Beware the N Word

Your Goal: Vital Animals!

You’ve got animals. You want them to be vital animals. So that they enjoy a long, healthy life with you, free of the burdens of disease, but so much more than that. You want them to be full of balanced energy, bright eyed, responsive, and have the remarkable “glow” that really healthy, vital animals have.

Those are the animals that smell fresh all the time (without bathing) and are a pleasure to pet and even massage, they feel so good to your touch. There’s a special vibrancy and attractiveness in a vital animal. Everyone wants to stop and say hi and pet these guys.

Your vital animals respond appropriately to things like wounds: they just heal up, without you having to do much to help.

They respond appropriately to the stressors of life:

  • your absence
  • a sudden change in diet (when you ran out of chicken and suddenly offered beef)
  • a raging thunderstorm
  • a cold snap
  • an aggressive dog who runs up in his face
  • a bike that sails down the trail past them
  • or a visitor with a booming voice

Vital animals are adaptable, in other words. That’s an amazing thing to behold.

A Cool Guy Example

One of my favorite patients who I got to work on intermittently throughout his long life was Nick, an Akita/Husky mix who first came  to me as a pup 17 years ago with “puppy strangles.”

Nick was feverish, had a swollen face, multiple abscesses, diarrhea and a lot of pain. And guess what? It all started 36 hours after he was vaccinated!

As a budding homeopath, I was able to get him off the steroids he was on (at ten weeks old!) and restore health to his little being. As he matured, so did my homeopathic chops.

Fairly early on, his owner noticed that Nick just had this uncanny ability to diffuse dog fights. It didn’t matter if some dog was rushing him with aggression or if he was viewing two other dogs mixing it up, Nick could just walk up, “be present” in the melee, and it would dissolve.

He didn’t even need to bark or growl, Nick just stood there in his integrity and the fight would sputter to a halt.

That’s Vital. Adaptable, even in chaos and high emotions.

The N Word: Might be Good

We just need to be careful about it. Using Natural may not get you to Vital.

As I’m sure you’ve noticed as you peruse the interwebs, there are all sorts of things out there that are offered to you in the name of “natural health.” That’s the N word I’m talking about.

What the heck is natural, anyway?

Examples of natural substances: strychnine (which comes from a plant), ricin (from another common plant source), hemlock, crude oil, fish oil, arsenic, lead, mercury, chlorella, and transfer factors.

How do you think about offers made to you using the N word?

I’m usually quite skeptical at first, until I dig a bit deeper to see if it’s desirable and has some proven record.

N for NOT!

Here’s one of my favorites that I think tries to take advantage of popular perception: Chem-Free. You’ve seen their trucks on the road, maybe even hired them to do some “natural” pest control in your house or on your premises.

Here’s their online headline for my area:

“Chem-free is Austin’s Leader in Organic Pest and Lawn Services”

I’ve seen them in action and smelled what they were applying. It was oddly “natural” smelling, lavender or something similar. When I asked, “what’s the active ingredient you’re using?” the answer was, “Permethrin, it comes from chrysanthemums.”

So, if you care to look up permethrins, you’ll find that they don’t come from chrysanthemums, they come from a laboratory, and are classified as pesticides. They are neurotoxic, contribute to resistant populations of pests, and while not highly toxic to some mammals, are very toxic to fish and extremely toxic to bees.

Oh, and cats can die from their application.

The O Word (No, NOT Oprah!)

Another popular and thereby dangerous word is “organic.” You see it popping up in ever greater numbers of products. It has two distinct meanings, and probably a lot of misuse, intentional and otherwise:

  1. A product that was farmed with organic methods, free of synthetic pesticides, using natural source fertilizers, on soil that hasn’t had pesticides for a certain number of years, etc. Think organically grown oranges or broccoli.
  2. A compound composed of carbon and hydrogen molecules, a chemistry term. Think benzene. Gasoline. Lysol (all quite toxic, by the way!).

As products with organic status often fetch higher prices, lots of marketers will misuse this term. While organic produce can be regulated to use this term, “organic” cosmetics are not at all.

You might imagine pest control companies using this term freely, as permethrins and even DDT would, chemically at least, fall into this category. To whit, Chem-free’s headline above.

Even Better: the H Word (Or: Does N = H?)

I see the word “holistic” often misused as well, but when used properly, in the right context, it will get your animals much healthier and more quickly vital than either the N word or the O word.

Holistic medicine is much more than substituting something natural or organic for a drug. The basis for my drug free heartworm program, successful for over 25 years in hundreds of my patients, is based on the holistic approach.

Holistic assumes one is looking at a bigger picture than just a quick substitution of natural for artificial products.

