Traditional Chinese veterinary medicine
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Traditional Chinese veterinary medicine (TCVM) is the ancient veterinary treatment of animals based on the same theories as traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). TCM and TCVM have developed over a period of over 3,500 years and are practiced all over the world. In Western cultures such as the U.S., TCVM has rapidly grown as an adjunct therapeutic modality for animals that do not respond favorably to typical Western veterinary treatments.
Chinese philosophical truths based on Taoism are the underpinnings that influence the practice of TCVM. The fundamental truth for health in TCVM is balance—balance within yourself, balance with others, balance with your diet, and balance with nature.
Its counterpart TCM includes other such treatments as herbal medicine (中药), acupuncture, dietary therapy, and both tui-na and shiatsu massage. Qigong and Taijiquan are also closely associated with TCM.
TCVM has evolved simultaneously with the evolution of TCM. TCVM originated thousands of years ago through meticulous observation of nature, the cosmos, and the human body. Major contributing theories that apply to the practice of both TCM and TCVM include: the Yin-yang theory, the five-element theory, the human body Channel system, Zang-Fu organ physiology, six confirmations, four layers, etc.
Food therapy is the art and science of combining foods based on their inherent energetic properties. Unlike Western medicine, food is an integral component of treating and preventing disease in TCVM. The Eastern world is focused on the effect food has on the body after it is eaten. Each food item is described as having energetic properties such as warming, cooling, or flavors that act on the body in certain predictable yet different ways. Various food combinations may be used to maintain and support the balance of yin and yang thereby maintaining optimal health. When disease occurs, certain food combinations may be employed to return the body to a balanced state. Food therapy is one of the five fundamental branches of TCVM and a powerful component of the TCVM treatment regime.
Acupuncture is an ancient form of medicine using small filiform needles placed at predetermined points on the body. The goal of acupuncture is to move Qi—the force that makes us alive. Western medicine has no equivocal term to describe Qi. Qi flows throughout the body along meridians, or paths that interconnect the external surface of the body with the internal organs. When needles are placed in points, Qi moves freely. As Qi moves freely, the body maintains its balance, or homeostasis.
Herbal therapy is the use of therapeutic medicines derived from plants, animals, and substances occurring in the natural environment. Herbs are used to move Qi as well as tonify Yin and Yang. Yin and yang are equal yet opposing forces that occur in all naturally occurring phenomena. For instance, Yin corresponds to nighttime, cold, or resting of the body. Yang, on the other hand, corresponds to daytime, heat, and activity of the body. Whenever Yin or Yang becomes deficient or excessive, the balance of the body is lost, and disease results. Herbs are used to restore this natural balance. The Western equivalent to Chinese herbs is pharmaceutical drugs, such as antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medicines. Both western drugs and Chinese herbs are prescribed based on a medical diagnosis. Lately, Western herbals have become popular in the United States. However, distinct differences exist between Western and Chinese herbs. Western herbs are used in a singular form to treat symptoms of disease without a medical diagnosis. Chinese herbs are often a formula or mixture of herbs prescribed according to a medical diagnosis. Generally, in treating a patient, acupuncture is used in conjunction with herbal medicine.
Tui-Na is medical manipulation with the hands much like the modern versions of Western chiropractic and massage therapy. Various techniques are employed to massage the meridians and enhance the flow of Qi throughout the body. Certified Tui-Na practitioners often teach pet owners several techniques to use at home to enhance the treatment of disease.
Qi-Gong is the combination of exercise and meditation in which the flow of Qi is improved. It also is a way to balance the yin and yang of the body. This branch of Traditional Chinese Medicine does not apply to animals.