to really evaluate the effectiveness, or not, of homeopathy.

  26. v.t. says:

    ChristyRedd, skirting my questions?

    Also, you do realize I hope, that most news articles on such cases are accompanied by sources in which one can find the actual court case documents. Just because whatstheharm.net does not necessarily provide those sources doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

  27. v.t. says:

    ChristyRedd said: Instead of reading and believing the skeptics, why not ask a nearby veterinarian to allow you to question him/her about their successes using homeopathy in their practice? That would seem a much more wise way to really evaluate the effectiveness, or not, of homeopathy.

    Instead of believing homeopaths, why not ask a nearby veterinarian to explain to you the effectiveness and successes of evidence-based-medicine, which can be backed by science. See how this works?

    Anecdotes are not evidence.

  28. v.t. says:

    Last post directed to Sandra, not ChristyRedd – my bad.

  29. Louise Mclean says:

    ‘… in trials, homeopathy has been shown to be ineffective.’
    Skeptics – get it into your tiny heads, that homeopathy INDIVIDUALISES each case and therefore it cannot be subjected to mass trials without individualisation.

  30. skeptvet says:

    And there we are. I must have pyschic powers, since i was able to predict your ad hominem rejection of Dr. Ernst’s evdience based on personal gosspi about him. You have missed the point exacty as predicted. The evidence is what matters, and the controls the evidence contains for bias. Who Dr. Ernst is or what he believes is irrelevant to a critical appraissal of the evidence he presents. I raised him as a subject since you have already stated that anyone connected with conventional medicine is not to be listened to. Now anyone who is connected with alternative medicine is also not to be listened to unless, presumably, they are an actively practicing homeopath who believes in hoemopathy. Your definition of a credible source is one who agrees with you. No clearer definition of bias than that.

    As for the systematic reviews of homeopathy, I have listed and discussed them all in The Case Against Homeopathy. Dr. Ernst’s paper is a review of the reviews, and clearly finds that they do not support efficacy for homoepathy beyond placebo.

    After an extensive review of the evidence and testimony from experts both supportive and critical of homeopathy, the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee concluded:

    “In our view, the systematic reviews and meta-analyses conclusively demonstrate that homeopathic products perform no better than placebos. We could find no support from independent experts for the idea that there is good evidence for the efficacy of homeopathy.”

    The most recent review has specifically compared studies of homeopathic treatments with matched studies of conventional therapies to identify whether a clear effect beyond placebo could be seen for either. The conclusion was that while all clinical trials are imperfect, it is
    possible to distinguish a true therapeutic effect from placebo effects for conventional therapies but not for homeopathic treatment:

    “Biases are present in placebo-controlled trials of both homoeopathy and conventional medicine. When account was taken for these biases in the analysis,
    there was weak evidence for a specific effect of homoeopathic remedies, but strong evidence for specific effects of conventional interventions. This finding is
    compatible with the notion that the clinical effects of homoeopathy are placebo effects.”
    Shang A, Huwiler-Muntener K, Nartey L, Juni P, Sterne J A C, Pewsner D et al. Are the clinical effects of homoeopathy placebo effects? Comparative study of placebocontrolled trials of homoeopathy and allopathy. Lancet 2005; 366:726-732.

    And you totally mischaracterize the conclusions of the 1991 meta-analysis you cite, which reads:

    “At the moment the evidence of clinical trials is positive but not sufficient to draw definitive conclusions because most trials are of low methodological quality and because of the unknown role of publication bias. This indicates that there is a legitimate case for further evaluation of homoeopathy, but only by means of well performed trials.”
    J Kleijnen, P Knipschild, G ter Riet. Cinical trials of homeopathy. BMJ 1991;302:316

    Eveb these authors cocluded that the quality of the literature was too poor to draw a conclusion, and the results of the work done in the subsequent 22 years has clearly shown that homeopathy is no more than a placebo.

    There have been an enormous number of clinical trials of homeopathy conducted in humans. These have been summarized in many systematic reviews over the last twenty years, and several clear patterns have emerged:

    1. Most studies are of poor quality, at high risk of bias, and published in journals dedicated to homeopathy and other alternative therapies. Despite this, a consistent clinical effect has not been identified.

    2. Higher quality studies are much more likely to have negative findings. Studies with poor control for bias, confounding, and non-specific effects of participation in a clinical trial (placebo effect, Hawthorne effect, regression to the mean, spontaneous resolution, etc.) are more likely to have positive results.

