Based on the widespread use of homeopathy in dairy farm practice when treating mastitis, a blind randomised controlled trial (RCT) was conducted to assess the effectiveness of homeopathic treatment of clinical mastitis on four dairy farms. The study considered specific guidelines for RCTs as well as the basic principles of individualised homeopathy and involved 180 lactating dairy cows. Evaluation of cure rates was based on clinical investigation of the udder and on laboratory analysis of milk samples. In culture-positive cases, the antibiotic treatment provided suboptimal bacteriological cures (60-81 per cent) but was more effective than individualised homeopathy (33-43 per cent) whose effects appeared little different to those of placebos (45-47 per cent) (P≤0.05). On the cytological cure level, all three treatment methods were similarly ineffective: antibiotic being 2-21 per cent, individualised homeopathy 0-8 per cent and placebo 3-13 per cent (P≤0.05; P=0.13). Antibiotics, individualised homeopathy and placebo had similar effects on bacteriological and cytological cure in cases of culture-negative milk samples (P>0.4) and Escherichia coli infections (P=1.0). The study results implied that the effectiveness of individualised homeopathy does not go beyond a placebo effect and successful treatment is highly dependent on the specific mastitis pathogen. Thus, antimicrobial or alternative remedies used should be based on the bacterial culture of the milk sample.
Trial registration number: NTP-ID: 00008011-1-9, Pre-results.
Keywords: antibiotic therapy; dairy cattle; individualised homeopathy; mastitis; placebo; randomised controlled trial.
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