holistic dog care with small black and white dog

Integrative Herbal Medicine

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What is Holistic Medicine? Is it different from Integrative Medicine?

To some extent, all veterinarians are “holistic” (or “wholistic”) in that they must consider all aspects of the patient when assessing, diagnosing, and creating rehabilitation plans. We must consider the mentation, physical signs, changes in habits and lifestyle, etc. We also consider how the personality and preferences of the patient affect the treatment plan, how the lifestyle may be contributing to the condition, client finances, ability to medicate or provided appropriate care, priorities of the family involved, goals of therapy,etc. Additionally, we can utilize a wide variety of “modalities” to holistically treat a patient.

We can use pharmaceutical medications, food, massage, exercise, laser, surgery, supplements, warm packs, ice, herbs, etc. Rehab medicine is very inclusive in its approach to treatment, with the inclusion of multiple modalities depending on the patient. This is often referred to as “integrative” medicine, when pharmaceuticals and surgery are used in conjunction with supplements and body work. Herbal medicine is an additional modality to add in to this integrative framework.

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Integrative Herbal Medicine is ideal in some of the following situations:

– Geriatric or debilitated patients

– Those with concurrent medical conditions (ex metabolic disease in addition to mobility concerns)

– Patients with additional pain control needs, either alongside or in place of pharmaceutical and nutraceuticals

– Delayed healing or other surgical complications

– Anyone who has a pet on a homemade or otherwise non-professionally formulated diet, or anyone who has requested dietary recommendations

– Any client who is procuring and using herbs and nutraceuticals from elsewhere, especially if there are several

– Clients who express an interest in herbs, alternative medicine, “homeopathy”, holistic medicine, energy medicine, or modalities that their veterinarian is unfamiliar with (holotherapy, light therapy, reiki, essential oils, etc)

What benefit are herbs?

Herbal (or “botanical”) medicine seeks to use plants in ways to support health and healing. Plants contain many chemical constituents which can act upon the body. Sometimes science will isolate an “active constituent” that has a strong measurable dose-related effect on the body. Silymarin and Adenosyl in Denamarin are examples of active constituents. However, when used as a whole plant, rather than just an isolated constituent, there are additional beneficial effects and fewer side effects. This is because there are 100s or 1,000s or constituents within a plant, interacting with each other as well as with the body, creating a synergism. Plants can also be combined together in unique formulations to additionally create synergistic patterns individualized for patients. This is what Dr. Yunker offers to patients, unique recommendations and formulations for individualized botanical medicines.

What risks are there using herbs?

Many plants are safe and beneficial and available easily from online providers and health food stores, or even back yards and hiking trails. People will often read an article and purchase a product on that advice. They may see beneficial results that way. However, there is a large body of research showing that many easily available products are adulterated or lacking in key “active constituents”. Additionally, some clients are prone to “over supplementing” by trying many many herbs without understanding how they may interact with one another or with other medications and supplements.

Most veterinarians are understandably concerned with unknown herbs and with possible interactions. Dr. Yunker is qualified to evaluate these long lists of supplements and to determine what supplements may be un-needed or even unsafe for a particular patient. This sometimes takes significant time and research and an understanding of botanical and pharmaceutical medicine, as well as physiology and nutrition.

Can we learn about herbs?

Dr. Yunker loves to talk about herbs. She would love to speak to groups of professional or pet lovers concerning herbs specifically or Holistic Medicine more generally. If you would like Dr. Yunker to speak to your team or your group, contact her directly by submitting your questions below.

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