    3. Occasional positive findings cannot be replicated and disappear when methodological flaws are corrected.

    4. The positive effects sometimes reported are far weaker than those for matched conventional therapies and unlikely to be clinically meaningful.

    5. The balance of the evidence unquestionably indicates that the effects of homeopathic treatment are due to placebo effects, chance, bias, confounding, and other sources of error, not true therapeutic effects.

    I have evaluated many of these trials, including those specifically chosen by the Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy as their best evidence here:
    The Evidence for Homeopathy-A Close Look

  31. skeptvet says:

    Yes, by all means trust as your source of information those who provide heartwarming stories as their evidence and dismiss actual science by personal attacks and gosspi about the scientists producing it.

  32. v.t. says:

    I guess the homeopath proponents don’t want to explain why it took an initial 3 months of homeopathy (and probably even longer) for the nasal aspergillosis dog to respond to homeopathy, which of course is when the homeopath vet concluded the homeopathic remedy was the sole “cure” to the dog’s ailment. Either the proponents, or the vet, or both, clearly do not understand the nature of this disease and how long it can take for even partial resolution of clinical symptoms (with appropriate treatment, that is).

    Funny also, how a homeopath vet can claim success in treating rattlesnake bites with homeopathy, yet couldn’t save dogs who were bit on the tongue, puppies “who were overwhelmed” (gosh, what does that mean anyway?), and older dogs with other complications. I’m guessing this vet can only save dogs who were prior treated with anti-venom through another vet, and/or treating those dogs with other conventional treatments known to reduce inflammation, infection, clearing airways, fluid therapies, etc and telling clients his only treatments were homeopathy and antibiotics. Of course there are also those untold stories of clients too fearful to speak out against, or bring suit against a vet who performs substandard care or worse, cause fatalities through improper and ineffective treatment.

  33. skeptvet says:

    There are several reasons why this excuse for the failure of homeopathy to demonstrate a benefit in controlled trials simply doesn’t hold water:

    1. All the biases and cognitive errors that lead anecdotes to be unreliable as a form of evidence apply as much to homeopathy as to any other therapy. Uncontrolled clinical observations of individual cases have been used to support every failed therapy in the history of medicine. So claiming that one can tell homeopathy works by trying it on individual patients and ignoring clinical trial results requires you to accept that bloodletting, animal sacrifice, prayer, and all other therapies justified this way also work. Either clinical trials are more reliable than anecdotes and case studies or they aren’t. This history of medicine makes it quite clear that they are, and homeopathy doesn’t get any special exemption from this.

    2. The basis upon which homeopaths claim to individualize therapies is not fundamentally different from how conventional doctors pick treatments for individual patients. Homeopaths take a history of symptoms and then choose remedies based upon their repertories and the results of previous provings. These are simply the collected experiences of previous homeopaths and patients as to what symptoms individual substances cause in healthy volunteers (based on entirely unreliable subjective diaries, of course) and what responses have been seen with specific remedies in the past. In other words, homeopaths decide which remedy a specific patient gets by taking a set of general principles based upon experience with previous groups of patients.

    Guess what! That is also how conventional medicine works, with a few crucial differences. Homeopaths base their treatments of current patients on accumulated opinons and theories which are derived from unreliable, uncontrolled individual observations. They then extrapolate these experiences from the past to the patient they are treating. Conventional medicine determines the cause of the problem in a patient based on well-established, reliable understandings of physiology and athology generated by decades of controlled scientific research, identifies the risks and benefits of available treatments (again based on previous controlled studies), and then chooses a therapy that is appropriate for the individual patient’s need and situation. “Individualization” is a myth that is put forward as an excuse to get an exemption from the standards of evidence all other therapies are expected to meet.

    3. Only strict classical homeopathy follows the detailed procedure Hahneman recommends for choosing remedies. Plenty of people go to the local drug store and buy combination homeopathic remedies marketed for specific symtpoms in any and all patients regardless of individual circumstances. Any homeopath who recommends Zeel for dogs with arthritis, for example, is not individualizing therapy.

    4. Plenty of RCTs have been conducted on hoemopathic therapy which allow for individualization of therapy, and while these would be weaker evidence than better controlled trials if they were positive, they often turn out not to show any benefit anyway. (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1046/j.1365-2125.2002.01699.x/full)

    5. Conventional medicine pays as much attention ot the individual circumstances of the patient as any alternative therapy. And with the growing knowledge of how specific genes inlfuence both disease risk and response to therapy (gathered, of course, from controlled clinical studies), we are becoming better and better able to tailor therapy to the specific patient, and all without making stuff up based on uncontrolled past clinical experiences.

