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Holistic modalities available for animals: homeopathy, herbs, acupuncture, & shamanism

Terminology can be confusing when seeking options for alternative types of medicine. Often the words “holistic” and “homeopathic” are confused. Holistic medicine refers to looking at the whole picture, using wholesome foods, supplements, and treatments that are gentle on the body. “Holistic” medicine is a general term that describes looking at the entire patient, not just dissecting them and treating one system of the body such as the heart, kidneys, or liver, but acknowledging that all the parts are interconnected and affect each other. Holistic medicine includes many types of modalities. 

Homeopathy is a specific modality, or type of holistic medicine. Homeopathy is a few hundred years old, and developed based on the principle of “like treats like.” Remedies are created from natural substances and diluted to an extent that they cure ailments that in large quantities they could cause. A modern offshoot of homeopathy is homotoxicology, or a type of gentle detoxifcation with homeopathic remedies.

Acupuncture and traditional Chinese herbal formulas, food therapy, tui na massage, and qi gong meditation are the five components of TCM (traditional Chinese medicine). This ancient system has been used for thousands of years for treating both people and animals. Stone “needles” up to 8000 years old have been found! It is speculated that acupuncture developed as a means of expelling evil influences from the body, just as ancient shaman would drive evil spirits out of their villages. 

Shamanism is the oldest form of medicine and spiritual practice. It involves healing on the spiritual layer of existence, a subtle energetic layer that connects all living things. Shamanic practices can be used to help physical and behavioral issues in pets if the root cause is spiritual in nature, and is often helpful for shared problems that the guardian and the pet both have. 

Ayurvedic medicine is a traditional Indian form of medicine that incorporates herbs, healing foods, meditation, and assesses the patient in a holistic fashion. Western herbs are distinguished from other traditions of herbs because they are more likely used singly. In contrast, many traditional Chinese formulas utilize a combination of herbs that balance and enhance the desired effects, again treating the entire patient, rather than just one body system or organ.