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Desk study on homeopathy in organic livestock farming: Principles, obstacles and recommendations for practice and research

Baars, Ton; Baars, Erik; Bruin, de, Anja and Ellinger, Liesbeth (2003) Desk study on homeopathy in organic livestock farming: Principles, obstacles and recommendations for practice and research. Louis Bolk Instituut, Livestock production.

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Summary

Organic livestock farming has its own concept of health and welfare. The approach to health can be characterised by the key words human, preventive, self-regulating and holistic (Chapter 1). This has consequences for the way we deal with diseases and problems, the nature of the solutions and the use of medication, among other things. In terms of therapeutic and regulatory measures this health concept is based primarily on natural food supplements and homeopathic remedies, which in view of their origin fit in well with the natural character of organic agriculture (Verhoog et al., 2002). Apart from various forms of potentised remedies (classic, clinical, anthroposophic, isopathic; Chapter 2) and all manner of applications within phytotherapy (Bach flower, aromatherapy), there is interest in organic livestock farming in complementary health treatments other than acupuncture. We also need more detailed research into the practical implications of possible self-medication by animals (Engel, 2001).
Complementary medicine demands a new type of knowledge in relation to its working mechanism, testing for authenticity and the way it is used (Chapter 3). The thinking behind the use of homeopathic remedies often based on a preventive approach to health. With the aid of these remedies the doctor seeks to create a more balanced environment in and around the animal and to improve the animal’s resistance to infections (Baars en Ellinger, 1997). Striezel (2001) calls homeopathy a regulatory therapy, which heals the body by stimulating the individual immune system and regulating the metabolism. The use of homeopathic remedies is still limited in practice, partly due to a lack of suitably trained veterinary practitioners (Chapter 4).
In the elaboration of the research questions the authors discovered that the use of homeopathic remedies meets with particular resistance which can be traced back to philosophical assumptions (sections 4.1-4.3). As the research is fleshed out it is therefore important that it is not simply carried out in conformity with currently valid scientific standards. The research design must also be in line with the philosophy of homeopathy in terms of both quantity and quality (Chapter 5). This is particularly important for homeopathy because its therapeutic methods are based on principles which do not fit in with conventional notions about life. The similia principle (law of similars) is an important feature of homeopathy and homeopathy shares the second key concept of potentisation with anthroposophy (Chapter 2).
There is limited acceptance of homeopathic remedies in particular, despite the fact that there is some empirical evidence for the efficacy of homeopathic treatments. Both outcome research into homeopathic treatments of humans and animals and fundamental empirical research into the validity of the similia law and the efficacy of high dilutions produce results which tend to bear this out. However, it is rejected out of hand on ontological grounds and because of the assumed working mechanism.
Follow-up research into homeopathic remedies is desirable, but must be in line with the underlying complementary health and welfare concept of organic agriculture, which includes treatment with veterinary medicines. Randomised Clinical Trials are thus only of limited use, since they disregard the individually tailored nature of the treatment. In practice however, sufficient alternative therapies have been developed which can be used in outcome research. The researchers propose a graduated structure for the outcome research (Chapter 6). The first step is to join in with the monitoring of experience in practice, and follow this with casuistic outcome research.

Summary translation

De acceptatie van homeopathische middelen is beperkt ondanks het feit, dat er enig empirisch bewijs is voor de werkzaamheid van homeopathische behandelingen. Vanuit de wetenschap is er echter een afwijzing vooraf op basis van ontologische gronden en het veronderstelde werkingsmechanisme.
Vervolgonderzoek naar homeopathische middelen is nodig, maar dient aan te sluiten bij het achterliggende complementaire gezondheids- en welzijnsconcept van de biologische veehouderij. Het gebruik van Randomised Clinical Trials is slechts in beperkte mate wenselijk, omdat hierdoor het individualiserende karakter van de behandeling buiten spel gezet wordt. Er zijn echter voldoende alternatieve methodologiëen ontwikkeld die bij het effectonderzoek gebruikt kunnen worden. De onderzoekers stellen een stapsgewijze opbouw van het effectonderzoek voor, waarbij als eerste aansluiting wordt gezocht bij het monitoren van ervaringen in de praktijk, wat gevolgd wordt door casuïstisch effect onderzoek.

EPrint Type:Report
Keywords:Complementary medicine, self-regulating, self-medication
Subjects: Animal husbandry > Health and welfare
Research affiliation: Netherlands > Louis Bolk Institute
Related Links:http://www.louisbolk.nl/e/projects/livestock/homeo/index.htm
Deposited By: Steinbuch, Luc
ID Code:2194
Deposited On:14 Jan 2004
Last Modified:12 Apr 2010 07:28
Document Language:English
Status:Published
Refereed:Not peer-reviewed
Additional Publishing Information:Published in Dutch in 2002 by Louis Bolk Instituut, publicationnumber LV48

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