What is holistic wellness and why should it be widely available to all? The term is rather straightforward. Holistic meaning treating the “whole” body. Holistic veterinarians and health providers alike account for mental and social factors, rather than just the physical symptoms of a disease to treat their patients. These techniques are humane, non-invasive, and centered on stress reduction and compassion. Some of these techniques may include laser therapy, acupuncture, aromatherapy, herbal medicine, osteopathy, massage and more.
Often the perception of a “holistic veterinarian” is one that thinks outside the box of conventional medicine and chooses instead to focus on natural treatments, or alternative therapies. As of a studied dated in 2015, over 40% of humans chose to use holistic or alternative therapies for themselves. It stands to reason that they would seek the same level of treatment for their pets. In the same study it was determined that only approximately 1% of all veterinarians practiced holistic medicine.
The American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association is a group founded in 1982 that has their own publication, annual conference, and directory for finding a holistic veterinarian near you. However it is important to note that this is not a regulatory body. All veterinarians are regulated by the American Veterinary Medical Association and must adhere to the same guidelines, and note the following:
The AVMA believes that all aspects of veterinary medicine should be held to the same standards, including complementary, alternative and integrative veterinary medicine, non-traditional or other novel approaches.
This being said, there has been a shift in recent years toward veterinarians learning alternative therapies and providing these with traditional methods.
Holistic vs. Integrative Veterinary Medicine
While most people use “holistic” and “integrative” as synonyms, there is a slight difference in perception. Many people view holistic veterinarians as those who prefer to perform only complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), such as acupuncture, homeopathy, etc. And there are certainly some veterinarians who do this. The term “integrative” instead refers to a veterinarian who performs both modern and alternative therapies.
Dr. Kendra Pope of Integrative Oncology and Veterinary Wellness explains:
“‘Integrative was truly created to step away from the long accepted CAM (Complementary and Alternative medicine). It is a term defined separately to encompass not only incorporation of conventional and mainstream treatment with other complementary therapies, but really focus on using ALL tools in the toolbox all at the same time. Integrative medicine, by definition, is also meant to be evidence-based when possible, and also should be a type of approach to healthcare that the healthcare practitioner themselves must practice daily in order to be good healthcare providers.”
Choose a veterinarian that has the same views as you, that you feel comfortable asking questions. And most importantly, that your pet likes. After all, your pet is the patient. If you are are wondering what to expect from a visit to a holistic veterinarian, you can find out more here.
Why Holistic Wellness?
Many of us realize that modern medicine has made wonderful advances, however, it is prone to using chemicals and technology that is not only sometimes unnecessary but also extremely expensive. More, modern veterinary medicine often focuses on the symptoms rather than the root cause. The root cause is the foundation that must be addressed. The ultimate goal is to aid self-healing in the body. Holistic medicine strives to help the body achieve this balance naturally.
An analogy that many integrative doctors use is the seed-and-soil analogy. Human integrative oncologist, Dr. Arti Lakhani, says:
“I often share my ‘seed-and-soil’ analogy, where the cancer is a weed invading the body (or soil),” said Dr. Lakhani. “We traditionally use chemotherapy, radiation and surgery to try to kill the weed. When adding integrative therapies we address the soil as well. The goal is to make the soil as inhospitable as possible to prevent the weed from growing back while also optimizing the body as a whole.”
This analogy applies to all illness, not cancer alone.
The Power of Holistic Wellness
The power of holistic wellness is this: when we give our bodies the strength to fight infection and achieve balance using natural methods we achieve the perfect version of ourselves. Chemicals, radiation, and chemotherapy often attack our bodies and immune systems. Now, that is not to say these aren’t often necessary to our health and survival, but dependency on these treatments alone without natural alternatives can cause more harm to our bodies and those of our pets in the long run.
For example, imagine the unthinkable happens and your animal has cancer. They receive surgery to excise the tumor and follow up chemotherapy from their veterinary oncologist. Their prognosis is good. Wonderful news! But do you stop there? Or do you consider changes to your pet’s diet? Do you add supplements or provide opportunities for acupuncture and massage for pain relief and rehabilitation from the surgery? The power of holistic wellness is its benefits to the body, mental, spiritual, and physical that allow your animal to have a strong and healthy foundation. Holistic wellness is hugely beneficial for PREVENTION while traditional medicine focuses on treating illness when it does occur.
Do not wait to provide these amazing techniques for your cat, dog, or horse when the unthinkable happens and your animal is ill. Start now. Find a holistic or integrative veterinarian. Book a sports massage appointment to increase blood flow and reduce inflammation and toxins. The benefits are numerous and priceless.
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*Disclaimer: I, Heather Wallace, am not a veterinarian. I do not diagnose medical issues, offer medical advice, prescribe drugs, or perform surgery. My role is that of a facilitator, assisting your animal(s) to attain and maintain a naturally healthy state within his/her own body. Bodywork or aromatherapy are not veterinary medical treatment. Further, comments, suggestions, or recommendations are not to be construed as medical/ veterinary advice. If you have questions regarding your pet’s health please direct them to your veterinarian.