Holistic, Alternative, Naturopathic, and Integrative Veterinary Care Dr. Johnson is currently writing a Dog & Cat Owner's Guide to Holistic Veterinary Medicine. He is also writing, along with other contributing authors, a textbook on Integrative Veterinary Medicine. These books will take time as integrative veterinary medicine is still evolving. The books will emphasize the integration of alternative and complementary therapies with mainstream veterinary medicine. A few years ago the most complete book on this subject was "A Manual of Natural Veterinary Medicine" by Dr's Susan Wynn and Steve Marsden (Mosby 2003). Integration of western medicine therapies with alternative methods are not emphasized, but alternative options with a conventional basis are well covered i.e. nutrition.
Most recently a good friend and fellow holistic veterinarian Dr. Robert Goldstein edited and authored a book entitled "Integrating Complementary Medicine into Veterinary Practice" (Wiley-Blackwell 2008). This book most closely represents the approach to integrative veterinary medicine as practiced by Dr. Johnson. Dr. Johnson highly recommends these textbooks for veterinarians, and affiliated health care practitioners.Holistic Medicine is not a specific form of therapy, instead it is a way of viewing our patients. The animal's entire set of problems and symptoms are included into the diagnostic plan, instead of treating different symptoms, as if each were a unique disease. Dr. Johnson practices integrative holistic medicine. The American Veterinary Medical Association defines Holistic Veterinary Medicine as "a comprehensive approach to health care employing alternative and conventional diagnostic and therapeutic modalities. In practice, it 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". Anyone reading this definition will realize that holistic veterinary medicine does not exclude conventional veterinary medicine. Dr. Johnson is still getting referrals from clients that expect a holistic veterinarian to use no lab work or x-rays, a limited medical history, and only prescribe remedies based on the symptoms. Occasionally a new client will hide a difficult western medicine diagnosis (i.e. cancer) from the holistic veterinarian, thinking they are protecting their beloved pet from conventional therapies. Dr. Johnson often sees patients suffering with the same condition (i.e. chronic dermatitis, chronic ear infections), who have been receiving antibiotic and cortisone prescriptions for several years, sometimes from several veterinarians. Dr. Johnson sincerely advises all clients to be completely honest, about their pet's medical history, with any veterinarian rendering a second opinion.
It is not the primary purpose of this web site to educate our clients in conventional veterinary medicine, since most of the clients that use our service, are familiar with these areas, either through personal experience with conventional human medicine, or western medicine as practiced by most veterinarians. Ample links are provided in this site, on our links page, for those who are interested in finding more information about conventional veterinary medicine.
- The terms holistic and homeopathic do not have the same meaning. Dr. Johnson has found that pet owners and many professional medical people frequently confuse these terms. This confusion or improper word usage can delay appropriate treatment, or cause a breakdown in communication between pet owners and veterinary personnel.
- Homeopathy is a medical system in which conditions are treated by administration of substances that are capable of producing clinical signs in healthy animals similar to those of the animal to be treated. These substances are usually highly diluted and specially treated medications derived from plant, animal or mineral sources. These remedies are prepared in a manner which, in principle, is somewhat similar to allergy desensitization shots utilized in conventional western medicine. They are however orally administered, and are prepared by a more elaborate method.
- Naturopathic Medicine is not a single modality of healing, but an array of healing practices, including diet and clinical nutrition; homeopathy; acupuncture; herbal medicine; hydrotherapy; therapeutic exercise; spinal and soft-tissue manipulation; physical therapies involving electric currents, ultrasound, and light therapy; therapeutic counseling; and pharmacology. Dr. Johnson is a naturopathic doctor, and has earned the N.D. degree.
- Alternative Medicine is comprised of a diverse group of therapies (generally defined as therapies not taught in medical schools, but now taught in five veterinary colleges, and increasing numbers of medical colleges). Alternative therapies may complement or replace conventional medicine. Alternative therapies include, but are not limited to, herbal medicine, homeopathy, chiropractic, nutraceutical therapy, and energy medicine. These therapies are more effective when they are integrated with conventional veterinary diagnostic procedures.
- Complementary Medicine applies to therapies that are used with or in addition to conventional therapies. The terms integrative and complementary are sometimes used synonymously, however the word integrative implies a merging of disciplines based on established theories or principles, not just the prospect that complementing a conventional therapy may be helpful.
- In Dr. Johnson's new guidebook, integrative medicine is generally defined as integrating conventional and alternative modalities. It does not mean integrating complementary and alternative modalities, and it does not mean integrating various alternative modalities. More specifically, integrative veterinary medicine means the integration of complementary and alternative veterinary medicine with conventional veterinary medicine utilizing an all-inclusive holistic approach.
- Most holistically oriented pet owners are familiar with the work of Dr. Andy Weil, a well known integrative medicine physician, teacher, and author of 8 best selling books. He is head of the new Integrative Medicine Department at the University of Arizona Medical School, Tucson, Arizona. Dr. Johnson's integrative veterinary medicine practice is based on the same principles as those taught by Dr. Weil in human medicine. Further information about the integrative medicine program at the University of Arizona can be found at the following link: www.integrativemedicine.arizona.edu/
- For those of you that may be confused by all this terminology, integrative veterinary care combines the best of natural and alternative approaches with the best of conventional veterinary medicine. The example most commonly used is the pet that becomes ill with a serious bacterial infection. A conventional veterinarian would administer an antibiotic, and hopefully perform a culture and sensitivity test, along with routine blood work. A natural or alternative approach might include the administration of herbs and nutritional supplements to assist the animal's own defense system to battle the infection.
- The integrative approach considers all the above options and looks for the root cause of the illness, not only from a conventional western diagnostic standpoint, but may also utilize the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine, homeopathy, and nutritional analysis.
- One really high tech application of the integrative approach involves a Nutritional Blood Test or a Bionutritional Analysis, wherein a computerized analysis of the patients problems, along with extensive blood analysis, generates a comprehensive, individualized prescription which includes the necessary nutritional, nutraceutical, glandular, herbal, and homeopathic ingredients.
- Practitioners who practice alternative medicine on pets should have credentials in both conventional and alternative veterinary medicine. Alternative therapies are most effective when integrated with traditional western medicine diagnostic techniques. In Florida, and most other states, these practitioners must be licensed veterinarians.
- Veterinarians who practice integrative veterinary medicine should probably have advanced training in both conventional and alternative veterinary medicine. Dr. Johnson holds three doctorates. His degrees/certifications include: Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M.), Masters in Veterinary Surgery (M.S.Vet.Surg.), Certification in Veterinary Acupuncture (C.V.A.), Naturopathic Doctorate (N.D), and Ph.D. in Nutrition. For further information on Dr. Johnson's credentials click on What About Dr. Johnson's Credentials?.
- Clinical Nutrition, Therapeutic Nutrition, Nutraceutical Medicine, Western Herbology, Chinese Herbology, Acupuncture, Gland Therapy and Homeopathy are all components of an integrated holistic approach to cutting edge veterinary care for your pet. The other equally important components of an integrated holistic approach include conventional modalities such as Internal Medicine, Endocrinology, Dermatology, Geriatrics, Ultrasound, and Radiology.