When those pesky warning lights come on, I just get my black electrical tape and cover them. Who has time for that? I’ve got places to go!”
You may not think this is something you’d ever embrace in your driving career, but it may surprise you to know that this is exactly how most of medicine works. For your animal or even your own health. If you’re not savvy.
Conventional medicine, that is. It “works” by making symptoms go away. And it works to keep pests like fleas and heartworm away with pesticides, aka poisons. That often have their own unintended consequences.
Works to Kill Pests Fast!
Here’s an example from my Facebook page, where a discussion started around my post promoting my ebook on drug free heartworm prevention (Have you bought this book yet? If not, please consider it today. I show you how to avoid a fatal crash).
I was pointing out in the post that there are some serious side effects inherent in using these monthly heartworm prevention drugs, including autoimmune diseases that are fatal about 50% of the time!
Here’s a response from a reader:
Hmmm, so what does that mean, exactly? In Janie’s mind, using the cattle or horse dewormer ivermectin prevents heartworm.
And she drives blissfully on.
Side effects? Toxicity? Autoimmune hemolytic anemia? Not seeing them, not thinking about them, just driving on, month to month. Till “luck” runs out and the car runs out of oil.
Burying Symptoms “Works,” Too
Another common example in conventional medicine is the use of cortisone drugs, sometimes orally, and often topically. In the steroid class, these are powerfully suppressive drugs that in essence tell the body,
“Stop All That Inflammation! Now!!“
Inflammation is redness, heat, swelling and perhaps pain, and is a natural part of healing. It’s there for a reason. Cortisone and it’s cousins like prednisone are champions at stopping it. Quickly.
So, if Bowser has a rash or Puff starts licking her belly bald with her barbed tongue, it “works” to rub in a cortisone antibiotic combo ointment (like Panalog) or inject one of the steroid drugs. Or take home a bottle of wee pred pills to give daily.
Rash? Disappears. Itchy skin that’s getting bald from too much licking or scratching? Gone by evening after the injection that morning.
That stuff works!
You bet it does. But how, exactly? By artificially, and temporarily forcing the body into a quiescent, non-inflammatory state. Cured the problem then, right?
No, far, far from cured. It’ll be back.
When (not “if”) it comes back, and you persist in suppressing it with powerful drugs, that car won’t drive after a while, either.
Diabetes. Cushings disease. Cancer. Crrr-RASH!
Veterinarians can contribute to loss of insulin sensitivity by prescribing drugs that cause insulin resistance, especially if these medications are used long term or if long-acting forms are chosen. A wide variety of pharmacological agents such as corticosteroids are known to be diabetogenic [diabetes causing] in people. Corticosteroids and progestins are the most commonly used drugs in cats that cause insulin resistance. Two or more treatments with corticosteroids in the 2 years preceding diagnosis of diabetes were a significant risk factor for diabetes in Burmese cats… and are reported as a risk factor in domestic cats…. 1
Suppression drives symptoms deeper and the uncured disease sets up housekeeping on a new, more serious, internal plane.
We homeopathic vets often see this in the histories of patients coming to us. What started as a bothersome but external skin disease, after aggressive treatment, later manifested as serious and internal. Freya the Wonder Dog is a case I saw that illustrates this progression (and it’s return, with homeopathic medicine).
And Dr. WhiteCoat has no idea the two were related, he now just has a new diagnostic label on his problem list.
Step on the gas, man! We’ve got work to do!
A Holistic Vet: Use What Ever Works!?
I remember as I was slowly becoming a holistic vet, I heard a colleague define holistic as “whatever works!” Something about that definition really didn’t sit well with me. Even before I’d learned about suppression and palliation and cure, I instinctively knew all treatments that “work” were not having equal outcomes for the animal.
So, here once more, you’ve got to be an intelligent consumer of medicine and decide how you’ll define what “works” for your animals.
Wow. Now This Really Works.
In my mind, I see that carefully prescribed homeopathic medicine works, as I often see a small miracle when the right remedy is found:
My patient not only loses that bothersome symptom, but he has really nice “side effects” as well! He may lose his fears, clean up his teeth and breath, and stop being a gas generator, even though he came to me because of his itchy, waxy ears!
In fact, even within homeopathy, I don’t settle for what works to quiet a symptom. If I don’t see my whole patient get well, my job’s not done yet.
That drive can be longer, but the vistas at the end are nothing short of gorgeous. Vital animals are a sight to behold!
Have you seen the negative side effects of short term treatments? Ever had an external disease disappear to find a more serious one appear later, after treatment? Tell us in the comments. We’ll all be wiser and drive more carefully for your experience shared.