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What is Illness in Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine?

2015 December 15

What is Illness in TCVM?

16-year-old Golden Retriever lays flat on her belly

“I’m Getting Up! This is all I got…”

Our bodies understand and express a delicate precise balance of qi that we call health. When there is imbalance, stagnation, or misdirection, that is ill health, sub-optimal state of the being. Traditional Chinese Medicine is a practice that can identify these imbalances. Once identified, a precise treatment plan can start. A practiced veterinarian trained in Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine works in this realm.


Imbalance can cause illness. For example, Mitzi is a red Chow Chow who grew up in Portland, Maine. She enjoyed cold winters, lots of snow, fresh fish from the boat, and very few trips to the veterinarian. She felt well and expressed her health with exuberance and joy for life. She told everyone about her games and invited everyone to join in whether they wished it or not (Chow in your lap!) When Mitzi’s mom experience a job transfer to Florida, everyone was excited about boating in warmer waters, diving in the Florida Keys and gently swaying palm tree sunset breezes. One week Mitzi broke out with a painful, frantically itchy red oozing crusted sore on the right side of her hip. What happened?

The friendly, fire personality dog who was cooled off and in balance in Maine, eating cooling fish, and enjoying herself, moved to hot damp Florida, stressed out and started eating convenience kibble while her family got settled into new jobs and a new routine. The imbalance in the excessive heat and damp, and the food causing heat and damp (kibble) caused her to break out in a “hot spot” (aka pyotraumatic dermatitis)  Since they could not move, the family treated the hot spot and changed Mitzi’s food to a cooling fish diet and added acupuncture and chinese herbal medicines under the direction of their holistic veterinarian to help Mitzi deal with the imbalance of excess heat and damp on her body. These changes worked and she is happy today!


Beautiful, calm, friendly, cookie-monster horse waits patiently for acupuncture

Sometimes a house is a barn…

Stagnation can cause illness. Anywhere there is pain, there is stagnant qi. Once the qi stagnates and is “stuck” in an area, you will notice pain or dysfunction in your pet. Randy was a 7 year old black Cocker Spaniel who had the misfortune of becoming injured in a car accident when he was homeless on the streets. The adoption group fixed his broken leg and he received painkillers, good food, and lots of love, but he still limped when he got up on the morning. His qi had stagnated in the acupuncture channels near the injury site and the pain did not let up. It was worse in the morning when he had been inactive for hours. Acupuncture moved the qi, brought pain relief and the stagnant qi never returned to bother him at his old injury site.


Misdirection results in illness. The systems in the body have a normal direction and flow of the energies they guide in the body. For example, the stomach system (like our physical stomach in Western medicine) is supposed to move food down and out of the stomach. If food goes up, instead of down, that is vomiting or regurgitation and is not normal. In Chinese Medicine, this is called Rebellious Stomach qi because the qi is moving up instead of down.

Another example of misdirection are inguinal hernias. The Spleen qi has an upward direction. Put simply, the Spleen-Pancreas system takes the digested food molecules and gu qi and causes them to disperse up toward the lungs and mix with the breath, with the qing qi (pronounced ching chee). Then the lungs has an outward umbrella-like energy flow to envelope and protect the body. If the spleen qi moves down, hernias (can) happen. Therefore, in Traditional Chinese Medicine, inguinal hernias are a spleen qi problem.

With no furniture delivered, Doc Truli sat in a dog bed to give this Peke his acupuncture treatment

Doc Truli esconced in spare dog bed to perform Peke acupuncture

-Dr. Truli practices Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) in the beautiful Greater Tampa Bay area in Florida, United States. TCVM is a valuable component of an integrative medicine approach to holistic care. An integrative doctor, such as Dr Truli will advise you regarding Western medicine options, use diagnostic tools like x-rays and lab tests and also practice advanced medicine such as herbal, acupuncture, and medicinal massage which are currently taught in few veterinary curricula worldwide. Call 877-DR TRULI for an appointment.


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