Susan G. Wynn, DVM , Marietta, GA
AAFP WINTER 2001 MEETING
Homeopathy is defined as the treatment of disease symptoms with a specially prepared substance that, in a healthy body, will produce the same symptoms as a toxicological picture – “like cures like”. A very simple example is in the use of homeopathic ipecac to treat vomiting.
Homeopathic “remedies”, as they are called, are prepared in a very specific manner. The original substance is usually from a natural source, such as plants or minerals, and is progressively diluted and “potentized” by violent agitation between each dilution, until the final remedy often theoretically contains none of the original substance. The key to the homeopathic remedy retaining any physiologic effect is said to be the serial agitations (succussion). Theories for the mechanism of action include some form of electromagnetic “memory” on the water used to dilute the substance, in addition to newer theories concerning stable molecular structures which have been presented as a new form of ice. Homeopathic researchers have also discussed fractal geometrics involving molecules of water and magnetite.
Homeopathic methods for diagnosing and treating disease are entirely foreign to traditional medical thought. Homeopaths view disease as a manifestation of a disturbance in the “vital force”, and symptoms of the disease are absolutely unique to each patient.
For instance, 2 dogs with parvoviral enteritis may look a little different, initially – one may have started with vomiting and increasing depression, while the other broke with hemorrhagic diarrhea. One dog may have diarrhea with chills and no thirst, while the other has a high fever and is thirsty. The homeopath views these different manifestations as individual differences in the state of the patients’ “vital force”; therefore, they would receive different prescriptions. Since the remedies are said to work to assist the vital force in healing the body, one Indian homeopath described the system as “teaching the body to heal itself”. In conventional medicine, the medications often suppress signs of the disease, without actually ridding the body of the susceptibility that caused the problem in the first place. Homeopathy is said to treat the patient, not the disease.
RESEARCH IN VETERINARY HOMEOPATHY
Homeopathy has been examined and found to have measurable effects in a number of systems. In lab animals, homeopathic remedies have been shown in single (non-replicated) studies to enhance healing, enhance survival and elimination in heavy metal toxicity, and reduce clinical symptoms and/or survival from staph infections in rabbits and tularemia in mice. In farm animals, homeopathic remedies may improve calving intervals in cowherds, morbidity due to respiratory virus infections, prevalence of stillbirth, and severity of rectal prolapse in pigs. The only controlled trial of homeopathy in dogs examined the effect of a homeopathic parvo preparation in preventing mortality due to parvovirus infection. The remedy was ineffective. These studies are reviewed in (Wynn, 1998).
Homeopathy has been examined by controlled trial in a number of human conditions. The results vary, and there is a lack of independent replication of positive and negative studies, complicating our assessment of homeopathic effect. The strongest trials by far have been published by David Reilly, showing a positive effect for homeopathy in the treatment of human allergic respiratory disease.
INDICATIONS FOR HOMEOPATHIC TREATMENT
Indications for homeopathic treatment vary depending on which experts one talks with. Strict homeopaths tend to believe that homeopathy is a complete system with power to affect most conditions; on the other hand, if one sticks with the scientific data, it can be said that homeopathy has not been shown to be efficacious for any condition in dogs and cats. The truth may lie somewhere in between.
Homeopathy has evolved into a central system with a variety of treatment strategies. Learning to prescribe in the classical manner requires advanced training, because prescriptions are based on matching a constellation of clinical signs to only one of hundreds of available remedies with characteristic groupings of signs (called the “symptom picture”). These symptom are collected in books called Materia Medica. Experienced homeopaths are intimately familiar with many remedy symptom pictures and recognize the disease “pictures” when they work up a patient. Another way to find the correct remedy is to use a “Repertory”, which lists symptoms with all the remedies that may be appropriate. It takes some time to collect these symptoms and cross index to find the appropriate remedy.
An alternative approach is the use the many available combination remedies (or complexes) or specific conditions. Finding a homeopathic remedy in this manner is more easily accomplished, but most experienced homeopaths find that they get mixed results with these remedies. The problems may include interference between the remedies in the combination, and lack of individualization that seems to be vital to homeopathic success. Other philosophies include homo-toxicology, organotherapy, isopathy, gemmotherapy and others.
