Nosodes: An Alternative to Vaccination?
By Christie Keith
Many people, when they first hear about nosodes, are very excited, thinking that there is a way they can protect their dogs from infectious disease without the risks of vaccines. Many holistic vets and breeders use and recommend schedules of "vaccination" using homeopathic nosodes mutliple times over the first few months of a puppy's life, similarly and even more frequently than vaccination.
When I first started questioning vaccination, my holistic veterinarian told me about nosodes, which are homeopathically prepared medicines made from diseased body fluids and tissues. I did some reading on them, and while there wasn't much, what was there seemed interesting enough for me to consider using them.
However, I made the decision not to use nosodes "instead of" vaccines. I don't think they work to prevent disease. Even if you look at them not from a Western scientific viewpoint but from within the framework of classical homeopathy itself, you'd have to conclude that the repeated administration of nosodes in a healthy animal is dangerous. According to that system of thought, you would be introducing the energy of a disease, over and over and over, in an effort to prevent that disease.
Classical homeopaths of an earlier era used nosodes during an epidemic, following a known or suspected exposure -- for instance, if you took a dog to a dog show and found out the next day there was an outbreak of kennel cough at that show, and gave the dog a kennel cough nosode after this exposure, that would be a classical preventative use of a nosode. If you found out a dog your dog played with came down with parvo, you would give a parvo nosode. But to just give all these disease nosodes, repeatedly and in combination, to prevent illness from a virus they might encounter at some time in the future.... well, it has no science or classical homeopathic theory behind it, and I can't recommend it.
Even in homeopathic circles, there is a great deal of controversy about nosodes. To pretend there is some accepted truth on this issue is absurd. There is not. But in general, classical homeopaths rarely use nosodes and when they do, they use them in ways that do not make them a "substitute" for vaccination. I think one of the best explanations of the history and various therapeutic applications of nosodes is the article Nosodes by homeopath David Little.
If you decide to use nosodes, at least realize this is an area about which many, many people, both those who follow conventional scientific thought and those who have studied homeopathy seriously for decades, have grave concerns, and educate yourself before giving them to your dogs or cats. If you decide I'm wrong on this one, fine, that is your choice. But please, learn about the theory behind them, their history and development, and the basis of the controversy, before giving them to your animals or relying on them to prevent acute disease as a "substitute" for vaccination.
Updated July 19, 2009