Dr. Richard Pitcairn

Written by Katja Schuett

An interview with one of the world’s foremost veterinary homeopaths.

Welcome to Hpathy Dr. Pitcairn! We are fortunate to have one of the world’s most experienced veterinary homeopaths with us today, and we all look forward to his sharing inspiring thoughts and experiences with us.

KS: You are a very lucky man. Would you tell us why?

RP: I can say I am lucky in the sense of when and where I lived – having the opportunity for education and reasonable comfort, growing up on the west coast of the US. There are few of us that have the good fortune to have their dreams come true. One of my dreams, from an early age, was to be able to relieve the suffering of disease, and even cure (in the true sense of the word) the terrible diseases that afflict our animal friends. I “discovered” homeopathic medicine. Along with nutrition, this wonderful method of treatment became the tool that I needed to bring this dream to fruition.

But, in retrospect, I also consider it most fortunate that my attempts to learn homeopathy were rejected. I approached some teachers, but was told that homeopathy could not be used by a veterinarian. I was, of course, very disappointed but the upside of this is that I had to study on my own. I learned from Hahnemann, Kent, Boenninghausen, Roberts, Clarke – all the historically great persons. I can see now that if I had taken “modern” training, I would not have been prepared for what I am now doing. Along the way, not knowing any better, I tried many different methods (almost too numerous to count) but gradually learned that what Hahnemann taught was the most reliable and the most efficacious. This has held me in good stead in that I now feel clear about what homeopathy is and am not susceptible to being seduced by some the new ideas.

KS: Like Hahnemann you were disappointed in practice with the lack of results. Looking into many healing approaches you finally settled on homeopathy. What makes it so superior to other healing methods?

RP: Well, I did not know it was superior at first. I had finished a 7 year program of study to obtain a PhD in immunology and virology. This coupled with my prior 6 years of training to be a veterinarian, put me in a position that whatever medicine methods I would consider had to make sense to my mind at that time. When I came across homeopathy, compared to some of the other modalities, it seemed a deeper extension of what I had learned in my education to that date. It was logical, had guiding principles, could be tested and confirmed. This set it aside from some of the esoteric and subjective techniques that I had looked into prior to this. These other methods were not confirmable, or too subjective, to really be considered either a science or a consistent body of knowledge. I would go to conferences and hear (of course) amazing stories, but they would be of things done that were not based on principle (or if they were, it was that one should simply be intuitive). I could see in homeopathy that this was a method that was scientific, testable, and above all, teachable to others. This meant, if it was effective, this knowledge could be shared, extended and a body of professional and skilled practitioners was a real possibility. It was only later as I began study and apply it, that I learned how superior it really was. This took time.

KS: You are a firm believer in homeopathy, even in serious illnesses. What makes you so confident ?

RP: I have been using homeopathy as my method of treatment for 30 years now, so I have seen many amazing things. One of the advantages of animal practice is that we can do treatment of very serious physical conditions that would not really be allowed with a human being. I mean that I could use just homeopathy (alone) for cancer, serious immune disorders, life-threatening infections – the sort of thing that if this was a human patient, to do so would be considered dangerous practice, certainly not allowed above the table. The seriously ill people I know that have been treated with homeopathy (at least in the US), have this coupled with allopathic treatment as well. No surprise that this is not very effective. So, as a veterinarian, I had this advantage and saw how very powerful that just a single remedy could be. I have seen homeopathy alone very quickly resolve bacterial infections, viral infections, and serious injuries.

KS: Could you share a case with us?

RP: For example, my own cat was bitten in the front leg and I did not discover it until the leg was gangrenous. I mean by this that the infection had developed to the point that the tissues of the leg had turned black, smelled bad, and were oozing rather nasty fluid. One dose of Lachesis resolved it and all the tissue healed and did not come off. This is unheard of in veterinary practice – that these tissues could return to normal. If I told a regular veterinarian this, they would think I had been smoking something.

Another personal story is that some years ago I had a torn meniscus in my right knee so that the knee joint would “lock up” and could not be moved one way or the other for a day or so. With time I learned some chiropractic tricks to unlocking it, but not unexpectedly, with time it became worse and would lock up 10-15 times a day. This went on for some years. At one point, I thought I saw what remedy to take, which I did in MM potency, and after a period of inflammatory reaction, after a couple of months, the knee returned to normal. It has never locked again and now I can sit cross-legged or in any position without a problem.

KS: Thanks to homeopathy! History is full of cures with the minimum dose, which prove the effectiveness of homoeopathy, also in animals where its effects cannot be attributed to suggestion or imagination. Veterinary practice has changed tremendously over the years. Whereas it must have been quite laborious yet idyllic in James Herriot’s times, the introduction of the so-called wonder drugs made cure seem easy to achieve and altered veterinary practice completely. How did homeopathy change your practice?

(For the benefit of our readers, James Herriot was an English country vet who practiced in the UK before and after the Second World War. His semi-autobiographical stories are bestsellers in Europe.)

