Many of our clients are interested in learning more about integrative veterinary medicine. Using a holistic approach to treat pets has tremendous value to a pet's health. Below is an overview to understand what integrative veterinary medicine is and what it includes.
Many clients ask "What is integrative medicine?"
As defined by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at the National Institutes of Health, integrative medicine "combines mainstream medical therapies and complementary and alternative medicine for which there is some high-quality scientific evidence of safety and effectiveness." The goal is to promote health and prevent disease.
Any therapy that is typically excluded by conventional medicine, and that Veterinarians use instead of conventional medicine, is known as "alternative medicine." It's a term that includes hundreds of old and new practices ranging from acupuncture to chiropractic to homeopathy. Generally alternative therapies are closer to nature, cheaper and less invasive than conventional therapies, although there are exceptions. An alternative medicine practice that is used in conjunction with a conventional one is known as a "complementary" medicine.
Integrative medicine is healing-oriented medicine that takes account of the whole patient (body, mind, and spirit), including all aspects of lifestyle. It emphasizes the therapeutic relationship and makes use of all appropriate therapies, both conventional and alternative.
The principles of integrative medicine include: a partnership between patient and practitioner in the healing process; appropriate use of conventional and alternative methods to facilitate the body's innate healing response; consideration of all factors that influence health, wellness and disease, including mind, spirit and community as well as body; use of natural, effective, less-invasive interventions whenever possible; and use of the broader concepts of promotion of health and the prevention of illness as well as the treatment of disease.
Using synthetic drugs, antibiotics, surgery, vaccines and diagnostic exams such as blood tests to treat health conditions is known as conventional medicine. Western medicine deals well with acute diseases and can utilize advanced surgical techniques. Eliminating the symptoms is the goal of conventional veterinary medicine when a definitive, causative agent or problem cannot be identified.
Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) has been practiced in China for over 2,000 years. It includes acupuncture, herbal medicine, food therapy, tui-na, and qi gong. TCVM can be beneficial for chronic diseases, especially those that Western medicine can only partially control, but not cure. TCVM believes in helping an animal to heal by correcting imbalances in the body. The Dr. seeks to discover the true basis of the disorder that is affecting an animal, not just how to suppress the symptoms. Correcting the imbalances of the body allows the animal to heal itself. A knowledge and understanding of the Eight Principles/ Five Elements relationships, the Zang/Fu organ systems, and the systematic classification of disease patterns based on clinical symptoms are key diagnostic assessments to identify the underlying basis of disease.
The best veterinary health care is the integration of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) and conventional veterinary medical care, as unique advantages exist in both systems. This combination brings better results than either one alone. The best procedure is to diagnose in conventional medicine and treat in TCVM. Many conditions which cannot be treated in western can be treated by using TCVM.