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Considering Homeopathic First Aid for Wildlife

by Rachel Blackmer, DVM, Allan Casey, and Shirley Casey

Growing Interest in Holistic Health Care

Over the last few years, alternative health care has become increasingly popular for humans and the domestic animals in their care.  Ever since a Harvard University study published in 1990 in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that Americans made more visits to alternative health care healers than their primary physicians, this trend seems to be accelerating.

People cite a variety of reasons for considering holistic health care modalities: a desire to reduce the side effects of some allopathic medications, a search for alternatives to invasive medical treatments, and the desire to reduce high costs of medical and surgical care to name a few.   Many of these holistic modalities that have been around for centuries have proven to be quite effective, and are the primary health care systems in other countries. 

It should not be a surprise that wildlife rehabilitators and veterinarians are considering and using alternative health care modalities in wildlife first aid situations. Homeopathy is one of the modalities gaining increased attention in the rehabilitation community (Blackmer, 1998).

What is Homeopathy?

Homeopathic medicine is a system that treats symptoms, imbalances and disease by giving very minute doses of a substance to serve as a catalyst in stimulating the body's own healing mechanisms. The way that a homeopathic medicine is chosen is by matching the symptoms of the patient with a medicine that, when given to a healthy individual, would produce similar symptoms to those the homeopath is seeking to cure in the patient.  This idea of using similars, or "like cures like",  has been discussed in medicine since the ancient Greeks, the Chinese, the Egyptians and the Native Americans (Ullman).  In the late 1790's, Dr. Samuel Hahnemann formally developed a systematic approach to applying this concept of similars (Vithoulkas, 1985). 

Basically, Dr. Hahnemann explained that administering small doses of a substance to a healthy person could identify the substance's "remedy picture" (i.e., the signs and symptoms that it could produce). Administering the same medicine to a person with those symptoms matching the remedy picture could thus stimulate his or her defenses and help the body to heal itself. Conventional medicine uses somewhat similar thinking in the treatment of allergies and in the use of vaccines.

Principles and Procedures 

Dr. Hahnemann, and other homeopaths of the 19th century, defined several fundamental principles of classical homeopathy.  One of the key principles is that of Vital Force, the naturally occurring life force in all living beings that constantly strives for health.   Another principle states that the whole being must be considered in healing.  This means that physical, mental and emotional states must be considered, not just the physical symptoms (for rehabilitators this means considering the animal's emotional state, e.g., fear or anxiety).  Some of the other fundamental principles of classical homeopathy include the minimum dose, use of a single medicine, and the meaning and importance of symptoms (Vithoulkas, Ullman).

Dr. Hahnemann also developed a very strict method of preparing homeopathic medicines, also called homeopathic remedies. Single substances (plant, animal, and mineral) are placed in a solvent such as water or alcohol and diluted to extremely small microdilutions to reduce the toxicity. The homeopathic medicines are also succussed (shaken) to increase the effectiveness of the final medicine (Vithoulkas).  This process of succussion is called potentization.

These principles and processes have been well described in the homeopathic literature and deserve far more attention than the space available in this article.  Readers are strongly encouraged to learn more about them in the publications listed in the references.

Scientific Foundation for Homeopathy

While some of the principles of homeopathy have not been well understood previously, advances in quantum physics research are now helping to explain many of the principles (Vithoulkas).  Research is continuing at a rapid rate and new information is being published frequently in respected publications such as the New England Journal of Medicine, Lancet, and the British Medical Journal (Ullman, Jacobs).

Homeopathy is no different from other fields of science, with both believers and critics. Some critics denounce the notion of a Vital Force as being metaphysical. Others attack the use of ultramolecular dilutions and the concept of potentization of remedies.  Others in the allopathic medical community decry lack of scientific basis.  

