Although the terms Chinese Medicine and acupuncture have been used interchangeably in the West, acupuncture is actually only one modality or “branch” of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM). There are actually 4 branches of TCVM, which include: 1) acupuncture; 2) Chinese herbal medicine; 3) food therapy; 4) Tui-na. The practice of Qi-gong, a form of Chinese meditative exercise, is a 5th branch included in TCM, but is excluded from TCVM, because only humans can perform it.
TCVM is often viewed as a form of complementary therapy and works best when used in conjunction with Western Veterinary Medicine (WVM). TCVM treatments may also be effective in disorders that have little or no response to WVM treatments. Both TCVM and WVM have their own strengths and weaknesses.
TCVM is a holistic approach that is useful in assessing the well-being of the whole patient and all organ systems. TCVM treatments are mainly non-invasive and have few adverse side effects, but may require longer treatment times than WVM. Further, TCVM lacks diagnostic tests used in WVM that confirm a conventional diagnosis or identify specific disease-causing organisms, like pathogenic bacteria or viruses. TCVM treatments are better suited for chronic conditions rather than acute ones. On the other hand, WVM utilizes the tools of current science to diagnose disease with great precision, and conventional drugs and procedures provide powerful and fast acting results. However, WVM focuses on a specific diagnosis and does not always consider the disease effects on other organs in the body or the underlying cause that made the animal susceptible to the disease in the first place. The pharmaceutical drugs administered in WVM usually only treat the clinical signs and superficial manifestation of the disease and most have adverse side effects on other organs of the body.
The integration of WVM and TCVM in the treatment of disease addresses the manifestation and underlying causes of disease and often results in the most complete disease resolution and less adverse side effects from western medications and interventions.