In veterinary college I had an outstanding pharmacology professor. He was internationally published, well spoken, humorous and had received many awards and honors.
He used to say that the sign of a good doctor is how many patients you can get off medications, not how many you can put them on. I remembered laughing and at the same time being surprised hearing that from a man who had dedicated his life to studying drugs and was considered to be one of the top veterinary clinical pharmacologists in the world.
He reminded my class regularly that every single drug has side effects and that the body has to deal with them and “it’s not always pretty”.
He told us that every drug can and will, at some point, cause harm.
I wanted to be a good doctor and I certainly didn’t want to cause harm in the process.
The basis of the Hippocratic Oath, “First do no harm,” had always appealed to my ethics and ideals for living and for practicing veterinary medicine. Hippocrates was a Greek physician, who lived about 400 B.C. and was considered “one of the most outstanding figures in the history of medicine” and the father of modern medicine. He understood that the body has an amazing ability to heal and that the physician’s job is to support that process.
This is the essence of holistic medicine and recognizes that the parts of the body are intimately interconnected, as well as to its environment. A sick liver, for example, is viewed as being a part of the whole patient; affected by diet, lifestyle, emotions, and all the rest of the body parts.
Healing then becomes a patient/client/vet team approach that addresses all aspects of an animal’s life and uses a variety of health care practices to support and facilitate the patient’s innate ability to heal.
Treatment involves working towards correcting the cause of the condition, not just alleviating the symptoms.
Allergies are a good example — instead of simply prescribing drugs such as antihistamines or steroids to relieve or bandage the patient’s symptoms, a plan is formulated to work with the healing intelligence of the body by removing toxins, strengthening the body’s immune system, and limiting further immune stress through diet and other considerations. A healthy immune system doesn’t attack itself and healthy pets don’t do drugs.
“First do no harm” — doesn’t that just make sense?