When I first graduated from veterinary school, I thought I knew it all.
I thought I knew everything about animals. Anatomy, physiology, drugs, surgery – learning about these areas made me a know-it-all. At least, I thought I knew it all.
Four long years of studying will do that to you. Let alone, breaking free from the tethers of traditional education can be difficult.
Armored with my know-it-all education, I also believed what I read about in school must be true.
Yet, in veterinary medicine, your patients don’t read the textbooks.
Dogs don’t read medical journals. And cats? They don’t read anything.
Why Alternative Veterinary Medicine?
After a few years in practice, I noticed people asking questions about alternative treatments. More specifically, they asked questions about acupuncture and herbal medicine.
Clients would ask, “Do you think acupuncture will help my dog’s back pain?”
At first, I scoffed at the questions and laughed under my breath.
“What are these people thinking?” I would ask myself.
Then, one day, I thought: If I want to be an informed veterinarian, then I need to go back to school and learn the truth about alternative veterinary medical treatments. I need to speak confidently about the topics they are asking, not ignore their questions.
As a matter of fact, I thought, I need the knowledge to answer clients’ questions with conviction, credibility, and certainty.
So, I did.
I went back to school to learn about Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine.
A Few Facts About TCVM
Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine, or TCVM, is a system of medicine developed by ancient Chinese cultures.
Specifically, TCVM is based on the same principles as Traditional Chinese Medicine, or TCM, which has been practiced worldwide on humans for more than 3,500 years.
At its core, TCVM is based on the principles of Taoism, a philosophy emphasizing a harmonious way of life and balance in everyday living.
Over the past two decades, the use of TCVM and its’ branches has skyrocketed as a direct result of pets’ becoming more prominent family members.
Five fundamental branches exist in the practice of TCVM:
Each branch incorporates the principles of TCVM in distinct but different ways.
Yet, these branches are used individually and collectively to maintain health and serve as solutions for ailments in pets.
The practice of TCVM requires a thorough understanding and appreciation of two theories (Yin-Yang and Five Elements) that guide practitioners in every aspect of the treatment protocol.
What to Expect From a TCVM Practitioner
To arrive at a diagnosis, the practitioner takes a detailed history focusing not only on the symptom but also on individual personality traits of the pet.
Frequently, these veterinarians inquire by asking the following questions:
- How old is your pet?
- Does your pet eat grass or drink lots of water?
- Where does your pet sleep?
- Is your pet anxious or fearful?
- Is your pet agitated?
Then, your practitioner will do a hands-on examination focusing on the tongue and pulse.
Think of the tongue as an overall indicator of health.
The tongue may be dry, red, pale, or wet. Sometimes, the tongue will be cracked or even swollen.
These characteristics aid the practitioner in generating a TCVM diagnosis which, by the way, is vastly different from a Western diagnosis.
Next, the practitioner will feel the pulse in each rear leg. The pulse reflects the intensity, pressure and volume of blood flowing throughout the body. Terms such as weak, deep and thready are often used to describe the various pulse qualities.
By incorporating the results of the tongue and pulse exam with the patients’ history, the practitioner generates a working diagnosis and recommends the proper treatment plan.
Oftentimes, Food Therapy is the cornerstone of treatment.
So, How Popular is TCVM?
Currently, more than 6,000 veterinarians in the US have returned to school just like me to learn the principles of TCVM. Out of these 6,000, approximately half go on to study Eastern Food Therapy.
These facts highlight the emerging popularity of TCVM and Food Therapy. As interest increases, more veterinarians are learning that both TCVM and Food Therapy can benefit animals.
It’s my belief that TCVM has taken hold in veterinary medicine for four reasons:
- It complements Western Medicine
- It offers natural solutions
- It costs less
- It offers almost no risk to the patient
One easy way for pet parents to take advantage of the growing popularity of TCVM is to employ Eastern Food Therapy principles.
It’s the one aspect of TCVM that is easily accessible by all, plus it can be applied each and every day to benefit pets.
Most importantly, it requires only a small change and can provide an enormous value to a pet’s overall health. Also, you can start utilizing Food Therapy without visiting your veterinarian.
So, why should you use Food Therapy to apply TCVM on your pet?
You have only your pet’s improved health to gain!