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9-14-00 Newsletter for the Veterinary Task Force

It has been a busy year for the Veterinary Task Force.

Last year the AVMA [American Veterinary Medical Association] convened a committee to rewrite the 1996 guidelines pertaining to "alternative" veterinary therapies, and committee members are working hard to complete their task. With any luck, and after a few more hurdles, the completed guidelines should be published early in 2001.

Linda Safarli and Michael Dennett, of the Seattle-based Society for Sensible Explanations, have just posted to their Website an extensively illustrated feature dealing with the Vet TF efforts to provide accurate "alt vet med" information at major veterinary conferences.

Prof. Phillip Johnson, DVM, DACVIM, at the University of Missouri School of Veterinary Medicine has recently created a new Internet list named ALTVETSKEPT-L. It's intended to serve as a forum for veterinarians and other individuals who are interested in discussing issues related to the proliferation and uncritical acceptance of unproven and disproven therapies among members of the public and especially within the veterinary profession. Those interested in joining the list may do so by accessing Here.

Perhaps the most prominent book on veterinary "alternative" medicine is Schoen and Wynn's Complementary and Alternative Veterinary Medicine. As part of the critical evaluation of the claims being made for these putative therapies, the Vet Task Force has created an on-line and ongoing book review project. Schoen and Wynn's CAVM is the first book to come under scrutiny on the site. Recently, double boarded veterinarian and toxicologist Rosalind Dalefield has offered a critical examination of Dr. Sherry Rogers' Chapter 29, "Environmental Medicine for Veterinary Practitioners". This follows her first chapter review, that of W. Jean Dodds' chapter 5, "Pet Food Preservatives and Other Additives." In both instances, Dr. Dalefield does a superb job of sorting "sense" from abundant "nonsense."

Peter M. Tiidus, Associate Professor at the Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education, Wilfrid Laurier University, recently posted a review of Mimi Porter and Mary Bromily's Chapter 14, "Massage Therapy." He, likewise, deftly refutes many of the authors' inaccurate and misleading claims.

Several other Schoen and Wynn chapter reviews are now available on-line at: index.html/SW-Cont.htm. These include a review of Robert Silver's chapter "Ayurvedic Veterinary Medicine" by Indian orthopedic surgeon Dr. C Viswanathan, and a review of Constance McCorkle's chapter "Ethnoveterinary Medicine" by Bob Imrie. Still others are "in the pipeline." [Anyone wishing to contribute a Schoen and Wynn chapter review, please contact Bob Imrie]

The June 2, 2000 issue of USA Weekend carried an article in which the Internet's 25,000 "health-related" Websites were evaluated for reliability. To our great surprise, our "Entirely On-Line Alt Med Primer" was one of only two "reliable alternative medicine sites" mentioned in the piece. (The traffic on our site jumped by roughly 800% after the article hit the newsstands.)

Late last year, Bob Imrie was asked by Adrian White, editor of the U.K. journal Complementary Therapies in Medicine, to write an article examining the myth that "20% or less of conventional medicine is evidence-based." The article, titled "The Evidence for Evidence-Based Medicine," and co-authored by Task Force equine advisor Dave Ramey, was published in the June, 2000 issue of CtiM. It will also appear in the Fall/Winter 2000-2001 issue of the Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine.

The volume of "acupuncture misinformation" that has been disseminated in recent years defies belief. In an effort to dispel some of the more common fallacies, Dave Ramey and Bob Imrie have also written a paper dealing with "acupuncture facts and fallacies" which will be appearing in an upcoming issue of Compendium on Continuing Education for the Practicing Veterinarian. They also have a paper, the first of three dealing with "veterinary acupuncture and historical scholarship" currently undergoing peer-review for Veterinary Record. These three papers are co-authored by Prof. Edzard Ernst, head of the Department of Alternative and Complementary Medicine at the University of Exeter's Post-Graduate School of Medicine, Australian author and practitioner, Stephen Basser, MD, and sinologist, historian of Chinese medicine, and linguist, Paul Buell, Ph.D.

Dave and veterinary ethicist Bernard Rollin, of Colorado State University, have written an article discussing "the ethics of alternative medicine" which has been accepted for publication by JAVMA [the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.]

University of Illinois Veterinary School Dean, Victor E. Valli, and Dave Ramey have an article scheduled to be published in the October issue of DVM magazine. The title is "No Legitimate Alternatives." While it is a "stand-alone" piece, Valli and Ramey were motivated to write it by a thoroughly uncritical piece dealing with "alternative therapies and veterinary education" that appeared in the August issue of DVM.

