Holistic Pet Medicine

Integrative/complementary/holistic Veterinary Medicine


Learning About Integrative Veterinary Medicine

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October 24, 2012 / (1) comments

Many of my clients are interested in what I call “complementary” therapies, which may also be called “integrative” or “holistic” medicine. I dislike the term “alternative medicine” because it fails to indicate that therapeutic techniques such as acupuncture, massage, dietary modification, and botanical therapies can and should be combined with conventional treatments (e.g., antibiotics, surgery, etc.) in the manner that best serves each individual patient.

I’d love to say that I practice cutting edge integrative medicine, but the truth is I am most familiar and comfortable with what is considered conventional or “western” medicine. In an effort to improve my offerings, I spent a lot of my time at the Wild West Veterinary Conference learning about complementary therapies.

Robert J. Silver DVM, MS, CVA presented great, basic descriptions of what is involved in some of the more common complementary techniques. I thought I’d share them with you here.

Ayurvedic Medicine

Ayurveda is an ancient East Indian system of healing that seeks to promote health through a “balanced” lifestyle and various natural healing methods. Ayurvedic practitioners tailor treatments to each patient’s unique condition.

Bach Flower Essence Therapy

Bach flower remedies are dilutions of flower “essences” developed by Dr. Edward Bach. They are similar to homeopathy in many respects and form a part of alternative medicine. Some researchers believe that they exert their claimed effects via the placebo effect. However, practitioners feel the “energetic signature” of the flower can be transmitted to the user and affect a person’s psychological state.

One difference between homeopathy and Bach flower remedies are the “potentization” methods used to produce the remedies. Flower remedies are produced using the sun method or, for the hardier plants, the boiling method. Both of these methods were invented by Bach. Another key difference is that Bach remedies are only used to treat the mental symptoms believed by practitioners to be the root cause of many diseases. Bach flower remedies are not dependent on the theory of successive dilutions, and are not based on the Law of Similars (as in Homeopathy). The Bach Remedies are all derived from non-toxic substances, with the idea that a “positive energy” can redirect or neutralize “negative energy.”

Chiropractic Medicine

A system of healing based on the premise that poor spinal health (“dynamic” subluxations) leads to improper nerve flow and disease. Through specific adjustments of the spine and extremities one can restore spinal health and normal bodily function.

Functional Medicine

Functional medicine is anchored by an examination of the core clinical imbalances that underlie various disease conditions. Those imbalances arise as environmental inputs such as diet, nutrients (including air and water), exercise, and trauma are processed by one’s body, mind, and spirit through a unique set of genetic predispositions, attitudes, and beliefs.

The fundamental physiological processes include communication, both outside and inside the cell; bioenergetics, or the transformation of food into energy; replication, repair, and maintenance of structural integrity, from the cellular to the whole body level; elimination of waste; protection and defense; and transport and circulation.

Homeopathic Medicine

Homeopathy is a system of natural healing based on the premise that “like cures like.” Homeopathic remedies are highly diluted medicines that stimulate the healing response of the body.

Nutritional Medicine

The use of whole food materials or isolated or concentrated components of food or food materials that have a beneficial influence on the health of an individual or which can positively influence the healing process.

Nutraceutical Medicine

Nutraceuticals are derived from food materials and are either concentrated, like fish oil, or pharmaceutically extracted, like glucosamine.

Nutraceuticals have been defined as: Compounds that are neither nutrients nor pharmaceuticals that play a “non-nutrient” role in normalizing health and overcoming disease.

Ozone Therapy

Ozone therapy is the medical use of ozone in the treatment of infectious diseases and cancer. Ozone can be introduced to the body in many ways, including through water absorption, injection, transdermal application, and insufflation. The gas is used at very carefully controlled levels. The super-oxygenated oxygen that is ozone gives up its singlet oxygen very easily. This free radical is microbicidal and preferentially more toxic to cancer cells than to healthy tissue.

Keep in mind that complementary medicine is still veterinary medicine. I don’t recommend that owners simply run out and buy the latest and greatest herb or nutraceutical and give it to their pets. Therapeutic interventions, no matter the type, should be based on a detailed history, physical exam, and appropriate diagnostic tests. Tell your veterinarian about any medicine or therapy your pet receives, no matter its origin.

Dr. Jennifer Coates


Wild West Veterinary Conference. Reno, NV. October 17-20, 2012. An Overview of Integrative Veterinary Medicine. Robert J. Silver DVM, MS, CVA

Image: Alice Mary Herden Green-Fly Media LLC / via Shutterstock

This article is posted and shared through the courtesy of petMD “Because pets can’t talk”  This particular article is from the Blog of Dr. Jennifer Coates