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The Evidence

Rational Veterinary Medicine:

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Papers, listed by lead author: D…


Dantas, F. (2005) ‘Are the clinical effects of homoeopathy placebo effects?’ Lancet, vol. 366, no. 9503, p. 2083. (this article is a response to Shang et al, 2005)

Links: [full text, Lancet]

Dantas, F. and Fisher, P. (2007) ‘A systematic review of homeopathic pathogenic trials (‘provings’) published in the United Kingdom from 1945 to 1995’, Homeopathy, vol. 96, no. 1, pp. 4-16.

“The quality of information gathered from homeopathic pathogenetic trials (HPTs), also known as 'provings', is fundamental to homeopathy... The HPTs were generally of low methodological quality. There is a high incidence of pathogenetic effects in publications and volunteers but this could be attributable to design flaws. Homeopathic medicines, tested in HPTs, appear safe. The central question of whether homeopathic medicines in high dilutions can provoke effects in healthy volunteers has not yet been definitively answered, because of methodological weaknesses of the reports. Improvement of the method and reporting of results of HPTs are required”.

More evidence that homeopathic provings trials are hardly worth the paper they are printed on and it looks like homeopathy is probably safe...

… right up to the moment homeopaths start telling patients with real diseases not to treat them with real drugs, or prevent them with tested and effective vaccines but to use sugar tablets and water instead.

Links: [abstract pubmed]:[Full text pdf, pdf]

Dayenas, E., Beauvais, F., Amara, J., Oberbaum, M., Robinzon, B., Miadonna, A., Tedeschit, A., Pomeranz, B., Fortner, P., Belon, P., Sainte-Laudy, J., Poitevin, B. and Benveniste, J. (1988) ‘Human basophil degranulation triggered by very dilute antiserum against IgE E’, Nature, vol. 333, no. 30, pp. 816-818.

This is the famous (or infamous, depending on your point of view) “memory of water” paper, published by a team of homeopaths, headed up by Dr Jaques Benveniste, which originally claimed water had a memory, and that memory enabled homeopathy to work because the water could somehow “remember” the imprint of the dead bee, bits of the Berlin Wall, Condoms, coffee, burnt rubber, anti-matter and all those other imaginative homeopathic ingredients which have been diluted out of existence (while at the same time conveniently “forgetting” all the inevitable contaminats present in even the most carefully prepared purified water). Dr B was so completely convinced by his own deductions he decided it would be possible to extract this memory as a discrete signal from the water, from where it could be beamed down telephone lines or written to CD’s and be broadcast to all those in need of those health-giving vibes.

Wonderful plan, with only one tiny flaw - it was rubbish. One of the conditions of publication, to which Dr Benveniste readilly agreed, was that another team be allowed to repeat the experiment afterwards, under independently controlled conditions to see if they could get the same results (Maddox et al). Well, they did; and they couldn’t - back to the drawing-board, I’m afraid, Dr B.

The eighties were a bit of an unfortunate decade for Jaques Benveniste and his team, it must have seemed like deja vu all over again when the replication of this particular paper was published.

Links: [abstract - pub med]:[abstract - Nature]:[full text - geriatricare, pdf]
Responses: [refutation - Maddox et al]

Day, C.E. (1984) ‘Prevention of stillbirth in pigs using homoeopathy’ (short communication), Veterinary Record, vol. 114, p. 216.

A trial carried out, on a single herd of pigs by one of the chief promoters of veterinary homeopathy in the UK, former head honcho of the British Association of Homeopathic Veterinary Surgeons Chris Day. No blinding, no controls and even the author concedes the fact that stillbirth in pigs is a highly complex problem involving, among other potential causes, infection, stress and quality of stockmanship, is rarely attributable to one single factor and that spontaneous improvement is common.

The author is clearly a passionate advocate of homeopathy and is genuinely convinced it not only works, but is highly effective - and that in a nutshell, is the problem with this study.

