A vet who practices homeopathy has claimed the UK is at risk of “getting left behind” medically if alternative treatments continue to be shunned.
Mr Johnson, who trained in conventional medicine before switching to homeopathic practice, said: “Antibiotics are fantastic, but resistance is growing all the time.
We can’t just keep giving steroids and antibiotics to anyone that is ill; there must be another way to do it. The rest of the world is not close minded to homeopathy and we are going to get left behind.
“It will [have to] change. At some point we are going to have to adopt a different form of medicine because we can’t keep giving everything antibiotics, steroids and chemotherapy forever as they will cease to work. There’s got to be different ways of trying to cure something rather than just getting rid of its [clinical signs].
“The [lack of homeopathy] is a uniquely British thing. Around 60 per cent of doctors in Germany use homeopathy. If you go into any chemist in Europe there is a homeopathic section in the chemist. It’s well established in American veterinary circles and there are 100,000 veterinary surgeons in India. Homeopathy has just moved into China, where there is a massive school.”
Homeopathy is based on the principle that like cures like and, according to The Society of Homeopaths, this concept is also used in conventional medicine.
A statement on its website reads: “This concept is sometimes used in conventional medicine – for example, the stimulant ritalin is used to treat patients with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or small doses of allergens such as pollen are sometimes used to desensitise allergic patients.”
Although there are many skeptics within the profession, homeopathy is growing in the US, with a number of universities offering courses in homeopathic practice.
Dana Ullman, an American author, publisher and teacher of homeopathy, echoed Mr Johnson’s opinion on the need for alternative treatment.
He said: “Due to the overuse of antibiotics, there is an increasing number of infections that are antibiotic resistant. We need pharmacological alternatives to deal with such infections. Yes, homeopathy is both an alternative to, and a complement of, conventional medicine for humans and animals; [however], it is very possible for homeopathy to be of use for a wide variety of acute and chronic health problems for humans and animals.
“Skeptics rely upon the review of research published in The Lancet in 2005 by Shang et al. That review was overwhelmingly criticised by both advocates and critics of homeopathy. This review started with 110 double-blind, placebo-controlled homeopathic studies and ‘matched’ them with 110 similar studies using conventional medicines.
“They found 22 homeopathic studies were of high quality and only nine conventional studies were of a similarly high quality. If the Shang et al review is the best critique skeptics have to offer, [critics] offer nothing but junk science.”
Edzard Ernst, chairman of complementary medicine at the University of Exeter, trained in Germany in complementary medicine and homeopathy. Now Dr Ernst uses objective evidence to evaluate all aspects of alternative medicine.
He said: “The totality of the reliable evidence available to date fails to show homeopathic remedies are more than placebos – and that is so both in humans and in animals.
“Science is characterised by being able to change its view. Homeopathy has dogmatically remained unaltered for 200 years; meanwhile, science has made huge advances.
“If it ever were proven to be effective beyond placebo, it could invoke into a useful adjunct to conventional medicine. [However], as its basis is entirely irrational and implausible, this turn of events is extremely unlikely.”
A spokesman for Sense About Science, a charitable trust that aims to equip people to make sense of topical scientific discussion, argued homeopathy cannot be scientifically explained.
He said: “More than 150 clinical trials have failed to show that homeopathy works, [however] homeopaths argue homeopathy works for animals, which cannot be explained by the placebo effect.
“However, these trials depend on human observations that, without standardised observational measures or independent veterinary surgeons, can suffer significant (unintentional) bias. Those studies that correct for observational biases show homeopathy does not work.”
*This article originally appeared in full in Volume 44 No 29 of the Veterinary Times.