Alternative medicine may seem like a vague term, but it essentially refers to treatments that you use instead of traditional medicine.
These treatments can include a diverse group of medical and healthcare practices and products that are not presently considered part of conventional medicine or routine veterinary medical education.
For example, acupuncture is an alternative approach for musculoskeletal conditions, since many traditional practitioners don’t consider it when providing treatment options. However, many alternative practitioners recommend acupuncture, as it has been repeatedly proven as an effective option.
In addition to alternative treatments, many practitioners are utilizing complementary medicine, which is simply non-standard medical treatments that are used in tandem with traditional medicine. An example of complementary medicine in practice would be a doctor prescribing acupuncture in addition to traditional treatment such as prescription medicine or surgery.
The underlying philosophy of these approaches varies from conventional medicine on a few different levels. For example, complementary and alternative therapies follow these basic principles and provide the following benefits:
- Complementary and alternative therapies are based on the body’s innate ability to heal itself. Therefore they are often gentler and subtler than traditional medicine.
- Natural methods are always utilized first. Complementary and alternative medicine do not rely on prescription drugs, surgery, and other conventional medical practices. However, these procedures are recognized as beneficial when necessary.
- An individualized, comprehensive approach is preferred over a “one-size-fits-all” diagnosis. Complementary and alternative medicine looks at the underlying cause of the problem and addresses the whole animal without just addressing the symptoms.
- The goal is to create optimum health. Therefore, illness prevention and treatment are incorporated into a larger overall health plan.
For example, an animal treated with alternative medicine may be prescribed a diet change, herbal remedies or therapeutic massage, as these practices can improve overall wellness while treating the root cause of an illness. However, a pet treated with complimentary medicine may be prescribed an alternative treatment option in addition to a traditional remedy.
At NTVS, we incorporate alternative and complementary practices with traditional medicine to give your pets the best opportunity for overall health and wellness. We believe that there is no one “right answer” for all pets. Differentiations in species, breed, size, age and environment mean each pet deserves appropriate and specific options for treatment.