Together with acupuncture, herbal medicine, Tui-na (massage) and Tai-chi/Qi-gong, food therapy is one of the five branches of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM). According to Chinese medical theory, different foods have different energetic and other properties, so foods can be used to benefit medical conditions. Appropriate modification of an animal's diet can therefore benefit health.
Food therapy is used in 3 main ways in Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine:
- Preventatively - to improve general health and prevent seasonal diseases
- To treat disease - some diseases respond particularly well to food therapy as the primary treatment, for example skin conditions
- As an additional treatment for disease - problems such as urinary stones, kidney disease, liver disease, cancer and gastrointestinal diseases can benefit from food therapy in addition to other Chinese and conventional treatments
If you would like to cook for your animal, it is possible to use food therapy principles to custom design a unique diet for your pet's particular condition. This will mean that your pet no longer eats commercially-prepared food and only consumes "human food," in recipes that are designed for his or her particular medical problem and balanced for nutrition. Many scientific studies have shown that whole foods are more nutritious than commercially processed foods.
However, you don't have to make the big commitment to cooking your all pet's food in order to be able to use food therapy. Easier ways to benefit from food therapy include choosing a commercial pet food with ingredients based on food therapy principles (for example a fish-based diet vs. a chicken-based diet), or simply adding selected whole foods to your pet's existing diet. No matter how much or how little time you have to spend cooking or choosing food for your pet, it's possible to use food therapy to obtain benefits and optimize your pet's health.
Dr. Harris certified in veterinary food therapy by the Chi Institute of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine.