A bit of quackery?

Yesterday I made the case — or posed the possibility of a case — for natural remedies for pet health problems. Today I’d like to discuss my personal experience with their dark side.

Ok, so it’s not really dark, just funny peculiar.

Denial is a river in Tucson, too

When Frankie was first diagnosed with diabetes, it took quite a long time to get his blood sugar regulated. I was at my wit’s end and, at the same time as I was adjusting doses of insulin and paying for glucose curves at my traditional veterinarian, I decided to consult a holistic vet. The practice had been highly recommended by a friend who swore — and still does — by the acupuncture treatments her dog received there to relieve hip pain.

My experience was somewhat different than my friend’s.

A multi-pronged approach

I went to see Dr. B, who had a variety of holistic tricks in her bag. Let me make myself clear: She never, ever suggested I should get Frankie off insulin. We were working on supporting his treatment through diet and other approaches that might help his poor sick pancreas.

And she was very nice and very good with Frankie.

First, there was the dietary approach, based on a discipline called applied kinesiology — not to be confused with regular kinesiology, the study of movement. Here is how Wikipedia describes the nutrient testing technique, used to examine the response of a patient’s muscles to assorted chemicals:

Gustatory and olfactory stimulation are said to alter the outcome of a manual muscle test, with previously weak muscles being strengthened by application of the correct nutritional supplement, and previously strong muscles being weakened by exposure to harmful or imbalancing substances or allergens…Stimulation to test muscle response to a certain chemical is also done by contact or proximity (for instance, testing while the patient holds a bottle of pills).

The veterinary version is a bit complicated because animal patients aren’t all that cooperative. So I had to stand in as Frankie’s proxy.

Here’s how it worked. With one hand, I would hold something that Frankie was eating or a supplement I was giving him near his face. I held the other arm out straight and Dr. B would apply pressure to it and tell me to resist. If my resistance was deemed weak, the nutrient was deemed inappropriate for Frankie; if it was considered strong, the item got the green light.

I’m not going to say I was convinced — and neither is the medical establishment; here’s the rest of the Wikipedia article. But at that point I was willing to try anything.

Oh, the shame

But that wasn’t the part of the diagnosis/treatment that bothered me. Dr. B also determined that Frankie’s neutering scar was blocking the blood flow to his pancreas.

The first thing she did was apply a cold laser — described as a high-tech alternative to acupuncture or therapy — to the scar. No problem. He didn’t notice a thing.

It was my homework that proved problematic: I was told I needed to rub flaxseed oil into the area twice a day for a week.

I don’t think anyone needs an anatomy lesson to figure out where a neutering scar is.

At first Frankie seemed blissed out by these ministrations; his testicles might be MIA but his penis hasn’t left the neighborhood. By the second day, however, he began to squirm away in what I can only describe as shame. I called Dr. B and explained the problem. She told me it was important for me to continue treatment.

I couldn’t bring myself to go there again.

Nevertheless, on our next visit Dr. B judged the blockage cleared and praised my persistence.

I went back to my traditional vet and Frankie and I resumed our previous, more decorous relationship.


27 thoughts on “Unnatural Naturals: A Tale of Pet Perversion”

  1. The first Naturopath I went to see had me do the arm thing while holding plastic bottles of supplements. Now, I am very OPEN MINDED but this was just a little too foo foo for me. It didn’t help that she was dressed in a stained sweatshirt with Einstein hair!

    I was kind of giggling trying to picture what was going on with the flaxseed oil. Ha, ha.

  2. LOL. I give you full credit for trying! I am not so sure I could have done it even once. Perhaps I just have too much North American prudishness… But I loved reading your account all the same!

