Integrative Veterinary Medicine is defined as the integration of conventional and complementary and alternative diagnostic and therapeutic approaches into a comprehensive preventive and therapeutic approach to disease.
Integrative Veterinary Medicine is defined as the integration of conventional and complementary and alternative diagnostic and therapeutic approaches into a comprehensive preventive and therapeutic approach to disease. Integrative veterinary medicine also considers the mind, body and other relationships in its approach to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease and maintenance of good health. It integrates preventive medicine and health programs, conventional medical and surgical approaches with acupuncture, botanical medicine(herbs, phytotherapy),chiropractic, homeopathy, physical therapy including cold lasers, magnetic therapy and others , nutritional supplements and nutraceuticals, behavior management, environmental medicine and other miscellaneous therapies. The combination of the complementary and alternative approaches is commonly called Complementary and Alternative Veterinary Medicine (CAVM). Based on the patients history and a comprehensive physical examination, all diagnostic and therapeutic options are discussed with the client and then a program is developed that is appropriate for the particular patient and client. The program may include one or a combination of various therapies based upon the patients needs. Examples are presented for geriatric medicine, musculoskeletal, neurologic, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular and other conditions.
An integrative approach to geriatric medicine includes a comprehensive conventional diagnostic workup incorporating the physical examination, blood chemistry, urinalysis and diagnostic imaging techniques where appropriate. Based on the diagnosis, a comprehensive therapeutic approach is offered to the client. In addition to conventional approaches, other CAVM therapies are offered. Acupuncture may be added to address specific disease conditions associated with geriatric medicine including the treatment of renal disease, hepatic disease, degenerative joint disease as well as others. Based on traditional chinese medical theory (TCM), acupuncture may address underlying TCM diagnoses such as Kidney Yin deficiency. Oriental herbal formulas may be prescribed based on the specific western medical condition or the TCM diagnosis. Physical therapy including massage, stretching, swimming, low level laser therapy, magnetic therapy and others may be integrated as well. Western botanical medical formulas, nutraceuticals, nutritional supplements may also be prescribed. Vitamin and mineral supplements, digestive enzymes, amino acid supplements, essential fatty acid supplements such as fish oil, flaxseed oil and others, antioxidants such as Vitamin E, selenium, alpha-lipoic acid, microhydrin as well as others should be considered. Adaptogenic herbs such as ginseng, ashwaganda and astragalus may be appropriate. They help support hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis function. Herb/drug interactions must be considered when precribing these in addition to conventional medications. Medicinal mushrooms have been found to benefit the immune system in geriatric patients.
Once an integrative program is developed, one should reevaluate the patient in four to eight weeks to consider any changes or additions to the program. Ideally, a geriatric patient should be re-evaluated every one to three months to evaluate progress and improvement.
An integrative approach to degenerative joint disease can be quite rewarding for the patient and the veterinarian. This goes beyond prescribing analgesic and antiinflammatory medications to the incorporation of proactive chondroprotective supplements such as injectable and oral glycosaminoglycans. The development of a proactive approach including an appropriate exercise program is essential to proper maintenance of the musculature without overdue stress on the joints. Western botanicals such as devils claw has been found to be beneficial for degenerative joint disease. An ayurvedic herb, boswellia has been found to have antiinflammatory effects in joints. Chinese herbal formulas address degenerative joint disease form a TCM perspective based on treating the underlying causes and chinese disease patterns. Formulas such as arthrogen, Drynaria 12, and others address particular conditions. Essential fatty acid supplements are beneficial for joints as well.
Acupuncture and physical manipulative therapies can be very beneficial for degenerative joint disease. Acupuncture can be used to relieve inflammation, improve analgesia, increase circulation and decrease muscle spasms around particular joints. It may also be used to treat underlying TCM conditions that predispose to arthritis. Manipulative therapies may be added to treat secondary compensatory problems. Massage and acupressure may be taught to the client in order that they can support the program at home. Magnetic therapy, laser therapy, hot and cold therapy may also be beneficial.
Numerous gastrointestinal conditions may be responsive to an integrative approach including inflammatory bowel disease, megasophagus, feline opstipation syndrome and others. The key to an integrative approach to gastrointestinal conditions, as with most conditions, is proper diet. Proper dietary management with the incorporation of natural foods, a paleolithic diet and removal of allergenic foods is the foundation to an itnegrative approach to g.i. conditions. Appropriate supplementation with probiotics, digestive enzymes, and amino acids is also critical. L-glutamine is the fuel for enterocytes and is essential in the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease and allergic gastroenteritis. Western herbs such as slippery elm bark, ginger and others are beneficial for specific condititions as well. Ginger is an excellent remedy for motion sickness in dogs.
Acupuncture has been found to be beneficial in the treatment of vomiting and diarrhea. Acupuncture helps regulate gastrointestinal motility. It has been used in the treatment of megaesophagus, feline obstipation, allergic, bacterial and viral gastroenteritis and pancreatitis. Chinese herbal formulas may prescribed to address underlying TCM conditions.
Integrative approaches to pancreatitis, hepatic disease, cardiovascular and others are also reviewed.
No one form of medicine has all the solutions to all diseases. The future of veterinary medicine should include the most successful approaches to specific conditions including conventional western medicine and surgery along with CAVM. An individualized specific integrative approach to a patient will allow the animal to live a longer, quality life with their human caretaker.
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