holistic medicine

holistic medicine

holistic medicine, system of health care based on a concept of the "whole" person as one whose body, mind, spirit, and emotions are in balance with the environment. Stressing personal responsibility for health, a holistic approach may include conventional medicine and various nontraditional methods of diagnosis and therapy, e.g., acupuncture, biofeedback, faith healing, folk medicine, megavitamin therapy, meditation, and yoga. Patients are encouraged to establish self-regulated regimes to control such illness-related factors as poor diet, smoking, alcohol intake, and stress. Surgery and prescription drugs are generally avoided. See also alternative medicine.
Holistic veterinary medicine is a type of veterinary medicine that uses complementary and alternative medicine in the treatment of animals. The philosophy of a holistic veterinarian emphasizes empathy and the principal of minimal invasiveness. Alternative therapies offered by a holistic veterinarian may include, but are not limited to, acupuncture, herbal medicine, homeopathy and chiropractic.

Interest in CAM is increasing among veterinarians.


All veterinary medicine may be considered holistic in that it considers all aspects of the animal patient in the context of its environment. The task force for complementary and alternative veterinary medicine for the American Veterinary Medical Association stresses that "There is only one veterinary medicine and only one standard by which it should be assessed. All treatments and modalities should be judged by the same criteria and held to the same standards. Descriptive terms such as holistic, conventional, traditional, alternative, integrative, or complementary do not enhance the quality of care provided and should not receive special consideration when judging the safety and efficacy of those treatments.".

The usual meaning for "holistic veterinarian" is a veterinarian who specializes in one or more alternative or complementary treatments. Holistic veterinarians examine and diagnose by considering all aspects of the animal's life and using all of the veterinarian’s senses, using a combination of conventional and holistic modalities of treatment. A holistic veterinarian strives to find out everything possible on their patients. Full patient history is looked into from the pet's family history and lineage to its daily dietary routine. Holistic veterinarians take every aspect of their patient’s lives into consideration, from the animal’s home environment including emotional stresses, as well as their day to day behavior.

In practice, holistic veterinary medicine incorporates, but is not limited to, the principles of acupuncture and acutherapy, botanical medicine, chiropractic, homeopathy, massage therapy, nutraceuticals, and physical therapy as well as conventional medicine, surgery, and dentistry. A veterinarian interested in alternative treatments may be a member of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association. It is recommended that holistic veterinary medicine be practiced only by licensed veterinarians educated in the modalities employed. The modalities comprising holistic veterinary medicine should be practiced according to the licensure and referral requirements concerning each modality.

Many veterinarians use different terms to convey what is meant by "holistic". Alternative veterinary medicine, complementary veterinary medicine, integrative veterinary medicine are some of the terms used when referring to holistic veterinary medicine.


According to the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association, holistic medicine, by its very nature, is humane to the core. The wholeness of its scope will set up a lifestyle for the animal that is most appropriate. The techniques used in holistic medicine are gentle, minimally invasive, and incorporate patient well-being and stress reduction. Holistic thinking is centered on love, empathy and respect. The basic philosophy behind holistic medicine is to get away from the crutch of the blood test, the x-ray, and the technologically-derived diagnosis and to develop a sensitivity to the animal and its whole self

Holistic treatments

Virtually every form of medicine and therapy used in holistic medicine for humans exists for veterinary medicine.Holistic veterinarians may use, but are not limited to, acupuncture, herbal medicines, homeopathy and manipulative therapy.

Acupuncture is used in animals for relieving pain by stimulating acupuncture points. The American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association (AHVMA) says that The primary aim of veterinary acupuncture is to strengthen the body's immune system—to stimulate the body's adaptive–homeostatic mechanism. According to a systematic review of studies there is no compelling evidence to recommend or reject acupuncture for any condition in domestic animals. Some encouraging data do exist, warranting a further investigation in independent rigorous trials.

Herbal medicines include traditional Chinese herbs and other herbs from all over the world. The AHVMA states that herbs have healing powers that are capable of balancing the emotional, mental and physical dimensions of animals. Animal nutritional supplements and botanicals typically are not subject to premarketing evaluation by the FDA for purity, safety, or efficacy and may contain active pharmacologic agents or unknown substances.

Homeopathy works on the principle of Similia Similibus Curentur, (like cures like). It is believed that substances that produce symptoms similar to a given disease should be used to treat that disease. According to the AHVMA, if a large dose of a toxic substance is swallowed, it can produce death, but when a homeopathic, diluted, minute dose of the substance is given, it can save the poisoned animal. Introducing homeopathic substances allows the animal's body adapts and gives it the ability to fight off potential health problems. There are no quality studies that show that homeopathy works in animals. Homeopathic remedies generally consist of nothing but water and usually contain no active ingredients whatsoever.

The AHVMA states that chiropractic care offers a natural, drug-free adjunct to conventional veterinary care. The subluxated or fixated vertebra is identified and by means of an adjustment by hand or by using the activator technique, the problem is alleviated and homeostasis is restored.

See also


Search another word or see holistic medicineon Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2015 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature