By Dr. Jeff Feinman http://www.homevet.com/
“Harmony in life and living, homeopathy for health and healing”
Homeopathy (home-ee-AH-puh-thee) is the branch of medicine based on the principle that disease can be cured by strengthening the body’s natural defense mechanism. This is in contrast to traditional (allopathic) medicine, which uses drugs to suppress symptoms.
Q. Can homeopathy help my sick pet?
A. Absolutely. Both homeopathic health maintenance and sick pet-treatment have been extremely effective in my practice. Homeopathic stimulation of healing by the body has helped millions of individuals. I was extremely excited when I first discovered homeopathy. I still wonder why we are not exposed to it during medical/veterinary school. MD homeopaths, even before antibiotics, saved most of their patients in highly fatal epidemics of cholera, Black Plague and Spanish Flu.
Q. Can homeopathy help my healthy pet?
A. I love this question!! Because there is no better way to be proactive about health maintenance than homeopathic treatment. Ideally you’d start treating your healthy pet at a young age. However, homeopathic treatment can help prevent future diseases at whatever age it’s started.
Q. I get worried when my pet gets sick. What should I do?
A. Don’t worry, but also don’t wait. I am in frequent contact with my clients. Between e-mail/phone consultation and in-office examination, I strive to address abnormalities right away. It is very important to realize, however, that symptoms are not bad. In fact, they are the homeopath’s best friend. Symptoms are a result of an imbalance in the physiological mechanisms of the body. Some internal or external stressor (e.g. a bacterium, virus or other infectious agent, physical or emotional trauma, an environmental toxin; or the cancerous transformation of previously normal cells) has caused the body to “react”. This reaction may or may not be measurable with presently available diagnostic tests, but it is the cause of abnormalities in your pet.
Q. I already have a holistic vet. S/he says that we need to get rid of the symptoms. I don’t get it. I thought you just said that symptoms are good.
A. Symptoms ARE good. Unfortunately, though, they are sometimes interpreted incorrectly. Most “holistic” veterinarians are not trained in homeopathy. Holistic medicine merely describes a method of looking at the body. Even a “specialist” who treats only with modern, potentially toxic drugs (e.g., an oncologist) can be considered holistic. Some holistic vets don’t understand the importance of symptoms and therefore they use many different therapeutic methods to eliminate them. The American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association (AHVMA) lists 35 different methods used by members to eradicate symptoms. When viewed in their correct context however, symptoms can offer an invaluable glimpse into the inner working of the body.
Q. How does knowing all of the details of my pet’s symptoms help the veterinary homeopath?
A. Unlike allopathy, which often considers disparate symptoms to be unrelated to an animal’s “condition”, homeopathy views all of the symptoms as part of the disease process, which help elucidate the state of disequilibrium of the body. The more precise your description of the symptom, the more it can help your vet homeopath. For example, telling your doctor “my dog has diarrhea” is only marginally helpful. However, including details about the physical appearance of the stool, the frequency and ease with which it occurs, and any other pertinent information is extremely useful.
Writing down details of the symptoms as they occur is the best method for collecting data. I ask my clients to keep a journal or plog (pet blog).
Q. But my doctor said that my pet doesn’t get symptoms. Now I’m really confused.
A. That probably is because symptoms are typically considered subjective. Since our patients can’t verbally tell us what is wrong, the convention in vet med is to use the word “signs” instead of symptoms. But I’d hate to be the one to tell the mother of the screaming (pre-verbal)12 month-old that she doesn’t have any symptoms.
Q. Are modern drugs used during homeopathic treatment?
A. Yes and no. Like traditional drugs, and unlike vitamins, herbal supplements and other commonly used natural products.homeopathic drugs (“remedies”) are regulated by the FDA. Homeopathic remedies are derived from plants, animals and minerals. They are then subjected to strictly controlled procedures that bring out the medicinal properties of the original substance. There are currently about two thousand substances whose specific effects on the body have been described. Examples include minerals like sulphur, plants like poison ivy, and animal products like bee venom. These natural drugs are in everyday use throughout the world, but are not patented like modern pharmaceuticals.
Q. Are homeopathic drugs as scientific as modern medicines?
A. Great question, and the answer is very surprising indeed. Homeopathic remedy use is actually much more scientific than the frequently hit-or-miss prescription of conventional pharmaceuticals. Conventional drug use is often dictated by some vague symptom or “syndrome” where it has been shown to help in other similar situations. Homeopathic drugs, however, are strictly individualized based on the well-documented effect of the substance in a healthy body. This understanding of the importance of the effects of a drug on a healthy body is one of the many breakthroughs that led to the scientific medical framework of homeopathy.
