Ask the Vet: Veterinary Homeopathy Worse Than Ineffective
Q: My cat Arya has chronic kidney disease. My sister credits homeopathy for her own good health and advocates it for Arya. My veterinarian doesn't offer homeopathy and says it isn't effective. Can you break the tie?
A: This isn't a tie, because only your veterinarian is trained to care for cats with chronic kidney disease. I advise you to follow those recommendations.
Homeopathy is an 18th-century medical art based on the notion that one can stimulate the healing process with a substantially diluted substance that at full strength would cause healthy people to experience the same symptoms the patient has.
Extensive research has proven that homeopathic treatments are not effective in humans. Although fewer studies have been conducted in cats and dogs, the results have been comparable.
In 2015, Australia's National Health and Medical Research Council stated, "Based on the assessment of the evidence of effectiveness of homeopathy, NHMRC concludes that there are no health conditions for which there is reliable evidence that homeopathy is effective."
Two years later, the European Academies' Science Advisory Council stated that "the claims for homeopathy are implausible and inconsistent with established scientific concepts."
The U.S. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, part of the National Institutes of Health, agrees. They also document cases when homeopathy caused adverse reactions, including deaths, because of toxic contaminants or incorrect dilution of the active ingredient.
These organizations point out that homeopathy is especially risky when treatments proven to be effective and safe are delayed or rejected.
Since scientific evidence has demonstrated that homeopathy is ineffective, Arya should feel better and live longer if you rely on therapies your veterinarian recommends, ones proven to be effective and safe.
Q: In a recent column, you said a particular pain reliever was more effective than a placebo in clinical studies. I thought a placebo was an inactive substance that had no effects. Please explain.