Rational Veterinary Medicine:
Gacsi, M., Gyori, B., Miklosi, A., Viranyi, Z. and Kubinyi, E. (2005) ‘Specific differences and similarities in the behavior of hand-
The upshot of this study is that wolves are different from dogs. This probably isn’t too startling to the average, sensible, reader but proponents of raw diets like to pretend that dogs are just “wolves lite” and should be treated as such -
“CONCLUSIONS: Twenty epidemiologic studies have shown that neither thimerosal nor MMR vaccine causes autism. These studies have been performed in several countries by many different investigators who have employed a multitude of epidemiologic and statistical methods. The large size of the studied populations has afforded a level of statistical power sufficient to detect even rare associations. These studies, in concert with the biological implausibility that vaccines overwhelm a child’s immune system, have effectively dismissed the notion that vaccines cause autism. Further studies on the cause or causes of autism should focus on more-
Gibson, R.G., Gibson, S.L.M., MacNeill, A.D. and Buchanan, W.W. (1980) ‘Homeopathic therapy in rheumatoid arthritis: evaluation by double-
Well, the team here at RationalVetMed tried hard to find an interesting, tantalising pull quote from Ben Goldacre’s excellent comment piece in the Lancet. It turns out that the entire piece is so inspired that it’s all interesting and tantalising so the reader is urged to click the link below to access the free, full text of this piece which so eloquently lays bare the unethical, irresponsible and downright dangerous behaviour of homeopaths.
Links: [full text, Lancet]
Goodyear, K., Lewith, G. and Low, J.L. (1998) ‘Randomized double-
Despite trying to torture the statistics into submission in the results section the authors are forced to concede, “We were unable to distinguish between Belladonna C30 and placebo using our primary outcome measure... This pilot study does not demonstrate a clear proving reaction for Belladonna C30 versus placebo...". Yet another RDBPCT of the type homeopaths cry out for giving more evidence (if such were needed) that it is impossible to tell the difference between a homeopathic remedy and sugar tablets.
This book has to be compulsory reading for anyone interested in the interpretation of clinical papers. It is accessible, easy to understand and a joy to read. It is based on a marathon series of 10 papers by Greenhalgh published in the BMJ in 1997 covering everything from how to use the medline database to statistics to metanalyses -
Links are given below to the book itself, available from Amazon (and elsewhere presumably) and to two sites which provide multiple links to all the original articles. The New Jersey links are to the complete journals (so other articles are available too), the HEAL site has re-
Guggisberg, A.G., Baumgartner, S.M., Tschopp, C.M. and Heusser, P. (2005) ‘Replication study concerning the effects of homeopathic dilutions of histamine on human basophil degranulation in vitro’, Complementary Therapies in Medicine, vol. 13, no. 2, pp. 91-
"We were not able to confirm the previously reported large effects of homeopathic histamine dilutions on basophil function of the examined donor. Seemingly, minor variables of the experimental set up can lead to significant differences of the results if not properly controlled"
This is an attempted replication of a number of studies looking at the effect of homeopathy on basophil activation including Belon 2004. In a similar vein Madeleine Ennis (2010) also expresses scepticism about this type of study, the taste for which was first established by the Benveniste team in 1988. I'm sure it's just coincidence but, according to his obituary in the Guardian newspaper Jaques Benveniste invented and held the patent for this particular assay. Interestingly this negative study is published in a pro-
“… the effectiveness of any complementary and alternative therapy for treating or preventing seasonal influenza is not established beyond reasonable doubt. Current evidence from randomized controlled trials is sparse and limited by small sample sizes, low methodological quality, or clinically irrelevant effect sizes. For avian influenza, no data are currently available. These results strengthen conventional approaches for seasonal influenza.”
Links: [abstract, science direct]
This paper was presented by a veterinary homeopath during a recent series of letters in the veterinary press about the merits (or lack of them) of homeopathy. The author of the letter seemed to think because this paper appeared in a non-
For starters, It is questionable whether the method used in the paper was actually homeopathy at all, given the cavalier way many of the fundamental tenets of discipline were ignored. There was no individualisation of subjects, the "remedy" employed (from autogenous serum) was far more concentrated than most homeopathic ones and there was no attempt at treating “like with like”. The technique employed is more akin to isopathy than homeopathy.
