ALTERNATIVE VETERINARY MEDICINE
As a result of many clients approaching me over the last couple of weeks regarding a common theme, I decided to do take the opportunity to do some research into the dissatisfaction with their veterinary experiences. Because of the nature of their comments, I started my study on the differences between Western and Eastern Veterinary care. After reading, consulting, listening and going to vet appointments with clients, I noted some considerably interesting findings.
Western veterinary medicine certainly has its place. It saves many lives, is responsible for endless research and is a sound method of treatment of animals. I have found that every vet- both western and eastern, genuinely cares about the well being of the animal. However, what I found is that it can be somewhat limited in its spectrum of treatment. Western medicine relies largely on medical science. For some, this is the be-all end-all of medicine. But what happens when medical doctors can’t answer all of your questions?
Imagine for a moment, that you have an animal who is in need of veterinary care. Imagine that you take this animal to your vet and she/he diagnoses that this animal is terminally ill and needs to be put down. What if, instead of accepting this treatment and course of action at face value, you had another choice? What if you could have more time with your animal as a healthy and whole companion?
Over 2500 years ago, Chinese doctors perfected their style of eastern medicine. Instead of using science as their foundation, they studied the rhythms of the body, the seasons of nature and the elements of Earth. They created a natural system of healing. Because of the specificity of TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) it can answer and treat many conditions that are anomalous to western medicine.
Whereas in western medicine, doctors are trained to diagnose and treat SYMPTOMS of an illness, eastern practitioners are trained to get to the SOURCE of the symptoms. They are trained to understand that symptoms that are being exhibited are just that: symptoms. As an example, if your animal friend is exhibiting a runny nose and sneezing, watery eyes, etc, western medicine would treat these symptoms with an antihistamine or suppressant of some nature. Eastern medicine would understand that these are symptoms of an underlying compromised immune system and suggest immune-strengthening herbs and/or acupuncture which would treat the root of the symptoms, thereby eliminating the cause.
Would you believe that TCM has often cured terminal illnesses through acupuncture and chiropractic care?
Through a series of energy channels called meridians, eastern doctors are able to assess the internal organs without x-rays and other invasive methods. By feeling the meridians of animals, doctors are able to find excessive heat, cool, dampness, dryness and other pathogens that if left untreated can accumulate and cause serious health issues. If these issues are already serious, the eastern doctor will perform acupuncture, chiropractic treatments, massage and prescribe herbal remedies as opposed to laboratory-processed pills, which brings me to my next, and perhaps most relevant point:
ANIMALS AND ENERGY:
As most people know, animal are incredibly sensitive to energy. Given that from both a scientific and spiritual point of view, everything in the Universe is composed of energy, this point will be easy to make. Consider the energy of a plant. Consider the energy of a laboratory-created pill. Which do you think would be gentler on an animal’s system?
According to TCM, illness is a stagnation of heat, cold or fluid in the body. These stagnations have energy and it is usually hot by the time it becomes a visible concern. By ingesting western medication, which is also considered hot energetically, we could easily be worsening the ailment by creating a tremendous imbalance of overheating the body. Herbs, being of plant origin are often cooling in nature. In fact, there are volumes of books written on the heating and cooling effects of plants (herbs) in eastern medicine. Because in TCM, doctors work in accordance with body temperature and fluid regulation, there are a myriad of treatment options as opposed to a pill for this, a pill for that.
Not only will the eastern doctor suggest treatment based on the animal’s body temperature and fluid regulations, but she will also take into account the temperature of the animal’s home, stress level of environment and relationship between animal and other people and animals in the house. The treatment will be imposed based on the internal clock of the animal, the household schedule and will account for all other external influences. The eastern doctor will treat based on the whole picture. The western treatment is based on what has worked for other animals who have had the same condition, in a very generalized way. While this may be an important comparison, no two animals are alike and should always be accounted for individually.
In some severe cases, one would argue that pills are necessary because they allow for more immediate results than herbal remedies. I would argue this by suggesting that what is even more immediate of a result than BOTH herbs and pills is acupuncture. Because animals are unable to tell us how they are feeling, doctors have to take an educated guess. Eastern medicine deals with body temperature, fluid regulation, energy channels and personality types, it is much more effective to create a treatment plan based on it as opposed to science which leaves little room for the individuality of the patient. Not only is the eastern treatment highly specified for the individual animal, but the treatment is far more gentle and peaceful. There is no anaesthetic, no surgery and no nasty pills. There is gentle massage and acupuncture. And from what I have seen and read, the eastern treatments are most often more effective than western for an overall healing experience.
After experiencing both western and holistic veterinary care, I was also surprised by the number and specificity of the questions the holistic vet asked to perform her diagnosis. She even went so far as, on both occasions, to ask how my client was doing and explained to her that her energy is affecting the healing of her animal. The concern seemed to be for everyone in the house instead of just for the life of death of the animal. The appointment was much more personalized than other veterinary appointments I have attended.
A PERSONAL NOTE:
Years ago, I took my cat to a western medical vet. She was gaining weight for no apparent reason. I feed her extremely healthy, low fat, high protein, grain free food and give her a lot of regular exercise. I was concerned as I didn’t want her health to be compromised; especially without a cause! When asked, my vet plainly responded with: “Some cats are just like that”. Completely dissatisfied with this answer, I dove into research. While studying eastern veterinary medicine for my own practice, I found my answer. Her fluids are deregulated due to stress (we had been traveling a lot at the time) and this had caused an imbalance in her kidneys. It had begun to affect her ears, her energy level and the fluids that she was vomiting too often and if left untreated, could have resulted in early kidney failure. Once I began to treat this imbalance with herbs and acupressure, she instantly became happier and more active. She has also stopped vomiting.
None of this is to take away from the medical field whatsoever. It is intended to give people the knowledge that they DO have options. For so many people, the illness or loss of an animal companion is devastating. It is, in my opinion, extremely valuable to understand that there are choices. It is my belief that western and eastern medicine should work in tandem for the greater good of the animal AND the family involved.