Interestingly, one of the fundamental tenets of the scientific approach is application of a precise, regimented and repeatable set of procedures.  The very precise homeopathic approach described by Dr. Hahnemann involving the

Law of Similars, the detailed case-taking, the single medicine, and the minimum dose has not changed in approximately 200 years. Many of these same critics, however, readily accept certain "givens" in physics, such as inertia, gravity, magnetism, etc.  However, since no explanation exists for these physical "Laws", they must also then be accepted because they are repeatable, observable phenomena. 

Similarly, homeopaths consider some aspects of homeopathy to be "givens", because they have been seen to work successfully and repeatably, time and time again.  Most homeopaths seem to embrace homeopathy for what it can do, and do not seem to be too concerned about the scientific nuances of its workings.  As research in quantum physics continues, hopefully the scientific basis will become more clear and more accepted.

Until then, there are a variety of publications that discuss the scientific basis for homeopathy and describe recent research. The Science of Homeopathy (Vithoulkas), Homoeopathic Science and Modern Medicine (Coulter), Homeopathy A Frontier in Medical Science (Bellavite and Signorini); and Healing with Homeopathy: The Complete Guide (Jacobs and Jonas).  There are also recent articles in a variety of medical and wildlife rehabilitation publications on homeopathy, including "Exploring the Concept of the Minimum Dose: Wildlife

Rehabilitators Consider Homeopathy", in the Journal of Wildlife Rehabilitation (Spring, 1998).

Experience with Wildlife

Numerous wildlife rehabilitators have been using homeopathy with wildlife since the early 1990's with thousands of cases.  It has been used with a wide range of species including raptors, hummingbirds, robins, rabbits, squirrels, fox, deer, otters, turtles, lizards, and many more.  It has been used to treat a myriad of diverse conditions including head trauma, lacerations, fractures, hemorrhages, abscesses, punctures, dehydration, pneumonia, diarrhea, fear, and grief. 

In many cases, the results of using homeopathy with wildlife have seemed extremely positive.  Recovery and release seems faster than in similar cases that had not received homeopathic treatment, particularly with trauma. Homeopathy has been able to treat some conditions that allopathic medications that has historically had difficulty treating (i.e., grief and fear).  The rehabilitators using acute care homeopathy have reported that the remedies were easy to administer and the application of a single or minimum dose seemed to be highly effective.  Their use of antibiotics and corticosteriods decreased, without apparent negative consequences.  Their overall cost of medicines decreased, as did costs of keeping animals in rehabilitation (since some animals were released faster there were less costs of food, caging, etc.).  Some rehabilitators stated that their release rates had improved since using homeopathy. 

In other situations, rehabilitators have reported that their results have been inconsistent, with some animals recovering quickly, and others showing no improvement.  In yet other situations, rehabilitators have said that the homeopathic remedies did not appear to work at all.

Discussions with rehabilitators have revealed a variety of reasons for the inconsistent results with wildlife.  In some situations, the animal's condition was beyond improvement and it is unlikely that help or recovery was possible.  In some cases other conditions (such as diet, husbandry, caging, etc.) were contributing factors.

In other cases, the person using homeopathy with wildlife did not have enough knowledge and/or skill in applying the principles and using effective procedures, including case-taking (i.e., observation, diagnostics, knowing what is normal for the species), repertorizing the symptoms (i.e., looking up the remedies that are specific for a symptom), using a complete materia medica, selecting an appropriate medicine and potency, knowing if and when to repeat or change remedies, and other steps. 

While some people worked with homeopathic veterinarians and professional resources, others based decisions on limited information from the popular press or on the internet.  Some thought homeopathy would be a quick and easy thing to do, it wasn't.   Some felt they could use homeopathy alone, only to find that they still needed to suture wounds, splint fractures, and treat for parasites.  All of these factors contribute to inconsistent results.  The results can be improved upon if these factors change (i.e., by the increased understanding of homeopathy and its application. (It is important to note that the successful use of homeopathy with chronic conditions is very complex and takes considerable training to be able to achieve.)