    Here is some more detailed discussion of the ‘individualization” myth.
    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/on-the-individualization-of-treatments-in-alternative-medicine/

  34. I understand why the positive comments about homeopathy have been deleted from this blog. From what I have read, vets here in the U.S. need to tread lightly because the AVMA does not like homeopathy. To the detrement of health care, independent thinking is not allowed. Rather, it is censured. When veterinarians see their patient numbers dwindling because of the ever growing popularity of CAM, including homeopathy, the decision will not be up to critical thinking, evidence or science based medicine per se, but up to the jingle in their pockets, or lack thereof.

    Link to the Addendum #1 to CVMA Proposed AVMA Resolution: “Homeopathy has been identified as an ineffective practice and its use is discouraged.” White Paper: The Case Against Homeopathy

    https://www.avma.org/About/Governance/Documents/Resolution3_2013_Homeopathy_Attch1.pdf

  35. ChristyRedd says:

    Sandra,

    Some of those positive comments (plus links to supporting, documented information) have never even been posted much less posted and deleted.

  36. skeptvet says:

    This is complete nonsense. Proponents of homeopathy have been allowed to post any comments they like so long as they are not abusive. Link spam to propoganda sites are not, however, allowed. If you wish to present actual evidence from published sources, you are welcome to do so, though as you can see I am already quite familiar with the evidence and what it demonstrates.

    You also clearly know nothing about the political situation here in the U.S. Critique of any claim or practice put forward by veterinarians is discouraged in the name of collegiality, and the AVMA appears to value the opinions (and income) of its members above the interests of patients or pet owners. As a result, criticism of hoemopathy is discouraged despite the widespread recognition that it is nothing more than a placebo. The resolution you cite was an attempt to make this common knowledge official policy, as has been done in Australia, and the AVMA chose not to vote either in favor or against the measure in order to duck controversy.

    The “jungle” we should be concerned about is the coin paid to hoemopaths for selling magic water as if it were medicine.

  37. Matters not a twit what you think or say against homeopathy. The health care industry is a market driven entity. The economy and its health care consumers will be the ultimate arbitors. Your practice, or lack of it, will depend on that. Nothing else.

  38. ChristyRedd says:

    skeptvet:

    v.t. posted comments to me. I responded. It hardly matters whether you post my response about the homeopathic treatment of cancer here or not. Your classification of the links I included as “spam” is a good deal less than earth-shaking. If you are referring to links to studies published in peer-reviewed journals, no one would consider them “spam”.

    The word has been out for a while now, and the educated consumer has cast his or her vote. That’s why the Prasanta Banerji Homeopathic Research Foundations treats 1,200 cancer patients a month in its clinic. It treats cancer patients in 70 countries around the world. Clearly, a whole lot of people have heard of homeopathy’s success in cancer treatment and have, do or will use it for themselves and their family members. Most likely, they’ve never heard of your site and wouldn’t be looking for information here.

  39. skeptvet says:

    Actually, I agree. Unfortunately, the healthcare “market” is often influenced more by advertising than by evidence. Thousands of years of widespread belief in bloodletting and witchcraft were a result of “market forces.” This is not a good thing.

    Homeopathy is, of course, a tiny, marginal element of the healthcare marketplace. The NCCAM 2008 survey found only 3.65% of Americans had ever even tried it, which is negligible compared with even other CAM therapies, much less conventional medicine. Hardly a tsunami of growth.

    And in the UK, the NHS has been shutting homeopathic hospitals for years due to lack of consumer interest. London, Tunbridge Wells, Liverpool, and Glasgow have all gone.

    So it seems likely that consumers will continue to choose homeopathy as an adjunct to real medicine, if at all, while the ever-improving outcomes of science-based medicine will continue to matter more than the claims of homeopaths and their few dedicated follwoers.

  40. skeptvet says:

    Your comments have all been posted, and any of your links that were not to opinion pieces on pro-homeopathy sites. If you wish to share data from scientific publications, government agencies, and other such sources, you are welcome. If you just want to repost diatribes by other homeopaths, you already have plenty of places on the web to do that. This site is devoted to skepticism and evidence-based medicine. I hardly think you will be linking to my content on your blog any time soon, so let’s not play the martyr here.

