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Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine also known as TCVM is best explained by the reknown

Chi Institute in Reddick, FL.   Dr. Huisheng Xie founded the Chi Institute in 1998, to train veterinarians

in Chinese acupuncture, herbal medicine, food therapy and Tui-na.  




Excerpt from the Chi Institue website. 


Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM), although relatively new to the Western world, is a medical system that has been used in China to treat animals for thousands of years. It is an adaptation and extension of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) used to treat humans. Speaking broadly, Chinese Medicine is a complete body of thought and practice grounded in Chinese Daoist philosophy. Though it can be traced back over two millennia in recorded history, it, like any medical system, continues to evolve today, and current research on acupuncture and herbal medicine is beginning to shed light on its mechanism of action.


Chinese Medicine Theory

Chinese Medicine is based on the Daoist worldview that the body is a microcosm of the larger, surrounding universe.  As such, the cosmic laws and forces that govern the external world also govern the body’s internal environment. Just as life-energy or “Qi” is an innate force of the universe, it too is a fundamental force of the body, driving its every action and transformation.


Yin-Yang Theory

Yin-Yang Theory, which is central to Daoist philosophy, also features prominently in Chinese Medicine.  This theory describes how opposing forces of the universe - light and dark, hot and cold, etc. - mutually create and transform each other and play a key role in the characterization of physiological function and disease.


Five Element Theory

The Ancient Chinese observed yearly cycles through five seasons – spring, summer, late summer, autumn, and winter, which they corresponded to the Wu Xing, or Five Elements, consisting of Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water. Just as the Earth cycles through these five seasons, the body, too, passes through the five phases in its own life cycle.  In this way, a young pup is said to be in its Wood (or spring) phase of life, while an old mare is said to be in its Water (or winter) phase.


Moreover, the bodily organs have also been mapped to the five phases, and the Five Element Theory is used to explain the functional relationships between organ systems. For instance, the Kidney, corresponding to the Water element, is the “mother” of the Liver, a Wood element organ, because Water generates Wood in the way that watering a tree makes it grow.



Disharmony and Disease

In Chinese Medicine theory, disease is understood as an imbalance in the body, and diagnosis proceeds through identifying the underlying “pattern” of disharmony. Pattern diagnosis differs from conventional Western medical diagnosis in that it takes into account not only disease signs, but how these signs relate to the individual patient. Thus, TCVM practitioners will consider the temperament, sex, age, activity, and environment of an animal along with the animal’s particular disease signs. This approach stems from the belief that the body is as an interconnected system of forces and functions so that disease and disharmony must be examined with respect to the whole patient. For this reason, Chinese Medicine is often regarded as more holistic than conventional Western Medicine. 



The Four Branches of TCVM

Once a particular type of disharmony or disease pattern is identified, treatment often proceeds through a combination of treatment modalities. Though the terms Chinese Medicine and acupuncture are often used interchangeably in the West, acupuncture is actually only one modality or “branch” of TCM and TCVM.


There are actually four branches of TCVM – Acupuncture, Herbal Medicine, Food Therapy and Tui-na (Qi-gong, a form of Chinese meditative exercise, is a fifth branch of TCM that is excluded from TCVM because it cannot be performed by animals).  



Acupuncture is a treatment that involves the stimulation of points, typically achieved through the insertion of specialized needles into the body. Acupuncture points typically lie along the body’s Meridian Channels along which Qi flows. Most veterinary acupuncture points and Meridian lines are transposed to animals from humans, though knowledge of some “classical points” defined on particular species have been retained and are used to this day. Check out the All Things Healing tab for information on Acupressure)


Herbal Medicine:

Herbal Medicine utilizes herbal ingredients listed within the Chinese Herbal Materia Medica in particular combinations or formulas to treat particular disease patterns. Herbal formulas are administered orally and are typically given in powder form to horses and other large animals and in tea pill or capsule form to cats and dogs.


Food Therapy:

Food Therapy is the use of diet to treat and prevent imbalance within the body. It utilizes knowledge of the energetics of food ingredients to tailor diets for individual animals.



Tui-na is a form of Chinese medical massage in which different manipulations are applied to acupoints and Meridians to promote the circulation of Qi and correct imbalances within the organ systems.




"Integrative” Medicine: TCVM and Western Veterinary Practice

TCVM is often viewed as a form of complementary therapy, and is best when used in conjunction with Western Veterinary Medicine (WVM). Both TCVM and WVM have their own strengths and weaknesses.


TCVM is a holistic approach that is suited to assessing the well-being of the whole patient, and treatments are generally non-invasive with few side effects. However, TCVM lacks the tools necessary to pinpoint illness to specific disease-causing agents like pathogenic bacteria or viruses, and treatments are better suited for chronic conditions than acute ones.


On the other hand, WVM utilizes the tools of modern science to diagnose disease with great precision, and Western drugs and procedures are powerful and fast acting. However, its insistence on detailed diagnosis may come at the expense of getting the larger picture. Furthermore, while modern medicine can perform miracles for trauma and acute injuries, it has little to offer chronic conditions like liver failure and atopy which can be treated effectively with acupuncture and herbal medicine.


In many ways, TCVM and WVM each has what the other lacks. Thus, the best medical system involves the integration of the two systems, so that the strengths of one can compensate for the weaknesses of the other.



Learn more about Dr. Huisheng Xie

Many in the holsitic world refer to Dr. Xie as the 'godfather' of Chinese Medicine in the USA.  Learn more about his accomplishments here:


Dr. Huisheng Xie founded the Chi Institute in 1998, to train veterinarians in Chinese acupuncture, herbal medicine, food therapy and Tui-na. He’s an experienced professional with extensive academic accomplishments. Before coming to America, Dr. Xie received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Veterinary Medicine (equivalent to DVM), from the Sichuan College of Animal Science and Veterinary Medicine in 1983. He then received a Master of Science in Veterinary Acupuncture from Beijing Agricultural University in 1988, where he also served as an associate professor until July, 1994. He went on to receive advanced training in human acupuncture at the Beijing College of Traditional Chinese Medicine and the National Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine. In August, 1994, he moved to America to pursue his doctoral studies, and in 1999, he received his PhD from the University of Florida for his investigation of the mechanisms of pain control in horses using acupuncture. 


Dr. Xie has received achievement awards from several major institutions including the China Ministry of Agriculture, the National Science and Technology Committee, the Beijing Agricultural University, the Chinese Veterinary Medicine Association, Chinese Association of Traditional Veterinary Science, World Association of TCVM, and the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association. He has lectured around the world, speaking in the U.S., Canada, Japan, Thailand, Indonesia, South Korea, Australia, Mexico, Brazil, Europe and South Africa. These teaching activities at 14 different international veterinary organizations and 20 universities have helped veterinary students, clinicians, and faculty not only learn and practice TCVM, but also to start research within the field.


In addition, he’s been interviewed by CBS News, the Discovery Channel and PBS. In 2005, CBS News referred to him as “a leading authority in animal acupuncture.” Dr. Xie has authored more than 20 books and has had over 100 papers published in peer-reviewed veterinary medical journals. His textbooks, including Xie’s Veterinary Herbology, Xie’s Veterinary Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine: Fundamental Principles, have been used for TCVM training programs around the world. 


Currently, Dr. Xie continues to teach and develop educational courses and programs at the Chi Institute in Reddick, Florida. He also serves as a clinical professor at University of Florida's College of Veterinary Medicine. He’s an honorary professor and director of the International Institute of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine of South China Agricultural University and China Southwest University. Dr. Xie has trained over 7,000 veterinarians to practice TCVM worldwide.

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