Textbook of Veterinary Homeopathy
17 December 2017 (online)
John Saxton and Peter Gregory Beaconsfield Publishers Ltd., Beaconsfield, Bucks, UK, 2005 Price: £27.00 (paperback), ISBN: 0906584574.
Now here's a question. What can be any size and any shape, but always weighs exactly the same? Answer: a hole. Many veterinary surgeons may not know it, but they have a hole in their library, of the following proportions: 21×14×2cm. I am pleased to report that this hole has now been filled; by the Textbook of Veterinary Homeopathy.
One of the briefs for writing this review was ‘to compare with others of its type’. This is difficult, because—as far as I am aware—there is no other book of exactly this type. This book sets out to be, and is—(to paraphrase the famous advert)—‘exactly what it says on the cover.’ It is a textbook—a solid mass of information. It is veterinary—it is written for veterinary surgeons, about veterinary matters. It is homeopathy—purely and simply a distillation of the two authors’ deep and abiding knowledge of homeopathy and its application to animals.
Book reviewers tend to fall into three categories. Those who heap fulsome praise on every line of the book (who paid for the review, one might wonder?). Those who criticise the book with vitriol and undisguised loathing (prompted by jealousy and envy, maybe). Those who are nit-picking and proudly reveal tiny typographical errors as if they were cardinal sins.
This review falls headlong into the fulsome praise category. There have been some very good books on veterinary homeopathy—the names Christopher Day and George Macleod immediately spring to mind here. But this is the first real in-depth textbook of veterinary homeopathy written by vets, for vets, with total authority and conviction.
And it is not an easy task. The medical profession does not realise how lucky it is. One single species to deal with—the human. We vets have to deal with anything from stick insects to elephants. And our patients have the unfortunate drawback of not being able to answer any questions we may want to ask them. So, for example, in the section on ‘obtaining symptoms’ we have the heading ‘The herd/flock/kennel/cattery situation’, with the comment later ‘the case-taking in these situations will of necessity veer towards the local signs’. A neat example of the greater breadth, and also the greater limitations needed by and imposed upon, veterinary homeopaths.
The fact that this textbook is written as an introduction to homeopathy for vets will obviously limit its market. However, I’m sure many pet owners with a strong interest in homeopathy will also want this book—which may or may not be a good thing! The most important point is that the book does what it sets out to do completely successfully. For any vet studying homeopathy it will be indispensable.
There are two main sections: the theory, and the practice, of homeopathy. The theory section begins with the history of homeopathy, looks at research into homeopathy, discusses the source and preparation of remedies and then moves into the areas of the homeopathic view of disease and its manifestations. There is detailed consideration of obtaining and matching symptoms—so vital in veterinary homeopathy, because of the communication problem between us and our patients. Practical and constitutional prescribing are explained thoroughly, obstacles to cure are evaluated, and then miasms are mulled over. Isopathy and nosodes are given prominence, in particular the bowel nosodes, probably much under-used by the veterinary fraternity, although one of the authors has almost made it his life's work to change this situation! The thorny question of vaccination is examined from the homeopathic perspective, concluding the theory section.
The practice section begins with the warning that homeopathy can be a lonely road for the vet, and highlights the importance of training courses, and the fact that ongoing help and support is available. Each body system is then covered; digestive, skin, endocrine and so on, with additional chapters on surgery and first aid, behavioural problems, the geriatric patient and neoplasia. There is always a problem when writing a chapter on a body system—do you itemise each disease seen in that system, and then suggest remedies for that disease; or do you list remedies that are useful, and then describe which diseases they will be appropriate for? The authors solve this conundrum by giving an overview of each body system—its function and the general problems associated with it, followed by the major modalities and rubrics that are most important, and then the four or five major remedies likely to be of most value with an accompanying list of other remedies to consider. This is, to my mind, an inspired way of formulating a simple, clear approach to a complex issue.
As in all good textbooks, there is a general bibliography, a glossary of terms, a list of useful addresses, and a comprehensive index. The publishers are evidently hoping for strong international sales, since the useful address list contains everything from a homeopathic pharmacy in Finland to a Canadian course in veterinary homeopathy.
So, is there any sting in the tail of this review? Not really—except that in this age when image and presentation are everything, and style can triumph over substance, it has to be said that this is not a coffee table tome. No pictures, no attractive cover, no thrills, no surprises. What you need is what you get—nothing more, nothing less. Does that matter? Not a jot. It's a well written, clear, concise, factual volume which fills that hole in the veterinary library to perfection.