Hard-hit farmers try homoeopathy to cure sick herds

Click to follow
The Independent Online

British farmers, battered and bruised by years of food scares and plunging prices, have opened a new front in their battle to regain public confidence by embracing the holistic philosophy of homoeopathy.

British farmers, battered and bruised by years of food scares and plunging prices, have opened a new front in their battle to regain public confidence by embracing the holistic philosophy of homoeopathy.

Veterinary surgeons practising alternative medicine report a boom in the use of homoeopathic remedies to cure ailing herds. The expansion in organic farming and concern about the overuse of conventional "factory farming" are said to be the prime causes of the new trend.

Industry figures show that more than 5,000 farmers have begun to use homoeopathy in the wake of the damaging legacy of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, E-coli and salmonella. Ringworm, lameness, diarrhoea and mastitis (inflammation of a cow's bladder which stops milk production) are being treated effectively with homoeopathy, say supporters.

Ian Waldron, a farmer who last year stopped rearing his herd of Friesian cows to breed 50 Alpaca llamas for their wool, switched to homoeopathy when traditional medicine failed at his farm in Chittlehampton, Devon.

"I had an outbreak of pneumonia in calves and tried treating it with antibiotics but I was getting no response," he said. "I had heard of homoeopathic remedies so I thought I had nothing to lose by giving them a try. The response was extraordinary - the pneumonia cleared up almost miraculously." But the principles of the therapy are unknown, relying on a water or alcohol-based "mother tincture" made from a bacteria or other animal, vegetable or mineral agent linked to the ailment.

This laborious process, involving the dilution of a sample to many thousandths of its original strength, results in a "nosode" or solution being used to treat the animal.

Barbara Jones, a vet in Oswestry, Shropshire, who has practised homoeopathy for 14 years, admits the science is largely unproven. "A nosode is so dilute that it is mathematically unlikely that even a molecule of the original substance remains in the nosode. What happens cannot yet be explained in scientific terms."

The British Association of Homoeopathic Veterinary Surgeons, formed in 1981, has more than 150 members and reports taking 500 calls a month from those looking for treatment for their animals.

However, Chris Walton, a senior dairy specialist vet in Gloucestershire, said: "Most vets are not too thrilled with it. We cannot deal in something that has no proven therapeutic value."

Comments