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Instructor Roger Clemmons cooks Eggplant with Vinegar (used to soften blood vessels and reduce blood pressure) during a Veterinary Food Therapy lab.

The Power of Food

There is truth to the old saying: “food is the medicine you take every day.” This belief in the healing power of food is one central to Chinese Medicine, where food therapy is often utilized alone or (more often) in conjunction with other modalities to treat disease patterns. Food therapy is one of the four major branches of TCVM, alongside acupuncture, herbal medicine, and Tui-na. It is the art and science of tailoring diet plans to individual patients based on their unique inborn tendencies, age, species, geographical location, personality and current disharmony or disease process. Food ingredients are chosen based on their energetic properties, which include both their thermal energetic property or “temperature” and their taste. Chinese food therapy recipes are developed according to TCVM theory (Yin-Yang, Five Elements, Eight Principles and Zang-Fu Physiology and Pathology) and are specific to particular patient types and health conditions.  These recipes can typically be classified into one of the following categories:

  1. Health Promotion and Prevention - to improve health on a regular basis and to prevent seasonal- and climate-related problems
  2. Disease Treatment - to directly treat clinical conditions, including skin problems, autoimmune diseases, and immunodeficiency
  3. Adjunct Therapy - to complement primary treatments (acupuncture, herbs, or Western Medicine) of diseases such as otitis, urinary crystals and stones, UTI, IBD, CHF, cancer, renal failure, and liver failure

Like other TCVM modalities, the ultimate goal of food therapy is to restore and maintain balance in the body. However, given its very nature, the effects of food therapy are slower-acting than modalities like acupuncture and herbal medicine. On the other hand, there are virtually no side effects when food ingredients are chosen correctly, and food therapy is a mode of treatment that can be used safely throughout a patient’s lifetime. Moreover, the practice is very popular amongst owners as it empowers them to take part in the TCVM therapy for their animals.

Program Overview

The Veterinary Food Therapy program is a 28-hour C.E. program (approved by RACE and a majority of state boards) that certifies students in Veterinary Food Therapy. It is presented in either one 3.5-day on-site session or as a 28-hour online course. The course can be taken by small animal, mixed, and equine veterinarians, and lecture and lab material covers treatment for both small animals and horses. Both the on-site and online courses include eight hours of labs, where instructors demonstrate how to cook and prepare foods in fully-stocked kitchens. On-site students have the opportunity to help with food prep and taste the finished products.  Click here to view the course syllabus.

Program Features

On-site Class Features

  • 20 hours of lecture and 8 hours of labs attended in person
  • Hands-on food prep in lab, where you can also taste the foods you make
  • Binder of class notes and recipes
  • Complimentary lunches on-site
  • Limited seats (40 students max) to allow for a more intimate learning environment

Online Class Features

  • 20 hours of lecture and 8 hours of lab available for 24/7 on-demand streaming for 4 months.
  • 4-month online library access: review previously taken online classes as needed
  • Binder of class notes and recipes in the mail
Prerequisites

Students wishing to enroll in the Veterinary Food Therapy program must have basic knowledge of TCVM and herbal medicine, and must fulfill one of the following two requirements:

  • Completion of at least one session of veterinary acupuncture at Chi or another accredited institution.
  • Completion of the TCVM Fundamental Theories lecture series (a 5-lecture DVD-set, $100)
CVFT Certification

Students in the Veterinary Food Therapy program are eligible for the Certified Veterinary Food Therapist certification, endorsed by the Chi Institute of Chinese Medicine. The CVFT certification requirements are as follows:

  • Completion of the Chi Institute Veterinary Food Therapy course (online or on-site)
  • Pass the take-home exam
  • Submission of one veterinary food therapy case report to be approved by Chi faculty

Please note that the Chi Institute cannot issue any certification to DVM students until their DVM has been obtained.

Lodging and Accommodations

For information about accommodations, travel, and what to pack, please visit our lodging and accommodations page.


Whole foods, such as mung beans, soybeans, peants, and rice, are common ingredients in Veterinary Food Therapy recipes.




On-site students get the opportunity to do hands-on food prep during labs.




Turkey and Squash Herbal Stew is used to treat Yin and Blood Deficiency with Damp Heat.