What is a holistic practitioner, you ask. How is he or she different from the “regular” practitioner?
The simple answer is that the holistic practitioner looks at the whole patient including the mind, body and environment. If there is disease, the holistic practitioner looks for the root cause of the imbalance with the goal of regaining balance and allowing the body to heal on its own. Traditional western, or modern, medicine focuses on symptoms, diagnosis and disease, separating these from the whole. The goal is to suppress the symptom, kill the “invader” or cut out the “bad” tissue. Since the root cause is not addressed, the imbalance generally persists and new symptoms will often arise. In holistic practice, multiple, apparently unrelated symptoms, will be viewed as clues the underlying issues, whereas in traditional western medicine, these will be seen as separate issues, requiring many specialists.
Our health is determined in part by genetics and in part by environment. But, it turns out that environment and lifestyle affect gene expression to determine which genes will be turned on and which will be turned off. What this means is that we are able to affect and improve 70-90% of our health challenges by changes in lifestyle and diet. The same is true for your pet. Environmental factors include exposure to toxins like insecticides, weed killers, heavy metals; and allergens like pollens, fragrances, perfumes and dust. It also includes lifestyle factors like exercise, sleep, stress and fun.
And most importantly, it includes nutrition. In fact, food is environmental exposure on the inside. Your pet’s digestive tract is essentially a tube running on the inside of the body with full exposure to the outside world. This is why 70-80% of our immune system is the gut. In addition, the gut contains most of the genetic material in the body. Did you know that 90% of the cells in your body, or your pet’s body, are the microorganisms that call our bodies home? Or that 99% of the genetic material in your body belongs to those microorganisms. Most of these reside in the intestinal tract. Each bacteria, fungus and virus contains genetic material which codes for proteins, enzymes and hormones. This genetic material is directly affected by the food and drugs that enters the digestive system.
It has been estimated that 90% of the chronic diseases that plague people and our pets may start in the gut. Think about some of the common ones. Obesity, inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatitis and type-2 diabetes are some of the ones that come to mind immediately. But if we look further, we find that excess fat produces inflammatory chemicals that contribute to inflammation all over the body including arthritis, back pain, kidney disease and heart disease. The latest research even shows direct connection between autoimmune disease and leaky gut. Autoimmune diseases include allergy, hypothyroidism, lupus, Type 1 diabetes, autoimmune hemolytic anemia and bleeding disorders. Do some of these sound familiar?
Modern medicine seeks to alleviate symptoms. Holistic medicine seeks to help the patient to heal, so that symptoms resolve and do not return. Modern medicine offers a quick fix, and is excellent for acute illness and injury, but holistic medicine offers a long-term solution to chronic illness and imbalance as well as providing a basis for wellness care and disease prevention. Most holistic practitioners use a combination of methods that work best in their hands and often incorporate the best options from western medicine as well as nutritional and lifestyle support. This is a more integrative approach incorporating the best options from each and is likely to have the best outcome.
The holistic practitioner looks at your pet as an individual in its own environment with his or her particular lifestyle options. They look at the current condition which includes any health challenges, the physical exam results and diagnostic tests. These often include the standard tests that your “regular” veterinarian would do, or maybe has already done, and may include a few more.
You should expect that your visits with a holistic practitioner will be longer than traditional visits to your veterinarian as there will be a lot of information to gather. The first consultation is often scheduled for 60-90 minutes. This allows the practitioner to get to know you and your pet. This conversation will help us to create a strategy to help your pet regain his or her optimal health.
My focus for your pet will include lifestyle with a large emphasis on nutrition. I will use nutritional supplements, herbal supplements, veterinary orthopedic manipulation, VOM(a chiropractic modality) and pulsed magnetic field therapy (PMFT) to help your pet heal and alleviate current discomfort. When appropriate, I will also use the best that western medicine has to offer, including surgery and/or pharmaceuticals.