Sunday, 25 November 2018

Animal Quackers

Those who promote/support homeopathy for animals are very fringe. Their numbers are tiny, their voices shrill and their tactics bizarre. The tactics are of interest as are links to 4Homeopathy etc.

Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons statement
The RCVS statement was discussed here as were some of the reactions. In short, the RCVS has taken the position that homeopathy treatments can not be used first resort by vets. It can only be used as adjunctive treatment, not sole treatment. The RCVS has the authority to determine standards for the profession.

The intial reactions were predictable but will not be discussed (much) here.

British Association of Homeopathic Veterinary Surgeons
BAHVS says -
The Association was formed in 1982, to advance the understanding, knowledge and practice of veterinary homeopathy (homoeopathy / homœopathy).

It aims to stimulate professional awareness of homeopathy and to encourage and provide for the training of veterinary surgeons in the practice of homeopathy. It is an open forum for the various differing approaches to the subject of veterinary homeopathy and its application, allowing for constructive interchanges of ideas. The Association has a written constitution, adopted in 1988. Members follow a Code of Practice, adopted in 1998, which is regularly reviewed.
BAHVS is tiny. It lists 46 practices/vets and not all are in the UK. Some of these are ordinary practices, others are referral practices - ie they don't take clients on directly, only from other vets. There are around 15,000 vets in the UK.

Membership of BAHVS is open to those with qualifications accredited by the Faculty of Homeopathy (FoH). The FoH is closely linked to the British Homeopathic Association (BHA). The Portland Centre for Integrated Medicine (PCIM) will be discussed in a future post on NHS homeopathy.

The RCVS do not recognise homeopathy as a specialty. There is no requirement to have training or be a member of BAHVS to offer homeopathy.

The Officers are -

  • Chris Day // President
  • Ilse Pedler // Junior Vice-President
  • Jane Keogh // Senior Vice-President
  • Stuart Marston // Hon. Secretary
  • Wendy McGrandles // Secretary & Treasurer
  • Malene Jørgensen // Publications Editor
  • Peter Gregory // Faculty Veterinary Dean/IAVH Representative
  • Nick Thompson // Committee Member
  • Geoff Johnson // Committee Member
  • Mark Elliott // Committee Member
That is over 20% of the membership.

BAHVS has a statement on nosodes full of weasel words. These products can not be registered with the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD). Placing them on the market is illegal. This is often ignored. BAHVS member Graham Hines is a  sells them to the public but in general vets who use them are very coy about it - it could get them struck off. Homeoprophylaxis - homeopathic "vaccination" - is a threat to animal and public health. It is know that it happens but evidence is a problem.  Chris Day, founder of BAHVS, is known to have used them and conducted "research" (kennel cough and bovine mastitis). 

BAHVS's Code of Practice is likely incompatible with the RCVS position on homeopathy. See -
It is not anticipated that animals, which are brought for homeopathic or other alternative or complementary medicine but which are not part of the member’s practice, should be treated with conventional drugs by the member. If such work is deemed necessary, it should be referred back to the original referring veterinary surgeon, who is better able to monitor the treatment.
Homeopathic treatment can not be solely used. Either the animal is referred back (potentially causing delay to treatment) or the BAHVS member treats them with conventional medicines.

BAHVS is a member of the International Association for Veterinary Homeopathy (IAVH). Both seem to operate out of Riverside Veterinary Surgery.

The membership fees are unknown. There is no obvious linked company or charity. There is a BAHVS PayPal account. BAHVS's size suggests a very low income. There is a crowdfunding campaign to "save" veterinary CAM but it has raised little money and is not publicised by BAHVS. It was not set up by BAHVS but by animal psychic Elaine Downs. Jackie Hat is involved too (secretary of Homeopathy at Wellie Level?). Logos of Helios Homoeopathy, Freemans Homoeopathic Pharmacy and Honey's appear but it is not clear if they give money to BAHVS.

