Vets Protest Against RCVS Stance on Homeopathy
A dispute between vets and the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) has erupted over the provision of alternative treatments. Supporters of homeopathy are planning to march in London over the issue following the RCVS’ recent statement regarding complementary and alternative medicines. A petition has also gained over 13,000 signatures. This will be delivered to the RCVS headquarters at the conclusion of the proposed march.
No Scientific Basis for Homeopathy
from the RCVS says that any treatments vets offer must be "underpinned by a recognised evidence base or sound scientific principles".
"Homeopathy exists without a recognised body of evidence for its use. Furthermore, it is not based on sound scientific principles."
The RCVS has said that they have adopted this stance in order to protect animal welfare. But the statement has outraged the British Association of Homeopathic Veterinary Surgeons (BAHVS). They are demanding that the RCVS retract the statement as it essentially represents a ban on the treatments they provide. Homeopathic vets claim that the RCVS stance is an attack on choice and clinical freedom. Strong sentiments!
Opposing Opinions on Homeopathy
There have predictably been strong opinions from by both sides of the argument. Homeopathic vets believe that there is a scientific basis for the treatments that they provide and undertake additional training in order to offer these treatments. Many horse owners believe that homeopathy has helped their animals when conventional medicine has failed.
What is Homeopathy?
Homeopathy has always been a controversial subject in human as well as animal medicine. In 1796 Samuel Hahnemann created a system of treatment that was based on his belief that like cures like. In other words, a substance which causes symptoms can also cure these symptoms.
Homeopaths prepare the treatments using a process of dilution. They then dilute the chosen substance in alcohol or distilled water many times, typically until no molecules of the original substance remain. Homeopaths select the appropriate treatment using reference books which they call repertoires and they also take into consideration a patient’s symptoms, personal traits and mental state.
Research into the Efficacy of Homeopathy
The efficacy of homeopathic treatments has been studied extensively. Whilst there are reports of positive outcomes, the reviews of such studies have suggested that these have been the result of flawed research, pure chance and reporting bias. Many studies have demonstrated that homeopathic treatment yields similar results to the use of placebos. Hence the controversy.
Both sides are entrenched in their opinions and they are unlikely to reach a consensus regarding homeopathy. Many scientists believe that homeopathic treatments do not help humans or horses in any way. On the other side of the fence, homeopathic practitioners believe that their dilutions can make a big difference to their human and equine patients. Homeopathic treatments are unlikely to cause any harm. However, the RCVS feel that they may divert patients away from conventional medical intervention which could help them.
What do you think? Is homeopathy a viable form of treatment for horses or is it just a load of hooey?