Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine & Chinese Herbs
Chinese herbs are a major component of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM). TCVM is a metaphoric model of how the body works. For over 2000 years, Chinese veterinarians sought ways to treat the Chinese Army horses and livestock from diseases or disorders. They diagnosed and treated their patients based on different patterns exhibited as a whole in the animal. As a metaphoric model, TCVM emphasizes both the prevention and treatment of disease. TCVM is a comprehensive form of treatment that considers the interrelationship of all the patient's symptoms, and treatment is aimed at restoring health rather than merely alleviating symptoms.
Today for example, three dogs could be diagnosed by conventional diagnostics (such as radiographs or x-rays) as having arthritis. The first dog might feel warm, drink a lot of water and like to sleep on a cool floor. This pet has to too much “Heat” according to TCVM. Another arthritic dog might like to lie in the sun and sleep on soft bedding. This pet may have too much “Coldness” according to TCVM. Finally the third arthritic dog may have a history of ear infections, has an oily coat, and has a history of vomiting. According to TCVM, this pet may have too much “Dampness”. The typical Western treatment for all three pets might be a course of Rimadyl, a standard non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication. In TCVM each of these pets would need a different Chinese herbal formula to treat their arthritis.
Chinese Herbal medicine can be used to treat almost any imbalance in health. A few typical conditions that can be successfully treated to improve a pet’s well-being include arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, hormonal disorders, allergies, kidney and liver failure, behavioral problems, and cancer.
Chinese herbal formulas are uniquely tailored to each patient based on their presenting examination, clinical signs, and the answers derived from a detailed survey that the client fills out on behalf of their pet. Some of the questions and answers may not seem to make sense initially until the Veterinarian puts the whole analysis together. Consistent with the use of a metaphoric model, Chinese herbal formulas incorporate multiple herbs to produce a balanced formula.
Most herbal medications are obtained from China, Taiwan and from companies which grow herbs in the U.S. They are rigorously tested for quality and purity. Chinese herbs are safe and effective when prescribed by a trained, experienced Chinese herbologist, especially as compared to conventional medications. Side effects are usually seen in the form of mild vomiting and diarrhea which stops after the medication has been discontinued.
Chinese herbs can be dispensed as powders, pills, tablets or liquids. They must be given consistently 1-2 times daily and are usually given with food for easy administration. The response to the herbal medicine depends on the animal and the condition being treated. The owner will usually see a response in 3-14 days. Because your pet’s condition and his response to the herbal medication may change during a treatment period, a Chinese herb medication may need to be re-formulated. When a pet is treated from a TCVM perspective, it is important to remember that it may have taken several months or years for your pet to have fallen out of good health so it may take several weeks or months to bring your pet to a healthy or improved condition.
The American Veterinary Medical Association considers the practice of TCVM, including Chinese herbal therapy and acupuncture, to be an important aspect of the practice of veterinary medicine. Like acupuncture, Chinese herbal therapy should only be prescribed by veterinarians who have gone through rigorous training in Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine.