Homeopathy, a Solution for Calf Diarrhoea

Homeopathy, a Solution for Calf Diarrhoea

bioveem calf

Bioveem : External Report 12 February 2006

Bioveem is a collaboration project of 17 biological milk cattle holders, Louis Bolk institute, Animal sciences group / practice investigation and DLV- advice group n. v.

Preface

Research has been done into the use of homeopathic remedies for the prevention and treatment of calf diarrhoea by different cattle holders, inside and outside the project Bioveem and by students of agricultural colleges.

The report gives an account of the experiences that cattle holders have gathered with the use of homeopathic remedies in calf diarrhoea Starting from these experiences double blind research has been done into the prevention and treatment of calf diarrhoea with the help of homeopathic remedies.

The expectation was such that the homeopathic research conducted in this way would yield better results. These expectations were confirmed. This is why the procedure used in this research is offering interesting perspectives for homeopathic research in the future. Our gratitude goes out to the cattle holders and the students who have collaborated with the research.

Liesbeth Ellinger

Resume and recommendations for practice and for homeopathic research

Diarrhoea is one of the most prevailing problems the calf can suffer from, during the period of weaning.

Cattle holders who are familiar with the use of homeopathy regularly use homeopathic remedies for the treatment of diarrhoea There are others who use them to prevent the diarrhoea .

In this research paper, the experiences of cattle holders with homeopathy on their own farms are described. It can be confirmed that the experiences of the cattle holders give clues for the positive effects of the administrated homeopathic remedies.

In continuation, double blind research has been done into the effects of homeopathy for the prevention of calf diarrhoea . It seems there is a significant difference in the prevalence of diarrhoea between calves that received a preventive homeopathic remedy and the ones that received placebo.

Double blind research into the effect of treatment of calf diarrhoea has been done with different homeopathic remedies. The choice of the remedy was different according to the company and was chosen according to the experience of the cattle holder. It became clear that a significant difference in the time of cure of calf diarrhoea between animals treated with homeopathic remedies and the ones administered a placebo could be established.

Research into the effects of homeopathic remedies with animals as well as humans, in a number of cases, show no significant difference between placebo and verum group.

This does not correspond with the good results obtained by homeopathy used in diseases described by cattle holders who frequently use homeopathy at their plantation. This is why in this research a method has been looked for that gives justice to the homeopathic principles of individualization to come to a choice of a remedy and at the same time makes use of the previous experiences of cattle holders. For the research, cattle holders have been selected that had previous positive experiences with the use of homeopathy in calf diarrhoea .

On these farms double blind research has been done, making use of the particular homeopathic remedy pointed out by the cattle holder as being effective on his farm.

Because of this design the probability for better results is more likely, in contrast with other homeopathic research.

Recommendations

Recommendations for cattle holders

The prevention of calf diarrhoea always deserves priority above intervention with more or less artificial means. When the appropriate measures of hygiene, nutrition, climate, etc. yield insufficient result, preventive use of homeopathic remedies is recommended.

The use of homeopathic remedies with calf diarrhoea results in a shorter duration of diarrhoea and so is recommended when it appears.

It is recommended to make a clear differentiation between different remedies to come to an optimal result.

The general condition of the calf, as well as appetite and drinking behavior, seems in a number of cases to give some additional information to be able to come to a correct choice of the remedy and as such should be taken into account in choosing the homeopathic remedy.

Color, smell and consistency of the dung gives useful information and should also be taken in to account when choosing the remedy.

An indication can be given for the use of the homeopathic remedies that were tested.

Calcarea phosphorica 200K can be given with white dung that often doesn’t stink much and often is caused by drinking to much milk.

Arsenicum album is successfully given when the diarrhoea is very smelly and the animals are weak and diseased. The smell of the dung is especially decisive for the choice of Arsenicum.

Veratrum album is given when the dung looks like water and so is almost colorless. Mostly the dung doesn’t smell much. It can however look green and may be smelly. The animals can at the onset of symptoms abstain from weaning and at a more serious stage they can become that weak so as to be unable to stand on their legs.

A few other remedies can possibly treat calf diarrhea. It means knowledge of homeopathy is a requisite in coming to a correct choice. In case a cattle holder wants to use homeopathy on his farm it is recommended that he follows a course in homeopathy first.

Recommendations for homeopathic research

In view of the positive results of this research, it is recommended that these same experiences are repeated and elaborating upon.

