If you thought that lousy research in so-called alternative medicine (SCAM) is confined to human medicine, you were wrong. The papers published in veterinary medicine is just one of many examples to suggest that it is, in fact, even worse. Take, for instance, this study of homeopathy.

This Indian study was conducted to evaluate the ameliorative potential of homeopathic drugs in combination (Sulfur 30C, Thuja 30C, Graphites 30C, and Psorinum 30C) in 16 dogs affected with oral papillomatosis which had not undergone any previous treatment. Papillomas are benign epithelial tumours caused by infection with species-specific DNA papilloma-viruses. They tend to disappear within 6-12 months.

Dogs affected with oral papillomatosiswere randomly divided into two groups, namely, homeopathic treatment group (n=8) and placebo control group (n=8). The homeopathic combination of drugs and placebo drug (distilled water) was administered orally twice daily for 15 days. The 4 homeopathy drugs were used in the 30C potency and given orally at 2 drops per 5 kg body weight. The clinical evaluation in both groups of dogs was performed by the same investigator throughout the period of study (12 months). All  dogs were clinically scored for oral lesions on days 0, 5, 7, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 45, 60, 90, 120, and 150 after initiation of treatment.

The homeopathic treatment group showed early recovery with a significant reduction in oral lesions reflected by a clinical score in comparison to placebo-treated group. Oral papillomatous lesions regressed in the homeopathic group between 7 and 15 days, whereas regression of papilloma in the placebo group occurred between 90 and 150 days. The homeopathic treated group was observed for 12 months post-treatment period and no recurrence of oral papilloma was observed.

The authors concluded that the result of this investigation proves that the combination of homeopathic drugs (Sulfur 30+Thuja 30+Graphites 30+Psorinum 30) offers an attractive, non-invasive and most economical way of treating COP. A combination of homeopathic drugs is a novel approach for treating canine oral papilloma and further studies are needed to elucidate the use of homeopathic combination as a veterinary oncological therapeutics and to explore the mechanism of action of these homeopathic drugs in ameliorating oral papilloma.

The graph says it all. Very rarely is any medical treatment as effective as to produce such impressive results.

So, are we witnessing a scientific sensation?

Is this the breakthrough homeopaths have been waiting for?

Should the Nobel committee be informed?

Perhaps not!

A group size of 8 is underwhelming, to say the least. It is not sufficient to generate a reliable result. The results, even if true, ‘prove‘ nothing other than the authors’ ignorance of research methodology.

7 Responses to Homeopathy for canine oral papillomatosis: a ‘proof’ that homeopathy works?

  • Why is it that homeopathy only seems to work on maladies that have a tendency toward spontaneous resolution? Never attributing healing to the tincture of time and the bodies own innate healing capacity, always insisting it the intervention, remedy or potion that restored health is a real indicator of a SCAMMER.

  • I’m no statistician, but I am not sure the tests used were appropriate for such a sample size – and they don’t say anything about power calculation. I’m curious that they confirmed COP with a PCR test, but didn’t assess that post-treatment. It would be pretty momentous if homeopathy killed a virus. Baseline demographics (or is that canographics?) were not assessed at all. The discussion totally ignores any study limitations.

  • The paper says the controls were given distilled water. What is in most homeopathic preparations other than distilled water?

  • In order for trials to be conducted properly the trial participants must be aware that they are being administered something – a medicine or a placebo. Animals will not know they are being treated at all so a placebo effect can’t be proven.

    • I don’t think that is correct.

    • In order for trials to be conducted properly the trial participants must be aware that they are being administered something – a medicine or a placebo. Animals will not know they are being treated at all so a placebo effect can’t be proven.

      Note the “discrepancies” between the first (single-blind) and second (double-blind) phase of Conforti et al: Rat models of acute inflammation: a randomized controlled study on the effects of homeopathic remedies, BMC Complement Altern Med. 2007; 7: 1

      In the second phase of experiments, the effects of homeopathic remedies were not confirmed.

    • Nonsense. If you could slip half the participants the treatment without them knowing they were receiving treatment, that’d work too from a data-gathering point of view. It would, however, be criminally unethical to conduct a trial without fully informed patient consent. Hence the need for an effective placebo, so that while participants know they are receiving something, they cannot tell if it’s the therapy or not. In the case of animal trials you still need to blind the person administering the trial, plus you want to eliminate any other differences between the therapeutic group and the placebo group (e.g. so both groups are handled the same number of times in exactly the same way).

      In other words, there should be only one difference between the two groups—the thing being measured—and everything else should be exactly the same for both. In designing a robust trial, a good scientist tries to think of every possible source of inconsistency and constructs the trial to ensure they cannot influence the final result. This is distinct from much of AltMed “research”, which seeks to reinforce the practitioner’s existing beliefs and justify its practise.

      To quote Feynman: “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.”

      Alas, AltMed is chock-full of people who want to be fooled.

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