Holistic veterinary care is in great demand these days. The term “holistic” implies that the entire being; body, mind and spirit, is being addressed.
The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. This concept stands in direct opposition to the Western reductionist view of life. Modern medicine tends to break systems down into smaller and smaller pieces, reducing them to their basic building blocks to gain an understanding. Often, the modern doctor loses sight of the forest for the trees.
Holistic medicine takes many forms, but there are common principles among these various techniques.
First of all, health is considered to be more than simply the absence of disease. It is a state of well-being expressed as a vitality that resists disease. Health is a dynamic balance of internal and external forces. From this point of view, there is a broad spectrum of physical conditions ranging from perfect health to death.
Dis-ease begins as an imbalance, which may go undetected by conventional means. If left untreated at this early stage, detectable disease and possibly death will eventually result. Often, holistic approaches to health can detect problems at the dis-ease stage and correct the imbalance before disease sets in.
Holistic therapies embrace the vitalist concept that has been abandoned by conventional medicine. The vitalists believe that there is more to the body than meets the eye. There is a vital energy that animates the flesh. The Chinese call it “Qi,” the Japanese call it “Ki,” the doctors of India call it “Prana,” homeopaths call it the “Vital Force,” and chiropractors call it the “Innate.” It is this life force energy that is the difference between life and death, and it must be nourished and balanced to maintain true health.
While conventional medicine fights disease, holistic therapies generally strengthen the body.
The body is viewed as containing its own pharmacy. Research bears this fact out. You may have heard of the “placebo effect.” This medical anomaly predicts that 30% of subjects treated with a sugar pill will improve; no matter what the disease is. High blood pressure, low blood pressure, allergies – all can be alleviated by the patients’ own bodies. It is considered a case of mind over matter but it proves that our bodies can heal themselves if conditions are right. The idea of holistic therapies is to produce the right conditions for the body to produce true health.
Of course, fighting disease and strengthening the body are not mutually exclusive approaches to health. For me, holistic pet care embraces the best of what each has to offer. This concept is referred to as integrative medicine. There are some cases for which surgery or medications may be the best option. At the same time acupuncture, chiropractic, herbs or nutritional supplements may often be used to speed healing in conjunction with or in place of Western medicine.
The holistic-integrative approach to health care ensures that the patient gets the most effective treatment available with the least chance of side effects. It gives the veterinarian more tools in his medical tool box. This advance in veterinary medicine is the wave of the future.
Dr. Doug Knueven
Dr. Doug Knueven received his veterinary degree from Ohio State University in 1987. He is the medical director of Beaver Animal Clinic in Beaver, PA (near Pittsburgh).
Having earned certification in veterinary acupuncture in 1994, Dr. Doug went on to earn certification in veterinary Chinese herbal medicine and veterinary chiropractic. He also has advanced training in natural nutrition, massage therapy and homeopathy.
Dr Doug has been practicing alternative veterinary medicine since 1995. He has written two books on the subject; Stand by Me: A Holistic Handbook for Animals, Their People and the Lives They Share Together, and The Holistic Health Guide: Natural Care for the Whole Dog. As an international speaker, Dr. Doug educates veterinarians and pet caregivers about many facets of holistic veterinary medicine and how to apply it.
Check out Dr. Doug’s blog at www.DrDougKnueven.com