Review: Homeopathy Does Not Help Livestock

An analysis of 52 homeopathic trials conducted on livestock since 1981 reveals a lack of reproducibility, rigor, and efficacy.

By | December 14, 2016

PEXELS, UNSPLASHHomeopathy is a pseudoscience that involves diluting chemicals in water so that the chemical remnants convey resistance to disease. Scientists have roundly rejected the alternative therapy, due to both lack of evidence and that, at an average diluation factor of 1060, there is often none of the original chemical remaining in the water by the time it is used for treatment. Nonetheless, many farmers (and the Prince of Wales) maintain that homeopathy helps their livestock.

A December 12 study published in Veterinary Record reviewed 52 homeopathic trials conducted in livestock, finding scant evidence that the method is effective. About half of the studies reported that homeopathy did not beat a placebo, while the successful trials each had different cure rates and used different chemicals from one another. “The remedy used did not seem to make a big difference,” coauthors Caroline Doehring and Albert Sundrum, both of the University of Kassel in Germany, wrote in their paper. “Looking at all the studies, no study was repeated under comparable conditions.”

The trials Doehring and Sundrum analyzed were conducted between 1981 and 2014. The studies involved cattle, pigs, and poultry. Only 10 of the trials provided information on cure rates. Trials that found homeopathy helped livestock were mostly single-blind, non-blind, or observational studies. Double-blind, randomized controlled trials debunked the pseudoscience about as often as they supported it. Meanwhile, almost all of the studies that found homeopathy effective had conflicts of interest, low sample sizes, lack of a control group, or a high risk of selective reporting and bias.  

“Often, studies were financially supported, eg, by the producer of the homeopathic or conventional remedy,” Doehring and Sundrum wrote. “In one trial, all of the researchers worked for the supplier of the homeopathic remedy.”

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Avatar of: ED LITVIN


Posts: 2

December 14, 2016

Two things:

1. Like this is a surprise to anyone.

2. In the post-truth world that we seem to be living in , will this change anybody's mind?

Avatar of: AaronFK


Posts: 1

December 14, 2016

So, the takeaway is that the results were inconclusive and Mr. Kisch hates the idea of homeopathy.  You sure this is a science journal? I can get this kind of prattle from The Guardian.   Thanks for playing, though.  

Avatar of: James_Pannozzi


Posts: 1

December 15, 2016

I've been researching Homeopathy cases for 8 years now.   I stopped at the very first sentence.  If the author of the article is unable even to give an exact definition of the Homeopathy medical science and reference its long history of successful therapeutic results, or cures, or can we expect that the remainder of the article will be of any use ?  In "The Scientist" one would expect at least some level of exactitude.

The author's fatally flawed initial statement is quoted here:"Homeopathy is a pseudoscience that involves diluting chemicals in water so that the chemical remnants convey resistance to disease."

Among several grevious errors including a mischaracterizaiton as "pseudoscience", the first sentence commits the most serious error of all by confusing "how" Homeopathy might work scientifically from "IF" it works.   Two completely different questions.

If it works can be determined by results, from an analysis of two centuries of cases, comparing results, approaches, failures, apparent successes, real successes and the evaluative criteria for distinguishing these and other charactersitics.

How it works is the matter of scientific research, as yet indeterminate, inconclusive and continued investigation. 

Counfounding the two things renders the article worthless, a waste of time other than to enterntain the pathetic invective, a direct consequence of ignoring obvious therapeutic benefit in order to condemn a viable alternative to machine mass medicine, the corporatized, near automated dispensation of pharmaceutical remedies.

Avatar of: ariadne


Posts: 1

Replied to a comment from AaronFK made on December 14, 2016

December 15, 2016

The takeaway is that there is no robust evidence that homeopathy is effective at treating conditions in livestock. Hope that helps. 

Avatar of: JC Nelson

JC Nelson

Posts: 8

December 21, 2016

"debunked the pseudoscience about as often as they supported it"

Sloppy writing. "Debunked" is not the opposite of, or an alternative to, "supported". An experiment can't "debunk" anything; at best, its results could conflict with those predicted on the basis of some specified hypothesis.

I don't believe there are any scientifically reputable demonstrations of the efficacy of homeopathic remedies, but this story, starting with the first sentence (as pointed out by other commenters) is weakly written.

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