RP: It was not idyllic to me. Might seem so reading the book, but the actuality of rolling about in the mud in the middle of the night trying to deliver a calf is anything but enjoyable.

KS: … every coin has two sides.

RP: Since converting my practice to the use of homeopathy and nutrition, my experience of being a veterinarian has been transformed. I am really, truly seeing animals get well from conditions that are simply considered incurable or hopeless from the conventional perspective. Not all patients can be helped, of course. lt depends on how much damage has been done. However, a much larger percentage of chronically ill animals can be brought to health than one would ever expect from our experience with the dominant school of medicine.

KS: Was Hahnemann right when saying that more patients die from their conventional treatment, than from the disease? What role does iatrogenic illness play in veterinary homeopathy?

RP: These drugs you refer to are very powerful, but do not cure. I know that most people think they do, but they confuse drug suppression with actual restoration of health. In veterinary medicine almost every patient receives a steroid, this regardless of the diagnosis. Why? Because the steroid is powerfully suppressive and can put down almost any symptom. It does this by closing down the immune system so that symptoms cannot be generated. This is indeed a “wonder” but the wonder part is why people don’t see through it.

As Hahnemann told us over 200 years ago, if the allopathic method continued then disease would increase, especially chronic disease, which is what we have seen. I would not say that these are iatrogenic diseases. I think it’s more accurate to say these are uncured diseases, aggravated and accelerated by treatments that weaken the patient and allow the disease to develop into a more severe form than it ever would have on its own.

KS: The early vets still blessed vaccines for animals. How do you come down on them today?

RP: There are some problems with vaccinations that should be understood by anyone interested in a holistic health approach. Vaccines are not always effective, and they may cause long-lasting health disturbances. Many people assume that vaccines are 100 percent effective. This belief can be so strong that even a veterinarian may tell you, “Your dog can’t have distemper (or parvovirus, hepatitis, or whatever, etc.) because he was vaccinated for that disease. lt must be something else.” But one thing I learned from my doctoral studies in immunology is that vaccines are far from 100 percent effective. lt is not just the injection of the vaccine that confers immunity; the response of the individual animal is the critical and necessary factor.

Several things can interfere with an ideal response (production of antibodies and immunity). These include vaccinating when the animal is too young; vaccinating when it is sick, weak, or malnourished; using the wrong route or schedule of administration, or, most importantly, giving the vaccine to an animal whose immune system has been depressed because of genetics, a previous disease or drug therapy. For example, the routine practice of giving vaccinations at the same time a pet is undergoing anesthesia or surgery (for example, a spay operation) can introduce the vaccine – organism at a time when the immune system is depressed for several weeks. lt is equally unwise to use corticosteroids (to control skin itching, for instance) at the time of vaccination. The steroid acts to depress the immune response and disease resistance, at the same time the vaccine challenges the body to respond vigorously to an introduced organism.

Even if your animal does have a good vaccine response and develops antibodies, there is no guarantee the disease will not occur. The immunity may be more against the vaccine organism than the natural disease. Or it may be that a mutant germ comes along that will not be susceptible to the antibodies formed. Or if something weakens the animal’s immune system later, that system may lack the ability to respond fully, and the natural disease may be able to get a foothold. Such weakening factors include the kinds of things we’ve been discussing throughout my book – stress, malnutrition, lack of vitamins, toxicity, drug effects, and so on.

So we see that the effectiveness of vaccination is a complex phenomenon depending on many factors, not the least of which is the overall level of health as determined by the total lifestyle. lt is interesting that retrospective studies of human vaccination practices now show that the actual protective effect, falls far below previous estimates. At the same time, there is emerging evidence of much harm done, especially to children.

Besides the possibility that they may not work, vaccines might also cause an acute disease or a chronic health problem. I have often noticed certain animals getting ill a few days to a few weeks after receiving vaccinations. Often the explanation given is that the dog or cat was already incubating the disease and was going to get it anyway. Granted that this may occasionally happen, in my opinion most of these instances are illness from the vaccine itself.

lt is likely that the animal was in a weakened state and the vaccine virus therefore caused a more severe reaction than the “mini-disease” intended. Whatever the reason, I have seen this problem occur most often after canine distemper, canine parvovirus, feline rhinotracheitis, or feline calicivirus vaccines were given (sometimes these latter two also cause a low-grade nose or eye inflammation in cats, which may last for months). Other vaccines, like the feline leukemia vaccine, do not seem to induce the illness they are supposed to prevent, but instead create conditions for another equally serious illness. The most frequent example of this, in my experience, is the occurrence of feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) a few weeks after administration of the feline leukemia vaccine. Sometimes the second virus was already in the cat, but the immune system was strong enough to withstand it until weakened by the vaccine disease (that is, the immune system was not able to cope with both diseases at the same time).

Long-term effects are the more serious possibility. Over the years, doctors practicing homeopathic medicine have accumulated information on the more subtle but stubborn problems of vaccination. To quote a contemporary writer on the subject, George Vithoulkas, “The experience of astute homeopathic observers has shown conclusively that in a high percentage of cases, vaccination has a profoundly disturbing effect on the health of an individual, particularly in relation to chronic disease.”

