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Natural Awakenings Central New Jersey

Integrative Veterinary Medicine for Your Pets

There are many services today that offer alternatives to traditional medicine. Each one means something a little different and some are very specific to limited modalities and practice types. Integrative veterinary medicine is arguably the most diverse. Designed to offer a wide variety of treatment options for your pets, it includes traditional Chinese veterinary medicine (which encompasses acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, food therapy and Tui-na), Western herbal medicine, chiropractic, stem cell therapy, PRP (platelet rich plasma), quality nutritional supplements and traditional Western veterinary medicine. Integrative practitioners believe that “It matters not if medicine is old or new as long as it brings a cure.”

Traditional Chinese veterinary medicine is based on the idea that a patient is predisposed to certain ailments based upon their five elements personality (fire, wood, water, metal and earth). Acupuncturists will use this knowledge to more precisely determine which acupuncture points will be most effective. Each element is linked to an organ system which will help determine not only acupuncture treatment plans, but also food and herbal choices.

Acupuncture is thousands of years old and can be performed using very thin needles, injections of inert sterile liquid (saline or vitamin B12), direct manual pressure (acupressure), or stimulation using a light source such as a LED therapy unit or laser unit. Acupuncture points are very specific anatomical locations distributed along 12 channels and two extraordinary vessels, coursing internally from the top of the head all the way to the toes. There are over 350 acupuncture points!

Acupuncture is a very effective treatment for many ailments, the most common being arthritis and pain. This modality works by normalizing the Qi and blood flow and balancing yin and yang, which regulates the imbalance present in disease. Dr. Karin Derfuss regularly uses acupuncture to treat arthritis and pain, but also treats intervertebral disc disease, liver, heart, lung and behavioral issues. Treatment times vary, but typically a patient will be treated weekly for four to six weeks initially, followed by appropriate treatment intervals.

Acupuncture isn’t always the best treatment and may be more effective with complementary treatments. For example, if a patient is very Qi deficient, acupuncture alone may actually make a patient worse because there is not enough Qi to be distributed to the body. This is where knowledge of food and herbal therapy is key.

Stem cell and PRP therapies are exciting and successful aspects of integrative practice. There are many documented cases in which partial ligament tears, arthritis and bone injuries have been healed or managed without the use of medication. Stem cell therapy may also be used for “compassionate use” cases when treating kidney disease or skin allergies. Regardless of your pet’s ailments, an integrative veterinary practice offers the best treatment options for your furry companions.

Dr. Karen Derfuss is a graduate of Cook College, Tuskegee University School of Veterinary Medicine and is IVAS certified in veterinary acupuncture. She has completed all five herbal modules, advanced acupuncture techniques module, food therapy module and Tui-na module through the Chi Institute. She utilizes the Medi-Vet Stem Cell and PRP therapy product system. Dr. Derfuss is available for speaking engagements on integrative medicine and stem cell therapy.

Location: The Branchburg Animal Hospital, 1167 Rt 28, Branchburg. For more information, call 908-707-0045, email [email protected] or visit

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