How to Integrate Herbal Medicine into Your Practice

How to Integrate Herbal Medicine into Your Practice

By Tiffany Rimar DVM, CVA

Author: Chi Institute/Saturday, November 1, 2008/Categories: TCVM Articles, TCVM Newsletter, 2008 Winter Issue

The first step to integrate herbal medicine into your Veterinary practice is to just simply DO IT! This can be an intimidating process but if you follow a few simple steps you too can make an easy transition to create synergistic medical results. First, a clear understanding of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) tenants and diagnosis needs to be the foundation. Herbal preparations, energetics, properties and methods of administration need to be understood. Knowing some common mistakes and how to prevent or overcome them can build confidence and enhance clinical results.  Examples of commonly used formulas can help start an herbal pharmacy. Knowledge of any other medications or modalities being used is an important consideration as this may alter an herbal plan. The final step to master, which is always a continual process, when integrating a new modality into your practice and your life is….Harmony.  

Five Most Common Mistakes 

1)  Treating symptoms and not the TCVM pattern
2)  Using too many herbs at one time
3)  Trying to treat too many conditions
4) Expecting herbal medicine to work as quickly as conventional medication
5)  Tunnel vision
Top 10 herbs to start your Herbal Pharmacy 

Starting an herbal pharmacy can be overwhelming. This is because most practitioners are unsure of the most common herbal medicines used in an integrative or complete TCVM practice. The most common herbal medicines used are based on the most common patterns seen in practice. The top 5 are “must have” herbal formulas, 6-10 are “should have” formulas. These categories are divided into both small animal and large animal. Most of the large animal formulas are primarily for horses but are also applicable to farm animals. I personally think the top 10 are all “must have” formulas!

Small Animal “Must Have” herbal formulas

1. Body Sore - musculoskeletal pain, Qi and Blood mover
2. Damp Heat Skin - dermatitis, clears damp heat, cools blood
3. Di Gu Pi - arthritis, Kidney Qi/ Yin tonic with Bony Bi syndrome
4. Great Saussurea Coptis - hemorrhagic enteritis, lick granuloma, clears damp heat, moves Qi, not very palatable (topical/oral)
5. Yunnan Bai Yao - helps stop hemorrhage, stagnation and pain (topical/oral)
Small Animal “Should Have” herbal formulas
6. External Wind - anti-histamine, helps stabilize mast cells, alleviates external wind
7. Golden Yellow - topical antimicrobial, clears damp heat and stagnation (topical)
8. Red Front Door - hematuria, clears damp heat, stops hemorrhage
9. Shen Calmer - behavioral anxiety, nourishes Heart Yin and Blood
10. Dok’s Formula - Cold Bi syndrome, arthritis, DJD, IVDD
Large Animal “Must Have” herbal formulas
1. Body Sore - musculoskeletal pain, Qi and Blood mover
2. Equine Du Huo - arthritis, back pain, tonifies Kidney Yang, clears Wind-Cold-Damp
3. Hot Hoof #2 - laminitis, clears heat toxin, invigorates blood, relieves pain
4. Liver Happy - behavioral aggression, clears Liver heat and stagnation
5. Tendon Ligament Formula - tendon issues, Qi and Blood tonic and mover 
Large Animal  “Should Have” herbal formulas
6. Breath Easier B- COPD, tonify Lung/ Kidney Qi and Lung Yin
7. Equine Yin Qiao- respiratory infection, dispels Wind-Heat, relieves exterior
8. Stomach Happy- gastric ulcers, nourish Yin, moves Qi, relieves pain 
9. Red Lung- EIPH, epistaxis, clears Lung fire, cools Lung
10. Yi Zhi Ren - developmental orthopedic disease, warm Spleen and Kidney

Many other herbal formulas exist and are commonly used in practice. These are the most common herbs the author uses on a daily basis. Some of these can be used both orally and topically. The combinational uses are listed, otherwise the formula is assumed as oral use. Do not let this inhibit the imagination from devising new topical applications from oral herbal formulas. The only limitations we have are those we put on ourselves.

Other Tips to Help Beginners Start an Herbal Pharmacy and Herbal Practice

1) Incorporate different herbal forms 
2) Incorporate different herbal preparations
3) Knowledge of other medications used when starting herbal therapy 

Herbal Medicine is an essential part of total body wellness and can be incorporated into practice with ease and harmony. With a working knowledge of TCVM tenants, a pattern diagnosis can be made. The diagnosis is based on a cornucopia of information both in conventional medicine including a history, signalment and physical exam as well as a TCVM evaluation including tongue, pulse, temperature and shen. Knowledge of any other medications or modalities used is also important. When the entire picture has been painted, the finishing touch is the herbal selection. This selection is based on herbal energetics, properties and administration techniques. Having knowledge of some common mistakes will help prevent them. Knowing some common herbal formulas will allow a practitioner to start an herbal pharmacy with confidence. The last step to integrate herbal medicine into practice is to just do it and have fun with it! Your patients will thank you for it!   


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