The art of Traditional Chinese Medicine (or TCM) is thousands of years old. In the early days of TCM only the wealthy could afford Doctors. The Doctor’s job was to keep you healthy. If you got sick it meant the Doctor was a failure and they were fired. If only the same construct applied today. The first Chinese Medical doctors were expert observers. They developed a system of understanding health using a metaphor that fit their observations about health and disease. TCM uses this metaphor to employ a combination of Acupuncture, Chinese herbs and lifestyle change to achieve harmony in the body. Each patient is treated individually with regard to constitution, environment, pathology of disease and other relevant factors. There are usually many possible TCM diagnoses for what is viewed as one western disease. For example there are at least four TCM patterns which might explain what we call Allergies in western medicine. This results in TCM being a more complete approach than western medicine. It takes an individual approach and works toward achieving the best possible quality of life. Chinese medical diagnosis is based on the basic TCM metaphor involving balance of Yin and Yang, the concept of Qi (pronounced Chi), and the Chinese medical understanding of the organs in the body. A TCM diagnosis is based on tongue and pulse as well as historical and other physical findings. Tongue and pulse provides a window into the circulatory system which spans the entire individual including unhealthy organs or joints. This TCM diagnosis helps guide the herb and acupuncture treatment plan within the context of the metaphor. If I have perked your interest and you want to learn more about how TCM works I would recommend the book The Web That Has No Weaver by Ted Kapchuk.

Acupuncture is a treatment technique where needles are placed in specific points on the body to move Qi. Acupuncture is very effective for pain relief, balancing the internal organs, and achieving harmony within the body. Another method called Aquapuncture may be used where the points are injected. I might do this with vitamins, or homeopathics. The number of treatments required varies depending on the problem being treated, age, general health, and many other factors. Chronic ongoing problems tend to require more follow up than acute problems. With acute problems only a handful of treatments may be needed. However, with chronic problems I usually recommend weekly treatments for up to 8 weeks, and once the patient has stabilized (meaning no additional improvement and improvement lasts for a full week) we wean the treatments back a week at a time until we have monthly or fewer treatments and maintain the stable state. The younger more vigorous individuals usually stabilize faster that older weaker individuals in a more advanced state of disharmony. This will vary some with each individual animal, and species of animal.

I have treated cats, dogs, rabbits, ferrets, and some wild animals with acupuncture very successfully. Most animals really love Acupuncture. Just like any other new thing there will be a learning curve. It usually takes 2 or 3 treatments for the animal to catch on to what we are doing. Especially if there is relief of symptoms with each successive treatment. The hardest part in the beginning is sitting still for 15 to 20 minutes. In all my years of experience I have encountered very few animals who didn’t love coming to the clinic for their treatments. We try very hard to make it a positive experience for them, as their comfort and acceptance is key to our success. Many seasoned acupuncture patients will come into the exam room requesting or even demanding treatment.

In most states (including NM where I practice) you must be a licensed Veterinarian to perform acupuncture on animals. Veterinarians who do acupuncture have received additional training outside of Veterinary school to learn how to do this. Currently, there are 2 excellent programs that teach a Classical TCM approach to Acupuncture: IVAS (International Veterinary Acupuncture society); and CHI INSTITUTE. IVAS provides instruction and certification to Veterinarians in the US and abroad. They are one of the oldest organizations involved in this type of education. CHI INSTITUTE has a Masters program accredited through Beijing university in China for Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine that includes Acupuncture and Chinese herbs. Acupuncture services and learning programs are currently emerging in the conventional Veterinary schools. Colorado State Veterinary School is the only Veterinary School with a continuing education program in Medical Acupuncture. There are a handful of Veterinary Schools (Florida, Georgia, and Tufts, to name a few) that have staff Veterinarians trained in Acupuncture. You can locate a Veterinarian near you who specializes in acupuncture through IVAS, AHVMA (the American Holistic Veterinary Association) or CHI INSTITUTE.