Learning Curve

In the earlier days of wildlife rehabilitation, outcomes were also mixed.  While there were some successful releases, the results were less than optimum.  As people became more knowledgeable and skillful, whether through training and conferences, increased research, sharing methodologies and results, consultation with professionals, or whatever, rehabilitation improved and so did the quality of care and rate of successful releases.

The use of homeopathy with wildlife is also in the relatively early stages.

George Vithoulkas, one of the world's foremost classical homeopaths, says that a homeopathic practitioner is a novice until he/she has been using it and continuing to study it for 10 years. While acute trauma care may be more straightforward and easier to become proficient at than the chronic care that Vithoulkas is referring to, the time commitment to proficiency is very important. There are a limited number of us in the rehabilitation community that could say that we have been using this modality with wildlife for more than a few years. The knowledge bank and successes, however, are growing rapidly.  Research is increasingly available.  Training is also available.  Veterinarians and rehabilitators knowledgeable in homeopathy and wildlife are increasingly accessible.  Many have high expectations that results of using this powerful complementary modality will continue to improve, for the benefit of wildlife and wildlife rehabilitators.

Author Contact Information

Rachel Blackmer, DVM
Indigo Quill Healing Arts
P. O. Box 841
Conifer, CO  80433, USA
email rblackmer@earthlink.net

Shirley J. Casey
Allan M. Casey
WildAgain Wildlife Rehabilitation
29319 Northstar Lane
Evergreen, CO 80439  USA
(303)-670-3309 or wildagn@aol.com


If You are Considering the Use of Homeopathy with Wildlife

  • Build your knowledge base through reading, attending training, and talking  with those trained in homeopathy (veterinarians, rehabilitators, and others).
  • Learn the basic principles and procedures. 
  • Work closely with a veterinarian.  If possible, build a relationship with a
  • homeopathic veterinarian (see resource list for contacts).
  • Start slowly, with relatively easy first aid cases.  Consult often with
  • homeopathic veterinarians and other rehabilitators knowledgeable in
  • homeopathy. 



Training on homeopathic first aid for wildlife has been available at the NWRA and IWRC annual conferences.  Also available are two day seminars on Homeopathic First Aid and Trauma Care for Wildlife.   The 2 day seminar, conducted by a team of holistic veterinarians and wildlife rehabilitators (contact the authors), describes the scientific foundation and basic principles, factors to consider in deciding if and when homeopathy might be used with wildlife, case-taking with wildlife, figuring out what remedy and potency to use, and much more. There are also other formal courses available, although they are generally oriented towards humans or domestic animals and more chronic conditions.


Homeopathic First Aid for Wildlife Seminars

Contact the WildAgain at 303-670-3309 or wildagn@aol.com for more information and additional locations.


Published Resources

BELLEVITE, Paolo, and Signorini, Andrea.  Homeopathy:  A Frontier in Medical Science.  CA, Berkeley: North Atlantic Books, 1995.

BLACKMER, Rachel; Casey, Allan; and Casey, Shirley.  "Beyond Conventional Allopathic Medicine:  Options Considered by Wildlife Rehabilitators", Journal of Wildlife Rehabilitation , Winter, 1997, pp. 7-13. 

BLACKMER, Rachel; Facinelli, Janice; Casey, Allan; and Casey, Shirley.  Homeopathy and Wildlife:  First Aid and Acute Trauma Care: Seminar Manual .   CO: Self published, 1998.

BOERICKE, W.  Materia Medica  with Repertory.  New Delhi, India: Boericke and Tafel, 1927.

CHAPMAN, B.  Homoeopathic Treatment for Birds.  England, Essex:  C.W. Daniel Co. Ltd., 1991.

COULTER, H.  Homeopathic Science and Modern Medicine:  The Physics of Healing with Microdoses.  CA, Berkeley:  North Atlantic Books, 1990.

CUMMINGS, S. and Ullman, D.  Everybody's Guide to Homeopathic Medicines.  NY, NY:  G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1997.

DAY, C. The  HomoeopathicTreatment of Small Animals:  Principles and Practice .  England, Essex: C.W. Daniel Co. Ltd., 1990. 

