By:   Catherine O’Driscoll

Photo courtesy of Vic Neumann

In mental health circles, it is recognized that child abuse isn’t just about overt physical abuse. Abuse can also be covert, or ‘undercover’. Covert abuse includes over-controlling a child: not allowing her to think her own thoughts or feel her own feelings. The result of such abuse is that the child grows into an adult who is unable to perceive reality as it is. She doubts her own thoughts and feelings, and is paralyzed when it comes to caring for herself or defending her right to be who she is. This type of abuse turns people into victims.

In Britain right now, the government’s veterinary medicines legislator is mounting a highly abusive onslaught against people who keep animals. Apparently we are too stupid to discern whether a particular nutrient or herb or homeopathic product is likely to help our dogs. Apparently we need the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD), a government body, to do our thinking and discriminating for us. And it’s not just pet owners. Farm animals are being targeted too.

A news report in Farmers Weekly stated that the government has ordered a clampdown on alternative veterinary remedies “that could be dangerous to livestock and pets”. They reckon that some herbal and homeopathic products are claiming medicinal benefits without scientific proof. A spokesman from the VMD said: “Some of these products are claiming to be effective and safe when no scientific evidence has been presented to us (my emphasis) to show they are. Animal owners have a right to know if a product does what it claims.”

The hit list includes homeopathic nosodes, neutraceuticals (vitamins and minerals), and herbal liquids, powders and pellets sold as herbal wormers.

Now the issue here is that many herbs have been used for thousands of years and have a track record which far exceeds any rigged laboratory trial conducted by a multinational corporation to ‘prove’ their synthetic drug is effective and safe. Many natural herbs and nutrients have also undergone considerable independent scientific analyses and trials, and science has been able to show that the vast majority of these natural products do indeed contain active ingredients that are capable of doing what naturopaths and herbalists have been saying for millennia. Mary and Greg Wulff-Tilford’s excellent book, ‘Herbs for Pets’ even quotes a great deal of this research, and offers sound advice regarding contra-indications and dosing. Take a look on the internet, and you’ll also be able to research the research. Or consult a qualified herbalist, nutritionist or homeopath, and you can satisfy yourself that what you might be giving to your dog, horse or goat is safe and effective.

The VMD, however, is saying that manufacturers and sellers are not allowed to make claims about NUTRIENTS (I ask you) unless scientific evidence is presented to the VMD. This doesn’t mean that they’re not allowed to make claims unless those claims can be backed up by science. They’re saying that no-one can make claims unless they present the science to them, and are granted official licenses costing tens of thousands of pounds, by them.

It’s the same in the human field. The government is making sure that citizens will lose access to hundreds of herbal medicines next year, as European regulations come into force. Sales of all herbal remedies, except for a small number of popular products for ‘mild’ illness such as Echinacea for colds, will be banned to the public from May 1. Under the new law traditional products must be licensed or prescribed by a registered herbal practitioner.

This is more farcical than you could ever imagine. The person who grows peppermint in her garden – or any other herb – and sells it in any form will be breaking the law, unless she is exceedingly wealthy and able to jump through the hoops that the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) require.

Almost 2,500 UK qualified herbalists and Chinese medicine practitioners will lose the right to supply a wide range of herbal medicines, because they are not signed up to the statutory regulation scheme. Practitioners have complained that the cost of obtaining licenses is beyond their means. Many traditional medicines are made up of a number of herbs and the Alliance for Natural Health estimates a license for each herb costs in the region of £100,000.

Now let’s put this in context. About ten years ago, I treated a scientific researcher for agoraphobia using Emotional Freedom Technique. During our time together, this man – who worked for a large pharmaceutical company – told me that all of the money was going into researching natural products, because the market is increasingly looking for natural products.
But the pharmaceutical industry has a problem in that you cannot patent a natural plant or nutrient. You have to alter it in order to patent it.

Now, here’s another piece of the jigsaw: You may remember that I, along with a group of vets and dog lovers, have been writing to the VMD, backwards and forwards, for over a year now in order to have one-year core MLV vaccines removed from the market, since we don’t need to boost our dogs against distemper, parvo and hepatitis every year. The VMD has consistently refused to withdraw this vaccine. We have directly accused the VMD of being overly biased in favor of the pharmaceutical industry. In fact, it’s probably more serious than this. My ordinary conventional vet told me that the VMD is the pharmaceutical industry. Who benefits, for example, when vets are precluded, by the VMD, from prescribing cheaper generic drugs? The animals, the animal guardians, or the pharmaceutical industry? If my vet thinks the VMD is the pharmaceutical industry, and other vets think this, then we’re in trouble. We effectively have Al Capone’s brother-in-law running the FBI.

