TCVM is based upon a principle of balance within and between systems, it is all about causality and connectedness.  As in life, health is all about balance — your pet’s body is designed to be a perfectly tuned living organism. When an animal is born healthy, you can see it without any medical training.  One just has to look at the beautiful peach flower color to their tongue, see the bright open eyes, smell their new healthy fur, and watch them explore their environment with curiosity and a lack of fear.Conventional western medicine tends to focus on the control and elimination of symptoms.  Chinese medicine is about getting to the root of the process to restore balance. Properly practicing TCVM relies upon understanding the interconnectedness between body, mind, society, environment, and even the universe.


Most people have heard about the concept of qi (chi). Qi has been defined as a circulating life force, spirit, or primal energy, in Chinese it can often be translated as air or breath.  Essentially, it is the energy that makes us alive, the “spark” that allows growth and change.  Qi has been described as flowing through our body in a series of channels called meridians (a “web” might be more accurate).  This flow has a specific distribution and pattern.  Sites along these meridians act as energy “vortexes”and are used as acupuncture points. Different processes can affect this flow creating symptoms observable in the external body (disease).



Disease or Dis ease occurs due to imbalances within the body.  External factors such as bacteria, viruses, prolonged stress, improper nutrition, or harsh/inhospitable environmental conditions may cause problems.  Also internal factors, such as abnormal growth of maladaptive cells (as in the case of cancer), conditions where the body attacks itself (auto-immune disease), or idiopathic causes(we feel the word idiopathic means we just do not know enough to figure out the cause-yet), can lead to systemic imbalances.   Impeding the natural smooth flow of Qi leads to stagnation, deficiencies, or excesses in different parts of the body.



We at Hopewell Animal Hospital have undergone extensive training in order to interpret those external signals and translate that into a plan for treatment.  The treatments used in  TCVM consist of multiple modalities such as acupuncture, herbology, tui-na (body work or massage), food therapy and even life style modification.  All of these components are used in combination in our attempt to restore balance.


When we are first introduced to TCVM it may make little sense.  Diagnoses may seem foreign, even poetic, such as “mist on the mansion of the mind,” “Bony bi syndrome,” or “rebellious spleen qi”.  Your pet may be described as having an Earth personality, or a YANG deficiency, or other confusing terms we will attempt to explain.  In many cases, treatment plans may involve more active participation on your part than conventional western approaches.  Many pets benefit from using elements of both styles of medicine.


At HAH, we embrace the principles of TCVM and integrative medicine.   You may not realize it, but most of our treatment plans take these principles into some consideration to treat the “whole being”.


We strongly believe that TCVM is not just for sickness, but can enhance wellness at any stage of life.  Truly, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  By maintaining a lifestyle suited to your pet’s constitution and possible imbalances, we can walk with them through a happy and healthy life.  It’s never too early to get on a balanced lifestyle track.

Read our next article for a “deeper dive” into TCVM