Homeopathy for the farmer
Homeopathy is an invaluable tool on the farm, used by many farmers in the UK. It can be used at a simple acute and preventative level, in conjunction with your management experience and conventional medicine knowledge. It can also be your front line treatment for many diseases you will face on the farm, but here training is required and you must work in conjunction with your conventional vet. If he is not homeopathically trained, encourage him to become so! There is a homeopathic course for veterinary surgeons at the Bristol homeopathic Hospital. Help from a qualified homeopathic vet (VetMFHom) is also advised, in conjunction with your conventional vet.
An excellent course for farmers is Homeopathy at Welly Level
What is Homeopathy on the Farm?
It is a system of medicine that stimulates the animal to heal itself.
Animals (and farmers!) have an innate ability to stay well, and also to heal themselves if they fall ill. If we didn’t we wouldn’t be here – we have evolved to do it over millions of years. Many of us fall sick rarely, and if we do get a cold, cough or flu, we get over it in a few days. Most ladies can bear their children without intervention and recover health. Most animals and people can bear physical stresses such as cold, wet, change of diet or overexertion without falling ill - however some find that after streses such as these an illness appears which they are unable to recover from.
In some of us and some of our animals this ability to not fall ill, or recover if we do, is damaged. There are a number of reasons for this, common ones being mental stress, inappropriate diet and genetics.
Homeopathy is a medicine that takes into account the individual – i.e. the genetic make up and the environmental circumstances that cause that individual to get ill. It also takes into account the manner in which that individual expresses their illness.
Consider an outbreak of pneumonia in a group of calves. This can occur when the weather changes from crisp and cold to wet and muggy. Not all the beasts will be affected – only those whose predisposition makes them susceptible. Also some of them will be severely affected while others will have a short cough and recover in a few days. You must have noticed that when a certain disease rears its head e.g. scours, some just require electrolytes, yet others die despite every drug you can throw at them.
Because homeopathy treats the individual it is not as simple to use as conventional medicine. You have to look carefully at the symptoms your animals are showing and give the remedy that covers these symptoms. This means you might not give all the calves in a scour outbreak the same remedy.
This is completely different to conventional medicine that doesn’t consider the individual but rather tries to attack the bug that is rampaging through the sick body. Antibiotics have no effect on your cow, horse or dog – they simply try to kill whatever bug it is that has taken advantage of the animal’s immune system to breed.
Homeopathic effects can be very quick. It can also change unnatural or undesirable behaviour such as bullying.
How can you use homeopathy on your farm?
BY DEALING WITH STRESS
However good you are as a stockman stress is an inevitable part of being a dairy cow. Changing diet, too rich a diet, weather changes, TB and blood tests, the separation of calf from cow, mixing groups and transport are some examples. There are homeopathic remedies that can be given to individuals or whole groups before and after these events to lessen the chance of subsequent illness.
BY USING NOSODES
Nosodes are these bottles of liquid remedies that you put into the troughs to try to prevent disease or lower cell counts. There are reps selling them frequently. Some call it homeopathic vaccination. In fact this is not true homeopathy at all and can be quite hit and miss. If you have tried them and they’ve worked for you…great. If they didn’t seem to work then do not judge homeopathy on their efficacy.
BY TREATING THE SYMPTOMS YOU SEE IN FRONT OF YOU
Treat the physical signs you see in front of you, For example there are different remedies for mastitis in all its different forms, lameness be it lour or digital dermatitis, infertility such as the failure to come bulling or not holding to service. Homeopathy can in fact help most diseases in yourselves or your animals, but you must choose the right remedies and know what you are doing.
AND FOR THE MORE EXPERIENCED
By treating individual animals on a deeper level who continually get ill despite apparent recovery after antibiotic use, or just seem to be poor doers for no obvious reason. This is known as constitutional treatment.
Does it work??
There have been numerous trials done in human medicine that say so. One of the more recent at the Bristol homeopathic hospital involved over 5000 people with ailments not successfully treated by conventional medicine. Over 70% showed an improvement, and 50% a good improvement. There are fewer vet trials and fewer of them in farm animals.
Homeopathy is extremely cheap. You could treat a case of mastitis or metritis for 50p, or a group of 100 animals before and after a TB test for £5. A nosode against scouring in calves would be about £40 and could treat 100 calves for a year.
There is no such thing as a homeopathic prescription remedy. You can get many of them from your local chemist or from homeopathic pharmacies by post.
Homeopathy is not herbalism – this is quite a different and very valid healing art.
Homeopathy is not ancient. A German doctor Samuel Hahnemann discovered it in the 18th century. He realised there were certain rules for healing sickness that are universal and are still totally applicable today.
How do you start off??
You can buy a kit of 50 remedies for about £200 which would help with most things on the farm. Simply getting 10 remedies for accidents and emergencies would enable you to tackle much of your problems.
The best book for the farmer is the vet Chris Day’s ‘The Homeopathic Treatment of Beef and Dairy Cattle’. Do not worry that it does not include other species, as the principles are the same. There are specific books for the treatment of pigs, horses and goats written by George MacLeod.
