What is Integrative Medicine, Really?
Dr. Bethany Innis, DVM, CVA, CCRT, CVCHM, CVSMT
It used to be common, when I did strictly alternative medicine, to have people say to me, “So I took him to the vet and…” They didn’t seem to see me as a veterinarian at all! In some ways this was great! They would tell me about all the “woo” they were trying… new supplements, funny treatments, psychic consults. In some way this was sad. I went to a whole lot of school for these goofy three letters “D”, “V” and “M”.
At some point, I realized I often functioned as a liaison and an interpreter between primary care veterinarian, specialist and client. This was a real pleasure as I love bodies, I love pets, and I love people. I also love helping make sense of confusing situations and finding the best treatment plan for each pet and their family.
During the pandemic, however, it became clear that there were simply not enough veterinarian and veterinary teams for the amount of pets in need. Between a field that was already plagued by burnout, the predominance of caretakers in the field also needed for caretaking at home, and the increase in veterinary visits due to COVID puppies and pet parents having more observation at home, there was a lot of need!
As I am fully trained as a conventional veterinarian and spent many years seeing general medicine cases, it felt unfair to not pitch in. And so I invested in some more equipment, enrolled in some dentistry courses to up my game in that realm (more on that to come!), bulked up my pharmacy and dove in.
Here are some examples of our integrative practice at work:
a Pit Bull friend comes in for a chronic skin condition that just won’t budge. A combination of conventional tests (skin cytology, allergy testing and thyroid testing) would come in handy, as well as an herbal tincture and some immune boosting mushrooms
a feline friend comes in for trouble chewing and pawing at that cute little face. X-rays and blood work uncover a tooth root abscess. The gorgeous gal completes a conventional dental surgery, with the benefit of acupuncture for pain control, green tea rinses for antisepsis and both conventional and herbal pain remedies to go home.
a Yorkshire terrier comes in for bad knee arthritis and a some troubled discs in her spine. We use our thermography camera to see what areas are most inflamed, consider some x-rays to see how advanced the arthritis seems to be, start some acupuncture and chiropractic treatments and use our pulse electromagnetic field bed to help with pain and discomfort.
By using all the best of both conventional and alternative medicine, both in diagnostics and treatments, I hope to help many more pets with many more things and add to my beloved field of veterinary medicine.