Q. Why is it important to understand drug effects on the healthy body if my pet is sick?
A. Another great question. Conventional medicine is referred to as “allopathic medicine” for a very good reason. As mentioned above, the drugs are sometimes used mainly based on the results of others and marketing information from drug companies rather than any guideline. Allopathic drug effects are unrelated to, and therefore may bear no similarity to the symptoms produced by the underlying imbalance (a sick pet). This leads to the importance of another breakthrough (first by Hippocrates in 400 B.C. but then codified by Samuel Hahnemann, MD in the nineteenth century). Many internal imbalances can be naturally healed by the amazing recuperative powers of the body. All that is needed is some way to “show” it how to heal. Homeopaths have a huge amount of data that document such recoveries. By knowing the proven effect of the homeopathic remedy on a healthy body, we can provide such a template for healing. This “like cures like” principle is the one that Hippocrates and many other notable physicians (guided by the “Hippocratic Oath”) have recorded for centuries.
Q. It sounds like you are totally discounting the miracles of modern medicine.
A. Not at all. Some amazing breakthroughs have been made in the past few decades and properly trained homeopaths know how to incorporate them into a truly holistic treatment program. We are extremely fortunate to be able to benefit from the best of both worlds. This is what integrative veterinary medicine is all about. Biochemical blood and urine testing, radiographs, ultrasonography, CAT scanning (sorry, I couldn’t resist), etc. are all extremely useful because they let your veterinary homeopath quantify internal physiological changes that you may not be otherwise observable.
Q. How do you choose which homeopathic remedy to prescribe for my sick pet?
A. The prescription of a particular remedy is based upon the totality of symptoms of the individual. Persistent, Prominent and Peculiar symptoms are the key to proper treatment of your pet. It’s easy to understand why the first two Ps are important. Peculiar symptoms (like diarrhea that causes your pet to wake from a sound sleep early every morning while s/he has no bowel problems the rest of the day) are especially important because they are often very characteristic of your pet’s individuality, and function as a critical piece of the internal disease puzzle. (They don’t call us Sherlock Homeopaths for nothing).
Q. But my pet seems fine except for occasional minor problems. My vet says that these are normal.
A. Hmmm. There is often a fine line between a common symptom (like itchy skin and hot spots in Golden Retrievers) and the normal state of vigorous good health. The article, “Is This Symptom Normal (or common)”, addresses this more directly. The goal of homeopathic treatment is to achieve the highest possible level of health, physically, emotionally, and mentally. Young animals and those with minor problems can benefit the most from homeopathic treatment.
Q. Can my very ill pet still benefit from homeopathic treatment?
A. Absolutely! Unfortunately many of my clients don’t find my practice until their pets are extremely sick. Many of these patients already have severe diseases, multiple organ failures, or cancer. Homeopathy can help these pets live better lives, but there are limitations. Because homeopathy relies on the natural healing abilities of the body, advanced pathologies such as cancer and crippling arthritis, can rarely be fully reversed. However, animals who suffer from such conditions will often become stronger and more comfortable, and have a better quality of life. In addition, surgical intervention may still be required when appropriate (such as for traumatic diseases).
Q. I heard that homeopathy can’t possibly work.
A. Because the homeopathic drugs are too dilute for us to presently quantify the molecularly active ingredients in them? Or perhaps you heard that it can’t work because it can’t possibly be explained. These are totally understandable statements coming from people without scientific training. Luckily for us, scientists are trained to have open minds. Many of the technologies that we take for granted today were unthinkable just a few years ago. Technological breakthroughs abound. Quantum physics has described a whole new paradigm for the universe. Unfortunately, medicine has lagged far behind. It doesn’t really matter if homeopathy works by quarks or nanoparticles or… It just works. Millions of patients throughout the world (including Thomas Edison, Charles Darwin, C. Everett Koop, etc. etc.) will attest to that fact.
Q. My pet has Lyme Disease, hypothyroidism and arthritis. Can you help him?
A. I don’t know. Often, but not always. Response to homeopathic stimulation of the body depends on many factors. Age, repeated suppressive treatments and surgeries, long-term use of medications, structural changes in the body, etc. all influence the individual’s ability to respond to homeopathy. In fact, that is the key right there. It is determined on an individual basis. Not by disease name. For this reason I can not answer the popular question “My pet has disease X–which homeopathic remedy should s/he take?” In the course of an in depth interview and exam (for local patients) I will form a complete picture of your pet’s current state and begin treatment. By carefully evaluating responses over the course of a few months (in chronic disease cases) I will be able to prognosticate more accurately.
Q. I understand that it can take awhile to figure out a chronic case. My pet has only been sick for a week. That should be easy, right?
A. Ah, I wish that was always the case. True acute diseases do indeed respond very rapidly to homeopathic treatment. Unfortunately, most newly arisen problems are not true acute problems. They are acute flare-ups of the chronic imbalance that has been going on for awhile. These patients also fall into the chronic disease category.
