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Are homeopathics able to replace antibiotics in the therapy of bovine mastitis? A placebo controlled randomized double-blind trial

Klocke, Peter; Fidelak, Christian; Garbe, Sylvia; Rothe, Johanna; Paal, Kerstin; Spranger, Joerg and Merck, Carl-Christian (2004) Are homeopathics able to replace antibiotics in the therapy of bovine mastitis? A placebo controlled randomized double-blind trial. Poster at: World Buiatrics Congress, Quebec (Canada), 11.-16.7.2004. [Unpublished]

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To evaluate the effects of homeopathics on clinical mastitis cows and herd udder health this investigation was conducted in a Brandenburg bio-dyn herd of about 300 cows in two phases using a randomized doubleblind control trial design. After the first part in July 2002 the results preliminarily were evaluated and then the whole concept due to unsatisfying results was adapted. In Phase 1 a number of 121 clinical mastitis cases with 137 affected quarters matched the including criteria, in Phase 2 the number was 126 cows with 148 quarters. These animals were allocated to a code number which classified the case to Verum (n=65 and n=60) or placebo group (n=56 and n=66).
In case of clinical mastitis cows were treated either by the oral dilution contending the required combined homeopathics or placebo. Animals were treated twice a day for 5 to 14 days (Phase 2: 1 to 7 days) depending on development of disease. In case of therapy failure in Phase 1 all animals were treated by an not coded homeopathic preparation and in Phase 2 by antibiotics according to bacteriological findings.
Milk samples (double samples) for bacteriological and cell count investigation were taken before treatment (M1), 4 to 5 weeks after treatment termination (M2) and 7 to 8 weeks after treatment termination (M3). To evaluate the herd situation additional samples were taken after calving and before dry off.
Healing criteria on the cow level was the clinical cure without secondary therapy and release to production. On quarter level the cure was determined by bacterial findings (BCR) and additional by cytological findings. A quarter was determined as „completely cured“, if no bacteria were found AND the cell count was below 100.000/ml.
To assess the reduction of antibiotics within the concept it was hypothetically assumed that the mastitis cows had an average milk yield of 20,5 kg per day, was treated under conventional conditions by antibiotics over 3 days with a mean withdrawal time of 5 days (organic conditions x2). Afterwards, these theoretical values were compared to the extrapolated antibiotics input within our concept.
While there is no difference between the cows in phase 1, on quarter level the verum group showed a significant higher complete cure rate than placebo group in Phase 2.
These results are balanced by additional antibiotics treatment in case of therapy failure in the placebo group. The complete cure rate in the verum group after 8 weeks was 32% compared to 13% in placebo group (p<0.05).
The limited cure results in single cows did not lead to an udder health depression of the herd. During the study the mean of somatic cell count could decreased by 100.000 cells/ml while the milk yield increased slightly by 250 kg/cow to 6.500 kg/cow/year.
The number of actual antibiotic treatments during observation time compared to the number of mastitis cases which would be treated by antibiotics under conventionel conditions showed a reduction by 75%. The extrapolated reduction of milk loss by withdrawal was 25.000kg and the reduction of contaminated milk during treatment time was 13.100 kg per year for the herd.
Discussion and Conclusions
The increasing cure rates in the second part of the study are influenced by the enhancement of environmental preconditions in combination with the simplified therapy scheme. The therapists seemed to be more familiar with the fixed combinations of homeopathics so that positive effects of the homeopathics can be seen in this phase.
After additional antibiotic treatments in case of therapy failure in specific infections (i.e. streptococci and staph. aureus) the cure rates could be elevated to a satisfying level. This fact shows that the limited and controlled use of antibiotics in organic herds can be helpful in the mastitis control.
Regardless the conceptual modification to an antibiotic emergency concept, the massive reduction of antibiotics in combination with an increase of herd udder health justifies the therapy protocol in the second phase of the study.
Hypothetically, the self cure of the animals is higher than known. The interaction between farmer or therapist and the cow could be a crucial criterion for the positive development of disease.
As a conclusion, the integrated system consisting of preventive herd measures and complementary therapy added by limited antibiotic therapy. The precondition for the success is the attendance to optimize environmental conditions. The therapy system should be transparent, simple and easy to use. However, it is necessary to reflect every single mastitis case as a special one.

EPrint Type:Conference paper, poster, etc.
Type of presentation:Poster
Keywords:Dairy Cow, Homeopathy, RCT, Brodowin 3, Klinische Mittelprüfungen
Subjects: Animal husbandry > Health and welfare
Research affiliation: Germany > University of Berlin - FU > Animal Reproduction Clinic
Switzerland > FiBL - Research Institute of Organic Agriculture Switzerland > Animal Health
Deposited By: Klocke, Dr. Peter
ID Code:6227
Deposited On:08 Feb 2006
Last Modified:12 Apr 2010 07:31
Document Language:English
Refereed:Not peer-reviewed

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