Integrative veterinary medicine combines conventional therapies with
complementary and alternative medicine for a comprehensive collaboration of
diagnosis and treatment.
Most veterinary medical schools train only conventional methods, though this
is changing as the use of alternative and complementary therapies, sometimes
called a holistic approach, gain acceptance based upon results. Like many
professions, veterinary medicine has those who advocate strongly for one
approach versus another. Some veterinarians have their heels firmly dug in
regarding the use of a holistic-only approach which encompasses therapies
such as acupuncture, homeopathy, chiropractic, aromatherapy, herbal
treatments and more. On the other side of the argument, many conventional
veterinarians believe use of these alternative therapies to be dangerous and
ineffective versus a totally conventional approach. But this all or nothing
world is changing as positive results are being reported by those who are
willing to be open-minded in their view of health and disease.
The profession is learning that by combining the appropriate and best
therapies from all the available disciplines, illness can often be avoided
and sick animals can be more quickly and effectively returned to health. And
this is the simple definition of a veterinarian who practices integrative
Veterinarians practicing integrative medicine have also brought another
important idea to the field. They believe the focus in veterinary care needs
to shift from disease and treatment to health and healing. On the human side
this is equivalent to recognizing the importance of a healthy diet and
exercise. It also preaches the importance of treating the mind and spirit as
well as the body. In simple terms, a happy pet (or person) is more likely to
stay healthy in the first place and heal more quickly when sick. Were you
surprised when it was discovered that patients (humans) who were happy and
laughed a lot were more likely to heal faster?
Dr. Marty Goldstein is recognized by his peers as one of the profession’s
foremost practitioners of integrative medicine. He started his career as a
highly trained conventional veterinarian, but he has spent his life
understanding how to “integrate” alternative therapies to preserve good
health and return sick animals to a natural state of good health. His
knowledge, experience and the results he has achieved have placed him at the
top of this “new school” of integrative veterinary care.
If you choose to work with a veterinarian who practices integrative care, be
prepared to see a wide range of both diagnostic and treatment techniques. At
one moment, you may be reviewing the “conventional” results of an MRI,
X-Rays or blood test only to be surprised that your vet’s recommended
therapy is to remove your pet from all the prescription drugs and replace
them with a simpler, broader course of all-natural therapy. As well, you
should be asking lots of questions about the recommended course of treatment
to satisfy yourself the right thing (and everything) is being done to help
your beloved pet. You should also expect and be willing to accept
recommendations regarding simple methods of intervention, such as dietary
adjustment, relaxation training, acupuncture, and the selective use of
natural remedies, which are all effective parts of integrative medicine.
Finally seek a veterinarian like Dr. Goldstein who can clearly and
confidently guide you through the confusing maze of therapeutic options,
particularly when a conventional-only approach simply isn’t working or
appears to be ineffective or harmful.
For more about the principles of integrative medicine and the benefits of a
natural approach maintaining the health of your pet, read Dr. Marty’s book,
The Nature of Animal Healing.
"What is different in the holistic medicine approach?" - Nick C., CT
Advocates of holistic medicine believe that by treating the root of a health
problem instead of its symptoms, you can help your animal regain and maintain
its own health, as nature intended. So, as an example, if we see an animal who
developed symptoms of chronic colitis after receiving unnecessary vaccines, we
don’t give antibiotics and steroids to mask the symptom of bloody diarrhea.
Instead, we’ll use acupuncture, homeopathy, herbal remedies, vitamin/mineral
supplementation and other non-toxic, alternative options to restore metabolic
balance and true health.