For those lucky enough not to have come across it, homeopathy is a theory dating back to the 1700s.
It holds that diluting certain substances nearly endlessly in water or alcohol will somehow transform them into effective treatments for illnesses or disease.
It has been repeatedly discredited. It is no more effective than a placebo.
But if you thought homeopathy was ridiculous, how about homeopathy for pets?
Prince Charles reportedly uses homeopathic remedies to treat his farm animals, and there are a number of vets and farmers in Australia and the UK practicing the ‘treatment’.
The Australian Veterinary Association has said that homeopathy is demonstrably ineffective. Danny Chambers, who teaches veterinarian in the UK, has called on British authorities to ban the practice.
“The case against homeopathy has never been clearer, with every well-controlled study showing that these remedies are no more effective than a sugar pill – which is no surprise, considering that the vast majority of homeopathic treatments contain no active substances at all,” he wrote.
In a petition to the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, Chambers says that there is a real danger in allowing vets to offer the treatment. He notes that in the case of pets, not even the placebo effect can have any impact.
“The biggest danger of homeopathy is not that the remedies are ineffective, but that some homeopaths are of the opinion that their therapies can substitute for genuine medical treatment. This is at best misleading, and at worst may lead to unnecessary suffering and death,” he writes.
One Australian veterinarian who offers the service appears to acknowledge this.
“Homoeopathy should not replace regular veterinary treatment, especially with emergency or acute or life threatening problems,” their website states.
“Members of the public put their trust in veterinary surgeons because they assume that their medical knowledge and training was gained during an accredited degree at an accredited university,” Chambers writes.
“They do not assume that they will be offered the veterinary surgeon's personal beliefs in therapies that have absolutely no basis in science."