Holistic therapy for animals and their people is gaining in popularity. Holistic veterinary medicine emphasizes the use of natural treatments such as homeopathy, chiropractic, acupuncture, herbs, nutrition, and supplements. But there is more to holistic medicine than just using natural substances and methods in place of drugs and surgery.
In our society today health is frequently defined as the absence of symptoms. This definition is inadequate and far too limited. The holistic definition of health is balance, the harmony of body processes called homeostasis. This harmony enfolds the physical, mental, emotional, and energetic aspects of each animal into a unified whole. When balance exists, the animal feels good and there are no symptoms. There are no exceptions; healthy animals do not have ear infections; they are not afraid of thunderstorms; they are friendly, bright, and inquisitive. They are in balance.
When balance is disturbed, symptoms arise. Because the body is a package deal, when one aspect is out of balance, the whole organism is affected. We have all experienced this. When we have a cold, our head hurts, our nose may be stuffy, we may cough, our eyes may burn, we can’t sleep, we can’t concentrate and we may become grumpy. Our animals experience the same sequence. A malfunction in one area sets off a cascade that eventually impacts the entire animal.
If health is balance and harmony and symptoms represent imbalances, then the primary goal of treatment should be to restore balance because that(and only that) will allow the animal to heal. Symptoms are merely a reflection of internal disorder; they are not the primary problem. Restoring balance will, in simple cases, permit the symptoms to dissipate on their own or with trivial treatment. In more complicated and serious cases, working to restore balance will reduce or eliminate the driving force behind the symptoms, facilitate their treatment, and minimize the amount of therapy required.
Chronic diseases can respond particularly well to the holistic approach of strengthening the animal’s life force and promoting normal function of body components. Many holistic veterinarians consider nutritional, lifestyle, and environmental factors as well as medical factors when designing a treatment plan, giving their patients enhanced opportunities for healing.