Two recent reviews by Mathie & Clausen investigated the evidence in veterinary homeopathy1,2. The first review looked at the evidence from randomised placebo-controlled trials and found weak evidence that homeopathy treatment is different from placebo (p = 0.01 for N=15 trials and p = 0.02 for the N=2 most reliable trials)1. The second review looked at the evidence from randomised trials controlled by other means than placebo (e.g. usual care) and found the quality of the trials in this category to be too low to provide any meaningful answer2.
Prevention of diarrhoea in piglets
One of the high-quality placebo controlled trials identified by Mathie & Clausen was carried out by Wageningen Univsersity in the Netherlands.3
In this triple blind RCT, 52 pregnant sows were treated with either Coli 30K (a homeopathic medicine made from E. coli bacteria) or placebo. The sows gave birth to 525 piglets and those in the group treated with Coli 30K had 6 times less diarrhoea than the piglets in the placebo group. This result was statistically significant (p < 0.0001) meaning that it is extremely unlikely to be a false positive result due to chance alone
The particular technique used, where the medicine used is made from the same substance which causes the disease being treated, is a sub-type of homeopathy called ‘isopathy’.
As the only existing way of preventing this disease in livestock is by using antibiotics, this study should be repeated to confirm its findings, as it may provide an effective way to help reduce overuse of antibiotics.
Recent research: Amelioration of pain and distress in tail-ringed lambs using homeopathy
It should be noted that not all ‘veterinary’ homeopathy research and treatment is actually carried out by vets; some of it is carried out by farmers such as David Eyles who use homeopathy with their own livestock. Below he describes his research on reducing pain and distress in lambs:4
View David Eyles presentation at the HRI Barcelona 2013 conference.
- Mathie RT, Clausen J. Veterinary homeopathy: meta-analysis of randomised placebo-controlled trials. Homeopathy, 2015; 104(1):3-8 | Full text
- Mathie RT, Clausen J. Veterinary homeopathy: Systematic review of medical conditions studied by randomised trials controlled by other than placebo. BMC Vet Res, 2015; 11(1):236 |Full text
- Camerlink I, Ellinger L, Bakker EJ, Lantinga EA. Homeopathy as replacement to antibiotics in the case of Escherichia coli diarrhoea in neonatal piglets. Homeopathy, 2010; 99: 57–62 | PubMed
- Eyles D. Amelioration of pain and distress in tail-ringing lambs using homeopathy. Homeopathy, 2014; 103(1): 68 | Abstract