What is Integrative Medicine?
Integrative medicine means different things to different people. At The Whole Pet, integrative medicine means that we treat our patients using the best practices of both conventional (Western) and holistic medicine. Our doctors utilize a variety of conventional diagnostic techniques, technologies and medications, including diagnostic laboratory testing, digital radiographs, general surgery, laproscopic surgery and dentistry. In addition, we incorporate holistic methods such as acupuncture, herbs, manual therapies, natural medications, natural nutritional guidance, modified vaccination protocols, and other practices that promote lifelong wellness.
The goal of holistic medicine is to help the body heal itself, treat the whole body, not just the symptoms, and to provide solutions that are more natural, with less effects. Better food and exercise are part of this way of practicing. Veterinarians who practice complementary medicine generally have additional training and often, special certification in their chosen modalities.
A tenet of holism is that the absence of a specific diagnosed disease does not necessarily mean that a body is healthy. (This is why people who just don’t feel well, but have normal lab tests, are usually not helped by conventional medicine, but often helped by the holistic approach). The approach looks at the animal, health problems it may have, mental aspects such as anxiety or aggression, the owner, the type of food being fed and any undesirable ingredients in that food, and the environment it is kept in, to recommend a treatment program. Instead of a drug with a single ingredient, herbs may be preferred, which contain a primary ingredient plus all its supporting factors, or multiple anti-oxidants instead of one single vitamin, or a Chinese herbal formula with many herbs, etc. Even a single herb has many healing components that are synergistic, rather than one single component that primarily treats one problem and the herb can have a greater range of beneficial effects. Man and animals originally evolved along with the plants they ate or used, and may respond better to them than to a recent drug.
Integration with conventional medicine:
There are times when holistic medicine works better and other times when conventional medicine works better. Conventional medicine has many useful diagnostic techniques unknown to ancient practitioners. Surgery can be life-saving.In emergency situations, conventional medicine works quickly and saves lives. Holistic methods work well for chronic disease. Holistic methods are ideal for whole-body support. Holistic practitioners can be useful as part of the veterinary holistic community.
Holistic methods work best where combinations of factors are used. Research usually tries to isolate single factors, which end in poor results for these modalities.
Some holistic methods are highly individualized. There is no good way to quantify a single treatment for a single disease for research purposes.
Meta-analyses may not be valid for some holistic methods.
Much of conventional medicine is not validated by the gold-standard double-blind research study.
Well-written case studies may be the best way to show the validity of holistic medicine.
Some Holistic Modalities:
- Herbal therapy
- Massage Therapy
Examples of holistic treatments which are now main-stream:
- Fish Oil
- Milk Thistle