The misleading video of the first BAHVS march was produced by the partner of vet and BAHVS member Malene Jørgensen. He is responsible for other BAHVS videos. The "Save Veterinary Homeopathy" logo that can be seen in the video looks very like the BHA "Save NHS Homeopathy and Herbal Medicine" logo.

BAHVS has a Twitter account and Facebook page. Many of the Twitter posts are identical to Nick Thompson's. They reveal "Big Pharma" conspiracy theories and plenty of anecdotes about homeopathy curing animals. It should be said that there are few trials of homeopathy on animals and they are even weaker than human ones.

Homeopathy at Wellie Level
HAWL provides training courses for farmers in homeopathy. Although based in the UK, it has run courses in Ireland. HAWL is a limited company. It's directors are - 

  • Susan LACROIX
  • Jeremy Charles Hector LEES
  • David John WILSON
Lacroix offers CEASE and other therapies as well as being an organic farmer. Wilson is a former director of the Soil Association and possibly (former) farm manager for Prince Charles (a very common name). Lay homeopath Chris Lees is co-ordinator and administrator. Jackie Hat was mentioned above. Internet research revealed freelance project manager and lay homeopath Jaqueline Pearce-Dickens working with them.

This page has BAHVS member Chris Auckland, BAHVS member Nancy Morris and lay homeopath and farmer Sue Warner as teachers.

HAWL also produce a number of publications. It seems that they are dependent on donations to keep going though.

HAWL has a Twitter account and a Facebook page but does not seem to promote the "Save Veterinary Homeopathy" campaign. HAWL does not seem to have strong links to other homeopathy organisations.

CAM4Animals is a strange organisation to say the least. "Freedom to Choose CAM for our Animals" is its slogan but there is more than what is on the website. They claim the RCVS position means -

  • Our freedom of choice as animal guardians has been compromised
  • Homeopathy is leading this campaign but all Complementary and Alternative Medicines (CAM) are affected
  • ​Farmers will be forced to use antibiotics before proven alternatives like homeopathy. This is a major concern for organic farmers and may reduce our access to organic food.
  • There is a serious threat to the fight against antibiotic resistance
  • Our homeopathic and holistic vets are having their livelihoods threatened
  • RCVS Council is failing to recognise the evidence that CAM therapies work
The ability of owners to treat their own animals with homeopathy is not affected. The sole use of CAM is likely affected but it is important to remember conventional treatment is not confined to medicines and surgery. Physiotherapy is used too, especially in rehabilitation.

The organic argument is misleading. Farmers are unaffected by the RCVS statement. Although homeopathy supporters may not like it, the implicit scope of homeopathy is for minor conditions. CAM4Animals has a faq page where it selectively quotes EU organic regulations. It gets other things wrong too.

There are various approaches to preventing antibiotic resistance. With regards to animals, better husbandry is one. The development of new vaccines will help. Not just for bacterial diseases - preventing viral diseases prevents secondary infection. Homeopathy is not one.

As for the livelihoods of vets being threatened? Not really. They are still qualified vets. A lot of BAHVS members do conventional treatment too.

CAM4Animals do not seem to understand what evidence is.

They call for -
  • A full retraction of the statement on CAM
  • An acknowledgement that animal guardians have the right to choose homeopathy and CAM as the primary treatment approach
  • An open and honest debate about what natural medicine can do for animal health
And they are concerned that -
  • RCVS Council has stepped outside of its remit and Royal Charter. The RCVS is there to regulate the profession and NOT to stop its members from making qualified, clinical decisions.
  • RCVS Council statement was influenced by certain Council members who are supported and associated with a network of organisations committed to discredit all CAM practitioners.
  • There was no consultation with the experts of veterinary homeopathic medicine, the British Association for Homeopathic Veterinary Surgeons (BAHVS)​​.
This is very helpful. The objects of the College are -
to set, uphold and advance veterinary standards, and to promote, encourage and advance the study and practice of the art and science of veterinary medicine, in the interests of the health and welfare of animals and in the wider public interest.
The Charter grants the RCVS Council the powers to make rules. The Council is partly elected by members of the RCVS and partly appointed. The statement was the subject of much discussion over several meetings.