Will giving the herb black walnut, a known killer of worms, prevent heartworm? I have no idea. Might it have undesirable side effects? I’d have to see a lot of real life patients demonstrating both effective heartworm prevention and safety from its use before making up my mind on this.

What makes a vet holistic? Does a holistic vet use acupuncture on those animals she also vaccinates? Or use strong herbs to repel fleas instead of pesticides? Or sell “natural” pet food that avoids grains but is full of other starches, like tapioca or potato?

I knew a veterinarian years ago who climbed the leadership ranks of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association, yet failed to stop repeatedly vaccinating his patients. He may still be clinging to this wrong idea.

A Super Effective H Word

The most holistic approach to medicine I’ve found is homeopathy. It will flat out fail the idle practitioner who’s had a bit of training in it but fails to look at the big picture of the patient.

Same thing for the vet who offers it along with suppressive allopathic drugs. A “foot in two canoes” makes for an unsteady practice. “Do I suppress this guy’s symptoms or work with them to heal him?”

Even Samuel Hahnemann, homeopathy’s brilliant founder, recognized that the whole patient and all of his symptoms had to be matched with the remedy chosen if that whole patient was to get well.

Further, he recognized “impediments to cure,” a prescient departure from the doctors of his day. If someone was living in a damp basement, eating poor quality food, those things needed to change, or even the best remedy would not be able to help.

Words. Be Careful Out There!

So, you need to be discerning as a consumer, all the more so as these terms gain popularity. Natural, organic, holistic, homeopathic; they can be and regularly are misapplied, and putting full trust into something so labeled without doing your homework could have unintended negative results for you or your animals.

What are your favorite uses of these words that make you shake your head? Let us know in the comments.

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  1. Melanie Burkhart on September 1, 2022 at 11:26 am

    I am looking so forward to learning more about homeopathy with your short course! I found your podcast and have listened to every one of them at least 5 times! I still learn something new each time.
    We rescued a beautiful, 6 yr old cat two years ago. He has only eaten raw food and had no vaccines since then. I had Milo titer tested through Dr. Robb (thank you Episode 4!) and he is completely immune.
    Thank you for what you are doing to educate animal lovers all across the globe! Please keep the podcasts coming! <3

    • Nicole on March 21, 2023 at 1:16 pm

      Melanie, can you tell me where to find these podcasts? Thank you!

  2. Shane Catalano on November 30, 2021 at 8:36 am

    Thank you so much, Dr. Will! I love the “impediments to cure” as this is so often the case with either ignorance (I’ve been there and may still be a bit so still learning!) or willful choice due to ease or pressure from Dr. Whitecoat. I’ve learned so much from your site and appreciate your care.

  3. Mark Spafford on January 27, 2018 at 6:02 am

    In this article, your link to Permethrins, leads to a HGH webpage. New to the page and looking for answers as to why we have so many “new” problems with our animals. As an old military trained and practicing Veterinary technician, (78-82) we didn’t see all these autoimmune, allergic, diabetic, and other related issues we see today. It was pretty straight forward back then. Unfortunately, with the cost of conventional and homeopathic care now surpassing my middle income budget, I’m seriously thinking I will be without companion animals own the near future.

    • Will Falconer, DVM on January 27, 2018 at 7:46 am

      Oh oh, looks like my links were high jacked to take readers to a spammy page. Fixing that now, thanks, Mark.
      And yes, agreed: as I entered practice in 1980, things were far simpler. We are now at a near epidemic level of chronic disease, many of which were unheard of in vet school in the 70’s.
      I place the blame squarely on 1. Over vaccination, 2. Toxic, devitalized foods, and 3. A slew of chemicals that have no long term safety studies, let alone any earthly right to be used on or in the bodies of loved ones we’d like to stay healthy for many years. (Who ever said pesticide use made one healthier? Did I miss that in vet school, perhaps?)

  4. NJ Nelson on December 9, 2017 at 6:15 pm

    Dr. Will,
    – Just wanted to follow-up on a brief conversation we had in Dec 2016. Our 8+ yo rescue golden/lab was diagnosed with HW. We live rural west central WI and “Curly” has the freedom to be the king of ‘his land’, 15 ac, with a winding creek running through the woods. It’s a dog paradise.
    – Anyway to keep this brief, Curly’s been fed RMB (80/10/10 or so) since we got him in Jan 2011 and he is one healthy animal. We do vac for 3yr Rabies and that’s all, no preventives. This past Thursday’s vet appt showed Curly FREE of HW and parasites (but still Lyme positive, asymptomatic).
    – For the HW Curly was first treated with Doxycycline for 30 days for the ‘W’ bacteria and then plain Heartgard (for medium size dogs). He did loose his appetite with the Doxy and Heartgard however Nux Vomica worked within hours or less, EVERY time.
    – My observation was the loss of appetite and maybe he whitened/aged more than I would have expected, but then again he is 8 or maybe 9. Oh, and his snoring/sleep sounds have increased. … and he grew more sebaceous ?adenomas (warts) also, always concentrated on his left leg or around his right eye. Again … age?
    – I find my optimism a little guarded and will check him again in 4 months or so … and then continue to check him annually.
    – Just wanted to share and thank you for all you do.