But of course that doesn't matter to homeopaths -
The paper itself is little more than an elaborate customer satisfaction survey, couched in sciency-
To anyone without a vested interest in positive results, this paper proves nothing about the efficacy of homeopathy. Its design ensures such a wide variety of confounding factors, all it demonstrates is the completely understandable desire of horse owners to please the experimenter -
Still, at least RationalVetMed now has a new addition to our steadily growing archive of homeopathic lemons!
Links: [abstract, Wiley]
Hallamaa, R.E., Lepistö, R.L. and Tallberg, Th. (2001) ‘Treatment of equine summer eczema with an autogenous serum preparation, possibly effected by inductional lipid signals’, Deutsche Zeitschrift fur Onkologie, vol. 33, pp. 57-
This paper was cited as part of a larger trial -
Hammarberg, K.E. (2002) ‘Animal Welfare in Relation to Standards in Organic Farming (Proceedings of the 14th Internordic Symposium of the Nordic Committee for Veterinary Scientific Cooperation)’, Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica, vol. 43, (suppl 1) S17-
A veterinary surgeon and supporter of organic farming expresses concerns that the movement, particularly with its insistence on the use of homeopathy in favour of real and effective medicines, has gone too far and is causing serious animal welfare problems.
“In the North of Sweden attacks from gnats and mosquitoes can be deadly to animals. When these insects flutter about, humans, even the organic farmer protects himself with chemical repellents, or tight fitting clothes. Animals on conventional farms are protected with chemicals..., but animals on organic farms are denied this protection, they are unable to run away from their paddock or "cover themselves with clothes". When you see animals attacked by gnats and mosquitoes, you realise they do suffer badly. I have on many occasions seen animals killed in this way.”...
“we have seen the spreading of a contagious disease, BVD, through an [sic] homeopath. I believe that sooner or later, once reported to the police, this matter will end up as a court case where the charge will be that homeopathic treatment leads to undue suffering of animals.”
Links: [full text AVS]
Han, E., Johnson, N., DelaMelena, T., Glissmeyer, M. and Steinbock, K. (2011) ‘Alternative therapy used as primary treatment for breast cancer negatively impacts outcomes’, Annals of Surgical Oncology, vol. 18, no. 4, pp. 912-
”Alternative therapies used as primary treatment for breast cancer are associated with disease progression and increased risk of recurrence and death. Diminished outcomes are more profound in those delaying/omitting surgery”
So, if you use alternative therapies insted of real medicine to treat breast cancer you stand more chance of dying -
Harris, W.S., Gowda, M., Kolb, J.W. et al. (1999) ‘A randomized, controlled trial of the effects of remote, intercessory prayer on outcomes in patients admitted to the coronary care unit’, Archives of Internal Medicine, vol. 159, pp. 2273-
This ridiculous study has been criticised in the journal of its publication (link below) on all sorts of levels:
“The study by Harris et al is a wonderful example of a P value out of context and out of control. It is out of context because of the failure to properly adjust for mechanistic improbabilities. It is out of control because of its propensity to encourage much pseudoscientific mischief...”
“Harris et al did not evaluate or comment on what appears to be the strongest statistical association in their study: 3.7% (18/484) of those in the prayer group were discharged within 24 hours compared with only 0.9% (5/529) of those in the usual care group... Since these discharges occurred before the intervention began.., we are concerned that the statistical methods used by Harris et al, which assume independence of the observations, may not be appropriate for their data. While their article states that ‘new patients were randomly assigned,’ it is not clear whether the same person who was readmitted for a new episode would have constituted a new patient...”
... and Theological:
“Why should God allow the patients who received the remote, intercessory prayer to do better than the control group? Does God love those for whom strangers pray more than those who were randomly assigned not to receive their prayers..?”
One commentator with a sense of humour even claimed that it was he who had caused the trial to turn out the way it did by means of his clairvoyant and telepathic powers -
Hawke, K., van Driel, M.L., Buffington, B.J., McGuire, T.M. and King, D. (2018) Homeopathic medicinal products for preventing and treating acute respiratory tract infections in children, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2018, Issue 4. Art. No.: CD005974 [Online] DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD005974.pub4 (Accessed 17 April 2018). [permalink]
“AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: Pooling of two prevention and two treatment studies did not show any benefit of homeopathic medicinal products compared to placebo on recurrence of ARTI or cure rates in children. We found no evidence to support the efficacy of homeopathic medicinal products for ARTIs in children. Adverse events were poorly reported, so conclusions about safety could not be drawn.”