This disorder “engrafted” onto an individual by injection of a foreign disease is called vaccinosis and can be associated with a wide range of conditions. In many cases homeopaths have found it necessary to address the effects of vaccinations before full health can be restored. For example, Vithoulkas describes the case of a woman with terrible anxieties that were the result of a rabies vaccination she received as a child. She had experienced this condition for almost 40 years until cured by a method of homeopathic treatment chosen to antidote the ill effects of this vaccine.

Do these chronic effects occur in vaccinated animals? Very definitely. They are among the most common problems that I face in my practice. I believe this because I have learned that it’s usually necessary to use a homeopathic remedy that removes the effects of prior vaccinations before I am able to make significant progress in the difficult, chronic cases often brought to me. I have had a number of cases in which the individual dog or cat invariably took a turn for the worse whenever it was vaccinated.

Based on the experience of over 30 years of homeopathic practice, it is my opinion that most animal skin allergies (and similar skin diseases) are the result of repeated annual vaccinations. I also suspect that the widespread increase in diseases caused by immune system disorders (such as hyperthyroidism, inflammatory bowel disease, lupus, and pemphigus) is a result of increased use of vaccinations, especially of combination formulas. These vaccinations are highly unnatural to the body. Under natural conditions an animal is exposed to pathogens, but its body has ways to defend itself at the normal points of entry (the nose, mouth, or other mucous membranes). When a combination vaccine is given, a massive invasion of several potent pathogens charges quickly into the bloodstream, bypassing the frontline defenses. Is it any wonder that the immune system gets confused, “panics,” and begins attacking the body itself?

Fortunately, many other veterinarians are now recognizing this problem. Reports have appeared in journals over the last few years describing diseases that follow routine vaccinations—bleeding disorders, bone and joint inflammation, even tumors and cancers in some cats. At this point the attitude of most veterinarians is that these happenings are an anomaly. I think it will take many more years for the realization to dawn that some degree of adverse health effects occur in the majority of those vaccinated.

KS: Hopefully it will be soon when the harmful effects are broadly recognized. What can pet holders do meanwhile?

RP: What they can do depends on their access to a qualified holistic veterinarian. As an example, we have not used vaccinations (other than legally required rabies) in our practice for 30 years. In their place we give homeopathic remedies called nosodes, which are made from natural disease products. Distemperinum, for example, is made from the secretions of a dog ill from canine distemper. lt is sterilized, diluted, and carefully prepared in accredited pharmacies. When properly used, this medicine can protect a dog from distemper even better than the vaccine can. In fact, this method of disease protection, first developed by a veterinarian in the 1920s, showed impressive results even before vaccines were developed.

Nosodes are also available for a variety of animal disease conditions, but the ones that have been most useful to me are those for the “fixed acute miasms” as described by Hahnemann. Some diseases like parvovirus, feline leukemia, feline infectious peritonitis, are more variable and often related to an underlying psoric condition. I have found Distemperinum reliable, Parvovinum sometimes, Lyssin – who knows? We can’t really treat rabies legally and certainly can’t do control groups.

The best that can be done for a pet is to work with a homeopathically trained veterinarian that can assess first, that there is no underlying chronic disease or miasm already there (which is increasingly common), because if there is, then we don’t want to use nosodes with them as it unnecessarily stirs up the underlying condition. In that case we treat constitutionally first. However, if the animal appears healthy and the person does not want to vaccinate then these nosodes can be an effective alternative.

KS: When do you use “homeopathic vaccines”?

RP: Homeopathic nosodes are not simply a replacement for vaccines. They are not the same. They are used only temporarily during times of likely exposure. For example, I was able to stop an epidemic of parvovirus in a dog breeding colony by using the nosode for parvovirus for the week (only) when the disease was likely to occur in the puppies. Once through that “window,” they were all right and remained healthy. You will need guidance from a homeopathic veterinarian to use them properly in this way.

KS: What if someone cannot find this service or is afraid to not vaccinate?

RP: Let me suggest a modified plan that will at least minimize the chance of vaccine problems. Use single or simple vaccines instead of complex vaccines. Ideally, this means vaccinating for one disease at a time. Most practitioners will balk at such a request, however, because they will have to buy each single disease vaccine in quantity (an entire box) to serve only one client, suffering financial loss and wasting the unused vaccine. So you are generally offered the choice of getting a “simpler” combined vaccine, that is, fewer individual vaccines contained in a single shot. For dogs this will be a “DH” (distemper-hepatitis) and for cats a “3-in-1” (Panleukopenia, Rhinotracheitis, and Calici virus).

