Integrative medicine is defined as medicine that “reaffirms the importance of the relationship between practitioner and patient, focuses on the whole person, is informed by evidence, and makes use of all appropriate therapeutic and lifestyle approaches, healthcare professionals, and disciplines to achieve optimal health and healing.”[1] Integrative medicine incorporates all appropriate therapeutic approaches by all healthcare providers from both, conventional and complementary medicine, that are likely to improve an individual patient's health status.

Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine may initially seem quite foreign to Western- trained minds. To some it may seem that the principles of TCVM and Western Veterinary Medicine (WVM) are separated by great abyss. However, bridging this gulf is not an impossible task.

TCVM and WVM are not mutually exclusive. Learning TCVM requires a shift in perspective . In general Western medicine believes in control while traditional Chinese medicine believes in balance. WVM is more mechanistic, while TCVM is more energetic. Western medical practitioners are very familiar with analyzing a disease process to discover its specific, fundamental physical cause whether this is an infectious agent, enzymatic defect or a toxic insult. By fully understanding the functions of the physical body all the way down to cellular or molecular level one can target the abnormality and better control the disease process.

On the other hand TCVM practitioners recognize disease as an imbalance in the body. They understand that the body is integrated, energetic structure and that disturbance in energy flow creates disease in the whole organism. When a disease pattern is identified, one can restore balance and health by helping the body regulate itself.

Both systems rely on medical history and physical examination to make diagnosis or identify a Pattern. Western medicine adds in diagnostic tests such as blood work and radiographs for example. The diagnostic tests of TCVM include palpation of the pulse and Shu points, observation of the tongue and assessing the totality of the symptoms as well as full history and animal constitution.

In both cases an experienced clinician interprets the findings and choses an appropriate therapeutic regimen. A Western veterinarian may recommend surgery or reach for antibiotics, steroids or other pharmaceuticals. A TCVM practitioner may recommend herbal formula acupuncture or special management practices as therapy. In vast majority of cases TCVM therapy can be used in conjunction with or complementary to conventional Western therapy.

Generally, the goals of TCVM and WVM are the same; they both promote health and prevent disease. They are merely two different ways of viewing the world and each system has its strengths and weaknesses. Western medicine deals efficiently with acute diseases and has advanced surgical techniques. TCVM, on the other hand can be beneficial for chronic disease, especially those that Western medicine can only control but not cure. Western medicine can better handle herd health problems.

The therapeutics of TCVM can avoid some of deleterious side effects of Western drugs, but the Western drugs act more quickly. Successful integrative medicine practitioner recognizes strengths and weaknesses of both systems and employs them to the benefit of the patient




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