Chinese herbs contain such items as the roots, leaves, stems, bark, flowers, fruits, seeds, pits, and any other plant part you could imagine as well as some minerals, and insect products such as silkworm thread. They are very effective in the treatment of many chronic problems that do not respond well to western medications. Many drugs have been developed and then synthesized in a lab from natural substances with the most notable being aspirin and antibiotics. In fact there is currently a huge amount of research and evidence for what compounds do what in Chinese herbs. Traditional formulations of Chinese herbs are not fraught with side effects like western medicines. In part this has to do with dosages which are quite small compared to drugs. Another relevant factor to minimizing side effects has to do with the compounds being in their natural state (as opposed to synthetic) which contains other unknowns that assist in the function of the known compounds. There are many formulations of herbs that can be used: granulated powders; teapills; alcohol extracts; and topical. Chinese herbs can be used symptomatically like a drug as well. That will result in some of the same problems encountered with long-term drug use. Given time they will be less effective and possibly stop working. I typically use custom herb mixes designed specifically for the individual patient being treated which employs a traditional approach to herbs. This requires Tongue and Pulse diagnosis. Using this approach you are more specifically targeting the root of the patient’s problem(s). This helps to right what has gone wrong at a deeper level than merely controlling the symptoms. This often results in a more permanent wellness requiring less and less treatment. Using this approach is more of a dietary therapy as the herb combinations do not permit a high enough dosage of any single herb to cause a true pharmaceutical effect. Ideally the prescription of Chinese Herbs using this classical approach requires a tongue and pulse diagnosis.

Spinal Manipulation (Chiropractic adjustment) “fixes subluxations” (i.e. restores motion) between two adjacent vertebra (a motion unit) that have become fixed and immobile. Subluxation results in a cascade of events leading to a feedback loop of pain, and decreased function that worsens with time. Because the nerves exit the spinal cord directly adjacent to the joints they are affected by this decreased function. I individually check joints in the spine and extremities looking for decreased motion and adjust each subluxated motion unit individually. Restoring mobility reduces pain and improves function of the joint. This ultimately improves function of the nervous system. Improved neurologic function means more than just pain relief. It also means increase health of the immune system and organ systems because all the body’s systems require the nervous system to function properly.

I perform Spinal Manipulation in the context of Chinese medicine and have adapted my techniques to complement that discipline. As a result, even though I have many regular patients receiving spinal manipulative therapy, I usually recommend herbs and often acupuncture as well. Most animals love being adjusted and will lean into the motions helping to facilitate mobilization. The exception is when a joint has been fixed/frozen for an extended time, is very painful, and has accompanying muscle spasms. In these cases we will often do acupuncture or trigger point injections to relieve the pain before an adjustment can be made. In every case an individual approach is taken to meet the individual needs of the patient.

At this time there are 3 major schools that teach Veterinary Spinal Manipulation/Chiropractic courses: OPTIONS FOR ANIMALS; PARKER; and HEALING OASIS WELLNESS CENTER (HOWC). I attended HOWC in Wisconsin. There is an unofficial governing organization called the AMERICAN VETERINARY CHIROPRACTORS ASSOCIATION (AVCA) that is working to set standards for Veterinary Spinal Manipulation/Chiropractic. At this time, in most states, you still need to be a Veterinarian to perform adjustments on animals even though the course work is open to both Veterinarians and human DCs. You can find a qualified doctor at the AVCA website that is either a DVM or a DC, or on the AHVMA site. I recommend using only AVCA trained individuals for spinal manipulation on animals.

The word Homeopathy comes from Greek homoeo (meaning similar) and pathos (meaning suffering). It is a system of medicine based on treating like with like. The theory that like can be treated with like can be traced back as far Hypocrites (468 -377 BC), but it wasn't until the work of Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843) that the theory developed into a usable practice. Hahneman's provings consisted in giving doses of various substances to both himself and his healthy volunteers, and noting the effects in detail. For safety reasons, the substances taken were very dilute, and it is here that Hahnemann chanced upon one of the more puzzling aspects of Homeopathy. The more dilute a homeopathic medicine is, the more effective it is in treating illness. Classical Hahnemanian Homeopathic treatment uses the whole patient approach to chronic disease. Individual symptoms are used to choose a single remedy at a time, which is typically given one dose at a time. Chinese medicine and Classical Homeopathy are both effective strategies for treating the whole patient with the common goal of restoring health. However, the algorithms that dictate their use are vastly different and they remain very separate but effective modes of treatment.
Homeopathy is still relatively new to me. I am curently assimilating the details of how to prescribe for a Homeopathic case. When a Homeopath does an initial assessment (typically 1 hour or longer) of a case it requires a tremendous amount of detail regarding the symptoms, which helps to determine the correct remedy to use. Once the details have been collected the process of repertorizing begins. As such, the work of the Homeopath will continue after the time spent with the patient. Follow ups can usually be done over the phone or email because changes in symptoms will determine what recommendations will be made regarding remedies and dosing. This necessitates that the Homeopath charges for their time much like a lawyer will. When a Homeopath accepts a case for treatment it is expected that there will be a certain amount of communication so that the case can hopefully be taken all the way to a cure. This process may take many months or longer. It is possible that the same or different remedies will be used at each prescription. It is very important that symptoms are not suppressed with drugs or herbs during this process. Suppressing symptoms will confuse the picture of the case and make interpretation of the remedy difficult if not impossible. Taking on a Homeopathic case requires a commitment to the process on the part of both the patient and the Homeopath.