Though not perfect, these are far better than getting mega-mixes that might include Distemper, Hepatitis, Leptospirosis, Parvovirus, Parainfluenza, Bordetella, Rabies, Lyme Disease, Brucellosis, and more (which may be given all at the same time to dogs), or Panleukopenia, Rhinotracheitis, Calici, Feline Leukemia, Rabies, Chlamydia, Feline Infectious Peritonitis, etc. (often given simultaneously to cats).

lt is becoming more difficult to find single or simpler vaccines as time goes by. Sometimes only one manufacturer offers them. lt may be that you will have to track it down yourself. lt shouldn’t be this way, but unfortunately it is.

Where possible, use only “killed” or “inactivated” vaccines (as opposed to “modified live”). These “killed” vaccines cannot grow in the body and are generally safer to use (though more likely to cause hypersensitivity reactions , however using vaccines less frequently often minimizes this problem). Use a reduced vaccination schedule for young animals. You do not have to give a lot of vaccinations to have as much protection as is possible. In most instances, immunization of puppies or kittens is enough for several years or a lifetime of protection.

Don’t vaccinate an animal too early. Avoid the temptation to vaccinate before 16 weeks of age. Remember that the earlier your animal begins vaccinations, the more harm may be done to the immune system, and also the more vaccines received, the greater the chance for vaccine-induced illness.

Avoid annual boosters. There has never been scientific justification for the yearly booster shots recommended by veterinarians, even though they have become a popular practice. I advise against any further vaccinations after the initial series, as they are not necessary. Also, the latest official veterinary opinion states that annual revaccinations are neither required nor effective. Your veterinarian may not know of this or even agree with it. Rest assured, however, that experts in the field of veterinary immunology have taken this position and support your decision not to have your animal vaccinated every year. This is not new information, just ignored information.

KS: Good to know these valuable hints which equally hold true for humans. The treatment of vaccinosis and suppressed cases has made homeopathic treatment and cure much more difficult during the last decades. The challenge is, and remains the treatment of chronic diseases and miasms. Do you also see a shift to more destructive miasms in animals, similar to humans?

RP: Over the last 20 years there has been a huge increase in the use of vaccines and powerful biological drugs. This has pushed things in the direction of sycosis and syphilis as active miasms. There is much more cancer, immune-mediated diseases, allergies, arthritis, urinary problems – conditions typical of these miasms.

KS: Hahnemann wrote that the aid we seek lies in those remedies we already possess. We don’t need to find more remedies, but to discover the value of the medicines already in use. Are we today at a loss with our armament of remedies! Which role do polychrests and lesser known remedies play in your practice?

RP: I agree. Hahnemann, in his Chronic Diseases, tells us of the remedies he identified as most suitable for the treatment of the miasms, especially psora. Once I read this I put this advice into practice with a big jump in success in my cases. In the last 15 years or so, all my chronic cases that have improved, have done so from Hahnemann’s list of about 50 remedies. I have tried some of the newer remedies but they are not curative in the homeopathic sense, but rather palliative. I truly do not understand why so many practitioners have moved away from Hahnemann’s guidance in this regard.

As for the polychrests, they are the great gift of the practitioners before us. When Hahnemann and others started collecting proving information, they had no idea which remedies would be of most use. The last 200 years of clinical experience have identified these remedies for us, the polychrests. They are the remedies which should be most used in practice. The lesser known remedies are occasionally of use, but mostly in complicated, disturbed cases that have taken an odd form. In my experience they are never constitutional remedies.

KS: Do you work with a special veterinary repertory and materia medica ?

RP:   I started (30 years ago) using Kent’s repertory and used that for many years. As other reps appeared I moved along with them, to The Synthetic, for example (NOT Synthesis, but the one by H. Barthel). Then Synthesis, which I used for some years in my training programs, then The Complete (which is what will run on my Mac). But I ran into issues. The books kept getting larger, bigger rubrics, more of them and my analyses not being so clear as before. Added to this was the spurious (in my opinion) material being added to the repertories – like from “cured” cases (which were not really cured at all), meditation provings, careless provings (like cell phone and positron). I communicated with the powers that be about this, but they are caught in the marketplace and don’t really have the option of taking a more strict position. So I went back to square one, starting a new perusal of repertory use. That was when I looked more seriously at Boenninghausen (the Boger edition). At first I could not understand it, but as I studied and understood the philosophy behind it, it made a lot of sense to me. I started using it in cases. I went through a period of taking historical cases (Kent and others, as well as my own), ones that were cured apparently, and reworking them with different repertories, to see if I could determine which were most reliable, consistent, easiest to use.

I was surprised to find the Boenninghausen repertory came up again and again as the most useful by this criteria – for both animal work and human cases. I could find the curative remedy with other repertories, but the remedy would be much further down the list or buried in many other (again, my opinion, spurious information – bamboo, positron, placenta – stuff like that). So I found that Boenninghausen was by far both easiest to use and surprisingly more accurate. The last 5-6 years this has become my primary repertory to use.

As for materia medica, for most of my career I have relied on, first, Hering’s Guiding Symptoms, second Allen’s Encyclopedia, then, third, other sources such as Hahnemann’s Materia Medica Pura, Kent’s Lectures on Materia Medica, Lippe’s Keynotes, etc.