Homeopathy is not taught at veterinary school. Its mechanism of action is very different to conventional drugs. The majority of vets know nothing about it but will worry that it can’t work because the substances are too dilute to have an action. They are wrong, but understandably so, because homeopathic philosophy is very different to the current conventional view of medicine
PREVENTATIVE HOMEOPATHIC HEALTH PLAN FOR DAIRY FARMERS
Homeopathy can treat disease successfully. More importantly it could lessen disease by addressing the effects of stress in your animal. However good stockmanship is, a dairy cow by nature of its "job" is inevitably subject to stresses that wouldn't occur in nature. Concrete, unsuitable diet, too much food, the loss of the calf, groups larger than 40, overproduction of milk, transport, mixing of groups etc. Much disease from pneumonia to cancer can be caused by stress. A healthy unstressed animal or person has better resistance to illness, and if they do fall ill they often swiftly overcome it. This health plan is designed so that you can ease the inevitable pressures on your clients’ stock. It is based on the knowledge of the action of the remedies in human beings gained over 200 years. There have not been trials done specifically in animals for this health plan.
Homeopathic remedies when they are taken by healthy individuals produce a lot of physical symptoms. This is known as a proving, and is how homeopaths know what the remedies can treat in sick individuals. They also produce many mental symptoms. Of course people have described these feelings, but they are totally applicable to animals. This has been repeatedly verified in homeopathic veterinary practice. Animals are affected by fear, grief, resentment, homesickness, anxiety etc just as much as humans. These feelings can lead to physical disease in animals just as they do in us.
The remedies given below when used in a routine manner do not have to be given at the precise times suggested or all need to be given. Look at the individual farm and consider what is important. They do not all need to be given in the cows’ year as this may be too time consuming. Identify where problems are. Generally use the higher potencies for mental problems or when the suffering is intense – match the potency to the vitality of the animal. Also remember that there are other remedies that can be used in the situations outlined below. There are many remedies other than Aconite for fear or cold winds!
THE REMEDIES FOR MENTAL AND PHYSICAL STRESS
Aconite. This is the first remedy for shock and fear. Use routinely for TB testing, transportation, trapped in cubicle, stressful crush experiences etc and exposure to extreme weather conditions especially cold winds. Also use after and during a very difficult calving.
Aconite is frequently required at the beginning of many diseases but when the disease has progressed for a while it is usually too late for Aconite. Use the M potency frequently e.g. every five or ten minutes if required. For routine use I suggest morning and evening for two days starting on the day of stress.
Arnica. This is the remedy for falls, blows, bruising, the early stages of strains and haemorrhage. Often used after Aconite has dealt with the shock. Also use after Aconite post calving. Use the 200c potency frequently in acute situation. If the problem is deep pelvic bruising follow with Bellis.
Many diseases have their origin in shock. The quick use of the above may help prevent further illness, e.g. mastitis developing after a kick in the udder.
Ignatia. Use Ignatia for grief or any emotional trauma. Routinely use when calf taken from cow for both animals. Also useful for heifer first introduced into parlour and can facilitate milk let down. Use M potency twice daily for 2 days.
Nux vomica. Use the 30c potency twice daily for two days whenever a major diet change occurs or with accidental over feeding, along with your usual interventions. Routinely use 30c potency twice daily for 2 days seven to fourteen days after calving as cake consumption increases and repeat if required. In cases of acidosis etc give every 30 minutes until condition stabilised together with your normal veterinary procedures. This is also a constitutional remedy.
China. Use 30c potency three times daily whenever major fluid loss has occurred e.g. dehydration along with your usual procedures.
Calc-carb. Use when a problem with calcium metabolism may occur i.e. milk fever. Calc-phos may be substituted instead if the cow's constitution suggests this. Use 30c potency twice daily for two days. This is also one of the constitutional remedies in cattle.
Staphisagria. Give routinely to the victim in any cases of bullying. Use M potency twice daily for 3 days. The main feeling of this remedy is resentment.
Hypericum. Use at 200c potency in conjunction with Arnica every hour if any nerve damage has occurred e.g. “done the splits”. Also consider for intensely painful injuries after trauma along with your usual interventions.
Calendula. Give 30c potency four times daily for 3 days after any tearing/lacerating wounds.
Caulophyllum. Give the 30c potency routinely each week for the three weeks pre calving. Anecdotally this acts as a uterine tonic and may help to avoid calving difficulties and retained cleansing.
Sepia. Give 30c potency twice daily for two days three to four weeks post calving. This may help the return of oestrus and normalise the hormones. It may also help in cases where the cow rejects her calf. This is also a constitutional remedy.
Lac defloratum. Give 30c potency to calf twice daily for two days following the Ignatia after separation from the cow. This remedy is actually made from milk! It helps the offspring to cope with the loss of the mother. This is one remedy that you want to include in your year.
Tuberculinum. Give 30c potency twice daily for two days to all stock at six to nine months of age. This is a miasmatic (deep acting) remedy and may increase general health and help provide resistance against ringworm.
Urtica urens. Give 6c potency three times a day for three days to cow at weaning to help decrease milk production. The 30c potency is also one of the remedies to consider in mastitis where the first sign is loss of milk.
Camphor. One of the remedies to stimulate the calf to breathe after calving.
Thuja. Give 30c potency routinely the morning before any vaccination and again in the evening and following morning.