House of Delegates to deliberate again on homeopathy, acupuncturists

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The AVMA House of Delegates will deliberate for a second time on two proposals related to alternative medicine: a resolution that would discourage the modality of homeopathy and an application for membership from the American Academy of Veterinary Acupuncture.

In January 2013, the HOD first considered the resolution that would discourage homeopathy as an ineffective practice. The theory of homeopathy is that diseases can be cured by administering extreme dilutions of substances that in a healthy individual would produce signs similar to those reported for the disease.

Delegates referred the resolution to the board to consider referral to the AVMA Council on Veterinary Service. The board referred the resolution to the COVS and the Council on Research.

The COR scanned the literature for evidence on the clinical efficacy of homeopathic treatments. The council found that studies claiming a benefit from homeopathic remedies in veterinary medicine were either anecdotal in nature—that is, case reports—or were generally flawed in the experimental design or analysis. Furthermore, the council found that well-controlled clinical studies generally failed to substantiate any beneficial effect of homeopathic remedies. The COR concluded that there is no clinical evidence to support the use of homeopathic remedies for treatment or prevention of diseases in domestic animals.

Homeopathic pills and acupuncture needles

The COVS recently revised the AVMA policy on Complementary, Alternative, and Integrative Veterinary Medicine—with approval by the HOD in July 2013—and believes the policy clearly states the AVMA’s position that the same standards should be applied to any treatment modality. The COVS believes that the AVMA should not at this time single out homeopathy or any other treatment modality in alternative or traditional medicine for additional scrutiny of effectiveness.

The board agreed that it is not the purview of the AVMA to adjudicate individual therapies, whether traditional or alternative, and that the current policy on alternative medicine is adequate. Therefore, the board recommended that the HOD disapprove the resolution on homeopathy.

In July 2013, the HOD considered membership applications from the American Holistic VMA and the American Academy of Veterinary Acupuncture. The House admitted the AHVMA as a member but referred the AAVA application to the board to research AAVA’s representation of acupuncturists.

The board collected a series of messages from AAVA leaders and Dr. Narda G. Robinson, founder and director of the Medical Acupuncture for Veterinarians program. The AAVA leaders said the academy has members from across the spectrum of acupuncture philosophies. Dr. Robinson, on the other hand, asserted that the AAVA has demonstrated a commitment to traditional Chinese medicine above her program’s philosophy, which emphasizes a scientific approach.

The board, feeling that the AAVA is representative of veterinary acupuncturists, recommended approval of the academy as a member of the HOD.

The HOD will consider the homeopathy resolution and AAVA application during its regular winter session, Jan. 11 in Chicago. Proposals going to the delegates are available here. AVMA members can find contact information for their delegates here.

Related JAVMA content:

A debate on homeopathy (March 1, 2013)

New policies, allied group for HOD (Sept. 1, 2013)