KS: How is your project of developing a veterinary repertory going?

RP: It has been in process for 12 years now. There were several starts that I decided were not going in the direction I was comfortable with. I finally settled on using the Boenninghausen repertory as the base, editing it and adding in rubrics from other sources for symptoms especially useful in veterinary practice. Primarily we are drawing from Kent, Jahr, and Boger’s Synoptic, but for some symptoms I will do a more complete perusal of the materia medica. We hope to have this completed and available as a computer book within the next few months.

KS: We look forward to seeing your repertory published soon. It will fill a gap and help making the treatment of animals easier and more successful.

As with Hahnemann, lifestyle and nutrition also play an important role in your treatment concept. What is the worst thing about the usual pet-food?

RP: Much of what is available as commercial foods are derived from the leftovers and rejects of the human food industry. The quality is not high. There are some other brands that use better quality ingredients, sometimes quite good sources. However, that they are processed at all is somewhat a consideration. I have found the best results are with food prepared at home, freshly.

KS: Yes, fresh foods keep all their natural conditions and must naturally be superior. Hahnemann was quite strict with diet rules and used to hand out a diet sheet together with his prescription. How much worse must it be today with all the processed and canned food that doesn’t contain any life energy! We live in a world where the variety of food is immense, yet most of what we eat does not nourish us. No wonder these negative factors are often a maintaining cause that prevent a full recovery or cure.

You founded the ANHC which offers education programs to provide a deeper understanding of the treatment of animals. Your pupils praise you as a gifted and powerful teacher, with excellent presentation skills, a sense of humor, and the ability to make complicated material understandable. What inspired your teaching work ?

RP: I never thought that there was a system of medicine that could do a better job than what I was taught in veterinary school. How could I have gone through all those years of training and not have heard of it? I now realize that this is the situation for many veterinarians who are looking for a better answer. Responding to this need, in the last few years I have turned my attention to the training of other veterinarians in this system of healing. We are in the middle of the fifteenth Professional Course in Veterinary Homeopathy, a post-graduate training program for veterinarians. We have about 500 veterinarians that have taken this training and are using homeopathic medicine in their practices. In I995, the Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy was established and serves as the guiding organization for training and research. This is the first veterinary homeopathic professional organization in the United States. These are very exciting developments for those of us in alternative medicine. I am very grateful for my good fortune in seeing these things come to fruition.

KS: What do you consider most important to get the right start in homeopathy?

RP: The program that I teach is based on the Organon and Hahnemann’s Chronic Diseases, supplemented by Kent’s work and others of the earlier period of homeopathy. I think this is the foundation that is needed. To put this more clearly, if education is based on some of the newer ideas and not on Hahnemann’s work, first, then the foundational principles are not established – and this foundation I consider essential to understanding the work.

KS: You put your knowledge into the book “Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats”, which introduced many vet’s to holistic medicine and homeopathy. Is mainstream veterinary medicine not up for a change?

RP: I am also very thankful for the wonderful acceptance our book has had, among both the public and the veterinary profession, so my final thanks is to you, the reader, for your interest and for your support.

To this point I have trained almost 500 veterinarians in the use of homeopathy. Yet, this is a small number compared to the total profession. The most popular alternative modality in the veterinary field is Chinese medicine and acupuncture. Interest in homeopathy is much smaller. My impression is that most veterinarians, even those using these other approaches, are still thinking with the mindset of allopathic medicine. The concept of cure vs. palliation and suppression, which is so important in homeopathy, has not really reached recognition yet in the profession as a whole. So, in that sense, no truly significant change in the profession as a whole is taking place yet.

KS: Finding a good veterinary homeopath may be like looking for a needle in a bundle of hay. What are your recommendations to clients looking for help for their animals?

RP: The following discussion is to help you with this specific problem – the finding of a suitable homeopathic veterinarian to treat your animal. It is often advised that you find a veterinarian that can offer homeopathic treatment to resolve difficult illnesses. Here we are recommending veterinarians that have been trained in the tradition of homeopathy, that which was originally started by Dr. Samuel Hahnemann and then developed over the next 200 years. This is the “type” of homeopathy that is taught by myself to veterinarians that take my post-graduate course.

The problem defined

The difficulty facing you as a client when you agree to seek this recommended treatment is that there are other practitioners that will say that they too are practicing homeopathy, even possibly saying what they are doing is “modern” or “advanced” homeopathy – implying that what they are doing is better.

The fact of the matter is that these other methods are not the homeopathy that has been used these last 200 years, but are new variations that have been introduced in the last 20 years or so. It is my opinion, from my experience in using homeopathy as my method of treatment over the last 30 years, that these “new” methods are inferior approaches and are not the methods to use. So when “Use a homeopathic veterinarian” is recommended to you, it is also necessary to give you this guidance to find that veterinarian. In other words you need guidance in recognizing that the veterinarian you would like to use is one that practices homeopathy as I’m advising you to use it.

