FAQ Holistic Medicine

Frequently Asked Questions

Holistic Veterinary Medicine

See also: Holistic Medicine & Holistic Vet

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Q. What is Holistic Medicine?

A. Holistic Medicine is the practice of taking into account the whole patient, all that impinges upon a patient and the patient’s impact on its environment, in order to ensure that there is no obstacle to healing. It is usually associated with natural medicines as a stimulus to healing (e.g. acupuncture, homeopathy, herbs – herbalism – herbal medicine), which should be used in an integrated programme. Holistic veterinary medicine applies to animals. The holistic vet must take account of the special circumstances, management and biology of each species in his or her quest for healing.

Q. Can Holistic Medicine apply to all species?

A. Holistic Medicine is applicable to each and every animal. All that is necessary is that the veterinary surgeon (holistic veterinarian) should know all the factors that can impinge on the health of each particular species. A holistic vet may need to confine himself or herself to species with which he or she is familiar.

Q. What issues are considered in Holistic Medicine?

A. Apart from looking at the disease signs for which the patient has been presented, along with the character, demeanour and appearance of the patient, the holistic vet takes into account a patient’s nutrition, diet and lifestyle. We at the AVMC also check skeletal alignment (chiropractic work). These general considerations apply to every patient, whatever the species. Then, for each species there are special considerations. For example, we have to attend to saddling, shoeing, pasture management, stabling and work patterns when treating chronic disease in a horse. For farm animals, production methods and housing will have a massive impact on health.

Q. Can you simply treat one of my horse’s health issues and save money or time by ignoring others?

A. Sometimes, we are asked just to treat one of a horse’s problems and not to bother about whatever else may be wrong or that we might find at the examination. This is not possible, using holistic therapies such as acupuncture or homeopathy, in that it is the whole horse (or cat, dog, pony or other animal) that we are treating, not one of the symptoms or signs of disease. The holistic vet treats the horse and the horse is the one who heals. Hippocrates is credited with saying that: ‘The physician treats, Nature heals’. This means that we cannot target one specific part of the picture, nor should we leave correctible problems unattended (e.g. ill-fitting saddle, bad shoeing etc.), as these will impede the healing process.

Q. What sort of cost can I expect?

A. It is always difficult to compare costs across different treatments but, in general, successful treatments by a holistic vet are very cost-effective. The AVMC’s charges are usually time-based; detailed estimates of cost can be requested from our office (contact details). While the first consultation can be lengthy, overall costs for a case have usually turned out to be quite cheap, relative to many conventional options. Holistic practice inevitably requires a greater expenditure of time, however, when first meeting the patient. Thereafter, costs usually diminish.

Q. Will my insurance pay?

A. Most insurance policies allow for holistic medicine to be used on your animal. However, some will try to marginalise it under ‘complementary or alternative treatments’. This can result in reduced benefit. This appears to the AVMC to be a travesty, since the treatment is performed by a vet (albeit a ‘holistic vet’) and should be handled under general veterinary cover.

Q. What is the legal position regarding holistic medicine for animals?

A. The relevant legislation is the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966. Veterinary medicine and surgery can only be performed on animals by a qualified veterinary surgeon. Different therapies are viewed differently under this legislation, so please seek information under pages applicable to the individual therapy in question.

See also: Holistic Medicine & Holistic Vet

If you have questions not answered here, please let us know (contact details)

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