Personally, I think the VMD has a lot of nerve. They claim to be there to assure the safety and efficacy of veterinary medicines, but they must be living in a different reality to the one I inhabit. Think about Rimadyl or Metacam, which are licensed by the VMD and elsewhere around the world. What are the side-effects? Organ failure, seizures and death – to name but a few. In America the FDA has forced the manufacturers of NSAIDs to issue data sheets for pet owners so they can be aware of side-effects and make informed choices. In the UK the VMD isn’t quite so vigilant. VMD-approved data sheets state: “Do not use in dogs suffering from cardiac, hepatic or renal disease, where there is a possibility of gastrointestinal ulceration or bleeding, or where there is evidence of a blood dyscrasia or hypersensitivity to the product. As with other NSAIDs there is a risk of rare renal or idiosyncratic hepatic adverse events.”

This is hardly pet-owner friendly advice, and we’d have to pretty clued up to understand from this that death is a possible consequence of giving this drug. Check out the full, approved, datasheet wording.

Now let me ask you this: would you rather risk organ failure and death with government-approved NSAIDs, or would you rather try out some time-proven herbs for your arthritic dog? But of course Rimadyl is the famous example. There are others, and they don’t take a lot of finding.

I’m looking at one of NOAH’s data sheet compendiums. NOAH is the trade body representing veterinary pharmaceutical companies, and the data sheets represent the blurb approved by the VMD that goes with licensed drugs and biologics.

Toxovax is a vaccine for female sheep to prevent embryonic death and abortion from Toxoplasma gondii infection. Contra-indications and warnings include the instruction that animals shouldn’t be slaughtered for human consumption until at least 6 weeks after vaccination. Operators should wear gloves when handling the vaccine. The vaccine should not be handled by pregnant women as it may interfere with foetus development. Nor should it be handled by people who are immunodeficient. Yet one vet who has repeatedly offered to work with our government to trial nosodes has been repeatedly snubbed.

Here’s another one: Crovect is a pour-on for the treatment and control of ticks, flies and lice on sheep. Operators must wear protective clothing, rubber gloves and boots, and they must also wear a mask. They mustn’t eat, drink or smoke when using the product, or before washing. Crovect isn’t to be used on animals producing milk for human consumption (although nothing is said about lambs drinking their milk), and you mustn’t eat sheep undergoing treatment. And yet neem oil would arguable do the same job whilst boosting the immune system.

Medrone V tablets are steroids for dogs and cats. They’re used to treat vaccine-induced conditions, from VMD-approved vaccines, such as inflammatory, allergic, skin, and musculoskeletal conditions. Contra-indications indicate that they’re not safe for dogs or cats with renal disease or diabetes and, according to the datasheet, they’re known to exert a wide range of severe side-effects. These include Cushingoid symptoms including muscle weakness, muscle wastage and osteoporosis. They can also cause adrenal insufficiency. Well how about refraining from causing these conditions with unnecessary vaccines, and looking at less damaging natural treatments for the animals?

The VMD has recently issued a data sheet for pet owners considering vaccinating their pets. The data sheet is carried on the VMD website. It tells pet owners only that vaccines can provoke mild effects in animals and ignores the known science pointing to brain damage, cancer and immune system destruction. We accused the VMD of being actively dishonest and offered them the opportunity to correct our perception of industry bias. They’ve said they might get round to it.

Now here’s the worrying part of the story: I am advised by a sympathetic senior politician that “the VMD is an independent body and the Government cannot overrule it”. So when Farmers Weekly reported that the government has ordered a clampdown on natural products, they actually meant that the VMD, our unelected government, has ordered a clampdown. Our elected government can do nothing about it. The licensing body, which acts like an arm of the pharmaceutical industry, is apparently above democracy. Yes, well … keep on rocking in the free world.

And America, don’t think you’re immune. Injectable vitamin C has just been banned by the FDA, even though it’s an effective treatment for viral infection and cancer.