Helping farmers put real health on our plates

Homeopathy- The Green Medicine

Homeopathy Awareness Week - 10th to 16th April 2021

In support of Homeopathy Awareness Week, we want to share with you a recent article from the School of Homeopathy, which – we feel – perfectly highlights the role that homeopathy can play in agriculture as a ‘clean technology’ on farms. 

At WHAg we are committed to supporting farmers in the use of wholistic methods, practices and products which help reduce the use of synthetic chemicals and drugs – in particular, antibiotics.

Over 80% of the farmers who took part in our recent Alternative Approaches to Livestock Health Survey claimed success in using homeopathy, not only to treat acute illness, but also with preventative strategies to keep their farms disease-free and their livestock resiliently healthy.

This year Homeopathy Awareness Week is about sustainable green medicine, and there is no better time! The climate emergency is undoubtedly the biggest threat to humanities health. Our planet today is warmer than at any other point in the last 1000 years, and here in the UK, the top ten hottest years have all been recorded since 2002. We are at crisis point and we know we have to act fast.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed in the face of such a huge and serious issue. But we do already have many of the solutions; adopting renewable energies, protecting forests and oceans, putting a stop to aggressive farming techniques and re-wilding our open spaces. Global challenges need to be tackled from the top, with bold and decisive action from policy-makers embracing changes that increase the pace of progress and encourage behavioural shifts.

Many of us are already aware of how our personal lifestyle choices can help reduce carbon emissions. We are all learning to reduce plastic use, eat less meat and choose more sustainable ways to travel. But perhaps less well known are the impacts of our healthcare choices, as the pharmaceutical industry has all but avoided environmental scrutiny.

A study in 20181 revealed that the international pharmaceutical industry is more carbon intensive than the automotive industry. Riding on an abundance of cheap oil last century, our modern medical system was forged upon fossil fuels and petro-chemicals2, resulting in the proliferation of essential, but resource-depleting medical items. The production of the drugs themselves often come with a heavy environmental burden too, with widespread use of solvents, and carbon intensive extraction and purification processes.

In some ways, homeopathy has an easier ride when it comes to promoting its environmental credentials. By virtue of its production processes, there is less to clean up. For starters, there are far fewer ingredients involved: a small amount of the natural substance, alcohol, water, sucrose. No harsh chemicals, no toxic by-products; just gentle, effective medicine that’s safe for people and planet. And the repeated dilution and succussion involved in the manufacturing process means that literally thousands of doses can be made from the original sample. It’s the ultimate in renewable medicine. Of course, there is always more that manufacturers and practitioners can do; we must all strive to be smarter, cleaner and greener.

There are also growing concerns about the amounts of pharmaceutical ingredients in our waterways and food chain, a consequence of mass dumping and poor waste management. Hormones, anti-depressants and antibiotics have all been found in the water supplies of big cities around the globe3, with trace elements detected as far away as the Arctic4. A recent international study found that the antibiotics in some rivers exceed safe levels by up to 300 times5, a problem which not only damages the local eco-system, but which also flags the magnitude of the impending problem of anti-microbial resistance.

The WHO have declared antibiotic resistance one of the biggest threats to global health and food security. And here in the UK, former Chief Medical Officer, Dame Sally Davies has warned “failure to address this issue could lead to common procedures becoming too dangerous to perform and treatable conditions becoming life threatening6.” Waiting quietly in the wings is homeopathy, which has been offering safe and non-toxic medicines for over two centuries. And because remedies are administered in a highly diluted form, they pass on no residues to the food-chain or environment.

Of course, protecting our health should not be compromised and we need to be able to access the appropriate care and medicine when required. But it is clear that we must adapt our approach to healthcare in order to build a healthier and sustainable future. We have a choice in so many aspects of our lives, so it makes sense for us to have a say in our healthcare decisions as well, selecting what suits us best at a given time, both from a medical perspective but also on ecological grounds too. For when considered on its environmental merits, homeopathy is arguably one of the greenest options currently available. It offers a safe, low-cost and effective solution for some of our health issues, leaving conventional approaches for when they are most needed and valuable.

It’s been a tough year, but amidst the darkness, we have seen the power of our collective efforts. Change is possible. We know we can adapt and rise to new challenges, finding ways to progress and transform. So, for Homeopathy Awareness Week this year, let us celebrate homeopathy and its place in a future of sustainable and integrated healthcare.

The School of Homeopathy

1. Carbon footprint of the global pharmaceutical industry and relative impact if its major players – Lotfi Belkhir and  Ahmed Elmeligi.
4. Fatta-Kassinos, D., 2010. K. Kummerer, Pharmaceuticals in the environment: sources, fate, effects and risks. Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 17(2), pp.519-521. Kallenborn, R., Fick, J., Lindberg, R.M Moe, M., Nielse, K.M., Tysklind, M. and Vasskog, T., 2008. Pharmaceutical residues in Northern European environments: consequences and perspectives. In Pharmaceuticals in the Environment (pp. 61-74). Springer, Berlin Heidelberg.

The role of The Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics

Worldwide it is estimated that 73% of all antibiotics are used in animals, not people. Much of this use is routine, enabling livestock to be kept in unhygienic and stressful conditions where disease spreads easily.

In the UK, routine farm antibiotic use has been significantly reduced in recent years, by approximately 50%. But use remains far too high. Over 75% of farm antibiotics are used for mass medication in the UK, rather than for the treatment of individual sick animals.

The Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics brings together health, medical, civil-society, farming, and animal-welfare groups and campaigns to stop the overuse of antibiotics in animal farming. It was founded in 2009 by Compassion in World Farming, the Soil Association and Sustain.

They support:

  • A One Health approach to dealing with antibiotic resistance which aims at achieving optimal health outcomes and recognises that human, animal and environmental health are all interconnected
  • Improved husbandry methods that ensure animals are almost always healthy enough not to need antibiotics or other forms of routine medication
  • Greater openness and transparency regarding how our meat, eggs and dairy are produced

“British farmers have voluntarily cut their antibiotic use by nearly 50% in the last five years, which is very welcome, but these findings show that much lower use could still be achieved. Organic farming has stricter rules on antibiotics which do not permit routine use or preventative mass medication. If the government is serious about tackling the antibiotic-resistance crisis, it should immediately move to end these practices on all British livestock farms.”

As the most recent member of the Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics, WHAg looks forward to collaborating to properly evaluate the potential for homeopathy and other alternative and non-conventional modalities to help reduce and refine the use of antibiotics in farming.

Further information

Read more about Homeopathy Awareness Week on the School of Homeopathy’s website.

Find a homeopathic vet on the British Association of Homeopathic Veterinary Surgeons website 

Learn more about The Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics

About the author: The WHAg team love to showcase farmers and supporters who epitomise the ethos of ‘Whole Health’. We live and breathe this approach, which flows through us in farming, work, and family.

Want to receive our monthly WHAg Mag?