Links: [None available online - (let me know otherwise)]
Responses: [quackometer - the vets who make people feel better]

de Verdier, K. et al (2003) ‘No effect of a homeopathic preparation on neonatal calf diarrhoea in a randomised double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial’, Acta Vet Scand, vol. 44, pp. 97-101.

Links: [abstract]:[full text - avs]:[full text, biomed central]

“... These results support the widely held opinion that scientific proof for the efficacy of veterinary homeopathy is lacking. In the European Union this implies a considerable risk for animal welfare, since in some countries priority is given to homeopathic treatments in organic farming.

Doehring, C. and Sundrum, A. (2016) 'Efficacy of homeopathy in livestock according to peer-reviewed publications from 1981 to 2014', Veterinary Record, doi:10.1136/vr.103779. [permalink].

It is noteworthy that the peer-reviewed journals looked at in this paper include a number of homeopathic trade-journals such as Homeopathy, which are written by, edited by, peer-reviewed by and sponsored by homeopaths and homeopathic businesses. The authors find, as so many have in the past, that the better the quality of research, the less likely it is to find in favour of homeopathy:

… homeopathic trials performed as a single-blind or non-blind RCt, parallel groups or an observational trial…  tended to be more frequently efficacious than a double-blind RCt, indicating that positive outcomes may partly be due to a bias caused by a conscious or unconscious preference for a certain treatment.

The poor quality of homeopathic research was also highlighted, such as when homeopathic remedies were tested in the treatment of E. coli infection against antibiotics which were known to be ineffective against E. coli! Another study actually excluded certain homeopathic remedies because their test results weren’t positive (well, I suppose that’s one way to make homeopathy look good… actually, come to think of it, it’s the only way) and in other cases homeopathy was only tested in combination with antimicrobials or with no control group.

This paper is described in a statement by EASAC on homeopathic products and practices as follows:

A recent comprehensive systematic review of the scientifc literature on homeopathy in farming (Doehring and Sundrum, 2016) evaluated whether such remedies could replace the use of antibiotics for infectious disease or growth promotion (antibiotics are now banned for livestock growth promotion in the EU). This review noted that some studies were in favour of homeopathy, but that there was large heterogeneity in conditions, study conduct and the scientific quality of trials. The results from those studies supporting homeopathy lacked reproducibility and the systematic review concluded, ‘Within the studies considered, the use of the same remedy administered to the same species with a comparable medical condition was never repeated’ and ‘Replacing or reducing antibiotics with homeopathy currently cannot be recommended unless evidence of efficacy is reproduced by randomised clinical trials and proven in various farm practice conditions.’”

Links: [full text, vet rec (OA)]:[full text, pdf (OA)]

Dominici, G., P Bellavite, C., di Stanislao, P., Gulia and Pitari, G. (2006) ‘Double-blind, placebo-controlled homeopathic pathogenetic trials: Symptom collection and analysis’, Homeopathy, vol. 95, pp. 123-130.

Links: [abstract - pub med]:[full text pdf paolobellavite]

Keywords: proving

If confirmed by other studies these results would demonstrate the nonequivalence between homeopathic medicines in high dilution and placebo and contribute to the improvement of proving methodology and evaluation.

The problem here is the phrase, “if confirmed”. They haven’t been!

Doust, J. (2004) ‘Why do doctors use treatments that do not work?’, Editorial, British Medical Journal, vol. 328, pp. 474-475. [permalink]

Links: [full text, html, BMJj (£)]:[full text, pdf, BMJ (£)]:[full text, pdf, Bond University (OA)]

"For many reasons—including their inability to stand idle and do nothing... Clinicians want to relieve suffering.We find it difficult to do nothing (the aphorism “Don’t just do something, stand there!” seems ludicrous)..."

A brilliant, incisive and pithy piece by the then editor of the BMJ, Jenny Doust, of the University of Queensland, concerning the folly of believing that every disease has a cure and must be treated. Sometimes things just get better on their own. There are lessons there for all of us; homeopaths in particular would do well to reflect on this article and consider exactly why the motto of RationalVetMed is “nothing is better than homeopathy”.