Integrative veterinary medicine combines conventional therapies with complementary and alternative medicine for a comprehensive collaboration of diagnosis and treatment.
Most veterinary medical schools train only conventional methods, though this is changing as the use of alternative and complementary therapies, sometimes called a holistic approach, gain acceptance based upon results. Like many professions, veterinary medicine has those who advocate strongly for one approach versus another.
Some veterinarians have their heels firmly dug in regarding the use of a holistic-only approach which encompasses therapies such as acupuncture, homeopathy, chiropractic, aromatherapy, herbal treatments and more. On the other side of the argument, many conventional veterinarians believe use of these alternative therapies to be dangerous and ineffective versus a totally conventional approach. But this all or nothing world is changing as positive results are being reported by those who are willing to be open-minded in their view of health and disease.
The profession is learning that by combining the appropriate and best therapies from all the available disciplines, illness can often be avoided and sick animals can be more quickly and effectively returned to health. And this is the simple definition of a veterinarian who practices integrative medicine .
Veterinarians practicing integrative medicine have also brought another important idea to the field. They believe the focus in veterinary care needs to shift from disease and treatment to health and healing. On the human side this is equivalent to recognizing the importance of a healthy diet and exercise. It also preaches the importance of treating the mind and spirit as well as the body. In simple terms, a happy pet (or person) is more likely to stay healthy in the first place and heal more quickly when sick. Were you surprised when it was discovered that patients (humans) who were happy and laughed a lot were more likely to heal faster?
Dr. Marty Goldstein is recognized by his peers as one of the profession’s foremost practitioners of integrative medicine. He started his career as a highly trained conventional veterinarian, but he has spent his life understanding how to “integrate” alternative therapies to preserve good health and return sick animals to a natural state of good health. His knowledge, experience and the results he has achieved have placed him at the top of this “new school” of integrative veterinary care.
If you choose to work with a veterinarian who practices integrative care, be prepared to see a wide range of both diagnostic and treatment techniques. At one moment, you may be reviewing the “conventional” results of an MRI, X-Rays or blood test only to be surprised that your vet’s recommended therapy is to remove your pet from all the prescription drugs and replace them with a simpler, broader course of all-natural therapy. As well, you should be asking lots of questions about the recommended course of treatment to satisfy yourself the right thing (and everything) is being done to help your beloved pet. You should also expect and be willing to accept recommendations regarding simple methods of intervention, such as dietary adjustment, relaxation training, acupuncture, and the selective use of natural remedies, which are all effective parts of integrative medicine.
Finally seek a veterinarian like Dr. Goldstein who can clearly and confidently guide you through the confusing maze of therapeutic options, particularly when a conventional-only approach simply isn’t working or appears to be ineffective or harmful.
For more about the principles of integrative medicine and the benefits of a natural approach maintaining the health of your pet, read Dr. Marty’s book, The Nature of Animal Healing.