Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine and Herbal Medicine
Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) is a sophisticated holistic system of medicine that has been used for well over 2000 years. It describes the body in terms of paired organs and corresponding channels or meridians. The flow of life force (Qi) along meridians and through organs is equivalent in Western Medical terms to the flow of physiological processes through the musculoskeletal, circulatory, nervous, and organ systems of an individual.
The meridians run on the surface of the body and enter deeper tissues and their respective organs. They correspond approximately with the nervous system as we understand it in Western Medicine. They connect the skin with the deep tissues of the body, which are then accessible on the body surface for diagnosis and treatment. All disease is described in terms of patterns of disharmony that can be detected diagnostically in the meridians or the organs themselves.
Traditional diagnosis and treatment
Diagnosis in TCVM involves a thorough consideration of all of the past medical history of the patient. This includes aspects of personality and behaviour, lifestyle, diet, early experiences and environment. Diagnosis proceeds with a thorough physical examination including careful looking, listening and palpation of the body, meridians and acupuncture points. Traditional methods of pulse and tongue diagnosis are also used.
Information gathered in this way is used to come to a traditional diagnosis, which may be quite different to the Western diagnosis for the patient. However, there are clear correlations and these are well known to veterinary surgeons also practising TCVM. The traditional diagnosis will usually take the form of one or more patterns of disharmony that are amenable to treatment using traditional methods.
Traditional methods of treatment I use in my practice include Acupuncture, Tui Na Bodywork, Herbal Medicine and Food Therapy. See individual pages for more information.
Traditional Chinese Veterinary Herbal Medicine uses Chinese herbs to address patterns of disharmony. Herbal medicines can help support acupuncture treatment, particularly in chronic disease. When appropriately prescribed they can be used with care alongside conventional medicine. They are also helpful if an animal patient is not amenable to acupuncture treatment.
Individual herbs have qualities similar to foods but are much more potent in their actions. Herbal medicines are classified according to their energetic quality (eg warming or cooling), taste, action (eg drying or moistening, strengthening or dispersing) and their effect on a particular meridian or organ.
Herbal formulas are known as patent remedies. Herbs are combined in order to support one another’s actions, minimise side effects and increase their range of actions. Some are used to carry another herb to where it is needed in the body. Others may make the formula more easily digested and utilised.
Formulas are administered in tablet or granular form, and doses are regulated according to the patient’s needs and response to treatment. Dosing in cats is usually possible as doses are small and sometimes need only be given once a day.
Chinese herbal medicines are potent medicines and must be prescribed only by a qualified veterinary surgeon and practitioner of TCVM.