Q: Can you explain the difference between what you do as a holistic vet and what my regular veterinarian does?

A: Holistic health care is quite different from Western medicine, and it is really what the Edgar Cayce health readings are all about. The term “holistic” indicates that the entire being—body, mind, and spirit—is being addressed. We all know that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Modern medicine tends to break systems down into smaller and smaller pieces, reducing them to their basic building blocks to gain an understanding. Often, the modern veterinarian loses sight of the forest for the trees.

Holistic medicine takes many forms, but there are common beliefs among these various techniques. First of all, perfect health is considered to be more than simply the absence of disease. It is a state of well-being expressed as a vitality that resists disease. Health is a dynamic balance of internal and external forces. From this point of view, there is a broad spectrum of physical conditions ranging from perfect health to death. As a pet’s health deteriorates, its body will start to show signs of dysfunction before disease can be diagnosed.

Cayce commonly used the term “dis-ease” to refer to an imbalance, which may go undetected by conventional means. If left untreated at this early stage, identifiable disease and possibly death will eventually result. Often, holistic approaches to health can pinpoint changes at the dis-ease state and correct the imbalance before disease sets in.

Holistic therapies embrace the vitalist concept that there is more to the body than meets the eye. There is a vital energy that animates the flesh. The Chinese call it “Qi,” the Japanese call it “Ki,” the doctors of India call it “Prana,” homeopaths call it the “Vital Force,” and chiropractors call it the “Innate.” It is this life force energy that is the difference between life and death, and it must be nourished to maintain true health.

While conventional medicine is focused on fighting disease, holistic therapies generally strive to strengthen the body. The body is viewed as containing its own pharmacy. Research bears out this fact. You may have heard of the “placebo effect.” This medical anomaly predicts that 30% of subjects treated with a sugar pill will improve, no matter what the disease is. High blood pressure, low blood pressure, allergies—all can be alleviated by the patient’s own body. It is considered a case of mind over matter, but it proves that the body can heal itself if conditions are right. The idea of holistic therapies is to produce the right conditions for the body to heal itself.

The conventional veterinary medicine emphasis on fighting disease can be extreme. In fact, in veterinary school we do not learn much about health care. Rather, we are taught about disease care. Certainly, learning how to detect and treat diseases is an important lesson for any healthcare practitioner. But what if instead of focusing on disease, veterinary professionals focused on health?

Think about it, if we put more resources into preventing diseases like cancer then there would be no reason to “run for a cure.” The problem is that many of the diseases that plague our society and its pets are brought about by lifestyle. Processed convenience foods, vaccines, pharmaceuticals, lack of exercise, and a general disregard for body condition, are all risk factors for chronic disease.

The holistic focus on a healthy lifestyle gives this philosophy an advantage over conventional medicine. Of course, you can’t just take your pet to the vet to make him or her healthy. Holistic health takes commitment. The goal is to lessen the risk factors of disease.

There are disease risk factors that we cannot avoid, but there are many that we can evade. A holistic lifestyle—eating a species-appropriate, whole-foods diet, avoiding unneeded vaccines, getting plenty of exercise, and using natural healing methods—increases the odds for your pet to live a long, healthy life. Although a healthy lifestyle isn’t always easy, in the end it is well worth it.

Excerpt from “Holistic Pet Care” in the Jan-Mar 2017 issue of Venture Inward magazine available to A.R.E. members at Edgarcayce.org/members.