Homeopathic medicine is increasingly gaining popularity as an alternative or complementary treatment to conventional medicine. Stephanie Fsadni gets to grips with its basic principles and why it can work on pets as much as on humans.
Homeopathic medicine is increasingly becoming popular among local pet owners. Veterinary surgeon Zoran Jankovic can attest to this fact and to the benefits of homeopathy, which he describes as “a sophisticated medical system aimed at complete restoration of health and prevention of recurrence”.
“At this perilous time in our civilisation development, when it is essential to utilise practices that strengthen the immune and defence system, homeopathic medicine is quite naturally gaining popularity,” says Jankovic.
“More and more people are realising the importance of the holistic approach to health and, since the majority of pets in Malta enjoy the status of family members, this trend translates to them.”
He explains that, contrary to ‘traditional’ or conventional medicine – which normally uses substances that have the opposite, suppressive or extinguishing effect on a causative agent, disease process or symptom – the fundamental principle of homeopathy is the similarity principle or “let like be cured with like”.
“With homeopathy, we try to stimulate the organism to fight the disease process by administering a substance which in overdose would cause similar symptoms to those the sick individual is experiencing. Such substance is given in very small, safe doses with dramatic effect.”
Research has shown that rather than a drug having increased effects as the dose is increased, the opposite is true: the larger the dose, the more reduced the effect. And exceedingly small doses of the same drug will actually increase its effectiveness.
“We must not forget the fact that the law of similarity has been known to humanity since ancient times. In the 4th century BC, Hippocrates, regarded by many as the ‘father of Western medicine’ was known to have said: ‘Through the like, disease is produced, and through the application of the like, it is cured’.”
One of the fundamental tenets of homeopathy is that it does not treat disease, but a patient – human or pet – with disease.
“No matter what the individual symptoms are, they are recognised as primarily an intrinsic effort of the organism to adapt to and deal with various internal or external stresses,” he explains. “Homeopathic medicines are prescribed to aid the organism in its highly-sophisticated efforts to heal. Therefore, inherent in the homeopathic approach is a basic respect for the body’s wisdom.”
Homeopathic medicines are prescribed to aid the organism in its highly-sophisticated efforts to heal
Jankovic claims that homeopathic medicine can be used to treat all kinds of pets and adds: “The British Royal Family has been intimately involved in homeopathic medicine since the 1830s when Queen Adelaide sought homeopathic care from Ernst Stapf, a colleague of German physician Samuel Hahnemann, who is credited with creating homeopathy. In other words, if it is fit for royals, why wouldn’t it befit for our furry, feathery or scaly family members?”
The medicines are prepared in laboratories of specialised pharmacies. There is no such laboratory in Malta, so Jankovic obtains his stock from overseas, mostly the UK and Germany. In some countries, homeopathic remedies are available off the shelf, however, he warns that these should be prescribed by veterinary professionals.
“In order to reap the full benefits of homeopathy, homeopathic preparations should be prescribed by veterinary professionals with sound knowledge of homeopathic principles or by qualified homeopaths.”
He laments that nowadays many products are “falsely sold” as homeopathic in pharmacies and health food stores and that many people believe that any medicine sold as a herb must be homeopathic.
“The homeopathic professional community has to take responsibility for educating the public in the real nature of homeopathic remedy, so that they can easily distinguish a true homeopathic remedy from pseudo-homeopathic one. Herbology is very often lumped together with homeopathy, but it is actually much closer to allopathic [conventional] medicine in its principles of remedy action.”
Homeopathic medicines are normally given orally in the form of tablets, granules, pills or dissolved in water. In the conventional approach, drugs are expected to act on particular tissues or organs. When several organs are affected in chronic disease, symptoms are addressed by a number of drugs given in a mixture.
In homeopathy, since the remedy has to match the whole totality of the symptoms, there cannot be more than one remedy at a time. It must have the following characteristic features to be in accordance with homeopathic principles:
• It must be based on the totality of the symptoms, including mental and emotional symptoms, not just physical.
• It must be a single remedy, never a mixture.
• It can never be administered in a substantial dose.
When asked what happens if a remedy does not work, the vet is quick to point out that the same could happen with conventional medicine.
“What if the antibiotic your doctor prescribed doesn’t work? He or she prescribes a stronger one. If the homeopathic medicine does not work, there is usually a problem with the prescribing process,” he says.
“This means the homeopathic practitioner has not matched properly the totality of patient’s symptoms with the right remedy. So he has to put in more investigative effort to find the right homeopathic medicine. The only difference is that homeopathic remedies are not nearly as dangerous as antibiotics.”
As a practitioner of integrative veterinary medicine, Jankovic gives special attention to diets.
“Any approach to healing is incomplete without giving the diet its due consideration. My favourite Ayurvedic proverb says: ‘If diet is wrong, medicine is of no use. If diet is correct, medicine is of no need.”
Jankovic claims that most of the official nutritional advice for humans or animals is driven by economic interest and big corporations.
“In an effort to fit animals into our modern lifestyle, we have forgotten the basic natural fact – dogs and cats are carnivores.
Feeding them highly-processed food based on complex carbohydrates is a sure recipe for a health disaster. These days, obesity, diabetes, liver and kidney failure have become rampant in older pet animals.
“In my experience, a simple change of diet and lifestyle is very often all that is needed to reverse many serious health problems in dogs and cats.”
Jankovic is positive about the effectiveness of homeopathy. He refers to Hahnemann, credited with creating homeopathy, who based his laws on experiment and observation.
In his book The Chronic Diseases: Their Peculiar Nature and their Homeopathic Cure, Hahnemann writes: “It requires quite an effort to believe that so little a thing, so small of a dose of medicine, could affect the least thing in the human body. I do not demand that anyone should comprehend it. Neither do I comprehend it. It is enough that it is a fact and nothing else. Experience alone declares it and I believe more in experience than in my own intelligence…”
For more information, visit http://vetmalta.com .
• The fundamental principle of homeopathy is the Similarity (or Similia) Principle: Similia similibus curentur (let like be cured by like) stated by German physician Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843).
• One of the fundamental tenets of homeopathy is not to treat a disease, but a patient with disease.
• Homeopathic medicines are prescribed to aid the organism in its highly sophisticated efforts to heal.
• Homeopathy follows a principle in pharmacology, called the ‘biphasic response of drugs’, which says that rather than a drug having increased effects as the dose is increased, the opposite is true: the larger the does, the lesser the effect, while extremely small doses of the same drug will actually increase its effectiveness.
• Homeopathic preparations should be prescribed by professionals with sound knowledge of homeopathic principles or by qualified homeopaths.