With homeopathic research, in the first instance, it is important to choose an affection with clear symptoms so the choice of the homeopathic remedy can also be clearer and fit correctly.

Vague images and affections such as a high cell count give unclear information for correct homeopathic prescription and as a consequence will lead to disappointing research results.

Serious affections react faster to the administration of homeopathic remedies compared to more mild affections so they are more fitting for research.

Affections prevailing among a larger number of animals and with the same symptoms are more fitting for double blind research than individually prevailing diseases.

When the study was executed it seemed of primordial importance that for a successful study it was first necessary to find out the fitting remedy for this particular farm, before any double blind test could be put in to practice.

Pre-investigation on the farm when no clear experiences with homeopathy were present is therefore recommended.

Research on farms of cattle keepers who had previous experience with the use of homeopathy and were able to differentiate between different remedies is therefore preferred above randomly chosen farms.

So it is important that the rules of homeopathy are respected and that according to the farm the fitting and most active remedy can be singled out.

Also more then one remedy may be necessary on the same farm and one needs to differentiate during the test.

Groundless  administration of a standard remedy leads to disappointing results.

After experience has been gained in treating and researching relatively simple affections, it is recommended to enlarge the homeopathic investigation step by step to treat affections that demand more experience as far as treatment as well as research is concerned.

1 Introduction

1.1calf diarrhoea

Diarrhoea is one of the most prevailing affections the calf can suffer during the period of weaning. Research conducted in the USA demonstrates that among cattle keepers 27 % of weaning calves suffer from one or more forms of diarrhoea. Out of these 52% die because of the consequences of this diarrhoea ( Marcinkowski, 2003 ). In The Netherlands also it seems to be a problem not to  be under estimated. At the Bioveem farms diarrhoea occurres regylarly. The total death rate of calves till the age of 90 days is 3.7 %.

There are different pathogens that can cause diarrhoea . The most important ones are

Bacteria
-E. coli ( diarrhoea mostly within 4 days after birth)
-Salmonella ( S. dublin, S. typhymurium) ( 10 d – 10 w )
Viruses
-rotavirus (4 – 21 d)
-coronavirus ( 4 -21 d )
Protozoa
-cryptosporidium parvum ( 5- 21 d )

Apart from these causes, diarrhoea can be caused by wrong nutrition or by a combination of all the above.

Environmental factors such as accommodation, climate and general hygiene on the farm play a major role in the prevalence of diarrhoea. This makes it difficult to assess a simple cause for the diarrhoea and this is why it is difficult to give an effective cause-directed treatment.

As such diarrhoea is not a disease in itself that is caused by a contamination of one or more pathogens, but more a symptom as a consequence of these pathogens or a disturbance of the environmental factors.

1.2Homeopathy

Especially among biological cattle holders, but also among the more common ones there is a lot of interest for homeopathy. On the one hand the homeopathic ( holistic ) philosophy is more in resonance with biological farming. On the other hand after administration of chemical remedies, the products of these animals can not be used for human consumption. This waiting time is different for different medicines, but for biological agriculture a double barrage time is in application.

The search for alternatives for these medicines is a logical consequence.

Among vets active in the agriculture pet sector there seemed to be no interest for homeopathy. Because of this a group of biological cattle keepers has been pushing for a solution so they are still able to apply homeopathy.

In the year 2000 a course was started for (milk) cattle keepers where they could become acquainted with homeopathy and could learn how to solve themselves a number of problems with  the help of homeopathy

Starting from 2000 up till now 21 courses of homeopathy applied to affections in  cattle have been given.

In all 280 cattle keepers have participated in the courses.

Because of the setup of the course where the exchange of experience plays a central role, it became very quickly clear which affections can be treated in a relatively simple and successful way and which affections can only be treated by more experienced cattle keepers.

In recent years regular research has been done into the use of homeopathy, also among farm animals( Baars & Baars 2002, Schutte 1994 ). In the cited papers in a number of cases there seems to be a significant success with homeopathic treatment. The convincing results the cattle keepers mention in practice can however not very often be recognized in these researches.

Homeopathy starts from the individual patient. This means that the choice of the remedy is not determined by the disease but rather by the subjective symptoms the patient experiences during his illness. This makes it possible  that different patients with the same disease all can  be prescribed  a different remedy. Research is not very often  conducted with this fact in mind.

