The British Association of Homeopathic Veterinary Surgeons, BAHVS, 2019 Annual Conference was an inspiring conference held in the stimulating setting of Stirling University and huge thanks must go to vet Dr Wendy McGrandles for organising and chairing it. It was appropriately titled Alive and Kicking as everyone’s enthusiasm for homeopathy is clearly undiminished and vets are reporting an upsurge in enquiries from owners keen to access holistic veterinary care for their animals. As ever, the conference was multinational with attendees from Japan, USA, Germany, France and The Netherlands as well as the UK. It was a great opportunity to take stock, discuss the latest techniques and principles, and strengthen our resolve to remain at the cutting edge of veterinary medicine. Homeopathic vets are, indeed, alive and kicking and will continue to contribute to the best in animal care that vets across the country provide. 

​As with all fields of veterinary science, it’s important to keep up to date with evolving techniques and developments. Delegates enjoyed a diverse programme including new insights in the following areas:

  • Little known remedies;
  • New techniques for case analysis and remedy selection;
  • Constitutional prescribing i.e. prescribing for the patient as a whole;
  • Successful case studies;
  • The role of suppression in illness;
  • The role of the unique relationship between patient, owner and practitioner;
  • The development of a dedicated veterinary repertory – an index of disease symptoms (as opposed to extrapolation from the human repertories);
  • Raw feeding and homeopathy.

Some of these lectures and discussions will appear in more detail in the CAM4animals blog later in
the year, but here are some of the highlights:

Dr Lise Hansen described one of many successful case studies highlighted over the weekend. This involved a white German Shepherd Dog with such severe skin issues and extensive whole-body hair loss that euthanasia seemed to have been the only reasonable option. However, four weeks after single dose of the appropriate constitutional remedy, which was prescribed according to the dog’s temperament and physical symptoms, she returned to the clinic unrecognisable with a rapidly growing full coat of luxuriant white hair. Homeopathy used like this is so much more than an acute remedy for a particular condition. It should be noted that no external preparations were used in this case study since these are often contraindicated as they can suppress symptoms rather than cure.

Dr Shelley Epstein covered the Vijayaker Principles. These incorporate the understanding of the principles of embryology, genetics and immunology. They consider the role of suppression in illness and how deep this suppression goes within the body. They can also inform the way we approach diagnosis and prescribing in order to enable a cure.

Dr Nick Thompson gave a presentation on food and homeopathy – would Hahnemann (the founder of homeopathy) have supported raw feeding? On balance, Nick concluded that he would.

On a more sombre, but serious note, Dr David Reilly gave a thought-provoking lecture as a reminder that vets have a suicide rate of four times that of the general public and two times that of any other healthcare professional, reflecting the current concern for health and wellbeing within the veterinary sector as a whole. He covered the need to grow through challenge and to find ways of accessing hope and positive action to stave off the negativity which can lead to depression. These considerations are useful for anyone under stress of course, and it’s important that people are generally nurtured and mutually supported.

A big thanks must also go to our corporate sponsors:

  • Helios (homeopathic pharmacy);
  • Pet Plus (nutritional supplements);
  • Pet Remedy (natural de-stress and calming remedies);
  • Bella and Duke (species appropriate food); and
  • Freemans (homeopathic pharmacy).

These companies all produce top quality holistic animal care products, and each gave very informative presentations.

Lee Kane, a qualified pharmacist from Freemans Homeopathic Pharmacy, long time sponsors of the BAHVS Conferences, has developed a harmonious relationship with both the Veterinary Medicines Directorate and the US Food and Drug Administration by approaching them in a spirit of cooperation. I would suggest that he would be an excellent ambassador to give the RCVS a balanced view of homeopathy given that he successfully runs a conventional and homeopathic pharmacy side by side.

Rowan Sanderson from raw food company Bella and Duke, spoke about ‘The Role of Lectins in Leaky Gut’ which left me wondering what on earth is safe to eat! He explained that lectins are sticky plant proteins which herbivores can digest but humans and dogs cannot. Zonulin is the gatekeeper of intestinal permeability and is implicated in Coeliac disease and type 1 diabetes. Grains and lectins cause zonulin to be released which interferes with the “tight junctions” between cells that line the intestine and leads to a torrent of gut bacteria coated with lipopolysaccharides entering the bloodstream. The body then floods the bloodstream with cytokines which regulate immunity and inflammation and may eventually lead to auto immune disease if this reaction is continually repeated. Auto immune disease is the result of three key factors – genetic predisposition,  intestinal permeability and sufficient stressors including grains and lectin-rich plants. Pea lectin, often found in dog food, for example, can bind to taurine which may be a factor in the development of cardiomyopathy in certain dogs. Bella and Duke is an example of grain free, low lectin food. 

On a different note, Dr Ilse Pedlar talked about the recently published Poetry Anthology, Giving Voice. This is a fund-raising collaboration between BAHVS and CAM4animals with contributions from vets, doctors and supporters of complementary medicine. It’s available to buy for £10 from BAHVS and Helios Pharmacy. All profits go to CAM4animals.

Finally, all delegates were delighted that Dr Sue Armstrong is seeing animal patients once again and being part of a strong homeopathic veterinary community treating patients on the ground with a range of modalities and professional expertise at their fingertips. An update from CAM4animals was delivered as only Sue can to a receptive and appreciative audience.

The future
Everyone went away feeling energised and enthusiastic about the future of veterinary homeopathy and CAM in general. Informed choice is crucial in healthcare and there is increasing support from a wide range of animal owners and farmers who would like access to a full range of veterinary healthcare options. CAM vets, like any other specialists, can also play a significant role in the referral sector – providing back up to primary care vets in certain circumstances.

I would love to see another conference where mainstream vets can gain more information and see the potential of CAM that would enable their individual practices to widen the service they can offer clients.