Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)
What is Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)?
Traditional Chinese Medicine is a system of treatment which includes acupuncture, nutrition, breathing techniques, exercise techniques (Qigong), specialised massage called Tui Na, and TCM herbs. Although acupuncture has been used to treat animals for thousands of years, the use of TCM herbs in veterinary medicine only really started in the last century. In TCM health is viewed as harmony and balance between a person and their environment, and illness is viewed as disharmony.

A TCM vet will prescribe herbs based on a system of pattern differentiation. We will conduct an holistic consultation and traditionally, patients are evaluated by applying the four examinations which comprise: Asking (taking a detailed history), Touching, Listening and Smelling, and Looking. Additional information is gathered using Tongue and Pulse diagnosis. Herbal formulae are then prescribed based on the TCM diagnosis, and also which will best help the patient’s signs and symptoms.

TCM herbal medicine began as an extension of nutrition. A single herb was added to a dish, to enhance its effect on the energy of the body. This has evolved to the hundreds of TCM herbal formulae used today.

In animals, acupuncture and Chinese herbs work very well together. Acupuncture provides a more immediate benefit and herbs provide longer term home treatment between visits.

How do you give TCM herbs to pets?
TCM herbal formulae may be prescribed as teas, dried herbs, small round hard teapills, powdered herbs or powdered dry granules. In veterinary medicine, powdered dried herbs or granules are easier to administer, because they can be mixed with wet food. Where the taste of some can be bitter, the herbs may be introduced gradually, or mixed with something especially tasty.

Can TCM herbs be combined with conventional medications?
Herbs can be used safely with most medications, but we advise that you inform the vet of any your pet is taking.

Will my pet experience any side effects from the herbs?
Chinese herbal formulae are generally very safe if prescribed appropriately. At All Natural Vet Care we only use herbs with excellent quality control, which are grown organically and harvested responsibly, and contain no animal components. There are rarely any side effects. If they occur, it is usually that our patient will not take the herbs, or that their bowel motion is softer than usual. In both cases our staff can help, contact us if you notice any changes. .

How long will my pet be on the herbs?
Herbs are gentler than medications, and may take longer to appear to work. Depending upon the condition for which they are prescribed, improvements may take two weeks, or longer. For acute problems a short course is all that may be required. For more chronic conditions, herbs may be prescribed for several months to help the body achieve homeostasis and wellness. Over time the formula may need to change, so regular rechecks with the vet will be required. Sometimes a small dose of herbs will need to be continued. Herbs may be combined with diet changes, lifestyle adjustments, and acupuncture treatments to enhance their benefits.

What can TCM herbs be used to treat?
TCM herbs are used in dogs and cats to treat many conditions. These may include, among others: skin conditions such as allergies or infections, gastrointestinal conditions such as vomiting, diarrhoea, inflammatory bowel disease or constipation, kidney disease, cystitis or other bladder problems, urinary incontinence, liver problems, heart problems, respiratory problems eg asthma or bronchitis, painful osteoarthritis, anxiety, hormone imbalances and behavioural problems, geriatric health issues and immune imbalances.TCM herbs are also used as part of a cancer support plan, and can be used with or without chemotherapy.