DC veterinarians employ holistic treatment methods

Angie's List member Karen Irvin says she's convinced that acupuncture treatments helped relieve her dog Amiga's joint pain. So much so, she says, that "I would try acupuncture myself for pain control if it were ever necessary."

Irvin says the holistic treatments administered by highly rated Del Ray Animal Hospital in Alexandria, Va., during a three-year period improved the quality of life for the Labrador retriever and German shepherd mix, until she died at age 14. "Because she's a dog, it wasn't a placebo effect," the Alexandria resident says of the acupuncture treatments, which cost about $450 for a six-week course. "She didn't know she was supposed to feel better."

Dr. Anne Mixson, Amiga's veterinarian at Del Ray, earned her acupuncture credentials a decade ago when it remained a relatively rare specialty. She also trained in Chinese herbal medicine and homeopathy. "More and more, it's become mainstream," Mixson says of the holistic and Eastern practices that she integrates with conventional medicine. "It's pretty amazing what it can do. A lot of times drugs don't help for these [pets] or they don't tolerate them, but I can get more quality of life for the patient."

Although holistic treatments can't fix ailments such as cancer or injuries that require surgery, they can still play a vital role in a veterinarian's overall care, says Dr. Jordan Kocen of highly rated SouthPaws Veterinary Specialists & Emergency Center in Fairfax, Va. "A veterinarian's job is to decide which is the best therapy," Kocen says. "The more tools in your bag, the more you have to work with."

Nancy Scanlan, executive director of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association, says vets who practice holistic medicine require no additional legal certification, but they should seek additional speciality training. "Veterinarians who haven't gone through some type of certification or additional training usually do not have adequate skills to perform holistic medicine," she says.

Local vets say they tell patients upfront that holistic approaches take longer and don't always work. "Some people come with a bias against Western medicine, or a bias against alternative medicine," says Dr. Jane Morse of highly rated Ballston Animal Hospital in Arlington, Va. "Many come because they're at a dead end and other vets say there's nothing more we can do."

Angie's List member Marty Post of West Springfield turned to Kocen at SouthPaws for holistic treatments after her basset hound, Fred, developed an ear infection. Although Post says she's not sure that the Chinese herbs Kocen prescribed cured Fred's infection, she can't rule out their benefits. "I think they helped," she says.


For Joe: over a decade ago I was VERY seriously ill (serious exhaustion, bloated from a size 14 to a size 2x in a matter of weeks, could not get thoughts processed into words, could not remember friends and family's names, etc) and after running the spectrum of tests my doctor referred me to a doctor who was a "specialist" from the Lahey Clinic because I supposedly had a serious thyroid deficiency. The "specialist told me that I was about a week away from lapsing into a Mexidema coma and needed to go on thyroid drugs and stay on drugs for the rest of my life and that there were no other options. I decided to get a second opinion and went to a naturopathic practitioner who also had been a doctor at Tufts. He spent two hours evaluating me and then explained that the thyroid problem was only a symptom of systemmic candidiasis (often misdiagnosed by western medicine) and following his prescribed program of major diet changes and a cleansing program plus cooperative consultation with a homeopath, I started to see significant improvement within TWO days. I have not taken any prescribed drugs in over a decade and after a couple of minor relapses and a strong homeopathic constitutional remedy to boost my immune system from an excellent homeopathic practitioner, I am the healthiest I have ever been in my entire life and even more important, the horrific brain fog from the illness is entirely gone. My results were so fantastic that my husband who is a great believer in western medicine and who has had asthma for decades, decided to see the homeopath too .... since her homeopathic remedy, he has not had to use his inhaler which he used frequently and it has been about three years now. We were having to give one of my cats insulin for diabetes after the poor thing got seriously ill and was diagnosed by a vet; with alternative approaches, we were able to get the cat entirely off the insulin and he was so healthy that he could fly through our yard up and down trees in a way we had never seen him run before. I have witnessed firsthand numerous positive experiences with alternative to western medicine. I have seen firsthand the very psoitive effects of hypnotherapy and energy healing in various forms. The royal family in England has used homeopathy for decades (the Queen Mother lived to be over 100) and they can afford any form of treatment they choose to avail themselves of... Your lack of understanding how things like homeopathy and energy healing work does not mean they don't work; it means you just don't understand how it works and why it works. Perhaps you are looking in the wrong place for your "proof"... the man looking under the street light "because it's a lighted area" for the item he lost in the dark alley will never find it no matter how thoroughly he searched under the street light.

