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Holistic Veterinary Medicine

Updated on December 31, 2008

Holistic Medicine

Holistic medicine, also referred to as alternative medicine, homeopathic medicine, and herbal medicine, has become very popular in the past several years, but even still it can be hard to define as its many names really don't have anything to do with the actual practice itself.

For example, homeopathic medicine and herbal medicine are parts of holistic medicine, so the names do not necessarily describe the entire course of the practice. It would be like referring to conventional medicine as surgical medicine or steroid medicine, as although surgery and steroids are parts of conventional medicine, neither accurately describe the overall course of medical care.

According to the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association, holistic medicine is a "... mix of healing arts and skills ... as natural as life itself. At the core of this issue lies the very essence of the word '(w)holistic.' It means taking the whole picture of the patient- the environment, the disease pattern, the relationship of the pet with the owner- and developing a treatment protocol using a wide range of therapies for healing the patient."

But, even this this description of holistic medicine, you can find many points that fit into conventional medicine, as well, and you will even find that many of the holistic forms of medicine have found their way into the conventional practice.

There are different holistic treatments available, most of which are borderline mainstream.

Common holistic treatments include:

  • Homeopathic
  • Light/color therapy
  • Magnetic therapy
  • Massage
  • Nosodes
  • Nutrition 


  • Acupuncture
  • Aromatherapy
  • Bach Flower Remedies
  • Biochemical salts
  • Chiropractic
  • Cold laser therapy
  • Herbal therapies 

Does Holistic Medicine Work?

Depending on who you ask, you will get a different answer. Most conventional veterinarians will tell you it's not going to hurt and pretty much leave it at that, but there are many veterinarian who practice holistic medicine and are actually certified in certain fields of alternative medicine. These veterinarians will probably tell you that there is a possibility that the treatment will work, although they may not fully understand why at times.

(Just watch out for some of the quacks that claim to practice holistic medicine, and really have no clue what they're doing. You want to make sure that the practitioner has a true veterinary degree.)

We will probably never get a 100% answer as to whether or not holistic medicine works or how it does, but there seems to be enough anecdotal evidence to suggest that some of the therapies do work.

In some cases, it can be a good idea to combine holistic medicine with conventional treatments, such as in the case of cancer and disease. Just make sure that you consult with the specialist before you try any holistic treatments so that you can find out if the alternative treatments will undo the conventional treatment.

Just remember that not all holistic treatments are good. It will always depend on the illness and the prescribed course of treatment from your conventional veterinarian.

You should remember that natural isn't always better, as there are plenty of natural poisons in the wild, and not everything will be beneficial. And, you can always overdose or under dose your pet; you can even give your pet a herb that once in the body transforms to another drug. For example, yucca will transform into prednisolone, which is a steroid that reduces inflammation and suppresses the immune system, which can interfere with conventional treatments.

ALWAYS check with the veterinarian administering the the treatment before putting your pet on a holistic therapy.

Holistic Veterinary Treatments

  • Acupuncture is a healing art used by the Chinese for over 3,000 years. Veterinary acupuncturists can work on a variety of problems such as arthritis, muscle injury, allergy, autoimmune problems, stress, cataracts, and spinal problems.
  • Aromatherapy uses scents to help heal. Essential oils can be rubbed into the skin and fur or can be dripped in a cup or warm water and placed near the dog's head.
  • Bach Flower Remedies are similar to herb therapies and homeopathy, but work with the pet's emotional condition. There are 38 remedies made from flowers, trees, and special waters.
  • Biochemical salts are electrolytes found in all living things. These minerals are given to patients for a variety of ailments.
  • Chiropractic deals with diseases caused by spinal interference with normal nerve function. Chiropractic practitioners deal with spinal and bone misalignment's that can affect organs, muscles, and gait.
  • Cold laser/photon therapy is used primarily for injuries and pain to stimulate healing.
  • Herbal therapies are used to treat a large number of diseases and to maintain the health of the animal. It can be used both internally and externally depending on the type of herb used and the animals condition. Commonly used herbs include aloe vera, cat's claw, chaparral, Chinese astragalus, essiac tea, hoxsey, milk thistle, Pau d'arco, red clover, saw palmetto, tumeric, and tian xian, which either help prevent or reduce tumors and cancer, boost immune system function, or boost organ function. 
  • Homeopathy is the use of certain substances that produce a disease's symptoms in order to cure the disease. Homeopathics dilute the substance, thus enhancing the healing properties and removing the potential poisonous attributes.
  • Light/color therapy is used with emotional and biological disorders.
  • Magnetic therapy is used to help promote healing of fractures and sore muscles and to alleviate arthritis and joint pain.
  • Massage is intended to alleviate pain and remove toxins.
  • Nosodes are the homeopathic version of vaccinations.
  • Nutrition is intended to correct imbalances in diet and help cure and prevent certain diseases.


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    • eovery profile image

      eovery 9 years ago from MIddle of the Boondocks of Iowa

      Wow, I never thought about this for animals. Makes sense.

      Happy New Year Hubbing