DOOLEY, T.  Homeopathy:  Beyond Flat Earth Medicine. CA, San Diego:  Timing Publications, 1995.

FACINELLI, Janice; Casey, Allan; and Casey, Shirley.  "Finding and Using Holistic Veterinary Services".  Journal of Wildlife Rehabilitation. Winter, 1997, pp. 14-19.

JOHNAS, Wayne and Jacobs, Jennifer.  Healing with Homeopathy: The Complete Guide.  NY, NY:  Warner Books, 1996.

KENT, J. T. Repertory of the Homeopathic Materia Medica with Word Index.  India, New Delhi:  Homeopathic Publications, 1945.

MORGAN, Lyle.  Homeopathic Medicine:  First Aid and Emergency Care.  VT, Rochester: Healing Arts Press, 1989. 

MORRISON, R. A Desktop Guide to Keynotes and Confirmatory Symptoms . CA, Albany: Hahnemann Clinic Publishing, 1993.

MURPHY, R. Homeopathic Medical Repertory.  CO, Durango:  Hahnemann Academy of North

America, 1996.MURPHY, R. Lotus Materia Medica. CO, Durango: Lotus Star Academy, 1995.

SCHROYENS, Frederik.  Synthesis: Repertorium Homeopathicum Syntheticum.  England, London:  Homeopathic Book Publishers, 1993.

ULLMAN, D. The Consumer's Guide to Homeopathy. NY, NY:  P.G. Putnam's Sons, 1995.

VERMEULEN, Frans.  Concordant Materia Medica .  Netherlands: Emryos bv Publishers, 1997.

VITHOULKAS, G. The Science of Homeopathy.  NY, NY:  Grove Press, 1980.

YASGUR, Jay.  Yasgur's Homeopathic Dictionary and Holistic Health Reference.  PA, Greenville:  Van Hoy Publishers, 1998.


Some Sources of Homeopathic Books

Natural Health Supply;  Box 6033;  Santa Fe, NM; 87502;  888-689-1608; www.A2ZHomeopathy.com

Minimum Price Homeopathic Books; P.O. Box 2187; Blaine, WA 98231; 800-663-8272; www.minimum.com  

Local bookstores, natural food stores; local holistic veterinarians; libraries.


Some Holistic Health Associations

National Center for Homeopathy; 703-548-7790; www.homeopathic.org

American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association; 410-569-0795; www.altvetmed.com/AHVMA_brochure

Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy; 305-652-1590; www.acadvethom.org

International Association for Veterinary Homeopathy; 770-516-7622.

British Institute of Homeopathy; 800-498-6323.



Dr. Rachel Blackmer graduated from Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine in 1991. While at Tufts she worked extensively at the Tufts Wildlife Clinic. Dr. Blackmer was certified by the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society in 1993 and by the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association in 1997. She also took extensive training in classical homeopathy from 1994 through 1996, receiving her certificate from the Academy of Classical Homeopathy in 1996. She continued her intensive study of classical homeopathy by studying with the Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy.

Most recently Dr Blackmer has been co-teaching seminars for wildlife rehabilitators about the use of homeopathy in acute care with wildlife. Dr. Blackmer is also co-owner of Indigo Quill Healing Arts, a thriving holistic veterinary practice in Colorado. In 1999, she also served as a veterinarian at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Training Center operated by the HSUS in MA.

Shirley and Allan Casey are licensed wildlife rehabilitators in Evergreen, Colorado and specialize in small mammals. They are co-founders of WildAgain Wildlife Rehabilitation, Inc. which also conducts research and presents a variety of training programs around North America for rehabilitators, wildlife agencies and others, including a two day seminar on homeopathic first aid considered with wildlife. The Caseys have also published and presented nationally on wildlife rehabilitation regulations, homeopathy, and other wildlife related topics.  


Copyright 2002. WildAgain Wildlife Rehabilitation, Inc. All Rights Reserved unless otherwise stated.