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Pat Young of Pensacola, Fla., listened to her co-worker’s sad story. The woman’s young Labrador Retriever-Chow Chow mix, Coalie, had been bitten by a venomous snake, but she could not afford the anti-venom. With no other options to offer, her vet told her to keep the dog hydrated, and hope for the best.
Young, who is interested in holistic care, remembered some notes she had from a veterinary lecture about homeopathy. “It said for snake bites to use Ledum and Hypericum, two homeopathic remedies used to treat puncture wounds and nerve trauma, respectively,” Young says. “And I happened to have both of them in my homeopathic first-aid kit in the car.”
Almost immediately after taking the little white pellets, Coalie began to improve. The hard swelling on the side of her face shrunk, softening enough for the vet to aspirate it. Within two weeks, Coalie was almost healed.
“The vet went on and on about how incredible it was,” says Young, who herself consulted a homeopathic vet to treat her Border Collie, Flash, for incontinence, and to help Bo-Bo, her rescued Pomeranian, with an aggression problem. “But my co-worker said she didn’t know what to tell the vet about what she had done because she didn’t know how to explain homeopathy.”
What is homeopathy?
Young’s co-worker is not alone. Despite its almost 200-year-old existence, and a degree of acceptance in Europe, homeopathy is still not well understood in this country.
“Homeopathy is a very specific term that’s often used incorrectly,” says Stephen Blake, DVM, of San Diego, a homeopathic practitioner for more than two decades. “A lot of people think, incorrectly, that herbs are homeopathy. What they need to understand is that homeopathy is a specific technique using remedies that are made in a certain, controlled way. Unless an herb is prepared in homeopathic form, it’s not homeopathy.”
Homeopathy was pioneered by Samuel Hahnemann, a 19th-century German physician who tested a theory he read about in a medical textbook that cinchona bark, which contains quinine, would cure malaria. Chewing the bitter bark, Hahnemann became feverish and began perspiring profusely, essentially displaying the symptoms of malaria.