A Message from the Vet - September 2010
Holistic Medicine

Holistic medicine is becoming more and more popular these days in veterinary medicine. In holistic medicine, diagnosis and treatment of a patient considers all aspects of a patient's life. This includes their diet, history, relationships, environmental stress factors, behaviors, and clinical signs. The holistic veterinarian believes that the key to preventing illness is to maintain a healthy immune system by creating a treatment plan that may include western conventional medicine (surgery and drugs) as well as alternative medicine. Most alternative treatment methods used in humans are also being utilized in veterinary medicine.

There are several different types of alternative medicine which include traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture, herbal medicine, and nutritional modification. Some of these methods are currently offered here at Kailua Animal Clinic. There are other forms of alternative therapy such as veterinary chiropracty, massage therapy, and homeopathy.

Traditional Chinese medicine teaches that chi is the vital life force or energy that flows through channels throughout the body referred to as meridians. Pain or illness occurs when there is a blockage of the flow of chi or stagnation of chi. Acupuncture stimulates receptors along the surface of the body to restore the flow and strengthen the body's immune system. Acupuncture has been used for centuries in China and for many is the only treatment. Acupuncture can also be combined with herbal medicine to restore balance and prevent illness.

Herbal medicine is the use of plants and plant extracts to treat disease and maintain overall health. Plant extracts are the concentrated active principle or essence of a plant. There are many different herbs from different countries throughout the world that can be used to strengthen the immune system and help balance both physical and emotional aspects. Herbs can be used alone or combined with conventional drugs to potentially lower the dosage of medicine required to effectively treat a disease.

Nutritional therapy is the use of a proper diet to maintain health. It has long been known that a healthy diet and lifestyle can lead to a longer, healthier existence. The proper diet can prevent obesity which can lead to secondary illness and considerable discomfort, especially in the later stages of life when arthritis may be present. Nutritional therapy formulates a diet specific to each patient's physical needs and is even believed to improve their behavioral and emotional health as well.

Whatever treatment method you choose to utilize for your pet, it is important to have the guidance of a licensed veterinarian. It is a common misconception that products are safe just because they are "natural". Herbs can have fewer side effects than pharmaceuticals, but only when used properly in the correct combination. Many herbs have active ingredients as well as inactive ingredients, all of which may affect the patient's health. It is imperative that clients work closely with their veterinarian to decide what treatment plan is right for their pets.

We are working to provide an integrative veterinary practice here at Kailua Animal Clinic by continuing to educate ourselves and provide our patients with the most current and cutting edge treatments. If you would like more information regarding holistic therapeutics, please let us know.

Candice Denham, DVM

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Last updated 2014 May 10.