Evidence Based Veterinary Medicine

evidence based veterinary medicine

Many of our posts, articles and authors seem to irritate vets and pet owners who are firmly entrenched in traditional medicine.  By and large, the most common challenge they use against us is, “Where are the scientific studies backing up your claims?”

It’s paradoxical that holistic medicine is unfairly held to a higher burden of proof than mainstream medicine. Do the vets and pet owners who accuse us of promoting medicine that lacks ‘scientific validity’ know that the majority of conventional drugs have an unknown mechanism of action?

One Golden Example

Some interesting examples from conventional human medicine include the 1950’s use of tetracycline (an antibiotic) in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis on the theory that it was caused by infectious agents. This was discontinued when rheumatoid arthritis came to be thought of as an autoimmune disease and the standard treatment changed to gold compounds despite their mechanism of action being largely unknown.

The mechanism of action for acetylsalicylic acid, a compound found naturally in white willow bark, and better known as Aspirin, was not discovered until 1971, although it had been available commercially and prescribed since about 1899.

The mechanism of action is in fact unknown for large numbers of commonly prescribed drugs including statins, most psychotropic /psychiatric drugs like Lithium, acetaminophen and Lysodren (a common chemotherapy drug) and general anaesthetics. Would it then make sense to stop using those on surgical patients?

And this is by no means a comprehensive list.

It’s very common in the pharmaceutical industry for drugs to be in vogue for a particular condition, for a certain period of time and to later be found as useless, ineffective, dangerous, or more useful for some other condition than for which they were created.

Ironically, we don’t have that problem with homeopathic remedies or medicinal herbs. The same ones that worked 200 years ago still work today. On the same conditions.

Sadly, “evidence based medicine”, although an excellent concept, has been corrupted into a buzzword used to discredit the results of raw feeding, homeopathy and other so-called alternative health care methods.

“Evidence based” means that data from randomized controlled studies provides certainty about whether a treatment will work and is safe. The reality is 66% of the treatment procedures and drugs that are commonly used in conventional medicine have no or little evidence to recommend them (British Medical Journal, 2007).  Many procedures have serious complications and many drugs cause difficult and unwanted effects. It’s these issues that drive pet owners toward less harmful and health promoting approaches in the first place.

Below is the breakdown of clinical evidence for 2,500 common medical treatments from the study in the British Medical Journal.*

Graph of breakdown of clinical evidence for 2,500 common medical treatments from the study in the British Medical Journal

That’s a big grey area on the left, isn’t it?  Add “unlikely,” “likely to be ineffective or harmful,” and “trade-off,” and that’s two-thirds of conventional medical treatments that are dubious.

The situation is likely worse in animal medicine. Often, human drugs and medications that have failed human trials are subsequently solicited to the pet market. In addition, there is no formal requirement for reporting adverse reactions to pharmaceuticals in veterinary medicine.

“… there is no formal requirement for reporting adverse reactions to pharmaceuticals in veterinary medicine.”

The next time somebody defends conventional medicine by asking us for “scientific validity”, we might ask them the same question.

Article thanks to Extraordinary Medicine.  For more information on the science behind homeopathy, visit Extraordinary Medicine.

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