  5. Karen Anderson on October 11, 2017 at 1:31 am

    I am so glad you talk about the difference between O & H & N. My husband has been a hobby farmer and works for the county as a landscape person for the parks so he constantly telling me about O being not true O.
    Recently, our fur babies are having scabies and instead of using chemical, I was able to use sulfur for them. One fur baby was having worms and I used pumpkin seeds and garlic. It’s clear in a week. How amazing.
    There is a film coming out in the near future, I believe from Ty Bolliger. It’s called The Truth About Pet Cancer. They will talk about food as medicine for our pets. You might want to let your subscribers know about, Dr. Falconer. I am sure it will show you were correct all along.

  6. Lauren on October 9, 2017 at 9:33 pm

    Hi. I am still learning about homeopathy and found a homeopathic vet after my conventional practice (one of the vets of the practice,not my normal vet)of several years wanted to vaccinate my 11 yr. old dog before her dental. (also give antibiotics)She has a heart murmur and the new vet has her on naja. Being new to this you can imagine my surprise when I found out what its made from! After following you for quite some time I am hopeful that this will be a positive step in the direction of her journey to being a vital old lady!

  7. Darci Michaels on October 9, 2017 at 5:41 pm

    I’d like to learn more about wormwood and heart worm. I use Your protocol Dr. Wil, but I’d still like to learn. Great articles BTW! 🙂

  8. Doria on May 28, 2013 at 12:15 pm

    Hi, Dr Will!
    Having worked for four years in an Indy Health Store run by a guy with a Masters in Holistic Nutrition, I learned a couple of things about what herbs work for what conditions, and which don’t. Here’s a couple: Black Walnut doesn’t prevent heartworm, because its effect is in the digestive tract, and the microfilaria actually develop in the heart, beyond the reach of Black Walnut. On the other hand, Black Walnut has been shown to be effective against Valley Fever, which is caused by a fungus. On still a third hand (which is what I want for Christmas!) Artemesia, aka Wormwood, has been used successfully to kill existing heartworms. And it’s a lot less volatile in a dog’s body (no word on cats–they can be so delicate) than the conventional “treatments” offered by Dr Whitecoat. Just my two cents!

    • Karen Mitchell on November 15, 2017 at 2:10 am

      Thanks for commenting.
      All the research I’ve done on heartworm say that wormwood is for treating, not preventive.
      I have seen it in preventives, but I’m now thinking that these products are money makers.

  9. Chris Kilsdonk on May 27, 2013 at 7:17 am

    Dear Dr. Faloner, I have a question about kennel cough. I’m starting up a business in kenneling and grooming animals, and I’ve heard about kennel cough, and how it can get passed on through out the animals in the kennels, if one dog was to have it. My question is what about vaccinations on this subject? I’m very open minded, and I will not be vaccinating my own dogs any more for rabies, distemper, or provo. Please could you do an article on this subject in the near future? Thank you for your time in this matter.
    Chris Kilsdonk

    • Will Falconer, DVM on May 27, 2013 at 8:30 am

      Excellent idea, Chris! Thanks. It’s on my list for the near future. One thing you may want to get on board for your business (you can write me from my Contact Page) is kennel cough nosodes. I’ll write more about them when I post about it, but they’re both safe and effective in preventing kennel cough, unlike the vaccines.

    • Jeannine NoVaxForMyKidz on November 1, 2017 at 6:44 am

      I have not vaxxed for anything for over 25 years. I have done dog shows, agility, lure coursing & I groom & board from my house & do rescue. I talk all of my customers out of ever vaccinating. I never have any issues. Don’t listen to others. Now I do use ever precaution but I’ve never had any issues. I find if your looking for a problem you will have one. Good luck on your venture 🙂

    • Debbie Fazica on September 10, 2018 at 1:37 pm

      When you force your clients to vaccinate they shed the virus for days after receiving it this is why other dogs that visit your kennel/ salon get it … you are injecting them with a live virus.
      I own a grooming salon we do NOT ask for any vaccinations, however we do have the right to refuse a sick animal. Example: Goopy eyes, sneezing, coughing, liquid diarrhea, thin or just unhealthy looking.

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