Chinese Medicine and your Dog
When I was asked to write a blog series on Integrative Veterinary Care (the intersection between standard veterinary practice and a more holistic “alternative medicine” approach to veterinary medicine) I immediately knew what I would like to accomplish. I would like to encourage, empower and equip you with additional (practical) options that will help your dog(s) obtain and maintain ideal health. I will provide you with a more holistic and integrative approaches to your dog(s) health. To be truly “holistic” I need to offer you the best of both worlds, a combination of Conventional Western Veterinary Medicine (CWVM) with Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM).
Please remember…. TCVM care is not intended to replace the services of CWVM but instead to be integrated together. It should not be misconstrued to mean, imply, or indicate that the information provided in this blog is intended cure anything, as no such claims are made. ONLY THE BODY CAN HEAL ITSELF, so the information offered by me is not offered as a cure, but rather as an aid to help your dog(s) body re-establish balance and normal functions. Always seek the advice of your Veterinarian provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it.
So……Why Will Your Dog Love You (Even More) for Reading This Blog?
Well, he’d thank you if he could…. because it will make his life healthier, happier and longer. You’ll learn about Chinese Medicine and your dog, using food as medicine, Yin and Yang, Hot and cold – how food affects the body, the five elements of Traditional Chinese Medicine, seasonal foods. You’ll learn about troubling symptoms like itching, scratching, hot spots, diarrhea, pain, weight gain, lameness and it will help you learn about some huge health challenges like cancer, thyroid disorders, cushings disease, paralysis through the integration of Eastern and Western philosophies… and much much more
This blog is meant to be a well-used guide, a reference, a GPS system designed to help you navigate your dog’s health from puppyhood through his last loving days.
East versus West? – Understanding Health and Illness
Ideal health is created in balance… living more towards the middle and avoiding extremes. With balance comes health, with imbalance comes illness. An integrative approach seeks to maintain this balance in the body so that good health can be the norm. Here’s how it works: Each of the body systems depends on one another. Therefore, when the function of one body system (example: the circulatory system) is compromised, imbalance and diminishing function will be seen in other body systems (example: the skin and fur.). I will discuss more about this in a later blog…
Practiced on animals for nearly 3,000 years, TCVM is still a relatively new concept to be practiced in the western world. The view of TCVM in the western world differs from its Chinese origin — equating TCVM primarily with Acupuncture– but it is much more.
TCVM philosophy incorporates the following pillars of creating ideal health:
1. Acupuncture–the practice of inserting fine needles through the skin at specific meridian points to treat disease, restore balance or relieve pain;
2. Herbal therapy — using plants and herbs to treat disease;
3. Food Therapy — healing illness and disease through the use of specific foods and diets;
4. Tui-Na — a therapeutic form of massage, to help maintain the free flow of Qi throughout the body and maintaining and / or restoring balance;
Now, here are are some fundamental differences between CWVM and TCVM:
1. Western medicine believes in control where as Chinese medicine believes in balance. Western medicine is more mechanical and Chinese medicine is more energetic.
2. Western medicine is good at “anti’s”. (ie. Antibiotics when we have a bacterial infection).
3. Chinese medicine is good at tonifying or bolstering. (ie. building blood in the anemic patient), In western medicine we analyze a disease process to uncover its specific physical cause.
4. In Chinese medicine we recognize disease as an imbalance within the body or between the body and the environment. In Western medicine we study the functions of the body down to a cellular level, in Chinese medicine we study the body as an energetic system in which all the body systems integrate and work together.
Conventional Western Veterinary Medicine (CWVM) is great for diagnostic testing and treating more acute problems that require interventional care and symptom / pain management with advanced diagnostics, surgical techniques and pharmaceuticals. Whereas Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) uniquely treats the root cause of the disorder and more chronic diseases without unnecessary side effects even the ones that western medicine attempts to control, but cannot cure.
The best way to approach illness in your dog isn’t simply to introduce a pharmaceutical or surgical option through CWVM, but to support the compromised body system in order to restore balance through TCVM — and therefore health — to your dogs body as a whole. Once balance is restored, your dog will be able to heal in a natural fashion. Therefor the most effective approach to maintaining your dogs health involves a deliberate overlap and integration of Eastern and Western Medicine.
“It matters not whether medicine is old or new, so long as it brings about a cure. It matters not whether theories are Eastern or Western, so long as they prove to be true”
Please stay tuned for next weeks blog….. Yin Yang and more….
Michel Selmer, DVM, MS, CTCVMP – “The Caring Vet”