More Vets Passionately Promoting the Delusion of Homeopathy

I’ve written at length about homeopathy: the evidence that it is has no real effects; the reasons why the evidence homeopaths cite to support it isn’t convincing; and the dangerous and irresponsible things homeopaths often claim about their magic water nonsense. Despite the fact that most homeopathic products have no effects at all, for good or ill, beyond placebo, and despite the fact that relatively few people use them for their pets, the delusion that homeopathy is a form of real medicine is still potentially dangerous. Homeopaths mislead people into thinking they are helping treat their pets when they are really only affecting their own perceptions of their pets’ illness. And homeopaths frequently steer people away from truly effective medicine with misinformation and outright falsehood.

A recent example comes from two veterinary homeopaths, Dr. Christina Chambreau, whom I’ve written about before, and Dr. Wendy Jensen. Dr. Chambreau’s role in this example was simply to promote Dr. Jensen’s dangerous misinformation, but the nonsense itself in this case comes from Dr. Jensen’s article in an online homeopathy magazine. This article contains all the major talking points of homeopathic extremism, and it presents them in a tone of unabashed fanaticism. Dr. Jensen begins by comparing modern medicine, and the poor saps who use it to help their sick loved ones, to slave owners tending the wounds they themselves inflicted upon their slaves.

We have the wounded, the sick, we have the caregivers, the hospitals, the physicians. But in our eagerness to soothe the hurt, to comfort the sick, we avoid the knowledge of our own complicity. Like colonial plantation owners tending to a sick slave, we soothe our own guilt with warm milk and honey.

She defends this bizarre and offensive simile by claiming that everything we know about health and disease and how to treat it is wrong and that all conventional medicine does is make things worse.

We are suffering from wrong understanding. We are dying believing that the symptom makes the sickness. We accept that cutting off a tumor and then irradiating the body is the best we can do. We allow our trusted doctors to amputate ulcers and administer toxic drugs for cancer. We encourage immune-suppressing steroids for breathing problems, anything to stop the suffering, without regard for the long term; blind to the true health of the whole person. We support the system that creates illness, entrenches sickness, and deteriorates our health more severely with each added generation.

Ever wonder why some diseases are considered ‘incurable’? That’s because modern medicine, with its myopic focus on diagnosis and prevention, has lost sight of the big picture.

We are afraid to admit that giving bronchodilators to the coughing child now leads to life-long asthma in the adult. We just want it to stop now, and for this insistence, we pay dearly. Knowing somewhere inside that we could have made different choices, that we caused the suffering, knowing this truly, is too hard to allow into our consciousness. So we pray, we hold hands, we bake, we sing, we provide solace up until the end, and then after the tears dry, we move on to the next bedside.

The answer to this self-destructive approach is, of course, to abandon all we know and take a blind leap of faith into the Wonderland of fantasy conjured by Hahnemann– homeopathy.

There is a better way. There is a system of medicine that does not create illness with its treatments. Homeopathy is a time-honored means to treat disease at its source, rather than futilely trimming away the external manifestations.

The reason homeopathy does what scientific medicine cannot is, of course, because it doesn’t heal the body but the immortal soul, also known as the “Vital Force.”

Illness begins at the energetic level…This is the level at which homeopathy heals. The term “vital force” is a useful one to describe the energetic component of the body. This is what leaves when we die. The vital force has to be present for wounds to heal, bee stings to hurt and then ease, broken bones to knit. Yes, we need the cells that march in to eliminate infection and reconstruct tissue, but without the vital force these cellular components would not even be called into action. We can keep the wound clean and set the bone, but without the vital force all we would ever get would be a clean wound and a casted limb. Homeopathy partners up with our vital force to strengthen our body’s innate knowledge and bring an end to the diseased state.

For anyone crass enough to ask for evidence of these claims, Dr. Jensen does provide some anecdotes, which I have no doubt she believes count as evidence despite all the reasons they do not.** Unfortunately, what really emerges from her anecdotes is a willingness to take advantage of people’s desperation and take credit for the outcome when it is favorable (and, of course, not to tell any of the stories where it isn’t).

As a living example from my practice, Sally (her name changed) is a huge bull mastiff dog who woke up one morning with a terrible pain in her leg. She cried and limped all the way to her veterinarian’s, where her saddened caretakers were told that she needed to be given chemotherapy and have her leg amputated to save her life. With this treatment, she could live four more months. Her guardians struggled with this decision, buying time with pain medications that only partly worked. Finally they called me, and now Sally is walking four-legged and pain free nearly three years after her diagnosis.

Such anecdotes can obscure the fact that there has never been objective, consistent evidence that homeopathy can cure anything. If it truly had such miraculous powers, it would be impossible to hide this, and it would undoubtedly have replaced every other form of medicine by now.

Yet the invention of homeopathy did nothing to improve life expectancy, reduce infant mortality, or in any other verifiable way improve human health. This only occurred when scientific medicine began to develop as the primary form of healthcare. And despite over 150 years of use and study, homeopathy hasn’t been able to demonstrate its miraculous powers in any objective way. Only anecdotes and faith continue to validate it.

Some may say that giving hope to the desperate is a kindness. I believe that giving hope based on falsehoods and denying the benefits of real, scientific medicine, which have been demonstrated again and again unequivocally, is not a kindness. It is mistaking religion for medicine and misleading people in need.

**
Why We’re Often Wrong
Testimonials Lie
The Role of Anecdotes in Science-Based Medicine
Why We Need Science: “I saw it with my own eyes” Is Not Enough
Don’t Believe your Eyes (or Your Brain)

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4 Responses to More Vets Passionately Promoting the Delusion of Homeopathy

  1. art malernee dvm says:

    40 dollars a month to dispose of my used needles yet the government will not stop the vet down the street from me from selling water in a bottle as medicine. Well at least the government is not giving away homeopathic medicine like they sometimes do needles.

  2. Beccy Higman says:

    I woud go further and say that giving false hope to the desparate is cruel. Dashed hope is far worse than no hope.

  3. John D says:

    Just discovered this excellent website/resource. I’m a doctor in the UK, about two by a dog, and appalled to find that in the UK, the homeopaths and other quacks are plying their trade on animals as well as humans. The best, and most succinct, scientific UK analysis homeopathy can be found here:

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=HMGIbOGu8q0

    Keep up the good work!

    J.

  4. skeptvet says:

    Yes, that Mitchell and Webb routine is a classic. You might also like this by Tim Minchin: https://youtu.be/KtYkyB35zkk

    If you are interested in the fight against veterinary homeopathy in the UK, you might also look at this effort to get the RCVS to ban the practice:

    http://skeptvet.com/Blog/2015/11/two-new-campaigns-in-the-uk-to-protect-patients-clients-from-veterinary-homeopathy/

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