Attention to potency (or dynamized dilution level) is important. It is usually recommended that weaker animals with chronic disease receive lower potencies – usually in the 6X (1 to 10 dilutions, repeated 6 times, or 10-6) to 30X (10-30) range. Strong animals with acute diseases, behavioral problems or “deep” diseases are thought able to tolerate much higher potencies, from 12C (1 to 100 dilutions repeated 12 times, or 10-24) to 1M and higher. Remedies given in high potency are usually repeated much less often, unless the patient is a young animal with an acute disease.
AGGRAVATIONS (SIDE EFFECTS)
An event that happens with some regularity in homeopathic practice is the “aggravation” or “healing crisis”. Traditional homeopathic theory explains this initial worsening of signs which precede improvement as a response of the “vital force” in the right direction. Very simply stated, if an aggravation of physical signs occurs while the behavioral state improves, the remedy is probably the correct one. If a worsening of the behavior occurs (the brain is a “deeper” organ), but physical signs improve, the choice of remedy was wrong. Homeopaths differ in their opinions of the aggravation – some believe that one cannot know how correct the prescription is without seeing a healing crisis; others don’t like putting the animals through the discomfort, and strive to avoid them. One should always warn the client, however, that an aggravation is possible.
These notes should serve to introduce veterinarians to homeopathic philosophy and practice. If homeopathy is of interest, training and resources are available from the organizations listed below. Whether or not homeopathy ‘works’ is still debatable, but the number of positive controlled trials that indicate homeopathy has measurable clinical effects would suggest that the we should not rush to judgment either way. The purpose of this presentation is to introduce veterinarians to the ‘classical homeopathic paradigm’ and provide general guidelines for clinical experiment.
Remedy suggestions for clinical experiment
Abscess: Hepar Sulf 30C
Kitten diarrhea: Podophyllum 30C
Anal glands: Silica 30C
Gingivitis/stomatitis: Merc sol 30C
Car sickness: Tabacum 30C, combination remedies OTC
Thunderphobia: Phosphorus 200C; Aconite 200C
Grief over loss of companion pet: Ignatia 200C or 1M
Lyme disease: Ledum 30C or 200C
Warts: Thuja 30C
Training In Veterinary Homepathy
Academy for Veterinary Homeopathy.
Animal Natural Health Center
1283 Lincoln Street, Eugene, OR 97401
Tel: 503-342-7665 (4 module, year long course in veterinary homeopathy, leading to certification by AVH)
National Center for Homeopathy
801 N. Fairfax St, Alexandria, VA 22314
Tel: 703-548-7798 (2 day basic, intermediate, and advanced professional courses)
Hamilton, Don 1999. Homeopathic Care for Cats and Dogs: Small Doses for Small Animals. North Atlantic Books, Berkeley CA.
Hahnemann,S. 1833. Organon of Medicine. B. Jain Publishers Ltd., New Delhi, India.
Vithoulkas, G. 1980. The Science of Homeopathy. Grove Press, Inc. New York, NY.
Sankaran, R. 1991. The Spirit of Homeopathy. Homeopathic Medical Publishers, Bombay, India.
Bellavite,P. an A. Signorini. Homeopathy: A Frontier in Medical Science: Experimental Studies and Theoretical Foundations. North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, CA. 1995.
Murphy, R. 1993. Homeopathic Medical Repertory, Hahnemann Academy of North America, Pagosa Springs, CO.
Morrison, R.,1993. Desktop Guide to Keynotes and Confirmatory Symptoms. Hahnemann Clinic Publishing, Albany , CA.
Bidwell, Glen, 1987. How to Use the Repertory, B Jain Publishers, New Delhi, India.
Day, Chistoper, 1984. The Homeopathic Treatment of Small Animals: Princiiples and Practice, The C.W. Daniel Co, Ltd, Essex, England.
Standard Homeopathic CompanyP.O. Box 61067Los Angeles, CA 90061800-624-9659
Hahnemann Pharmacy828 San Pablo AveAlbany, CA 94706510-527-3003
BoironP.O. Box 4496 Campus Blvd, Building ANewtown Square, PA 19073610-325-7464800-BLU-TUBE
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