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The One About Homeopathy

Homeopathy is a pseudoscientific system of alternative medicine. Its practitioners (called homeopaths or homeopathic physicians) believe that a substance that causes symptoms of a disease in healthy people can cure similar symptoms in sick people; this doctrine is called similia similibus curentur, or "like cures like". Homeopathic preparations are often referred to as remedies and are made using a process known as homeopathic dilution. In this process, the selected substance is repeatedly diluted until the final product is chemically indistinguishable from the diluent (often, the diluent is just water). Often not even a single molecule of the original substance can be expected to remain in the product. Between each dilution homeopaths may hit and/or shake the product, claiming this makes the diluent "remember" the original substance after its removal. Practitioners claim that such preparations, upon oral intake, can treat or cure disease. If it isn't obvious by now, this is utter nonsense.

It being nonsense does not stop companies from selling homeopathic products, nor does it impede their popularity among consumers. In the United States over 6 million people use homeopathic products on a regular basis. In recent years, the prevalence of these products have seeped into the pet product industry and are increasingly common among cat and dog owners. The main company shilling these remedies is Homeopet.

Many people have an "it can't hurt" mentality when it comes to homeopathy, but the key thing to keep in mind is that if there is a problem to treat and it's being treated with homeopathy, then it isn't being treated at all.

At best homeopathy offers an effect we've all heard of; the placebo effect. And in some circumstances in humans a placebo effect can lead to an improved health outcome (the opposite is also true, however). But any positive outcome relating to the placebo effect is because the human being treated has knowledge of the treatment and is "feeling" better. The same cannot apply in the case of treated a dog or cat, because they are not able to be aware of their treatment. The Placebo Effect does not exist in our pets.

For the sake of being thorough, there are studies where dogs with epilepsy are given placebo drugs and a decrease in seizure activity was noted. However, correlation does not indicate causation, and there has not yet been any demonstration that the placebo was responsible for any condition improvement and may have simply coincided with an improvement that would have happened anyway. Furthermore, some of this data required owners to report on the effects, and this is a very poor instrument of data collection given the increased likelihood of variables when an unqualified and untrained person is responsible for said data collection.



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