Holistic Veterinary Medicine
The work of a HOLISTIC VET explained – Information page
A HOLISTIC VET (holistic veterinarian) is one who practices his or her medicine and animal care according to holistic principles (holism). This may mean that the medicine used is homeopathy (homoeopathy), acupuncture, herbal medicine (herbs), other type of natural medicine or a combination of any or all of these, used with a holistic methodology. It may even be that some who practice modern conventional medicine have a holistic outlook (but their medicine methods cannot be called holistic, since conventional drug medicine is intentionally used according to more reductionist principles and indications).
The holistic vet realizes that he or she must treat the whole (i.e. mind, body and spirit in the context of environment and lifestyle), in order to achieve optimum results. The special factors that impinge on each of our species and types of animals must be studied and understood, in order to follow the true causes of disease and to be able to minimize or eliminate them.
The holistic vet, when studying a patient and setting out to treat or to advise, must take into account all aspects of diet, lifestyle, environment, circumstance and activity, in order properly to be able to understand the situation and to be able to stand a chance of effecting real healing.
Truly holistic vets will offer holistic veterinary advice, i.e. they will tailor advice to suit the individual patient in its particular surroundings and circumstances and will offer advice embracing all factors that impinge upon the patient. This is a sympathetic and caring approach.
In the USA, it appears that a veterinarian who uses a spectrum of natural, alternative and complimentary medicines is called a holistic veterinarian. This interpretation of the meaning of holistic vet is well demonstrated by the article in Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holistic_veterinary_medicine (at the time of writing on 10th June 2010). According to the UK understanding, however, it is the methodology that makes one a holistic vet, rather than the systems of medicine applied. One might only use one medical system but still practice it in a truly holistic way. This is simply a matter of varying definitions and common usage.
Of course, it is also possible that a vet may aspire to use homeopathy, acupuncture or other alternative, without being truly holistic, preferring instead to use a more reductionist philosophy and approach. This is relatively common but is not the work of a truly ‘holistic vet’. Genuine holistic vet medicine is a life’s work, is very demanding and becomes a way of life. It is understandably not for everyone.
Systems of medicine that are truly and intentionally holistic in their basic approach are acupuncture (as part of TCM, not as a ‘stand-alone procedure) and homeopathy. Most holistic vets will use both of these therapies (but, it must be said, not always integrated). In both Traditional Chinese Medicine (with acupuncture incorporated) and Homeopathy, the lifestyle, diet, responses to foods, working life, leisure activities, emotions, likes and dislikes, responses to climate and weather and general appearance and demeanour of the patient are taken into account as a basic requirement of the therapeutic method. When writing about the homeopathic method, Hahnemann was explicit about this. For those readers who want to see the formal holistic ancestry for these therapies for themselves, I suggest for Acupuncture, read Ted Kapchuk’s book Chinese Medicine – The Web that has no Weaver and for Homeopathy, read Hahnemann’s Organon of Rational Medicine. Herbal Medicine is also often used in a holistic way but holism is not formally an integral part of the basic methodology in the same way. The practice of Ayurvedic medicine is also holistic but the author does not have direct experience in this field, widespread though it is on the Indian Sub-Continent.
The Alternative Vet (AVMC) offers Holistic Veterinary Medicine for horses, ponies, dogs, cats and other species:
At the AVMC, we use no chemical herbicides, pesticides, fly sprays, artificial plant foods, deodorizers or air fresheners and our reagents used in the house and veterinary premises (cleaners and disinfectants) are natural and ecologically-friendly. Visiting animals appear to recognize and appreciate this immediately. At the AVMC, we use exhaustive holistic methodology, with integrated alternative and complimentary medicine methods.
Note: 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, as a holistic vet using holistic therapies such as acupuncture or homeopathy, in that it is the horse himself (or cat, dog, pony or other animal patient) that we are treating, not one of the symptoms or signs of disease shown by the patient. We treat the horse and the horse is the one who heals. All the symptomatology, taken together, provides the necessary ‘picture’ of the patient. 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, as holistic vets, leave correctible problems unattended (e.g. ill-fitting saddle, bad shoeing etc.), as these will impede the healing process and potentially lead to problems further down the line (quite apart from the obvious health and welfare aspects). Axiom: avoidable problems should be avoided.
In the tradition of a holistic vet, we work on the whole animal, to try to stimulate a return to health and to study and to remove any possible obstacle to recovery. This holistic vet approach is applied to farm animals, horses, dogs, cats, ponies and any other species that may be brought into his care.
We also offer holistic vetting of horses and ponies, pre-purchase.
Synonyms: ‘Holism’ and ‘Holistic’ are sometimes written ‘Wholism’ and ‘Wholistic’.
N.B.: When a case is referred to us, it is much more helpful to receive the entire medical history, rather than selected detail from it. The holistic methodology and treatment are more effective, when based on the full medical history.
Holistic vet at work: We see animals for holistic vet consultation at the AVMC premises and we regularly visit an area stretching from Wales to London, from Devon to Kent, from South to North Midlands and from Bristol and West Midlands to the Wash and East Anglia. Visits are mainly to see horses but we can also arrange house calls (home visits) for domestic pets. We use acupuncture, herbs, homeopathy, aromatherapy (essential oils), tissue salts, bach flowers, chiropractic manipulation, LASER therapy and natural feeding, in our attempts to salvage the health of our patients.