  41. v.t. says:

    Sandra, Skeptvet does not delete posts, unless they do not adhere to the rules. I doubt you’ve broken any rule other than link-spamming.

    The AVMA has little to do with how vets decide to practice. They are not a governing institution.

    Vets aren’t seeing patient numbers dwindling because of the popularity of CAM. As a matter of fact, the use in practice is still relatively in very low percentages, which Skeptvet has covered here before. It remains alarming that practices are including more CAM, but that doesn’t mean CAM is more popular than conventional medicine. I’ve found that clinics with multiple associates, for example, may allow an associate to practice homeopathy or acupuncture or other alt med nonsense, but most likely because the practice vet is a shruggie and is bowing to client demand rather than patient need.

    Most vets who practice homeopathy and other forms of alt med in an otherwise conventional practice, may do so to increase their revenue. Vets who practice evidence-based-medicine are not increasing revenue with pseudoscience, so your argument doesn’t hold water.

  42. v.t. says:

    ChristyRedd, try posting again. It could be that wordpress flagged your post as spam, especially if you posted a certain number of links (yes, there’s a threshold).

    And you know what they say: Thousands of people believed the earth was flat, until proven otherwise. Belief, magical thinking, does not equate to evidence.

  43. Your comment…(I’ve found that clinics with multiple associates, for example, may allow an associate to practice homeopathy or acupuncture or other alt med nonsense, but most likely because the practice vet is a shruggie and is bowing to client demand rather than patient need.” ) proves that the skeptics are losing the debate. The health care industry is profit driven and will need to comply with what the health care consumer demands and is willing to pay for. It will not take long for his/her associates to realize that the The “shruggie” is the smartest person in the practice group.

    Guess you have seen this already. You might want to hop on the train before it leaves the station….

    “Homeopathy is considered quackery — except when a major drug company patents a homeopathic product”

    From the article: If you want to make a doctor quack like a duck, just say the word “homeopathy.” Most conventional docs will immediately utter a loud “Quack!”

    But if one of the Big Pharma giants gets into the homeopathy game, all that quacking might suddenly go quiet. Homeopathy is controversial. Very small traces of active substances prompt a healing response in the body. So their benefit would seem to defy logic. But the basic idea of this medical system — that “like treats like” — is effective in treating some health issues.

    Enter Merck…This major player is currently working on a “like treats like” grass allergy drug. The active chemical is a ragweed-allergen that causes sneezing, runny nose, etc.

    A Merck spokesman told Reuters that the drug addresses “the underlying cause of allergy attacks.” You know — as opposed to allergy drugs that treat the symptoms.

    Wait… Treat the CAUSE rather than the SYMPTOMS? Huh! Just imagine if a quack idea like that actually started to catch on.

    Source: http://hsionline.com/2013/07/18/homeopathy-is-quackery/

  44. From Amazon, a book review by ASK, it’s another anecdotal testimonial, but hey while we’re on the subject. This person and everyone she knows has heard her glowing opinion of homeopathy. As I have already said…the health care industry for people and pets is market driven. Link provided if requested.

    A Healer In Every Home: Dogs & Cats: Top tips for healthy animal care from a pioneering holistic vet and a holistic animal shelter director (Paperback)

    My daughter called me while house-sitting and caring for a pair of lovebirds. The female passed away and the male was grief-stricken. He wouldn’t eat, was very withdrawn, and was clearly depressed. He was going downhill fast. She was afraid he was going to die. From having read this book, I suggested giving him Bach Rescue Remedy, which is used for both pets and humans to treat emotional trauma. She put a few drops in his water and when he drank it, he began to improve immediately. Within a day or two, he was almost back to his perky self! He continued to improve and now, 2 or 3 months later, he is not only perky, he is the social butterfly of the household, even befriending visitors. He is better than ever! I became inspired to write this review today after hearing the bird chirping away in the background while I was talking on the phone with my friend. (He was trying to get in on the conversation!)

    I don’t even have a pet anymore, myself. I bought this book to give to a “human” physician who takes in rescue dogs. The physician loves the first book, the “humans” edition. Before I could get this “animals” edition to her, I started reading it and ended up keeping it for myself! So much in the book applies to humans, too, that I think it is a great companion to the first book. Also, so much in the “human” edition applies to pets. It’s a winning combo to own them both.

    (I did get another copy of the book for the physician and she is thrilled with it!)