Can anyone be an expert in something that has no evidence of efficacy?

CAM4Animals says CAM includes -
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Physiotherapy
  • Acupuncture
  • Chiropractic
  • Herbal Remedies
  • Homeopathy
  • Massage Therapies, e.g. Bowen, Galen Myotherapy
Veterinary physiotherapy is not considered CAM ( an "allied health profession") and the profession wants statutory regulation. Hydrotherapy and some massage techniques would be in scope but not Bowen. Chiropractic offers nothing over physiotherapy.
Herbal products are treated like any other products. They require an MA [Marketing Authorisation] if they are medicinal by presentation or function. For example, a product containing pyrethrum, pyrethrins or alkaloids, such as digoxin from Digitalis sp., would be considered medicinal by function.
"By presentation" means if claims to treat/cure are made.

CAM4Animals say raw feeding and dietary supplements are under threat. The former doesn't make any sense. The issue with supplements are the marketing claims.

The website has photos of the second BAHVS march and a video. Some of the faces are familiar (Mani Norland?). Note different branding from the first "Stand Up 4 Homeopathy" instead of "Save Veterinary Homeopathy" and use of BAHVS logo. Claims of nearly 200 hundred supporters are made but eyewitness accounts suggest less. Note no obvious CAM4Animals branding anywhere.

The news page reveals only two stories. CAM4Animals presented the RCVS with a document that purportedly is a response to the evidence used to reach position statement. This is curious as the RCVS cite a lack of evidence for homeopathy. The document is not in the public domain. Its contents are unknown. It seems to have been delivered by "Sara" and "Jackie". To be fair, the Facebook page is primary medium for "news".

CAM4Animals has a Twitter account, Facebook page and Instagram account. Its social media output is mostly anecdote and misinformation. It boosts 4Homeopathy/BHA related campaigns/propaganda but no clear links to CAM4Animals. It boosts posts by its own members.

Who are CAM4Animals?
We are a group of concerned animal guardians and professionals who feel strongly that any threat to our freedom of choice for our animals must be contested. We support the British Association for Homeopathic Veterinary Surgeons (BAHVS) official campaign to retract the RCVS statement.
The only name to appear on the website is lay homeopath Sara Kernohan. What looks to be a list of members and their roles was uncovered. They are a mixture of lay homeopaths, raw feeders, canine enthusiasts, some vets and random others. CEASE therapy and anti-vaccination in there too. The list will not be reproduced here. 
SURVEILLANCE- (probably best to go undercover with an 'alternative' profile/Avatar): - 'like' all their pages, sign up to all their blogs and forums, and screenshot any and everything that they post that may incriminate them or show their true colours. SPECIFICALLY DANNY CHAMBERS.
Ad hominem and what are the screenshots for? Some of social media accounts involved are very obvious. 
DEFENDING- either as yourself or as your 'alt-profile' - this means watching the RCVS page, VetSurgeon, VetNurse, and any other pages that have gloated about the RCVS statement and, - where a sceptic is spewing bile or attacking pro-CAM comments etc, - asking questions so that their true agenda is revealed. It is obvious that there is no point appealing to their better nature but we can trip them up. I will put together a list of questions we can ask that will put them on the spot. There is no point posting links to positive homeopathy research etc. - we know they won't read them and will just continue to troll us. Our strategy will be to keep asking questions like a barrister. We won't allow their lies to remain undefended or for them to attack CAM vets or clients.What we want to show is that they are nasty pieces of work, out to discredit all CAM and that they cannot hide behind the lie that they are 'concerned about the wee, furry animals'!
Projection? Social media is not an adversarial court. 

Other roles include -

  • Seek and store evidence supporting homeopathy. To lead and encourage other homeopaths to become involved. Provide easy info for homeopaths to share.
  • Seeking and storing information on the lack of evidence base in drugs and vax.
As well as badgering various people, boosting the petition and the crowdfunding - although little evidence of the latter.

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