Proving That Homeopathy Works for Animals
Proving that homeopathic medicine works for animals seems simple enough - you give the animal a remedy in a potency that matches the animal's condition and if it works, that's that. The problem is, homeopaths have been doing just that for nearly 200 years and only homeopaths believe it. To get the attention of the non-homeopaths, it would take an extensive well-designed study.
As the owner of Washington Homeopathic Products, I manufacture the "HomeoPet" and "EquioPathics" products for Daniel Farrington, and we are always yakking about something homeopathic. Some of the subjects seem to go on forever. One of those endless conversations revolves around doing something to prove to non-homeopaths that homeopathic medicines have a healing effect on animals.
Instead of talking about proving they work why haven't we done something about it? Well, there are complications. One is cost/benefit; the other is methodology.
Demonstrating that homeopathy works on animals will be neither quick nor cheap, nor have a direct economic payoff.
It makes sense that if a company does studies to prove a product works, they should realize economic benefits from their work. The problem (and one of the beauties of homeopathy) is that it is next to impossible to patent a homeopathic remedy. Thus, if a remedy is proven to work, anyone can make the remedy and enjoy the benefit/profit - not very encouraging for the company that paid for the research.
Obviously everyone (and their pets) would benefit from research, and Daniel Farrington and I are wondering if there is anyone out there who would like to financially support, or otherwise be involved in (even in a small way) a research effort?
Doing homeopathic provings (tests) on animals will likely make them and their friends unhappy.
The point of a proving is to produce symptoms that serve as guides for the use of the remedy. Symptoms aren't always pleasant. Unless someone can come up with remedies that won't make the animal uncomfortable, provings are pretty much out.
The alternative - double-blind clinical trials - seems possible. The one that makes the most sense to us would be to select animals with a given diagnosis where the prognosis is well-known and treat them conventionally, and using double-blind methodology also treat them with homeopathy. That is, while all the animals would be treated conventionally, half of them would also be treated with a homeopathic remedy, and the other half with a placebo. The remedies could be from a pre-selected set of remedies thought to be useful for the condition, or all possible remedies, or a combination remedy developed for the condition(s).
However it is done, a significant number of animals would need to be used, and a veterinarian would have to evaluate the animals before, during, and after the study. Meticulous records would have to be kept, and the outcome evaluated and reported.
Since Daniel Farrington sells combination remedies, he would prefer to do the studies using his combinations. This is somewhat self-serving, but there are at least three factors which moderate this. 1) If the trials show that the combinations are successful, anyone can copy them and make their own product. 2) It is still going to be expensive for him. 3) To my knowledge, other companies do not carry out double blind clinical trials for their combinations, and most likely because of the cost/benefit issue.
Since 1991 Farrington has maintained field trials, clinical trials, and double-blind trials as well as published papers on some of his products. A small study is currently being done in a US university on the protocols for another double-blind clinical trial. HomeoPet has put together a simple questionnaire for multi-site pre-clinical trial work. This is to gather information to be used as the basis for more in-depth trials. HomeoPet is soliciting veterinarians to participate in data collection. Anyone interested should contact Daniel Farrington at (800) 555-4461.
Many people would like to see double-blind studies done on combinations for animals and people - the lack of provings on combinations has always been irksome to homeopaths (me included), but the practical cost/benefit issues are a real barrier - as witnessed by their not being done. If it was economically worthwhile, the scientific questions regarding combinations would have long ago been answered. The public doesn't mind, of course, and sales of combinations keep the pharmacies in business, but still there are the questions about combinations nagging us. Double-blind trials would not take the place of provings, but would demonstrate (positively or negatively) their efficacy in a controlled, narrowly defined use.
Certainly, if we are able to conduct studies that prove that homeopathic medicine is useful for animals (combinations or not) it will encourage others to conduct studies of their own.
Through this brief article we are looking for support, comments, ideas, understanding, etc. We need input on the protocols for clinical trials, people and veterinarians willing to do the trials, and definitely money. Can anyone help us with a grant or how/where to apply for one? Please forward all responses to me, Joe Lillard, at Homeopathy Works, 124 Fairfax Street, Berkeley Springs, WV 25411, or www.homeopathyworks.com .