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Homeopathic and antibiotic treatment of mastitis don't differ that much

A recent clinical control trial conducted by researchers at the department of Animal Nutrition and Animal Health of the University of Kassel in Germany studied the effectiveness of the classical homeopathic treatment strategy in cases of mild and moderate bovine clinical mastitis in comparison with antibiotic and placebo treatments. The trial was financially supported by the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection.

To reduce the use of antibiotics in organic livestock production, European Union Regulations stipulate that homeopathic and herbal medicines shall be used in preference, provided that their therapeutic effect is effective for the species of animal and the condition for which the treatment is intended. The use of chemically-synthesised allopathic medicinal products may only be used under strict conditions, when the use of homeopathic and herbal medicines is inappropriate.

Studies from research groups in the United Kingdom and Germany show that 34–51% of clinical mastitis cases in dairy cows were treated with homeopathic medicines, although only a few papers have been published so far on using homeopathy as a treatment strategy in mastitis therapy.

In the recent trial a total of 136 lactating dairy cows with 147 affected quarters from four herds in Germany were randomly allocated to three treatment groups. The cows were examined on days 0, 1, 2 and on days 7, 14, 28 and 56 post initial infection to assess clinical signs. Simultaneously, with the exception of days 1 and 2, quarter milk samples for laboratory examinations (bacteriology, somatic cell count) were collected to assess bacteriological and cytological cure rates. On days 28 and 56, treatment strategies did not differ significantly with respect to the clinical outcomes and the total cure rate in cases of bacteriological negative mastitis (n=56). In cases of pathogen-positive mastitis (n=91), the cure rate after 4 and 8 weeks was similar between the two treatment strategies, homeopathy and antibiotic treatment, but the difference between the homeopathic and the placebo treatment at day 56 was significant (P<0.05).

The authors conclude that the results indicate a therapeutic effect of homeopathic treatment in cases of mild and moderate clinical mastitis and that the homeopathic treatment strategy in these cases therefore might be an alternative to the use of antibiotics. However, independent of treatment strategy and bacteriological status, the total cure rate was on a low level, revealing limitations in the effectiveness of both antibiotic and homeopathic treatment strategies.

Reference
Werner C, Sobiraj A, Sundrum A (2010). Efficacy of homeopathic and antibiotic treatment strategies in cases of mild and moderate bovine clinical mastitis. Journal of Dairy Research, doi:10.1017/S0022029910000543 [PubMed]

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