Joe - I am aware of Quackwatch and all those sites you list, And yes, occasionally they are spot on. But their bias against alternative forms of healing clouds their judgment and their results. Going into a "scientific test" WITH a bias is, in itself, unscientific. They do everything they can to prove their theory instead of stepping back and letting the tests prove themselves. All I can tell you is I've been using homeopathic medicine for 30 years. I've had only 2 colds in that time. I travel and I've been exposed to nasty viruses on airplanes and in foreign countries. I don't do vaccines, I use aromatherapy oils like Thieves oil, and I use oscillococcinum and Xlitol based products when I travel. Perhaps instead of drinking the koolaid from websites that are funded by conventional medicine, you might try your own experiments. Alternative medicine saved my dog's life and gave him 2 happy years beyond what the Vet said he had. My conventional vet had given up on him. My holistic vet gave me two simple holistic remedies and Scooter lived a comfortable life right up till the end. Skepticism is fine, but I believe it blinds us to the mysteries of life. If Science is ALWAYS correct, then how did we figure out the world isn't flat, the planets go around the sun, and the Milky Way isn't the only universe? All those disproved theories were originally espoused by scientists. One day scientists tell us this food will kill us and the next we hear it will prolong our lives. Let's not kid ourselves, scientific papers these days are as much about getting published as they are about finding truth. And websites live and die by the "clickthrough" count. They want to stir up controversy so more people will go there and click on the article, true or not. Each click increases advertising dollars. So quoting those sites doesn't make for authoritative commentary. I could quote numerous sites that actually support alternative medicine. We could go on, but there's limited space here. I urge you to try it and decide for yourself. You may be pleasantly surprised. And, unlike "conventional" pharma medicine, Alternative medicine doesn't carry a 3-foot long list of the bad things that will happen to you if you take their drugs!

I feel sorry for people who are so closed-minded to the idea of alternative or 'non-western' medicine. I can also say with certainty that these people obviously never tried any alternative treatments because, if they have, they could never say anything so silly. Ignorance is bliss--but not if it leaves you or your pet in more pain than necessary.

I also can vouch for the effectiveness of chiro, acupuncture and homeopathy...for myself and my pets! These tried and true approaches treat the source of the problem instead of just masking symptoms with Rx's which also create many side effects.

The fellow who believes that holistic practice is bogus has obviously never had an issue that Western medicine failed to treat. Western medicine merely treats symptoms with often harmful drugs. I have used, both for me and my pets, both Western and holistic methods. the combination works extremely well. For instance, I have a cat who has urinated where she shouldn't. Behavior modification just didn't work very well, and traumatized her. My holistic vet gave me a custom flower remedy, and this cat hasn't urinated inappropriately since. The cat is not being fooled by the power of suggestion. It works. And, I have used acupuncture myself for years. I don't care if it's ancient or Chairman Mao. It works. And, that's all that matters to me.

Dr. David Lowell, DVM, reno, NV is Fantastic. His Acupuncture/Chiro treatments help our dogs (and cat we had) SO MUCH. Dr. Lowel 'reads' the animals' (horses, also) miraculously, via look and touch! And, our "kids" love him; they sleep during Acupuncture treatments during the hour drive home!!

I switched to a holistic vet after my dog was diagnosed with kidney issues. The conventional vet's advice was to change to a prescription diet & eliminate the fresh cooked chicken that I had been adding to her food. It didn't make sense to me so I wanted a second opinion. The holistic vet appt. was over an hour vs the 20 minutes with my old vet. We discussed every part of my dogs life. I left with a list of high quality appropriate foods & a game plan to keep this under control. It still amazes me how so many vets dismiss diet as an issue in a pets health.

For years I have been using Dr. Sue Ann Lesser, and Dr. Marc Sommer for my dogs Chiropractics. Dr. Lesser actually cured my dog who had been having seizures for over 6 months. After seeing her my dog had only 1 last seizure. She is from Long Island, NY and travels around the metropolitan area. Dr. Sommer is from NJ and practices as well at The Vet at the Barn in Chestnut Ridge, NY.

I am frankly appalled that you would publish an article espousing the quakery of acupuncture and homeopathy. The former is not, as is commonly thought, based on centuries-old Chinese practice. It is based primarily on practices codified during Mao's rule, as an attempt to create an indigenous "medical" practice. Read the authoritative posts (from several years ago now) on the blog ScienceWatch. Homeopathy is likewise nothing but expensive water (for the drops) and sugar (for the tablets). In all cases the supposed ingredient has been diluted to the extent that not a single molecule remains in the product as marketed. Water has no "memory" of what's been dissolved in it. If it did, think for a moment about the water coming from your kitchen tap and what's been dissolved in it at various times! Again, there is ample data at ScienceWatch and on the Quack Watch web site, www.quackwatch.org and its affiliated site www.homeowatch.org. You really failed to do your homework on this topic.

I agree with the concepts discussed in the article. Our chocolate labrador, Tully, has been seeing a holistic vet and getting accupuncture for the last 3 years. A holistic approach doesn't focus only on symptoms but on healing the cause.

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