What is TCVM?
Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) is an offshoot of its longstanding human counterpart, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), which has been practiced for thousands of years. It incorporates a number of techniques- called modalities- including acupuncture, herbal therapy, tai chi, qi gong, food therapy, Tui-na (similar to acupressure), cupping and massage. Most of these are extremely safe and can be very effective, especially in combination.
Acupuncture has virtually no systemic side effects, so it is particularly helpful for dogs in poor health.
Herbal therapy can potentially have side effects, so a thorough knowledge of herbal therapy and herb-medication interactions is necessary to practice it safely.
There have been some, but not enough, good studies on many different TCM/TCVM practices. It is a fairly active area of research. Acupuncture has generally been the most studied, and is actively studied today. Tai chi is currently being studied as a possible alternative to traditional cardiac (heart) rehabilitation programs in human medicine
At BVG, we currently offer acupuncture, Chinese food therapy, and stone/crystal therapy with Dr. Lisa Fiorenza.
What is acupuncture?
In addition to dry needling (acupuncture needles by themselves), there are a few other methods of stimulating the acupuncture points. Sterile liquids or medications can be injected into the points (aquapuncture) to give a slightly longer-lasting effect. Electrical stimulation can be applied to the needles while in the points with an E-stim (electrical stimulation) unit, promoting a deeper and longer-lasting effect. The herb moxa can be lit and held over the acupuncture points to warm the intended points, if needed.
What is it good for?
Do the animals stay still?
How many sessions will they need?
I recommend at least 3 sessions, typically 2 weeks apart, to get a good feel for your pet’s response to acupuncture treatment. Some patients and some issues will respond quickly (seeing a response after just one treatment), while others can take up to 6 treatments to see significant results. Many patients will have visible improvement within 3 treatment sessions. Extremely chronic (long term) conditions and internal issues (organ dysfunction) will typically respond more slowly than more “superficial” issues such as arthritis and other pain conditions. Additionally, for more chronic issues, while we may see results after 3-6 sessions, many pets need continuing sessions to maintain their comfort.
I turned to integrative medicine as a patient and then as a practitioner slowly over the course of many years. My initial exposure to holistic medicine was through my yoga community, and I eventually began to trial and error different modalities for my own health issues when conventional medicine didn't help.
My first foray into integrative medicine was aromatherapy, the practice of working with essential oils, which I successfully used for my chronic pain condition. It’s still one of my favorite methods today, and I use it for myself, my pets and my patients. In addition to aromatherapy, I have personally experienced reiki, acupuncture, Chinese nutrition therapy, Chinese herbal therapy, Ayurvedic medicine, stone/crystal therapy, physical therapy, chiropractic, massage and other myofascial techniques, among others. Most of these methods all have two things in common: 1. They look at the body as a whole, rather than dissecting out and dealing with each system individually, and 2. They look for and treat the root cause of disease, rather than the symptoms.
Through my experiences, I came to feel strongly that a holistic approach including a number of different Eastern and Western techniques tailored to the individual patient is the ideal healthcare of the future. This is called multimodal medicine, which allows the practitioner to reduce medication usage, thereby reducing unwanted side effects, while improving (or curing) symptom management.
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