Why practices differ

Why there are these variations in practice is a large topic and only brief indications of how these methods are different will be mentioned here. As background to this part of the discussion it helps to understand that there are broadly two schools of thought in medicine. The one we are most familiar with is called allopathic medicine and the goal of such treatment is to reduce symptoms in the animal patient. This sounds good, doesn’t it? The critical thing to understand is that reduction of symptoms (as is done with drugs and surgery) is not the same as restoring health. This is because it is possible to reduce symptoms, or make them go away with the action of drugs or by removing that part of the body (surgery), as a direct effect of this intervention. To make this more clear, it is the drug (or surgery) that is doing it – not the animal body healing itself.

The other school, in this case represented by homeopathy, sees symptoms as the defense mechanism of the patient and not to be suppressed as is done with allopathic medicine. Rather a single medicine is chosen that will stimulate a movement in the direction of recovery of health so that the symptoms disappear of their own when no longer needed by that animal.

When veterinarians take up homeopathic medicine they can learn it in the way recommended by myself, that is based on this critical difference in understanding, Or, they can learn it in a way that is closer to allopathic thinking. It depends on how they are taught and how much understanding has been established.

Types of practice

This being said, there are 5 main groupings we can make as to what you will encounter in your search for a veterinarian to work with.

1. The main form of homeopathy as taught by Dr. Hahnemann and developed over the last 200 years. Detailed information is elicited and standard reference works are consulted to determine a prescription. This is the method recommended by myself.

2. “Allopathic” homeopathy in which the medicines are used in a very similar fashion to how drugs are used in allopathic practice. Commonly, several homeopathic medicines are mixed together, often repeated, and sometimes injected into the body with a syringe.

3. “Psychic” homeopathy in which the standard reference texts (accumulated knowledge that guides homeopathy) are not used but rather an electronic machine, a radionic instrument, a pendulum (for answers to questions) or what is called “Applied Kinesiology” is used to determine how treatment should be done. The latter term is sometimes called “AK” and usually is done by testing the strength of the client’s arm while they touch the animal (or in some instances while holding a hair sample or blood spot).

4. Variations of what seems to be homeopathy in that the same remedies are used in some way, or the terminology is similar in sound. Examples are Homotoxicology and Anthroposophical medicine. The methods will be actually based on different principles and understanding of health and disease in spite of the apparent similarity in some of the language.

5. “Eclectic” practice, this being a type of practice in which homeopathy is one of several treatments done. For example, homeopathy combined with herbal medicine, chiropractic, acupuncture, perhaps even allopathic drugs.

Where does this confusion come from?

Part of the confusion in making the distinctions indicated here is that the usual form of homeopathy over the last 200 years has been called, well, just homeopathy. However, as these other variations have arisen then it became necessary to try to identify, what we may call traditional homeopathy, by some additional term that would distinguish it. This was first done by using the word “classical” as in “I practice classical homeopathy”. This was OK for a while but then the other forms of practice began using it the same way and it became valueless as a guide. More recently the preferred term is “Hahnemannian”, meaning the type of practice developed originally by Dr. Hahnemann. For now, it more or less works, but once again, is being picked up and used by the other forms of practice that actually have little to do with Dr. Hahnemann’s original work. So we need some additional guide to help us in being clear about we are getting in to. We will do this by using a list of cogent questions.

Guidance in determining the type of practice

You can use this series of questions when first contacting a veterinarian or their practice staff, questions you can ask that will enable you to see for yourself what kind of treatment they will be offering you – which category their practice style falls in to. Of course, once determined, it is up to you to decide if you want to proceed with that method or not. At least you will have more accurate expectations as to what will be done. This is not to say that these other methods of practice cannot help your animal. It is more that the homeopathy that I’m experienced with is the method that I am advising you to use, the form I have confidence in.

The following questions are devised to point you to the type of practice that is recommended by myself, so the question will be followed by an explanation of the meaning of the question and interpretation.

The questions

You may want to interview the potential practitioner by asking these questions directly, one by one. Alternatively it may seem easier to have a more free form discussion by bringing these questions up in a discussion. It is not necessary to ask every question as the undesired answer to any one of them will be enough for you to know that the method offered will not be compatible with your expectations (assuming you want treatment by homeopathy, or “Hahnemannian” homeopathy).

Q 1. What is your method of selecting the homeopathic prescription? Do you use a repertory and materia medica?

What we are asking here is to see if the basic books are being accessed. The terms used here – materia medica and repertory – refer to the root sources that a practitioner consults in doing this work. Be alert to suggestions of using any kind of machine or Applied Kinesiology or any psychic methods such as use of a pendulum or radionic device. The next question leads to that possibility even more. The answer we are looking for here is that they rely on the books listed rather than some other intuitive method (intuition is fine but it works better in homeopathy when the principles of homeopathy are well understood).

One response that may be confusing is the use of computers in working a case. There is computer software (the most popular ones being “MacRepertory” or “Radar”) that have the basic book material on a computer which makes the process faster and more efficient. This is very compatible with the proper use of homeopathy and is different than the computers that are used to read meridians or some kind of energy pattern of the patient (in which the computer is somehow hooked up to the patient).