Hektoen, L., Larsen, S., Odegaard, S.A. et al., (2004) ‘Comparison of homeopathy, placebo and antibiotic treatment of clinical mastitis in dairy cows -
"... Evidence of efficacy of homeopathic treatment beyond placebo was not found in this study..."
“Efficacy of alternative therapies is generally poorly documented and, particularly in the case of homeopathy, implausible seen from the point of view of the natural sciences. The use of homeopathy has therefore led to concerns that this use may exert an adverse influence on animal health and welfare. In this paper, a study addressing Norwegian dairy farmers' motivation for utilisation of homeopathy is used as a background for discussing the relation between the organic regulations and the use of homeopathy, and furthermore the implications such use may have for animal health and welfare.”
Hill, P.B., Hoare, J., Lau-
The bulk of the paper is taken up with an open label phase where owners and clinicians were fully aware that the dogs were receiving homeopathy in a population favourably disposed towards homeopathy as participation was voluntary. The final, blinded section had a total of 3 participants, a number so low as to be useless. This trial proves nothing about the effectiveness of homeopathy although that doesn't stop the homepaths touting it as firm evidence as usual.
“... the results do not provide acceptable evidence that homoeopathic treatments are effective.”
Links: [abstract -
Hirst, S.J., Hayes, N.A., Burridge, J., Pearce, F.L. and Foreman, J.C. (1993) ‘Human basophil degranulation is not triggered by very dilute antiserum against human IgE’, Nature, vol. 366, pp. 525-
“We have attempted to reproduce the findings of Benveniste and co-
Links: [abstract -
Holmes, M.A., Cockcroft, P.D., Booth, C.E. and Heath, M.F. (2005) ‘Controlled clinical trial of the effect of a homoeopathic nosode on the somatic cell counts in the milk of clinically normal dairy cows’, Veterinary Record, vol. 156, pp. 565-
“Cows in a 250-
Holmes, Oliver Wendell Sr. Homeopathy and its Kindred Delusions -
Scepticism about homeopathy and alternative medicine is nothing new, it's just the language and the technology which has changed. Back in the days when science and medicine were starting to emerge from the realms of superstition and magic, and medicine was leaving behind the brutalities of the barber surgeons and "heroic" practitioners with their toxic purgings and bleedings; Oliver Wendell Holmes senior gave a series of lectures about one of these practices which still persisted since, by comparison to some practices of the day, it provided a means of "benign neglect", or simply letting nature take its course. This practice was homeopathy and the lectures were given during the lifetime of the inventor of Homeopathy, Samuel Hahnemann, himself -
Some of Holmes's observations are priceless, and indeed, still hold true today (sadly). For instance, according to wikipedia, in a quote taken from Miriam Small's biography (Oliver Wendell Homes. Twayne's United States authors series, 29. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1962), Holmes deemed homeopathy "the pretended science" that was a "mingled mass of perverse ingenuity, of tinsel erudition, of imbecile credulity, and of artful misrepresentation, too often mingled in practice". I'm sure RationalVetMed couldn't have put it better!
He was also way ahead of his time with the simplicity and elegance of the scientific process. In 2003 I was patting myself on the back, having devised what I thought was a pretty clever test of homeopathy. On later reading Holmes's lectures I was somewhat deflated as I found he had got there first: "In 1835 a public challenge was offered to the best-
"From all this I think it fair to conclude that the catalogues of symptoms attributed in Homeopathic works to the influence of various drugs upon healthy persons are not entitled to any confidence."
What a wonderful turn of phrase.
"The chiropractic vertebral subluxation theory has confused the definition of the word ‘subluxation’; a common medical term. Unlike the mysterious, undetectable chiropractic ‘vertebral subluxation complex’ alleged to be a cause of disease, a real vertebral subluxation can be a cause of mechanical and neuromusculoskeletal symptoms, but has never been shown to be a cause of organic disease..."
Links: [full text, html, FACT]
"The EBVS only recognizes scientific, evidence-
Links: [original article]
Papers, listed by lead author: G-
Both members of the genus Canis, both ruthless predators; but which one is the wolf?..
Strangely the answer to this simple question seems to have eluded certain proponents of raw diets for dogs.