The Holistic Practitioner
Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food. ~Hippocrates
Evelyn Kass-Williamson DVM
What is a holistic practitioner, you ask. How is he or she different from the “regular” practitioner?
The simple answer is that the holistic practitioner looks at the whole patient including the mind, body and environment. Traditional western, or modern, medicine focuses on symptoms, diagnosis and disease separating these from the whole. So you might see a heart specialist or an orthopedic surgeon. These specialists provide very advanced and specialized treatment in their area of expertise. But your cardiologist would never consider treating your arthritis, nor would he consider the possibility that the 2 are connected. The holistic approach looks at the whole, attempting to restore balance and assist the body in doing what it does best, heal itself.
Our health is determined in part by genetics and in part by environment. But, it turns out that environment and lifestyle affect gene expression to determine which genes will be turned on and which will be turned off. What this means is that we are able to affect and improve 70-90% of our health challenges by changes in lifestyle and diet. The same is true for your pet. Environmental factors include exposure to toxins like insecticides, weed killers, heavy metals; and allergens like pollens, fragrances and perfumes, dust, etc. It also includes lifestyle factors like exercise, sleep, stress and fun.
And most importantly, it includes nutrition. In fact, food is environmental exposure on the inside. Your pet’s digestive tract is essentially a tube running on the inside of the body with full exposure to the outside world. This is why 75% of our immune system is the gut. In addition, the gut contains most of the genetic material in the body. Did you know that 90% of the cells in your body, or your pet’s body, are the microorganisms that call our bodies home? Or that 99% of the genetic material in your body belong to those microorganisms. Most of these reside in the intestinal tract. Each bacteria, fungus and virus contains genetic material which codes for proteins, enzymes and hormones. This genetic material is directly affected by the food and drugs that enters the digestive system.
It has been estimated that 90% of the chronic diseases that plague people and our pets may start in the gut. Think about some of the common ones. Obesity inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatitis and type-2 diabetes are some of the ones that come to mind immediately. But if we look further, we find that fat in excess produces inflammatory chemicals that contribute to inflammation all over the body including arthritis, back pain, kidney disease and heart disease. The latest research even shows direct connection between autoimmune disease and leaky gut. Autoimmune diseases include allergy, hypothyroidism, lupus, autoimmune hemolytic anemia and bleeding disorders. Do some of these sound familiar?
So a holistic practitioner looks at each pet as an individual in its own environment with his or her particular lifestyle options. They look at the current condition which includes any health challenges, the physical exam results and often further diagnostic tests. These often include the standard tests that your “regular” veterinarian would do, or maybe has already done, and may include a few more.
Modern medicine seeks to alleviate symptoms. Holistic medicine seeks to help the patient to heal, so that symptoms resolve and do not return. Modern medicine offers a quick fix, which is often needed in the short term, but holistic medicine offers a long term solution to the underlying problem which often takes longer and may require lifestyle changes. While we are seeking our solution, holistic practitioners will use a variety of methods to keep the patient comfortable and assist in the healing process. These methods have few to no side effects. These may include nutritional supplements, herbal supplements, homeopathy, acupuncture, laser, chiropractic or even energy work. Most holistic practitioners use a combination of methods that work best in their hands and often incorporate the best options from western medicine as well. As some of these methods finally become recognized for their benefits, many western medical practitioners are incorporating them into their general practice. This is a more integrative approach incorporating the best options from each and is likely to have the best outcome.
My focus for your pet will include lifestyle with a large emphasis on nutrition. I will use nutritional supplements, herbal supplements, veterinary orthopedic manipulation, VOM(a chiropractic modality) and pulsed magnetic field therapy (PMFT) to help your pet heal and alleviate current discomfort. When appropriate, I will also use the best that western medicine has to offer, including surgery and/or pharmaceuticals.
You should expect that your visits with me will be longer than traditional visits to your veterinarian as there will be a lot of information to gather. The first consultation is often scheduled for 60-90 minutes. I will spend time getting to know you and your pet. This conversation will help me to create a strategy to help your pet regain his or her optimal health.