There are very few homeopathy schools in the United States and even fewer programs for Veterinarians. Dr. Richard Pitcairn has been teaching Veterinarians for better than 15 years. The course consists of 5 modules which are taught over about a years time. Homeopathy is not currently a regulated Medical system in the United States. Thus it’s practice is open to non-medical professionals as well. Many of you already use Homeopathy for self medication as it is readily available over the counter. There are even self-help kiosks at some health food stores to help you determine what remedy fits your illness, which relates well to acute problems or infections. However, determining a constitutional remedy or treatment of chronic disease is a very involved and artful process. To find a Classical Homeopath near you use DR. RICHARD PITCAIRN’s web site to find graduates of his class. At this time I am not providing remote consultation for Homeopathic services.

Ozone is a molecule that combines 3 oxygen rather than the standard 2 in the air we breathe. This is the same ozone that surrounds the earths atmosphere (you know, the thing with the hole in it). Ozone likes to break up into O2 and a free radical oxygen (one oxygen with an available electron for bonding). Free radical oxygen is unstable and likes to combine with stuff such as toxins that also have free radicals. Two free radicals make a neutral molecule. Neutral in the body is good because it means less damage to DNA, and protection against cancer. This is why we take antioxidants, to prevent free radical damage to DNA. Incidentally, in the atmosphere the barely stable ozone breaks up so that the free radical oxygen can combine with a pollutant and make it neutral. Alas, that leaves a protective deficit for the planet. But, in our bodies ozone is very useful. The free radical being protective and the leftover oxygen will highly oxygenate tissues. The free radical Oxygen can also combine with water to from Hydrogen peroxide which specifically kills virus and bacteria that are harmful in the body. So, in summary it is good wherever you would take antioxidants. For example: cancer; allergies; chronic infections; autoimmune disease; any toxicity condition; and any immune system situation. It can be given intravenously (not practical at my clinic), by rectal insufflation (a gas enema), or topically. Surprisingly the animals don’t seem to mind the bubble of ozone enema and rest comfortably for the 20 minutes of absorption time asked.

The technique involves injecting dextrose (sugar) solution with lidocaine, vitamin B12, and homeopathics into ligaments and sometimes directly into the joint. The result is a profound inflammatory and healing response where the body actually lays down additional ligament tissue and this tightens and strengthens the joint. Most animals will tolerate this easily in any joint. For the wimps we can also go to a local clinic where the procedure can be performed under anesthesia. It can improve the joint function in 85-90% of the patients in one to six treatments. Any joint can be treated, for example: backs; knees; hips; ankles; elbows; wrists; and toes. You may be wondering if you can do this instead of Knee surgery. The answer is mostly yes, but it is still possible to need knee surgery if there has been a complete tear. But, it is still useful because the surgeons who have performed surgery on previously prolotherapied knees have found the joint to be structurally vastly improved and healthier than expected and they heal with fewer complications. It is a good thing either way. If you have an animal that has struggled with hip dysplasia, knee problems, back problems Prolotherapy may help. Prolotherapy relies on the body’s own healing mechanisms to repair and strengthen a weak joint. Therefore it is very important that the patient is in a good nutritional state, and otherwise very healthy for best results. Sometimes we will work on the patient with nutrition, Traditional Chinese Medicine or Homeopathy first and then use Prolotherapy. Prolotherapy is a procedure done commonly on humans. There is no formal education process for MDs or DVMs. The technique is not technically challenging for any medical professional familiar with anatomy and administration of typical injections. That said, there are weekend seminars which provide instruction on the specifics of what solutions others have used and provide a basic understanding of the theories providing scientific research and hands on experience. One such seminar conducted in 2007 by Dr.s DeHaan and Magaziner was attended by Dr. Wilson. More information about Prolotherapy can be found at getprolo.com.