Category Archives: Homeopathy

All about how like cures like.

Homeopathy WINS!

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Homeopathy is a much maligned and misunderstood alternative therapy. A few years ago there was a movement among a small group of conventional veterinarians to have homeopathy labeled as ineffective by the American Veterinary Medical Association. While that attempt failed, homeopathy is generally looked down upon be conventional veterinarians. To understand why, we need to take a closer look at homeopathy.

The modern practice of homeopathy began with the work of Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843). He was a German physician who became disenchanted with the harsh methods, such as bloodletting and purgation, used by his fellow physicians. He made enemies of his colleagues when he demonstrated that the king’s doctors had inadvertently bled him to death during treatment. Hahnemann dropped out of medicine and made a living translating medical texts. It was from his work with ancient manuscripts that he was introduced to the “principle of similar” which claims that a substance that causes certain symptoms when taken by a healthy individual, can be used to treat a patient suffering from a disease that causes similar symptoms – like cures like. Hahnemann went on to develop hundreds of remedies based on this treatment principle.

Homeopathy spread across Europe and made it to the US in the 1820s. In fact, the first national medical association in the US was the American Institute of Homeopathy (AIH) founded in 1844. Conventional physicians countered with their own organization, the American Medical Association (AMA) in 1846. According to letters exchanged between the founding members of the AMA, one major goal for their group was to exterminate homeopathy. The AMA ethics code prohibited an AMA member from consulting with a homeopathic physician.

In 1900 in America 25% physicians were homeopaths and there were 22 homeopathic medical schools and over 100 homeopathic hospitals. To date hundreds of thousands of physicians and millions of patients have benefitted from homeopathy. Still today, 39% French Physician and 20% German physicians prescribe homeopathics. Forty-five percent of Dutch physicians consider them effective and 42% British physicians refer to homeopaths. It is a different world outside the reach of the AMA.

The problem convention vets have with homeopathy is 2 fold – 1. Homeopathic remedies have the opposite effect on the body as the original substance, and 2. Most homeopathic remedies are diluted to the point that statistically, there is not a single molecule of the original substance left. “How crazy to think that homeopathy could do anything.”

Well, modern research begs to differ. Studies show that homeopathic remedies have different characteristics than plane water. Also, the homeopathic dilution process involves succussion (violent shaking) which produces nanoparticles of the original substance. It appears that nanoparticles may explain the action of homeopathic remedies.

Recently, a jury found in favor of a homeopathic company that was being sued for saying their remedies could have a medicinal effect. Every once in a while, the good guys win.

Have you ever used homeopathy on your pet?

What’s so Alternative about Alternative Medicine?

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There are many names that have been given to holistic medicine. These therapies are often known as Complementary and Alternative Veterinary Medicine or CAVM. “Complementary” sounds nice. It’s nice to think we can all get along and work together. But, what about alternative? What’s that about?

Well, for some people alternative medicine means that they employ holistic therapies as a replacement of, or alternative to, conventional medicine. These folks simply reject all conventional medicine treatments and go natural.

The more common use of the term “alternative medicine” refers to modalities and practices that have are not accepted by the conventional veterinarian community. If holistic medicine is so great, why aren’t the majority of vets on board with it?

If you ask the skeptics they will respond, “Where’s the research showing these treatments are helpful?” I freely admit that there is not enough research into holistic modalities. I can give 2 reasons for this problem.

  1. Money! The studies required to “prove” the validity of alternative medicine cost $300-500 thousand dollars each. The majority of biomedical research is paid for by the pharmaceutical industry. That’s because they can patent the result and make lots of money. Since you can’t patent a natural substance, there’s no money to be made and nobody to pay for the research.
  2. Editorial Bias – One study found that medical journal reviewers (research gatekeepers) were 3 times more likely to favor a study if it showed the success of a drug than if it showed the success of a homeopathic remedy. So, the studies of alternative medicine never see the light of day.

And then there is confirmation bias. That’s a condition we all suffer from. People tend to stick to their current beliefs and look with suspicion on new ideas. Confirmation bias means that we judge information that we agree with as being more valid than information that we disagree with. Skeptics of alternative medicine will never be convinced that it works even when they see valid research.

So, there you have it. Alternative medicine will most likely remain alternative for years to come, or until conventional companies figure out how to make money off of it. That’s why probiotics are now acceptable in veterinary medicine. Purina discovered a good bug and patented their product made with it. The good news is that now conventional vets no longer look at me as if I have 2 heads when I talk about the benefits of probiotics.

Do you believe in alternative medicine?