Farm animals live in large groups under the same circumstances such as climate, accommodation, nutrition, care, etc. Moreover these animals have a similar genetic background. When these animals get diseased more or less at the same time and when they also get more or less the same symptoms it appears that very often they are administered the same remedy.

So it seems possible with these animals to deviate from the strictly individualized homeopathic prescription and to treat these animals as a group.

This makes such a group extremely suitable for double blind research.

One of the goals of the research is to ascertain whether it is possible to ameliorate the setup of homeopathic research. This is accomplished by keeping in mind the principles of homeopathy and with the fact that groups of animals under certain circumstances can by treated by the same homeopathic remedy. Also the previous experience the cattle keepers had with the use of certain homeopathic remedies was taken into account.

One of the affections cattle keepers seem to be able to treat with success is calf diarrhea. It was decided to put up double blind trials for the treatment of calf diarrhea on 3 Bioveem farms.

Also research has been set up at 1 other company that can successfully prevent diarrhoea with the help of homeopathy ( preventive use ).

1.3Objective and questionnaire

Objective

the description of experiences cattle holders had with the use of homeopathy at their own company.
-the verification of these experiences by means of double blind research.
-the verification of the thesis that homeopathic research among farm animals, that acknowledges the homeopathic principles and where the previous experiences of the farmers  are taken into account, yields better results.

Questionnaire

how do the cattle keepers judge the effect of the homeopathic treatment? Does their experience demonstrate a preventive and / or curative action of homeopathy?
-does the double blind research demonstrate that the homeopathic treatment on the concerned farms is effective?
-are better results from the double blind research to be expected when the choice of the homeopathic remedy is based on the already existing experience of the cattle keeper which remedy is giving the best results for his animals?

Bookmarker : the experiences in relation to homeopathy of these various cattle keepers are discussed. Next the trial with the preventive treatment is discussed, followed by the trial with the curative treatment. The last one was executed among 3 companies with various homeopathic remedies. First the different companies are discussed separately and after follows an overview of the totality of all results.

2 Inventory of the experience of cattle keepers with homeopathic treatment of calf diarrhoea

Next follows the reports of the interviews with the cattle keepers. In the reporting the literal citations are used as much as possible. The interviews have principally been conducted by Eric van der Hoeven, student of Hogeschool Holland and this is in the framework of his thesis.

2.1 Interview JN

Effect of the preventive treatment

The cattle keeper borrows the effect of the homeopathic treatment from the calves themselves.

When the calves drink properly again the farmer assumes this is due to administration of the remedy. Adjoining with this the farmer relates what happens when no homeopathic treatment is given.

Earlier when I  didn’t do homeopathy, all calves got diarrhoea before the 2nd or 3rd day. The remedy Calcarea Phosphorica is given in first instance to all calves. This does the job, then the animals are never bothered with diarrhoea

Striking, is the fact that calves treated during the first days of their life with the objective of preventing diarrhea never get the affection at later stages of their life. Healthy animals without preventive treatment can get diarrhea at a later stage.

Certainty

The certainty of the cattle keeper as to attribute the general amelioration to the preventive treatment is derived from the following elements

When the animals drink a whole lot of milk, the next drinking moment they tend to refuse the drink. At that time they are overfed and because of this the risk of diarrhoea increases. When at that time I give them Veratrum after half a day they start drinking normally and they don’t get diarrhoea. In the past I have given them Calcarea Phosphorica but this remedy doesn’t work in this case.

Before, all my calves had diarrhoea. Since I give them a homeopathic remedy it is not a problem anymore. Now in a period of 6 months I have successfully treated 60 calves.

( preventive )

Searching for the correct therapy

In general the cattle keeper experiences positive results after he gave a homeopathic remedy. Still it happens that in the way described above the homeopathic remedy doesn’t yield the expected results.

After I administered Calcarea Phosphorica twice, there were still a lot of calves suffering from diarrhea The diarrhea was thin and green, it smelled but not very badly. Then I gave Veratrum on account of what Liesbeth Ellinger proposed to me. I administered the remedy twice, then it was finished.

Sometimes I tend to stick too long with the same remedy. In spite of the fact that I don’t notice any real amelioration, I keep on giving the same remedy because I think I chose the correct remedy. I find out that it is better to substitute another remedy more quickly when there is no or an insufficient result.