In October, 1999 Dave published "The Consumer's Guide to Alternative Therapies in the Horse." This book is entirely devoted to the critical, scientific examination of unproven "alternative and complimentary veterinary medical claims," and is, as such, "the first and only one of its kind." Each chapter is co-authored by one or more experts in the field discussed. The book is truly authoritative.

There is apparently an increasing level of interest in critical evaluation of claims made for "alternative" therapies. Over the last year, Dave has lectured on "alternative and complementary veterinary therapies" at the following schools and meetings:

Oklahoma State University, School of Veterinary Medicine
Colorado State University, School of Veterinary Medicine
Iowa State University, School of Veterinary Medicine
The Piedra Foundation, San Diego, California
He will also be lecturing in the near future at:
The annual meeting of the Louisiana State Veterinary Medical Association
University of Illinois, School of Veterinary Medicine
The annual meeting of the AAEP [American Association of Equine Practitioners]
University of Upsaala (Sweden)
Interest has also been indicated by the veterinary schools at Michigan State University and Cornell University, and a second trip to CSU is planned this year.

Dave and Bob were both invited to lecture at the November, 2000, International Skeptics Conference in Sydney, Australia. (The focus of the conference will be "alternative medicine." Unfortunately, due to scheduling and time constraints, neither of them will be able to attend the conference.) Also, late last year, Bob gave a lecture at a meeting of the Seattle-based skeptical organization, the Society for Sensible Explanations.

The Task Force has recently produced a glossy, two-color "waiting room" brochure for veterinarians and clients titled "Alternative Medicine: Hope or Hype?" They are available for purchased at a cost of $.60 per copy plus shipping (contact Dave Ramey). Alternatively, interested parties may obtain the two pertinent image files (as high-resolution .jpg attachments to e-mail from Bob Imrie) and print their own copies.

Various Task Force members and supporters have tackled the important task of challenging the poor alt med information that constantly turns up in various journals. They've written critical "letters to the editor" of various veterinary and human medical journals objecting to the sloppy and inaccurate articles published by alt med proponents. The following list includes a few of these eloquent objections (but it is by no means a complete tally):

Anderson BC. Thoughts on teaching complementary and alternative therapies.
J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2000 Apr 15;216(8):1209-10; discussion 1211-2.

Imrie R. Thoughts on teaching complementary and alternative therapies.
J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2000 Apr 15;216(8):1210-1; discussion 1211-2.

Ramey D, Keating JC Jr, Imrie R, Bowles D. Claims for veterinary chiropractic unjustified.
Can Vet J. 2000 Mar;41(3):169-70.

Ramey D, Imrie R, Bowles D. Veterinary homeopathy--a rebuttal.
Can Vet J. 2000 Jan;41(1):3-4.

Keating JC Jr, Ramey D. Further comments on veterinary chiropractic.
Can Vet J. 2000 Jul;41(7):518-9.

Ramey D, Keating JC Jr, Imrie R, Bowles D. Claims for veterinary chiropractic unjustified.
Can Vet J. 2000 Mar;41(3):169-70.

Thompson E. Readers question articles in support of complementary and alternative therapies
J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2000, Aug 1;217(3):321-322

Ramey D. Readers question articles in support of complementary and alternative therapies
J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2000, Aug 1;217(3):320-321

Fausel SL. Thoughts on teaching complementary and alternative therapies.
J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2000 Apr 15;216(8):1211; discussion 1211-2.

Ramey D, Imrie R, Bowles D. Acupuncture founded on magical and mystical musings about how the world works.
Can Vet J. 1999 Dec;40(12):840-1.

Fausel SL. Acupuncture resuscitation techniques questioned.
J Am Vet Med Assoc. 1999 Mar 1;214(5):618.

Ramey D. The debate over complementary medicine continues. Evidence for homoeopathy is lacking.
BMJ. 2000 May 13;320(7245):1341-2

Membership in the Veterinary Task Force is open to any individual who hopes to see unproven "alternative and complementary" therapies subjected to scientific scrutiny and is concerned about the uncritical acceptance of such unproven therapies by both the veterinary profession and the public. Interested parties should contact either Bob Imrie or Dave Ramey. For more information on the NCRHI [National Council for Reliable Health Information], please visit the NCRHI Website. For more information on the Veterinary Task Force, see The Alt Med Advisory Page.

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