The first systematic review of randomised controlled trials (RCTs) in veterinary homeopathy has been carried out, and more research is now being done.

The review was conducted by Robert Mathie, research development adviser for the British Homeopathic Association (BHA), and Jürgen Clausen from the Carstens Foundation in Germany.

The scientists found 18 placebo-controlled RCTs of veterinary homeopathy, published in the peer-reviewed literature, that were eligible for detailed assessment.

Two studies were judged to comprise reliable evidence: homeopathy for the prevention of diarrhoea in piglets was shown to be effective; individualised homeopathic treatment of mastitis in cattle was shown to be ineffective.

The remaining studies had unclear or high risk of bias.

In summarising his research, Dr Mathie said: “Up to now, debates about the efficacy or effectiveness of veterinary homeopathy have been polarised by the absence of any systematic review of the subject. Our work clarifies the nature of the current RCT evidence.”

Mark Elliott, immediate past-president of the British Association of Homeopathic Veterinary Surgeons, said the study showed reliable evidence did exist and that more research should be done, “particularly in light of current concerns about antibiotic resistance in production animals.”

The researchers have now completed a full meta-analysis of the same 18 trials and this will be published in due course.

They are also working on a systematic review of non-placebo-controlled RCTs in veterinary homeopathy.

Their paper has been published in Veterinary Record, the journal of the British Veterinary Association.

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