    I have some personal difficulties with holistic medicine that I won’t get into here. I don’t discount it entirely, but I have yet to find conclusive proof these more natural methods work better than placebo. Not that I don’t think it’s worth a shot. You do what you have to do, right? Even if it means the flaxseed treatmeant! πŸ˜‰

  3. Ok. Well. What can I say? I have engaged in my share of alternative therapies for myself and Sadie. We both visit the same doctor (he’s a vet and naturopath) for bicom (http://www.energetic-medicine.net/bicom.html) treatments. As is so often the case I embarked on the path of alternative therapies because I was desperate. Sadie was one sick puppy when she was a puppy. One damn thing after another. Who knows, maybe just growing into adulthood would have straightened her out, but then maybe it’s been the regular wellness bicom treatments that are keeping her in good health. I really don’t know. But, I’m not taking any chances. Bicom seemed to be working so well for Sadie that I asked the doctor to work on me also for my insomnia. Even though I took and still take a cocktail of sleep aids prescribed by an MD, my sleep was iffy. I must say after several bicom treatments my sleep has improved. Maybe it’s the placebo effect. Who knows?

    1. Deborah, you know I have great respect for you and your intellect, not to mention your common sense. It was never my intention to make fun of anyone’s choice. And as my post showed, I was very open to the treatments for the same reason you mention: Desperation! If you found something that worked for you, I’m very glad.

      On the other hand, no one asked you to rub Sadie’s private area.

  4. I think the body is incredibly complex and you’ll have successes and failures in any type of treatment tried.

    Back surgery is notoriously unhelpful for most people and yet it doesn’t get the derision that many forms of alternative treatment get.

    On the lighter side, I must say that my husband reading over my shoulder said that his neutering scar is blocking his pancreas as well. See what you started with your smutty story! πŸ™‚

    1. Ok, you literally had me laughing out loud with your husband’s comment. I do try to keep things clean. Blame the smutty naturopath.

      P.S. I did read recently that back surgery was one of the top four most useless treatments. No derision, though, just a “save your money” message.

  5. How funny! The rubbing part, not the vet part. :0)

    Finding the right vet, whether holistic or conventional, is just like finding the right doctor. You have to find who you are most comfortable with and who makes the most sense.

  6. Well, what I can say to this is: not all vets were created equal. That applies to traditional or non-traditional ones.

    Take two cooks, give them the same ingredients and an identical recipe. The odds are that the results won’t be identical. Some people can mess up boiled eggs.

    Doesn’t mean the recipe is bad.

    Doesn’t mean that all recipes are good.

    Gotta have a good recipe and a good cook.

  7. I was raised “holistic” until I was 18, so I’ve heard of ALL the wacky treatments. I’m pretty sure that my Mom saw an Applied kinesiologist “doc” at some point. So, how much did that doctor bone you for that treatment?

    1. So you’re a born again pharma fan! I don’t recall exactly how much it all cost, but I’m sure it was at least $150.

  8. Hi Y’all,

    The only Holistic vet I have met that I truly trust is one who for years was our traditional vet. Long before acupuncture was popular in the U.S. he went to China to study it and actually practiced it on some of our performance horses. He did not change his traditional treatments, simply supplemented them. He now practices more varied holistic treatments, but he has never completed forsaken traditional veterinary medicine. He’s said that there are times when traditional medications are necessary and holistic practice not appropriate.

    BrownDog’s Human

  9. So glad Edie did not express her doubts about back surgery when I was having spine fused last. year More than $125,000, 2 weeks in hospital and months of rehab later i can walk without walker and walk the dogs most days. But painfree i,m not. which is a roundabout way of saying you never know with any treatment pet or human until you try.As long as common sense also applies. holding supplement bottles ?!?!

  10. OMG! Rubbing flaxseed oil into his neuter scar? Eeek! I guess Frankie didn’t want to share his excitement with mom. Perhaps a private moment in teh bathroom would have been better. πŸ˜‰

    Glad Kristine listed this one as one of her favorites. I can’t believe I missed it.

    BTW – I’m willing to try anything if it helps my dogs, except the herbal stuff you mentioned in your previous post. I got that offer just this week and will not be responding as a result of your post. Thanks for doing the legwork on that one Edie.

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