By Dr. Becker
Today, I'm interviewing Dr. Mushtaq Memon, a clinician-scientist who specializes in theriogenology, or veterinary reproduction. Dr. Memon is an internationally recognized scholar in the use of education and research to enhance global peace. He's also an advisor to the professional committee of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Foundation (AHVMF).
As a young Boy Scout, Dr. Memon received a message that has become his mission in life: to serve humanity. He was a Fulbright Scholar in the Arab state of Oman, and as a result of his dedication to global causes, he was selected to serve as a Fulbright Ambassador. Dr. Memon is the founding president of the East Washington/Northern Idaho chapter of the Fulbright Association, and was recently elected to serve on the Fulbright Association's Board of Directors, representing more than 300,000 Fulbright alumni worldwide.
In addition to his work in Western medicine, Dr. Memon is exploring the benefits of non-Western approaches that benefit animal health. He became certified in veterinary acupuncture and currently teaches and coordinates the Complementary and Alternative Veterinary Medicine (CAVM) program at Washington State University (WSU). Dr. Memon believes an integrative approach that draws on both Western and complementary therapies is the best way to achieve disease diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.
Dr. Memon is also the executive director of the newly formed World Association of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (WATCVM). In this role, he works with board members from various countries to develop and implement research and practice guidelines, raises money to help support research and scholarships for veterinary students, and develops curricula for veterinary medical colleges globally.
Dr. Memon is the author of over 120 publications in refereed journals, conference proceedings, and book chapters. He is co-editor of the recently published book, Food as Medicine. Dr. Memon has also served as a visiting professor, consultant, or volunteer in over 18 countries.
Dr. Memon Recognized a Huge Gap in the Education Veterinary Students Receive – and Decided to Do Something About It
I asked Dr. Memon to tell us a little about the Fulbright Program, which he is actively involved with. He replied that the program is the largest scholar exchange program in the world. It sends about 800 U.S. scholars to 150 countries, and receives around 1,200 exchange scholars from those countries annually. The scholars might be faculty members or professionals.
The purpose of the Fulbright Program is to enhance understanding between the people of the U.S. and the people of other countries. It was proposed by Senator William Fulbright of Arkansas, and the U.S. government adopted the proposal back in 1946. It has grown into the largest exchange program in the world. Dr. Memon feels fortunate to serve on its board of directors. And as a Fulbright Ambassador, he says the program is a part of who he is.
Next, I asked Dr. Memon how he became interested in integrative medicine, which is one of his many passions. He answered that seven or eight years ago he was serving as chair of the College of Veterinary Medicine's Curriculum Committee at WSU. He happened to see the results of a survey of graduates from 2000 to 2004 asking what the college was doing right and where it could improve the curriculum.
Sixty-seven percent of respondents said that as students they received little to no education in holistic veterinary therapies. Now that they were out in the world working as DVMs, they had clients asking for alternative modalities, and Dr. Memon recognized that the college needed to include this type of information in the curriculum.
This sparked his curiosity about holistic medicine and he became involved with the students' holistic club. Together they organized a weekend-long course at WSU that was very well-attended.
During the weekend course, Dr. Memon asked some of the speakers how he could learn more about holistic practices. He was advised to pursue acupuncture, and so he became certified in veterinary acupuncture. He was so impressed with the many benefits acupuncture can provide that he wanted it to be a part of the school's curriculum.
Next, Dr. Memon and a colleague sent a survey to all 43 American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)-accredited veterinary colleges, 28 of which are in the U.S. They asked the schools "What do you think about holistic medicine or integrative therapies?" Sixteen of the 43 responded they would like to include some holistic or complementary medicine instruction into their curriculum.
Dr. Memon says the response was exciting, and he decided, "We need to have our own course." Today, WSU's College of Veterinary Medicine is one of the few AVMA-accredited schools with an independent course called Complementary and Alternative Veterinary Medicine. A second course, Veterinary Acupuncture, is currently undergoing review by the Curriculum Committee.
