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A skeptic’s email exchange on the topic of homeopathy with the Chief Executive of the Organic Farmers & Growers (or OF&G), a body which promotes an organisation called ‘Homeopathy at Wellie Level’ : “The main reason I am publishing this exchange (without permission, but I do not regard any of its content as reflecting badly on the OF&G or its employees) is so that we as interested observers of how these modalities proliferate can see the mindset that allows the hardcore advocates to exploit the indifference of anyone not engaged in active critical thinking. If anyone is in doubt as to why anyone should promote something that doesn’t work then a quick look around the internet shows veterinary practices, treatment manufacturers and training courses all of which employ people and provide a living for those who exploit non-specialists in this area. I am not suggesting that those individuals do it fraudulently (although I’m sure some do) but sitting quietly and accepting treatment practices which cost money and do nothing is unacceptable. It causes harm (in this case to animals) and generally adds to the overall background noise of approval for unproven alternative medicines. In time and unchecked this noise will become the mainstream voice and then we are all in deep, deep slurry…I hope eventually that issues flagged up in this blog will come to the attention of the wider farming and rural communities and as such improvements will be made in practice and animal welfare”. Ruralwoo blogspot (29th September 2011)
“…Harvey Locke, President of the BVA [British Veterinary Association] admitted there was no evidence homeopathic treatments work…The draft budget [now] has to be approved by the budget committee and voted on by the European Parliament before the money can be spent.” The Telegraph (30th August 2011)
“In December the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) in the Department for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) – which governs the use of medicines in animals – made clear that homeopathic treatments could only be classed as medicines, and thus prescribed by vets, if they were able to demonstrate efficacy. Homeopathic products cannot demonstrate efficacy to any satisfactory degree and so this means that they can't be used by vets to treat animals. The use of homeopathy to treat animals – "there's no placebo effect in animals, is there, so it must work" the homeopaths claim – has long been a mainstay of the homeopathy industry's argument. The logic of the VMD's decision is unquestionable. If it doesn't have efficacy, it can't be a medicine. And, ethically, if a medicine doesn't work then a sick animal deserves to have real treatment not sham treatment. The danger of course is that people may be lulled into believing a homeopathic remedy is actually treating their pets or livestock, when in fact a treatable disease is being allowed to get worse. This is avoidable harm – in other words, irresponsible behaviour or even animal cruelty.” Dr Evan Harris, The Guardian (5th January 2011)
“The Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy (AVH) is suing the American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB) for breach of contract and fraud concerning the board's decision to deny continuing education credits for classes at the group's 2009 conference in Savannah, Georgia…The lawsuit highlights a simmering controversy in the veterinary profession on the legitimacy of complementary and alternative modalities that cross the line from conventional medicine to include acupuncture, chiropractic medicine, homeopathy and herbal or botanical medicine…Dr. Sidney H. Storozum, an attorney and veterinarian practicing homeopathy, filed the lawsuit in January in the circuit court of Amherst County, Va. According to court documents, the AVH seeks $10,000 in compensatory damages and $60,000 in punitive damages from the AAVSB.” VIN News Service (16th August 2011)
Antibiotics appear to have some (limited) value in the treatment of mastitis in cows, homeopathic products do not.
