Alternative therapies

At King St Veterinary Hospital we believe that excellence in veterinary medicine should incorporate a holistic approach, and that alternative therapies provide a valuable tool in veterinary medicine (in much the same way as human medicine). They help the body to heal itself, and can also provide a further avenue for pain relief, cancer treatment and an alternative option where conventional evidence based medicine may not be viable.

The main alternative therapies on offer at King St Veterinary Hospital are Acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine and Homotoxicology, performed by Dr Samantha Bicknell. Samantha completed her Veterinary Acupuncture Course in 2004 with the Australian Veterinary Acupuncture Association. Samantha’s interests also lie in Western herbal medicine and homeopathy, as there is a growing demand for these modalities, and her studies are beginning in these areas.

Dr Julie Charest has experience in massage therapy for dogs and cats and is able to demonstrate basic techniques for use pre- and post-operatively for orthopaedic surgeries, and as a conjunctive therapy for osteoarthritis patients.

Acupuncture is the placement of very fine, non-hypodermic needles into specific points on the body. These points correlate to particular patterns of energy flow along the body, called “meridians”. Needles are not placed into nerves or blood vessels, but into points which have been proven to be different to any random point on the body. They have an effect that is still being “translated” by researchers to a more scientific explanation, but in TCM terms, they cause an opening of pathways and channels that the body communicates through the flow of energy, as it acts to regulate itself.

Acupuncture has many other effects on the body, which make it particularly useful in the areas of arthritis and back pain. It benefits microcirculation around joints and muscles. It facilitates the body’s own endorphins to encourage pain relief, and it acts naturally on the body’s own inflammatory cascade to decrease inflammation and pain in particular areas.

Acupuncture has been an important part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for over 2500 years, and is becoming widely accepted as a non-evidence-based treatment option for both humans and animals. Most information is backed by sufficient clinical experience and case studies, however, scientific research is beginning to validate many of the clinical results we see in Acupuncture.

Many animals which present with osteoarthritis are also “energy” deficient in other ways because of their age, and can also benefit by the addition of Chinese herbs to their treatment. Chinese herbs are used in conjunction with a Traditional Chinese Medicine diagnosis, and are a great adjunct to Acupuncture, or they can be used alone to gently help the body back into balance. The herbs are obtained from a manufacturer in Australia that formulates herbs specifically for animals in an easy to use, low dose powder form which is just sprinkled over food.

Another form of alternative therapy which has proven to be very useful is the injection of Homeopathic remedies into Acupuncture points. This is called Homotoxicology, and gives the prolonged benefit of point stimulation, whilst giving the effect of the homeopathic remedy to the body as well. At King St Vets, this has been very successful in cases of back pain, particularly for dogs with disc disease and spinal cord impingement. It has given many dogs an extended quality of life, where the alternative has been euthanasia. It is also very useful in gastro-intestinal disease, respiratory disease, arthritis and heart disease.

Homeopathy is a form of treatment which states that any substance which can cause symptoms of illness in man or animal can also be used in the treatment of any condition showing similar symptoms. Homeopathic remedies are obtained from plant, animal and mineral sources which are repeatedly diluted to create various potencies. The higher the potency (more dilute), the more energy has been imparted to the remedy, and the more useful its use is in acute conditions. The lower the potency, the less energy has been imparted to the remedy and the more it is used for chronic conditions.
Homeopathy is used to treat many disease processes and infections, and is often requested by owners who have had experience and success with Homeopathy themselves, and want to explore it as a treatment option for their pet.

Homotoxicology and Homeopathy are more recent developments in alternative therapies and are surrounded by a lot of controversy. Homeopathy has a long way to go in rigorous research and evidence-based trials to prove the clinical effectiveness and efficacy of some of its medicines. However, successful clinical experience and the lack of evidence supporting any adverse side effects currently sustains the use of Homeopathics whilst research is ongoing. Homeopathy is a very popular and respected medicine in Europe, and has been integrated into their medical system for the last couple of centuries.

Western Herbal Medicine to come!.......

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