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Conducting clinical trials by using the methods of modern research in human and veterinary homeopathy cause several well known problems (e.g. individualization vs. blinding). On the other hand research is very important to demonstrate effectiveness, to improve clinical practice and to enhance global acceptance of the method.
The objective was to conduct a review of veterinary literature about homeopathy in livestock to determine the actual quality of publications. Furthermore the problems in applying research methodology to clinical studies about homeopathy in animals were analyzed.
An innovative concept for the compilation of a literature review about veterinary alternative treatments in livestock was developed and implemented. Publications from international peer reviewed journals with clinical trials, personal experience like case studies and opinions of experts were included. The information value, material and methods, the presentation and practicability of the articles were systematically evaluated, based on a developed evaluation scheme. The commented and graded publications are presented in a standardized form.
A total of 157 publications containing information about homeopathy (58 of them about complex homeopathy) in livestock were reviewed. The evaluated publications comprised 44 clinical trials (37,0 %), 26 papers about personal experience (16,6 %) and 87 opinions of experts (55,4 %).
Only well conducted randomised controlled clinical trials provide high evidence. No article based on clinical trials was graded as “good” in the material and methods’ section. Only 11 publications (25%) were graded as “satisfactory”, 24 (54,5%) as “adequate” and nine articles (20,5) as “inadequate”. The predominant deficiencies were the non-existence of control groups and lack of blinding and randomisation. Criteria for selection and allocation of the animals were hardly reported. Further inadequacies were low animal numbers and methodically inappropriate statistical analysis.
According to the results veterinary knowledge about homoeopathy in livestock is mainly based on inadequately conducted or insufficiently described clinical trials or on personal experience. The need for well conducted, randomized controlled clinical trials is obvious.
The literature review and the results are published at the Website http://www.oekovet.de. This information system aims to support the practitioner’s decisions and interventions in practice. It comprises a daily growing data base with 270 articles in English and German about veterinary acupuncture, homeopathy, homotoxicology and phytotherapy as of today.