jdc325 blog (6th April 2011)
"...the veterinary studies on homeopathy are few and of generally poor quality. While animals are not subject to the same psychological influences as human patients, the owners and veterinarians monitoring their symptoms are. The best veterinary studies of homeopathy, those that have been properly blinded or looked at objective laboratory measures of effect, have not found any benefit from homeopathic treatment." The SkeptVet (2008)
A skeptic’s correspondence with Yeo Valley, who ‘treat’ their cows with homeopathy. Zeno’s blog (18th January 2011)
A new study has been published in The Journal of Dairy Research looking at if you can use homeopathy to treat mastitis in cattle. The paper fails to demonstrate that you can. And as such, that is not a surprise. These cows will have been given water drops as if it is medicine: homeopathy is a superstitious hang-over from 18th Century ways of thinking about health. Of course it does not work. What is surprising is that the homeopathic world is again leaping on this negative study as if it is proof of the positive benefits of homeopathic pseudoscience… This paper will be added to the large pile of junk science that is used to promote the nonsense of ultra-dilutions. And, if any farmer is fooled by this, it is their cows who will suffer.” The Quackometer blog (12th September 2010)
"The myth that homeopathy works in animals is not based on evidence; it is based on the claims of the vets who practise it. They are simply using their position of authority to convince their clients that their pets are improving with homeopathic treatment… The truth is that because animals do not benefit from the placebo effect, using bogus treatments like homeopathy on them means that they receive no benefit from the treatment whatsoever." Article by UK-Skeptics. [Includes criticism of the RCVS's current position on homeopathy as well as case reports of animals that have suffered at the hands of 'homeopathic vets'.]
Is its apparent effectiveness in animals proof of homeopathy's effectiveness? This article shows that the argument that apparent success in veterinary cases constitutes proof of the effectiveness of homoeopathy is simplistic and false. Complementary and Alternative Veterinary Medicine — A Rational Insight (6th August 2008)
"Giving people a choice between quackery and proper care for their animals hides a huge injustice. It adds no choice to owners since there are false options involved which actually detract from the animal owner's empowerment. The owner may well feel better for providing 'holistic' care to their animal. They may well feel superior and 'caring more' than leaving their animal to a standard vet, who may not be able to do too much. But, this is at the expense of the animal who may find it hard to tell us that the magic homeopathy water was ineffective. The owner, full of fresh expectations of improvement in their animal, interprets any sign to justify the expense of their 'alternative approach'. The usual thinking biases kick in such as post hoc reasoning after regression to the mean, wishful thinking and selection biases. Meanwhile, an animal may still be suffering…The function of an animal placebo is to palliate the owner's anxieties and fears, not the animal's." The Quackometer (22nd March 2008)
"New Scientist has learned that the RCVS decided back in February to quietly remove a list of vets that offer homeopathic treatments from its official published register of licensed veterinary practitioners. Vets who believe it is against animals' best interests to undergo unproven treatments say pets should only be given orthodox medicines, and that the RCVS's list withdrawal is not enough. They add that details of homeopathic vets remain available on its website… The RCVS denies that its website supports homeopathic practice. "It's not an endorsement," says a spokesman. "The college retains the view that if people want homeopathic treatment for their animals it's better done by a registered veterinary surgeon."" New Scientist (1st July 2006)
"A group of vets has said they are concerned by European Commission proposals to legitimise the use of homeopathic remedies for animals. In an open letter to the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), the group says there is no clinical evidence that homeopathy works….. The RCVS has said it does not take a stance either way on homeopathy….. it only registers qualified vets and it is up to them whether or not they practice homeopathic medicine alongside their conventional treatments." BBC News (19th June 2006)
"No one claims conventional medicine cures everything. However, there is no evidence that homeopathy cures anything at all." Letter published in the New Scientist from veterinary surgeons Alex Gough, David Jaggar, David Ramey, Robert Imrie, Valeri Devaney Norco, Niall Taylor, and Morag Kerr (18th February 2006)
An article addressing several serious points about homeopathy which were raised recently by a group of UK vets who operate the satirical website, 'The British Veterinary Voodoo Society' (BVVS). In brief, the vets object to a decision by the UK's Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) to publish an official list of homeopathic vets. They say that it undermines the credibility of conventional veterinary medicine. New Scientist (10th December 2005) [pdf]
In May 2005 a 'homoeopathic veterinary surgeon' submitted a formal complaint to the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) against UK vets who operate a website (The British Veterinary Voodoo Society) which opposes the use of homeopathic remedies to treat sick animals. This link provides background information about the issue. Skeptico (15th November 2005) [UPDATE: On 8th February 2006 the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeon's Preliminary Investigation Committee decided that there was "no indication of serious professional misconduct against the officers of the British Veterinary Voodoo Society".]