2.2 Interview Jos Elderink

Effect of the remedy

The cattle keeper uses Calcarea Phosphorica as a standard remedy for diarrhoea of his calves . He starts treating when the calves start showing clinical symptoms.

The cattle keeper notices the calves reaction to ascertain if the remedy is helpful.

One can see how the dung is. In fact the dung should be more consistent after half a day and the calf should be more alert, it should not be lying in a corner. Calves that have been treated mostly have more smoother coat. After successful treatment the calves start drinking normally again.

Ones I had a calf where I  used Dulcamara. He also had a more different diarrhoea , it was green slimy diarrhoea and the calf was bad.This remedy helped well.

I have applied Arsenicum. The calf reacted somewhat, but not enough. I gave this remedy after the calf didn’t re-establish itself from the Calcarea Phosphorica.

Certainty

Answering to the question as to why the cattle keeper thinks a certain remedy works he answers the following :

When after the administration of a homeopathic remedy within one day the calf is better, the remedy must have acted.

Calves treated mostly don’t relapse. Occasionally they do, but in that case I stopped the therapy to early because I want them to be better quickly. Then I just give the same remedy again and within one day it is finished.

2.3 Interview Marco van Liere

General impression

To come to a clear differentiation of the action of homeopathic remedies it is imperative that we should be aware of the seriousness and extent of the calves diarrhoea .

Before I was in to homeopathy the problems were much larger. First I built new stables so calves could be accommodated more hygienically. Nevertheless I kept on having a lot of diarrhoea and I didn’t get rid of the contamination. Now that I am busy with homeopathy I don’t think in terms of contamination anymore. When a calf gets diarrhoea I look at the kind of diarrhoea and the calf itself and from thereon try to give the correct remedy.

When to give which remedy

The cattle keeper tries to treat his calves with diarrhoea as fast as possible. Already at the pre- symptomatic stage he tries to intervene. When he sees the calves don’t drink all their milk and / or keeps on sucking their weaning bucket he gives them Arsenicum but not Veratrum.

With Veratrum you really notice it  at the dung, the dung is very watery then. When they drink ¾ of their portion of milk I give them Arsenicum.

Electrolytes I only give when the calf has a tremendous diarrhoea , so that he still has some something to drink.  This is especially with calves that first had Arsenicum.

Arsenicum diarrhoea in my experience smells more. So when the diarrhoea smells I give them Arsenicum. Veratrum is more watery. When I don’t smell the diarrhoea I think about Veratrum. Calcarea phosphorica  I use when I see thick white dung

My father also applies homeopathy for the animals, but then on my advice. So he thinks Arsenicum works and gives it to all calves with diarrhoea . When it doesn’t work he saya we should give electrolytes anyhow. I look at the symptoms and see that the animals don’t have symptoms for Arsenicum but for Veratrum. The next day I give them milk again and Veratrum and then it subsides.

Effect of the remedy

The cattle keeper started with the remedy Arsenicum after early 2002 he followed the homeopathy course given by Dr Liesbeth Ellinger.

Arsenicum seemed to be working over a period of 3 months. Then it became less. In fact we got two phases in the diarrhea. First was Arsenicum that helped for about 80%. The calves got a thick white dung as if they had been drinking a lot of milk which they weren’t, but then I gave Calcarea Phosphorica and after this it was finished. Like this it worked for a long time, but then it didn’t act anymore and I didn’t really understand it.

Liesbeth Ellinger declared in her continued homeopathy course that Veratrum also has a positive effect on calves with diarrhoea . After this the cattle keeper also started using this remedy with success.

Then I started using Veratrum, gave it a few times and it subsided.

The remedy is delivered in granules, these are dissolved in water and next put into drinking bottles.

What I like most is that when you give the remedy, the calves lick the remedy. I spout it unto their mouth or nose and when they lick it I feel like I found the correct remedy. I think cows and calves know what they need and recognize the correct remedy.

Certainty

When it is correct, it acts fast.It can really be that if you see it coming in the morning and you give Arsenicum in the evening you can’t notice anything anymore. Sometimes I have the idea that right after I gave the remedy the calves want to drink again. Then I  for example give Arsenicum and put the calf on the weaning bucket and it drinks again. It is as if thinking I can take the milk because I got Arsenicum anyhow.

When asked if the cattle keeper has any idea as to how it is possible that homeopathic remedies work he gives the following statement.