Q 2. Do you use devices such as an Interro, Electroacupuncture according to Voll (or other electronic instruments), applied kinesiology, a radionic device or a pendulum?

Here we are asking specifically about the most popular forms of finding a remedy, using some assistance other than use of the intellect. The Interro is a computer setup that is said to read your meridians (while you hold a metal round object) and lists the remedies you need (usually multiple and given by injection). Electroacupuncture according to Voll is a similar electronic instrument with a probe held on the fingers and toes to read the meridians.

With both of these devices we move away from homeopathy to the model of Chinese medicine that teaches there are energy paths, meridians, that can be evaluated and which lead to the prescription. Whether or not this is correct is not the issue here. What it indicates, is that the practitioner does not understand or practice homeopathy in the usual sense of the word.

The other methods mentioned (AK, radionics, pendulums) rely on a presumed higher source of knowledge that bypasses the conscious intellect. The mind is made quiet, questions are posed and the device gives the presumed answer. If your quiet mind hears a “yes” to any of these I would avoid that practitioner.

Q 3. Have you studied Hahnemann’s book, the Chronic Diseases?

This will not mean anything to you as the customer but this is a basic book through which the practitioner learns how to treat chronic disease conditions. If they have not studied it (and surprisingly, many have not) then they will not know how to do this and will be using some other method of treatment that is not effective for these challenging cases. If they have not read it then I would not use them for cases that are difficult or prolonged, or what I have referred to as “chronic” in my book or on a forum.

Q 4. When you prescribe for a chronic condition, do you emphasize the remedies listed as antipsorics?

I know this is all “greek” to most people but the questions and terms in these questions really do focus down on these differences we are talking about. The medicines that are called “antipsoric” (silent “p”, anti-sorik) are the ones that are properly used in the treatment of chronic diseases. Many practitioners now use a large variety of other medicines and this is what we want to avoid.

You might meet some practitioners that do not even know what this means – which in itself is revealing. We are looking to find a practitioner that knows the importance of this group of remedies. If they answer “no” then seek further for a practitioner.

Q 5. In prescribing for a chronic condition, do you prefer to choose among the small remedies?

Another use of code words, “small remedies”. What this refers to is a recent practice of avoiding the medicines that have been learned to be of most use and importance over the last 200 years and instead using ones that have rarely been used or are little known. I know this sounds really strange (and it is). The idea is that some medicines have been overlooked and should be used more. An interesting idea but not one that is correct. If the answer is “yes”, seek further.

Q 6. Do you use remedies that are among those in the periodic table of the elements?

This is a modern method that emphasizes the minerals in the periodic table. They are for the most part not proven (how they act has not been determined) and it is suggested not to use a practitioner that emphasizes these.

Q 7. Do you prescribe using the idea of matching the patient to the Kingdoms of Nature? That is, deciding if the patient needs an animal, plant, or mineral remedy based on their appearance to you?

This is a most popular new idea of the last decade or so. It refers back to centuries ago when people thought that the plant or animal to use would be indicated by their appearance or activity. For example, a plant that oozed yellow sap when picked could be useful in treating liver problems with excessive yellow bile. Or a plant shaped like a human hand would be of use in diseases of the hand. This was referred to as the “Doctrine of Signatures”. This idea was rejected by Dr. Hahnemann at the outset as unreliable but has appeared again in contemporary practice as a result of influence of teachers from India.

For example, if you work with horses, love them and wear western wear, you will likely get “Lac equinum” which is horse’s milk. This, or some variant of it, is the most popular practice today. Obviously we are recommending against it.

Q 8. Do you use the “new” remedies such as the ones from human milk, chocolate, coca cola, hydrogen, placenta, human sperm?

I know this sounds really strange but nonetheless many homeopathic practitioners now emphasize the use of these odd substances that have never been used in homeopathy before and have dubious applications. They are neither necessary in treatment nor desirable in the sense that they mess up most cases and make later appropriate treatment more difficult.

Q 9. Do you prescribe Carcinosin very often?

Another question that is inviting the practitioner to reveal that they have been influenced by the modern teachers that emphasize these “new” remedies. Carcinosin is homeopathic medicine made from cancer of the breast and is often used in any patient that is considered “mistreated, suppressed emotionally, having withheld emotions, etc.” Way overused and inappropriately. Avoid this.

Q 10. Do you always prescribe one remedy at a time or do you mix remedies? Do you alternate two or more remedies?

This is really two questions but they are related. The first one refers to the deviation from standard practice of giving only one medicine at a time to the mixing of several together. This is never done in homeopathy (even though there are over-the-counter formulas sold). It is a practice done by those that have had little training in homeopathy and is basically, once again, “allopathic” homeopathy.

The other practice of alternating remedies refers to giving one medicine on the first day, another on the second day, then back to the first on the third day, and so on. It is giving medicines, at least two, back and forth. It may not be daily, could be weekly but the practice is not correct and to be avoided. Run, don’t walk.

