TCVM stands for “Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine”
So what is “Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine” and how does it differ from Veterinary Medicine as we know it? TCVM is the veterinary version of Traditional Chinese Medicine or TCM for short. Long, long ago in ancient China a system of healing developed based upon the philosophical school known as Taoism. They developed a form of treatment using needles inserted into specific points on the body and mixtures of herbs to treat disease and imbalances.
Through thousands of years TCM evolved and developed into a complete system of not only medicine but nutrition, exercise and lifestyle. It has been the main method of treatment in the ancient East for over 3,500 years. The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine was written around 2600 BC and is considered one of the oldest medical textbooks with its concepts still in use today.
Traditional Chinese Medicine is made up of 8 branches:
- Movement/Exercise (Qigong, Tai Chi)
- Nutrition/food therapy
- Massage/Bodywork (Tui Na).
- Cosmology, BaGua, I-Ching.
- Feng Shui and Astrology.
- Herbal Medicine
We are most familiar with the practice of acupuncture, yet that remains a small portion of the whole system. Examining this list, one realizes that the ancient Chinese addressed the physical body, emotional body, mental body, spiritual body and the interaction with the outer environment (feng shui, nutrition). It was all perceived as a giant whole, called the Tao, each part interdependent on every other aspect.
When I began exploring alternative forms of medicine to our conventional western medicine, I chose to specialize in TCVM because it was such a complete system that addressed all aspects of health in a holistic manner. It included nutrition and dietary therapy as well as multiple treatment modalities: plant medicine, energy medicine, stone medicine, and hands-on healing.
TCM provides an amazing framework and philosophical foundation from which to understand wellness, disease, cycles of energy and how to facilitate bringing the body back into balance internally and with the external environment. Ayurveda is probably the only other system that can say the same.
TCVM is based off of an understanding of Chi, or life force energy. Everything is made up of, and infused with Chi. Chi is like the binding force underlying all of reality. It is made up Yin and Yang, the duality of polar opposites. Yin represents dark, cool, quiet, feminine characteristics. Yang represents light, hot, active, masculine characteristics. Yin and Yang exist on a spectrum, interdependent upon one another, melding and moving in a dance of constant change and interaction.
The Taoists described reality as being made up of 5 Elements, or processes that interacted in cycles, creating and supporting each other and at the same time, controlling and setting limits. The theory of the 5 Elements creates a framework of classification that an be applied to many different facets of reality to help make sense of things.
For example, the 5 Elements describe the cycle of the seasons, spring through winter, and the cycles of a lifetime, birth through death. They can be used to understand the stages of disease, the energetic interactions of the organ systems and what acupuncture points may be used to tonify or drain energy in specific parts of the body. They can be applied to choosing herbal formulas, food items, essential oils, and other remedies.
So when I examine an animal patient from a TCVM perspective I am looking at its personality, its interactions with its environment, temperature, smells, the texture and tone of its body, its pulse, the shape, color and coating of the tongue. I am looking at hundreds of little nuances that my own senses may pick up to indicate any imbalances that need to be addressed.
By utilizing nutrition, exercise, hands-on massage and energy healing, placing acupuncture needles in specific points to fine tune, and/or prescribing an herbal formula, any imbalances can be addressed so that the body can regain a state of constantly changing state of balance.
The TCVM practitioner becomes a partner with both the patient and the caretaker of the patient on a journey of well-being, each one playing the role of both healer and patient. Every one of my patients over the years has taught me something and in many cases healed a part of me. I have also witnessed clients find new solutions to their own health issues after witnessing their animals health return via TCVM.
So the next time you see the letters TCVM, you can recognize it as more than just acupuncture. It is a way of perceiving the world and attempting to maintain balance within and without as we move through the world. It is a way of living.
Josie Beug, DVM, CVA