The use of antibiotics in the agricultural sector is increasing worldwide. High use of antibiotics can have negative aspects for animal health, human health and the environment. This rapid rise in usage of veterinary antibiotics necessitates the development of sustainable alternatives. In the organic livestock sector the amount of antibiotics is restricted. Here, antibiotics are partly replaced by complementary or alternative medicines (CAM), of which homeopathy is the most frequently applied. In a recent study done by Camerlink et al1, the researchers compared the occurrence of E.coli diarrhea in 500 piglets, where the sows were treated with homeopathic Coli 30C before the piglets were born.
The Biological Farming Systems Group at the Wageningen University in the Netherlands conducted this research study to investigate if homeopathy might be an alternative to antibiotics in one of the most common illnesses in swine which is neonatal diarrhoea of piglets. This disease leads to weight loss and increased piglet mortality, which has substantial economic consequences. Conventional treatments of Escherichia coli (E. coli) diarrhoea is administration of antibiotics to affected piglets, or preventive vaccination of the sows.
On a commercial pig farm 52 sows of different parities, in their last month of gestation, were treated twice a week with either the homeopathic agent Coli 30K or placebo. The 525 piglets born from these sows were scored for occurrence and duration of diarrhoea.
Piglets in the placebo group had slightly over six times more diarrhoea than piglets treated with Coli 30K. Administering the homeopathic agent Coli 30K instead of a placebo significantly diminished the occurrence of neonatal E. coli diarrhoea in piglets (P < .0001). Especially piglets from first parity sows gave a good response to treatment with Coli 30K. The diarrhoea seemed to be less severe in the homeopathically treated litters, there was less transmission and duration appeared shorter.
These advantages and the positive results from this study make the homeopathic agent Coli 30K an attractive potential alternative in the prevention of E. coli diarrhoea. This study also suggests that homeopathic treatment in livestock may help the human population by protecting from the pharmacological residues in animal products.
1. Camerlink I, Ellinger L, Bakker EJ, Lantinga EA (2010). Homeopathy as replacement to antibiotics in the case of Escherichia coli diarrhoea in neonatal piglets. Homeopathy, 99; 57-62.