Q. Would you give me an example of what I can expect from homeopathic treatment?
A. Of course. For example, let’s say the young chocolate Labrador Retriever “Jake” has been lethargic, depressed, and not eating well for a few days. He has never been sick before. He is usually very active, extroverted, and gobbles all of his food. He has green-yellow pus coming from both eyes, and has a hacking cough first thing in the morning and when going outside. After coughing he will often spit up a little yellow phlegm. “Jake” is given a homeopathic remedy which can produce these same symptoms in a healthy pet. In a few days he becomes more active, regains his appetite and wants to go out and play again. There is still some coughing, but over the next week or two that symptom gradually diminishes. Notice that the natural healing process is gradual, unlike when a drug is used to rapidly stop an individual symptom.
Q. Is homeopathy safe? What should I watch out for when my pet is being treated homeopathically?
A. Yes, Homeopathic preparations are extremely safe because of their highly diluted form. In fact, some of my clients bring their pets because they are unable to tolerate any other drug. Nonetheless, frequent repetition of a dose without the advice of a professional is not recommended. It’s also best not to make any major dietary and environmental changes when a homeopathic remedy is first administered. Try to avoid exposing your pet to stressful situations. It is very important for me to be able to properly evaluate the solitary effect of the remedy. Even some foods can affect the dose. Try to avoid giving remedies with food. Give them at least thirty minutes before or after feeding. Do not handle the remedy.
Q. I’ve heard that my pet has to get worse before it gets better when treated homeopathically. Is that true.
A. No. If your pet is very sensitive to the chosen remedy sometimes a slight worsening of a symptom may occur. This initial aggravation is a sign that the body is responding to the remedy. Even if a physical symptom gets transiently worse your pet overall should start to feel better almost immediately. Any homeopathic aggravations will subside quickly followed by recovery. Worsening during treatment may indicatea need to lower (or change) the remedy dose or it may indicate progression of the disease process.
Q. Is there anything that my pet should avoid while being treated homeopathically?
A. Do not give any other medications unless your veterinary homeopath has approved them. This includes topical salves (for the ears, skin or eyes). These may suppress important symptoms and interfere with the remedy. Avoid any other homeopathically-prepared remedies such as those in any combination “natural” products. Even acupuncture and magnet therapy can interfere. Bach flower remedies, some nutritional supplements, some herbs, and chiropractic care work well with homeopathy. Vaccinations are not compatible with homeopathy. During active homeopathic treatment, your pet will not be vaccinated. Vaccines create their own imbalances within the body, and will interfere with the effect of the remedy. I will provide a waiver which should be acceptable to the kennel if boarding becomes necessary during treatment. Blood tests can be performed which will indicate whether certain vaccines are necessary. Dr. Jeff will discuss all of this in detail during your pet’s initial evaluation.
Q. Is there anything that I can do to help my pet heal during her treatment?
A. Definitely. You can help your pet live the best life possible. Fresh and varied diet, plenty of exercise, mental stimulation, and grooming/massage will all help. Most important is to give your pet plenty of love.
Q. What should I expect from the homeopathic treatment of my pet?
A. There are several possibilities. My goal is always overall improvement in the quality of your pet’s life. In cases without end-stage structural damage to the body you can see total resolution of the problem. Your pet’s life can be improved however, even in severe cases. In most cases your pet can experience gradual improvement over time weeks-months. In some (usually early) cases, your pet may experience an immediate and perhaps dramatic improvement within hours-days. The speed of recovery depends in part on how long your pet has been sick. The last and hardest possibility which requires perseverance is that your pet may not have any, or only a partial improvement and may require a different potency or remedy.
Q. Can there be any side effects from homeopathic treatment.
A. No (as long as properly attenuated homeopathic medicines are used). Side effects are seen when pharmaceuticals have a physiologic effect other than the one for which they were prescribed. Because homeopathic drugs are so diluted, there can be no direct side effects. The response by the body to the homeopathic remedy may however seem like your pet is experiencing a side effect. For example, a very beneficial, “curative”, homeopathic remedy can be associated with increased discharges from the eyes and nose, rashes, loose stools, etc. At the same time however, your pet should feel better and may even seem “cured” of the initial symptom. This is how the body works. Some people like to think of this as a detoxification of the body.
- HomeVet.com homeopathy forum
- Is There any Scientific Evidence that Homeopathy Works? Beyond Flat Earth Medicine by Dr. Tim Dooley
- Homeopathic Care for Cats and Dogs by Dr. Don Hamilton
- Dr. Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats by Dr. Richard Pitcairn
- The Homeopathic Revolution: Why Famous People & Cultural Heroes Choose Homeopathy by Dana Ullman
- Impossible Cure by Amy Lansky
Please note: The information provided here is intended to supplement the recommendations of your veterinarian. Do not disregard veterinary advice or delay treatment based on information on this site.