  45. ChristyRedd says:

    Bless you, Sandra, for passing this on. It will help enlighten those in the world who haven’t heard about Bach flower essences and also that especially dark part of it……….the UK………..where it’s even vorbotten to mention healing by prayer publicly.

  46. v.t. says:

    Sandra said: Your comment…(I’ve found that clinics with multiple associates, for example, may allow an associate to practice homeopathy or acupuncture or other alt med nonsense, but most likely because the practice vet is a shruggie and is bowing to client demand rather than patient need.” ) proves that the skeptics are losing the debate.

    It certainly does not prove that skeptics are losing the debate. Skeptics aren’t really in a debate per se, rather expecting those who make wild claims to prove them. Did you read the article above? The reasons are spelled out for you.

    The health care industry is profit driven and will need to comply with what the health care consumer demands and is willing to pay for. It will not take long for his/her associates to realize that the The “shruggie” is the smartest person in the practice group.

    The health care industry does not need to comply to consumer demand for pseudoscience, where do you get that idea? The fact that we have advanced medicine today indicates that quackery of long ago has much been dismissed in favor of proven, effective medicine. Politics, lack of education and lack of regulation are primarily why quackery still exists today.

    The rest of your post: You’re confusing homeopathy (that, which contains zero trace of an active substance in the end product), with individual compounds extracted from a source, dangerous and toxic substances removed, synthesized, tested, gone through approved clinical trials, accepted and marketed – all via appropriate scientific study.

    I don’t know what Merck is doing, but if they aren’t doing scientific research as described above, then whatever they intend to produce is not going to be accepted as medicine. The same applies if Big Pharma starts producing homeopathic products – homeopathy is not medicine and will not be medicine until it is proven to work, it’s as simple as that.

    Wait… Treat the CAUSE rather than the SYMPTOMS? Huh! Just imagine if a quack idea like that actually started to catch on.

    Typical ploy from the alt med group. This is nothing new in the world of medicine, health care providers of conventional medicine have and will continue to treat the underlying cause of disease. To say that homeopathy is the only treatment that does so is complete and utter nonsense.

    Let’s talk about profit driven. Check out Skeptvet’s posts on the NCCAM’s wasting of millions of dollars researching bogus therapies (that means your tax dollars). Insurance companies covering therapies clearly not proven for safety or efficacy (that means your insurance premiums increase). Big Supplement raking in billions of dollars for vitamins and supplements in which most are not a necessary medical treatment, and generally exempt from regulation (that means consumers are paying millions of dollars for unnecessary supplementation and taking risks with unsafe, untested and adulterated products). When consumers forgo evidence based medicine in favor of alt med not proven for safety or efficacy (resulting in higher costs when the consumer is eventually treated with conventional medicine).

    Your anecdote of the lovebird’s response to rescue remedy, proves what? That pets will suffer grief and eventually get past it? His response to rescue remedy, if any, was most likely due to 1) the alcohol base in the product, or 2) tincture of time in which no medical treatment was necessary (other than encouraging eating and activity).

    So you got a book, gave it to physician, so what? It doesn’t mean the contents in the book are factual, more likely just more anecdotes.

    It sounds like you’re willing to believe anything anyone says or writes about homeopathy, yet you cannot critically examine why it is so implausible and has never been shown to work beyond placebo. Believing in it does not make it true.

  47. skeptvet says:

    And thank you, Christy, for illustrating a point I’ve often madehere–this is all about faith and has more in common with religion than with medicine. Hahneman explicitly described homeopathy as healing spiritual imbalances rather than the physical body, and Bach was also more concerned with spiritual than physical ills. Nothing wrong with following whatever religiou belief you choose, of course–except when you present it as if it were medicine or in any way valid by the standards of science. Then you are being dishonest.

    Bach Flower Essences for Animals

  48. Vogel says:

    That was the dumbest anecdote I’ve heard in a long time. Well since yesterday at least, but dumb, dumb, dumb. Demonstrates why it’s not a good idea to rely on a CMT for medical advice; a happy ending perhaps.

  49. Art says:

    This thread shows just how much energy and time must be wasted because veterinarians are allowed to sell and refer to other vets who can sell a bottle of medicine with nothing in the bottle but water. If someone needs a car for transportation no one would refer to a dealership who sells cars with no engine in the car. 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 understand its legal but in my mind its unethical. We must take some responsibility for what we sell and who we refer to.

    Art Malernee Dvm

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