Q: What is the difference between holistic and traditional veterinary medicine?
A: Basically, conventional medicine is a symptom-oriented practice wherein once a symptom is diagnosed, a drug is prescribed to treat it. Holistic medicine treats and supports the body as a whole, which then, in turn, takes care of the symptom. While I will often select remedies and other preparations based upon symptoms, the overall objective is to make the whole body well. This approach–of using what we call "nutraceutical" preparations to treat disease–is part of "alternative therapy" or "complementary medicine." In my opinion, the alternative/complementary approach and conventional medicine both fall under the umbrella of holistic medicine. It’s wonderful, and more effective, having the knowledge of both worlds in treating each patient!
Q: When you graduated from Cornell Veterinary School did you foresee that you’d eventually be holistically inclined?
A: No, not at graduation time. I always knew I was "different," searching for something that wasn’t part of my basic training, but I wasn’t aware of exactly what that "something" was. Very shortly after graduation, however, I was exposed to acupuncture for veterinary medicine and immediately developed a huge interest. This experience in my practice coincided with an intensified focus on my own health which, at the time, was starting to fail. I knew that I had to make a change in my life, and began trying alternative approaches. The combination of these two factors led me down the path of holistic or alternative studies.
Q: What prompted you to write The Nature of Animal Healing?
A: Over the years, countless pet owners and pet lovers have asked me when I was going to write a book. I think the idea to write one was always in the back of my mind. But the real impetus was the realization that I could make a difference. I had to share, on a broader level, my experience of how miraculous holistic medicine can be for animals.
Q: There are other books out there on holistic pet care–what makes your book unique?
A: Rather than being a how-to book on what to give your animal for a specific condition, my book explores how nature heals. It also presents, for the first time at this level, two major programs for animal wellness–Bio-Nutritional Analysis and Immuno-Augmentative Therapy–which I helped develop in veterinary medicine. Lastly, The Nature of Animal Healing offers a balanced viewpoint on mind-body-spirit, instead of being a book solely about the physical care of a pet.
Q: Why are people so interested in holistic medicine for pets?
A: Over the last twenty-five years, I’ve observed an incredible shift in our consciousness–away from rote science toward self-awareness and wellness. For those people who have seen how beneficial alternative medicine can be for their own health and the health of their family, the obvious question, and the one we hear often, is "If it works for me and my family, why wouldn’t it work for my pet?" And holistic medicine really works for animals, so pet owners are becoming very interested in it.
Q: How many patients do you treat at a given time? How many come to you critically ill?
A: I handle about six to eight office visits or "consults" on a given day; I also treat either directly or with technicians and staff veterinarians eight to ten more seriously ill in-hospital patients each day, while monitoring the therapy of at least another fifty pets via phone and fax–this I do either directly or by advising my staff veterinarians or the outside vets who have set up satellite service under my facility. To answer the second question: so many of the animals I treat are either critically ill or hopeless–too many!
Q: You’ve been very successful fighting cancer in animals. How do you treat cancer holistically?
A: Cancer is typically something that develops in a body secondarily to a decline in general health and, more specifically, to a lack of immune system competence. It is not something that "attacks" the body. It’s something that is actually grown by or develops in the body; normal cells "go haywire." Cancer is an effect, not a cause. Therefore, my main focus is not so much fighting the cancer as it is re-establishing overall health and immune system integrity. This is done through good diet, and by removing harmful products and practices from the pet’s routine; I also recommend individual supplementation based upon Bio-Nutritional Analysis, and specific immune system support through a program called Immuno Augmentative Therapy.
Q: What has been your greatest challenge or frustration as a holistic vet? Your greatest success?
A: I’d have to say that my greatest challenge has been the acceptance of the holistic approach on three levels: in my own mind, for my clients, and for my peers. When I was first starting out, I had to believe that holistic medicine really worked. Back in the formative days of this movement, in the early to mid-1970s, there were scarcely any colleagues I could turn to for support or reassurance. So my early years with holistic medicine were filled with doubt and plenty of criticism. But with more attempts to use these alternative methods came more frequent successes.
The next step was getting my clientele to be open to holistic pet care. This was actually an even longer and more frustrating process, and one that took years. Gaining the acceptance of my peers in the veterinary world was extremely difficult, and I was again regularly criticized and ridiculed for my belief in alternative medicine. But all of the obstacles and frustrations involved with getting to where I am now were completely worth it! I’d say my greatest success has been the complete turnaround of thousands of pets with terminal, hopeless or non-responsive conditions. That’s what my career is all about.
Q: What is the future of pet care–do you see holistic treatments becoming increasingly popular and eclipsing traditional medicine? Or will there be a balance between the two approaches?
A: I have seen a definite movement away from traditional medicine, or a new willingness to embrace more alternative approaches. This shift has been escalating rapidly within the last year or two. I see the future of pet care continuing to open up to complementary approaches to a point where, as in my own practice, these alternative, non-toxic therapies might someday be more prevalent than the conventional methods.
Q: How do you persuade the skeptical pet owner to try holistic remedies and treatments?
A: I persuade the skeptics by showing them a series of documented cases–using before and after photos–in which alternative treatments completely turned the case around after conventional methods had failed. I also work a lot on my own health so I can set an example of the application of healthy ways to "practice what you preach," so to speak. And thirdly, I have successfully practiced alternative veterinary medicine for so many years now that my confidence in its potential for success is convincing.