Evidence-Based Research into Complementary and Alternative Veterinary Medicine Lacks Funding
I asked Dr. Memon how difficult it is to secure funding not just for programs like his, but also for research into integrative therapies. He replied that in fact, it is very difficult. For clinical work for teaching, the budgets are already set for acupuncture and other complementary therapies. He and his colleagues are able to generate some additional dollars through the veterinary hospital at the college. But when it comes to research, there's no priority for the WSU vet school because there's no funding available.
Dr. Memon says that while his program is new, it's very critical to the students' education. Survey respondents stated very clearly that CAVM is important and should be taught in veterinary schools. But CAVM therapies must be evidence-based and research-based. That's an area that really needs a lot of work.
The veterinary college at WSU, in conjunction with the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association (AHVMA) and the newly formed World Association of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine, is in desperate need of funding for the research that is so crucial to the health of both animals and humans.
Why Research Funding Is So Very Important to the Health of Your Pets, and All Animals
I asked Dr. Memon how pet lovers can benefit from supporting the AHVM Foundation's mission to conduct evidence-based research in holistic and alternative therapies.
Dr. Memon replied that the benefits of natural products are infinite. As co-editor of the book Food as Medicine, he says he was incredibly impressed with the work from authors all over the world explaining how foods – natural products like fruits and nuts, for example – help in the treatment of so many diseases. Walnuts and berries, for instance, are important sources of a variety of minerals and vitamins, and can be used not only to alleviate symptoms, but in some cases to prevent or even cure certain diseases. There is supporting evidence that nuts and fruits are beneficial in the treatment of human diseases like Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, and autism.
But, as Dr. Memon points out, we need to have mitochondrial-based research to back up these claims. He says WSU is well-positioned to start doing research, but they need a jumpstart to get the program off the ground. That's where pet lovers can help – by coming forward to donate so that all animals can ultimately benefit from evidence-based CAVM therapies.
I asked Dr. Memon what he would research first if he had the funding. He replied that he would research mitochondrial-based diseases -- what is happening to the cell and how the cell reacts to different diseases. And how do natural therapies help? He also knows neuroscientists who would like to do more research into the benefits of acupuncture. And there are herbs he wants to research as well. What gets researched depends on who is available to do the work and where their interests lie, but WSU is poised to bring people in and set them up in laboratories to do research.
I asked Dr. Memon how the AHVMA and the new WATCVM complement each other. He answered that he thinks the partnership between the two organizations is natural because both are working toward the same goal: to integrate natural therapies into mainstream veterinary medicine. The only difference is that the AHVMA has a broad mandate to support all holistic therapies, whereas the WATCVM is more globally-oriented and is focused primarily on traditional Chinese veterinary therapies. Acupuncture is a part of that, as well as many Chinese herbs and food therapy.
My Thanks to Dr. Memon for Joining Us Today
I want to thank Dr. Mushtaq Memon for taking time away from his incredibly busy schedule today to talk with me and share with Mercola Healthy Pet readers some of the exciting things he's doing to advance the cause of holistic and integrative veterinary medicine across the globe.
How You Can Make a Difference.
Mercola Healthy Pets has partnered with the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Foundation (AHVMF) to raise over $880,000 in the last two years. Last year's campaign allowed the foundation to fund half a million dollars in research and professional education grants – including studies for herbal and homeopathic treatment of cancer, postural rehabilitation studies, and the development of a new fellowship at the University of Tennessee. We also made it possible for Louisiana State University to add a veterinary acupuncturist to their teaching hospital.
Animals bless us with their companionship and love. Each of them is one in a million. People who know this are uniting to build a group of one million members who value holistic healthcare research and education. By donating, we provide the energy to make these dreams a reality.
I'm tremendously excited to announce that now through March 30, 2014, all your donations will be automatically tripled. For every $1 you donate, Mercola Healthy Pets will donate an additional $2, up to $250,000. So please, take a moment right now to Be One in a Million and make a donation to the AHVM Foundation.