Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine

Below is a very brief outline of the components of TCVM. If you are interested in learning more, I recommend “Between Heaven and Earth, A Guide to Chinese Medicine,” by Harriet Beinfield and Efrem Korngold. They are human acupuncturists, but the information is relative to all species. This is a concise and well-structured description of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

TCVM theory looks at the animal as a whole, and describes the balance of everything in the universe as pairs of opposites. To have light, there must be dark. To have hot, there must be cold. When an organism is not functioning optimally (as in disease), there is an imbalance between these pairs. Bringing the organism back into balance also brings it closer to a state of good health. The basis of TCVM is to identify the imbalances and to use the tools necessary to restore balance. This is accomplished by combining acupuncture, herbs, diet, and lifestyle.
Acupuncture is the medical art of using very fine needles placed in predetermined locations on the body to elicit a change in blood flow and nerve conduction that leads to a desired change. Typical applications of acupuncture include musculoskeletal pain relief (injury, arthritis), treatment for neurologic problems disc disease, spinal cord injury), and internal medicine problems (allergic skin, eye problems, hormonal imbalances).
Herbs have been used as medicine for thousands of years. In fact, many current medications with which we are familiar have their basis in plants and herbs. The active ingredient in many drugs is a single chemical derived from a plant. However, there are many different chemical structures that make up a single plant, and we don’t know all of them. Often, by using the whole plant, an herbal remedy can bring about the same or better outcome as a Western drug, but with fewer of the potential side effects and toxicity. In general, herbal remedies tend to be gentler and slower acting than Western medications, so sometimes patience is needed to determine their effectiveness for a given situation.
In TCVM, foods have different thermal properties (warming/cooling/neutral), and different actions that can be used to help restore imbalances in the body. Also, foods can be grouped according the part of the body on which they have the greatest effect and the type of that effect. For example: An older dog with arthritis pain might be fed a diet of warming food in the winter, and foods that help move the blood and invigorate the body. This diet might need to be modified in the summer so as not to provide too much heat when the ambient temperature is warmer.