When a few years ago I had a problem with mastitis I was asked to do some research into the contaminators. From the investigation it seemed 3 possible germs could be causing  the mastitis. The cows seemed to have a bit of everything in the udder. Then this makes me think it is not a contamination problem but an immunity problem.

With the calves exactly the same thing, they already became sick from a simple household bacteria. So you need to improve the resistance.

Based on his experience the cattle holder knows that the administrated homeopathic remedy is the original cause for improvement, as far as the health of the calf is concerned.

Before I only used electrolytes and kept the calves for about 3 days on these, but then after I gave them 1 litre of milk, the diarrhoea started reappearing immediately.

I had to pull very hard to let the calves recuperate again. Now I give them the homeopathic remedy, in this case Arsenicum and after half a day it simply goes well again and they drink again.

I hear from farmers that they have to get rid of their calves after 10 days because otherwise the animals get to severe diarrhoea .When my calves still have to grow I simply let them stand because my calves are not bothered by anything.

After the cattle keeper successfully gave homeopathic treatment for the diarrhea, the diarrhea never relapsed. In the past after administrating electrolytes it did occur. After a few days the diarrhoea regularly returned.

To conclude the cattle keeper tells the following.

Sometimes I hear about farmers that start with homeopathy and straight away start treating a cow that has high cell count for 3 years. Then I think you should start with the easy things and gradually move a step forward. Probably this cow can’t be helped anymore. Start with calf diarrhoea , then success is guaranteed.

2.4 Interview Jaap Drijfhout

The cattle keeper only uses homeopathy when the animals really have diarrhoea . The cattle keeper starts treatment with hay thee and electrolytes. When this doesn’t work he uses the remedy Arsenicum.

Effect of the homeopathic remedy

At this moment on this plantation the remedy Arsenicum is given to calves with diarrhoea .  The remedy is given curatively.

The calves then really have white dung. You see it sticking to the tail and legs. The dung can be thick and very sticky and it smells terribly, really a putrid smell. You notice the calves are sick. Their heads are dropping, the nose is dry and they are not very joyous. The general condition points to illness. When I give them Arsenicum the feeling of illness seems to have been dropped, the calves don’t suffer under the diarrhoea . Before the differences were much bigger, one calf suffered much more under the diarrhoea then another one !

First I gave Arsenicum 30k to the calves. The diarrhoea then subsided after 2 days. Now I give Arsenicum 200K and then the calves mostly get rid of their diarrhoea after 1 day.

Certainty

The cattle keeper keeps being astonished about the positive results after homeopathic treatment.

I always firstly gave hay tea and electrolytes. When this didn’t work, on the recommendation of the vet I gave Diatrim of Eurovet. The remedy however didn’t always work but at that time I saw another kind of diarrhoea . Probably then there was another bacteria among the calves. I did have a Coccidiose contamination among the calves. There the remedy did work but with E.coli contamination it didn’t. At that time I had several calves that died. This is about 2 years ago. Since then I didn’t have a dead calf anymore.

Besides I see the animals are not relapsing that easily anymore compared to when  I didn’t use homeopathy yet. Then I used hay tea and electrolytes. When it didn’t ameliorate I gave the calves Diatrim. Sometimes it worked quite well sometimes not. Now instead of Diatrim I give them Arsenicum and after ½ a day the calves start drinking normally again.

2.5 Analysis of cattle keepers own experiences

The common treatment of calves diarrhoea consists of the administration of electrolytes and possibly the arrest of milk nutrition for a few days at least till the diarrhoea is finished. If needed antibiotics are given. The experience of cattle keepers shows that the diarrhoea of calves then finishes after a few days .Taking this as a starting point it can be said that when the diarrhoea of a group of calves subsides within one day after the administration of a medicine, this remedy definitely has a curative effect.

This is a variation on the theme ‘long before vs short after ‘. An affection exists for a long time and when the expectation exists it will keep on existing. Then one intervenes and a cure follows. Then one can calculate the chance the intervention and the results are interdependent.

The cattle keepers compare the situation now with ”then” : first I regularly had a reoccurrence when treating calves diarrhoea , with the use of homeopathic remedies it occurs much less. The cattle keepers compare their previous situations with now and their opinions are based on this. This also is a variation on the theme ‘long before vs short after’ but then on a corporative level.

About the author

Liesbeth Ellinger

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