Holistic (or Integrative) Veterinary Medicine is the examination and diagnosis of an animal, considering all aspects of the animal's life and employing all of the practitioner's senses, as well as the combination of conventional and alternative (or complementary) modalities of treatment. When a holistic veterinarian sees a pet, besides giving it a comprehensive physical examination, he/she wants to find out all about its behaviors, distant medical and dietary history, and its environment including diet, emotional stresses, and other factors.
Holistic medicine, by its very nature, is humane to the core. The wholeness of its scope will set up a lifestyle for the animal that is most appropriate. The techniques used in holistic medicine are gentle, minimally invasive, and incorporate patient well-being and stress reduction. Holistic thinking is centered on love, empathy and respect.
This mixture of healing arts and skills is as natural as life itself. At the core of this issue lies the very essence of the word "(w)holistic". It means taking in the whole picture of the patient—the environment, the disease pattern, the relationship of pet with owner—and developing a treatment protocol using a wide range of therapies for healing the patient.
The holistic practitioner is interested in genetics, nutrition, family relationships, hygiene, and stress factors. Many patients present in a state of "disease." At this point the holistic challenge lies in the question "why?" By a series of analytic observations and appropriate testing the goal becomes finding the true root source of the pathology. A simple-appearing symptom may have several layers of causation. Only when the true cause of the ailment has been found is there the possibility for a lasting recovery.
It is at this point that the most efficacious, least invasive, least expensive, and least harmful path to cure is selected.
In many acute situations, treatment may involve aspects of surgery and drug therapy from conventional western technology, along with alternative techniques to provide a complementary whole. This form of treatment has great value for severe trauma and certain infections. It often outperforms other methodologies. It is also at this time that other treatment plans such as those listed below are brought into use. Once the symptoms have been treated, the task is not complete until the underlying disease patterns have been redirected. The patient, as well as the client, will be guided to a new level of health.
Modalities Used in Holistic Veterinary Medicine
Modern Drugs, Surgery and Diagnostics:
A holistic veterinarian selects the ones which best conform to holistic traditions. They stay current on the latest advancements.
Acupuncture has been used in China for 3500 years. It is the main treatment for a quarter of the world's population. Thousands of years of acupuncture treatment prove its efficacy.
The primary aim of veterinary acupuncture is to strengthen the body's immune system—to stimulate the body's adaptive–homeostatic mechanism.
Acupuncture is a technique for relieving pain and for improving the function of organ systems by stimulating acupuncture points on the surface of the body.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) believes that Chi, the vital force that flows throughout the body, travels throughout the body along channels of energy flow called meridians. Acupuncture points along the meridians are treated whenever a disease condition exists that blocks the normal flow of energy along these meridians.
Acupuncture treatments elicit responses which regulate physiological processes. Acupuncture spans from ancient Chinese knowledge to state-of-the-art electrodiagnostic instrumentation.
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This incorporates ethology, biology, nutrition, pharmacology, lifestyle evaluation and aspects of modern psychotherapy. Every discipline listed here affects behavior (particularly homeopathy and Bach Flowers), disease and health. Humane considerations are often at stake.
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The use of specific herbs and plants for medicinal purposes has been practiced for millennia all over the world. Veterinary herbal medicines include Western herbs, Ayurvedic herbs from India, traditional Chinese herbs and other herbs from all over the world. Herbs have healing powers that are capable of balancing the emotional, mental and physical dimensions of animals.
Herbal medicine is a system of treatment utilizing whole plants and plant extracts in the treatment of disease and maintenance of health. Herbalists believe that whole plants provide a broad spectrum of desirable effects, from specialized nutrition (herbs contain vitamins and minerals that drugs do not) to synergy of the various components, which may allow lower doses of pharmacologic ingredients to be used.
Herbal medicine also recognizes that certain traditional methods have validity today. For instance, there is little but food components in modern medicine that allows the practitioner to safely strengthen chronically ill patients, while herbalists utilize tonic herbs as well as nutrition for this purpose. Herbal medicine has always recognized the whole body approach and that the mind and body interact in health and disease – this knowledge is reflected in the use of herbal adaptogens and alteratives.
Various cultural systems of medicine may be used in diagnosis and prescription, in addition to current scientific knowledge. Herbs are unique in "complementary and alternative medicine" because we have a tradition informing us in their use, often dating back thousands of years. Herbalists use ancient knowledge and modern science to develop treatment plans for their patients.
Herbal medicine requires that the herbalist be aware of the world around us, because the tools of the trade and the environment in which they grow may be endangered by indiscriminate use. Good herbalists are conservationists and are often active in sustainable agriculture and medical initiatives world wide.
Becoming involved with plants as medicine transforms veterinarians. They become aware of broader clinical effects when herbs are used, even as they become aware of the broader global effects related to their new interests. Herbal medicine is healthy for doctors as well as for pets.
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Homeopathy dates back to the Father of Medicine, Hippocrates. Samuel Christian Hahnemann, a German medical doctor in the mid–1800's, developed the system we are using today.
Homeopathy works on the principle of "Similia Similibus Curentur", or "like cures like." When a large dose of a toxic substance is swallowed, it can produce death, but when a homeopathic, diluted, minute dose of the substance is given, it can save the poisoned animal.
Homeopathic remedies are made from plants, minerals, drugs, viruses, bacteria or animal substances. These remedies do not mask or suppress symptoms; they treat the deepest constitutional causes of the illness. Homeopathic remedies contain vibrational energy essences that match the patterns present in the diseased state within the ailing patient.
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Sometimes known as Orthomolecular Medicine, it uses supplemental minerals, vitamins and nutrients that correct deficiencies, prevent pathology and reverse tissue damage. Supplements are prescribed that support the organs and body tissues, aid body detoxification and give energy to assist in the healing process.
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Proper nutrition is the best preventative medicine. Each pet patient is designed a specific diet which will be palatable, preservative free, practical and cost-effective, environmentally sound and in keeping with the client's abilities to provide.
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Chiropractic can be used to treat a broad spectrum of conditions in animals. It works for any patient with a spine, bones, joints and muscles. There are healing potentials achieved through chiropractic that are not achievable by other forms of therapy. In chiropractic, the subluxated or fixated vertebra is identified and through hands-on specific adjustments the problem is alleviated and homeostasis is restored.
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Virtually every form of medicine and therapy used in holistic medicine for humans exists for veterinary medicine. Seminars, programs and workshops are conducted all over the world which advance and promote these valuable skills. The new and the old combine to make the future of veterinary medicine a healthier, more humane endeavor.
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