Q 11. Do you use homeopathy as your chief modality? Or do you have other treatments used at the same time?

Here we have the possibility of homeopathy mixed with allopathic drugs, Chinese medicine or acupuncture, herbal treatments (potent forms of), or along with variants like Gemotherapy, Homotoxicology, and such like. Generally, there is no interference if nutrition and/or chiropractic is used at the same time (if no laser use or application of camphor), however the other ones listed will interfere with the response or make interpretation difficult. Most importantly, the practitioner that uses all these methods (an eclectic practice) will not have the desired understanding of homeopathic practice.

Q 12. If you are treating an animal with homeopathy and they need dentistry (perhaps teeth removed), or are thought to have Lyme disease, or develop an infection or abscess, would you then change over to using antibiotics and other allopathic treatments?

There are many veterinarians that offer homeopathy, that do not really rely on it when “times get tough”, when there is what appears to be an infection or severe inflammatory condition. This, of course, is their professional opinion, but going back and forth between homeopathy and the usual use of drugs does not really work well and is not the most skillful approach. You may not have choice in this regard but if you do, especially with animals having a chronic condition, try to find a veterinarian that firmly believes in and uses homeopathy even in what appears to be serious illness.


I know these questions seem complicated and excessive, yet I don’t know any way around it if you really want to make an evaluation of this practice. It is unfortunate, but a reality, that there is no agreed upon standard of practice among homeopathic veterinarians. So it comes down to the customer to make the determination. This is not really fair or desirable but the way it is. If homeopathy develops to the point of more use, of being taught in the veterinary schools, then it is possible that a standard will be established. Until that day “caveat emptor”.

You likely could find out if you want to work with this practitioner, after asking just a few questions – certainly the undesired answer to just the first two or three would be enough to make the decision.

One place you can start looking is the referral list on my web site. The list is my students that have taken the Professional Course in Veterinary Homeopathy, a year-long program of 130 hours in class with other homework and study which prepares them for homeopathic practice. Mind you, even so, it is necessary to determine if that veterinarian has stayed with the method taught there or has moved in one of these other directions. The questions are still appropriate.

KS: Thank you for these comments which surely narrow down the choice and help to save suffering and money. You’ve been in veterinary practice for decades and helped many animals over the years. Thank you for sharing your valuable knowledge with us today!

RP: You are welcome. I would like more veterinarians to embrace homeopathy and learn to use it skillfully. Perhaps this will happen.

Katja Schütt
Homeopathy for Everyone

About the author

Katja Schuett

Katja Schutt, Msc, HP, DHM, PGHom, DVetHom, has studied homeopathy with several schools, amongst which David Little’s advanced course stands out as it offers a really deep insight into homeopathic philosophy and materia medica ( Her current focus lies in working with animals and studying history, the old masters, and research.


  • The old ways are the best. I heartily agree with Dr Pitcairn’s opinions. It’s interesting he found Boger-Boenninghausen best. I found this a hybrid sort of book, between Kent and Boenninghausen’s Pocketbook and somewhat confusing. I find the Pocketbook best for most purposes. See for much more on this book.

  • Brilliant and informative article. Interesting information on vaccinations. Just wish there were someone like this in the area I live. Excellent leaders and advice on mixing of homeopathic remedies and those from other disciplines. Thank you for publishing this.

  • Excellent article.I look forward to his repertory.I have used books on vetinary homeopathy before by wolff and macleod,with some success.Particularly interested in the piece on vaccinoses.I used to have a springer that started having fits and after treatment by a homeopath the fitting stopped immediately.Very impressed.

  • Is it possible to ask Dr. Pitcairn a question via this feedback feature? My neigbours feed a stray cat. One day they discovered a nasty infection at one of the cat’s forearms. They couldn’t catch it to bring it to the vet. So they asked me if I had an idea of what to do. Using a repertory I also ended up with Lach, which we added to the cat’s food (200C), and within a week the cat’s injury had gone.
    My question is: This cat, and I think Dr. Pitcairn’s cat, are not nourished and kept in a wrong way as many other domestic cats. Does he experience that those fat lazy cats can be treated with homeopathy as easily as healthy ‘wild’ cats?
    Sincerely yours,
    Siegfried Letzel

    • Interesting question. I have to say that almost all the cats I am called on to treat are in the “fat cat” category if by that you include most domestic cat pets. Some are on much better diets (natural) but I have very few really wild animals I have treated.
      As for response to remedies I can’t say I have come to conclusion about any differences. There may be. Perhaps my lack of noticing.

      • I have a 14 pound Chihuahua/Jack Russell mix that has very red gums and is pawing at his mouth and reluctant to eat. His teeth were cleaned 2 0r 3 years ago. He is 8 and in very good health. I read your recommendation about use Myrrh and wonder, are there any side effects I should be concerned about and how much do I mix with water to either flush is mouth or brush?

        Thank you,
        Donna hess

      • Dr. Pitcairn, could you share with us what the remedy was that helped unlock your knee?

        Thank you and bless you,

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