July 30, 2013

By Dr. Leilani Alvarez DVM, CVA, CCRT, CVCHM

Dog Acupuncture

I’d like to talk about one of my favorite topics. Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine or TCVM. TCVM has been practiced for thousands of years in China and has recently gained popularity in the Western hemisphere, likely due to the interest in this form of medicine for people. TCVM encompasses acupuncture and herbal medicine as well as other forms of natural medicine such as Food Therapy.

TCVM is a very complex form of medicine and can be used to address virtually any ailment a pet may be experiencing. In simple terms, it defines health as a balance of Yin and Yang. When there is an imbalance, disease occurs. Every aspect of our lives and body has a particular Yin or Yang quality. Depending on your pet’s personal constitution (or personality) they may be prone to Yin or Yang aspects and this may translate to certain disease predispositions. That’s what I find so fascinating about TCVM. We can use it to help prevent problems by identifying a predilection and prescribing foods that help balance the individual. This is called Food Therapy. In TCVM Food Therapy, we prescribe certain foods to help balance and treat a disorder. Foods have very powerful healing capacities and all foods have certain energetic qualities. For example, you may not realize it, but in summertime when it’s hot outside, we tend to seek foods such as fresh fruits and salads. These foods have a cooling effect and help to balance and keep the body healthy during times of heat. Likewise, when it’s cold outside during the winter, we tend to choose warming foods such as soups and dark meats.

In general terms, Yin is cool, moist and internal. Whereas Yang is warm, dry, external and outward. Certain foods can act to tonify (or strengthen) Yin aspects, such as alfalfa and eggs, while other foods can act to tonify Yang aspects, such as basil and garlic.

I often use The Honest Kitchen foods when I am treating patients with a Yin or Yang imbalance. It always amazes me when just a change in diet can be curative for a disease. For example, I have treated patients with Yang excess such as severe skin allergies with hot spots and other inflammatory wounds by transitioning them to a cooling diet, such as Zeal, Embark or Preference.

There are also Blood tonifying foods, which can be used to improve circulation and Qi tonifying foods, which can be used to improve overall vitality. My older patients love eating Force, which has lots of great Qi tonifying foods.

TCVM diagnosis and treatment of a patient is very complex, however, I highly encourage you to find a holistic veterinarian that practices TCVM Food Therapy. You may find that changing your pet’s diet is all you need to keep them happy and healthy.