By Dr. Becker
To round out our American Holistic Veterinary Medical Foundation (AHVMF) fundraising efforts this week, I'm interviewing Dr. Becky McConnico, who is a professor of equine medicine with the Equine Health Studies Program at the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences School of Veterinary Medicine at Louisiana State University (LSU).
Dr. McConnico is a nationally recognized expert in the field of equine internal medicine, particularly in the area of gastrointestinal health and dysfunction. She has a special interest in pain management as well. In 2011, Dr. McConnico completed training in equine and large animal acupuncture with the Chi Institute and was certified in veterinary acupuncture.
Dr. McConnico is currently the coordinator of the LSU-SVM Veterinary Emergency Response Team Partnership, the equine branch director for the Louisiana State Animal Response Team (LSART), and an affiliate faculty member at LSU's Stephenson Disaster Management Institute.
From 1996 to 1999, Dr. McConnico served on the faculty as an assistant professor of equine medicine with the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences at Oklahoma State University's College of Veterinary Medicine. She has published over 75 veterinary scientific abstracts and articles, and numerous book chapters on the subjects of equine gastrointestinal disease, infectious diseases, and veterinary disaster planning and response.
Dr. McConnico received a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from Louisiana State in 1987, and a Ph.D. in gastrointestinal physiology from North Carolina State University in 1995. She became a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (large animal) in 1994.
How Dr. McConnico Is Sharing Her Growing Passion for Integrative Medicine in the Treatment of Horses
I asked Dr. McConnico to talk a little about how she was introduced to holistic or integrative veterinary medicine. She answered that to make a long story short, as an internal medicine specialist working with horses, she deals with a lot of GI and neurologic diseases. So she already had some exposure to the benefits of integrative therapies like acupuncture.
Over the years, as integrative medicine grew more popular with the general public, Dr. McConnico wondered, "What are we missing here?" She and her internal medicine colleagues began having discussions about integrative treatment approaches, especially acupuncture. Ultimately, it was decided that Dr. McConnico should attend acupuncture training and certification at the Chi Institute, and as luck would have it, an LSU donor provided some startup funds for her training and further investigation into integrative modalities.
Dr. McConnico explained that she has primarily used acupuncture with her internal medicine cases, but has begun providing it as well for sport horses, post-op surgical patients, and other cases.
There seem to be very few large animal practitioners with much exposure to integrative medicine, so Dr. McConnico is almost in a league of her own. I wanted to know if -- having seen complementary and alternative therapies work -- she has found herself growing more and more passionate about sharing what she knows.
She responded that she absolutely has. And she thinks horse owners actually have much more experience than their veterinarians when it comes to alternative therapies. She believes an integrative approach is very well-received in the horse world. But as Dr. McConnico and her colleagues have begun sharing their experiences with residents, interns and other faculty members within the veterinary school, they are seeing a growing passion among those groups as well.
The American Holistic Veterinary Medical Foundation Has Been Instrumental in Furthering the Cause of Integrative Veterinary Medicine at LSU
I asked Dr. McConnico how she sees her work benefitting from private funding, including monies raised by the AHVM Foundation. She replied that she benefitted greatly three years ago when the LSU donor allowed her and her team to increase their resources for exploring different types of complementary and alternative veterinary medicine (CAVM). They were able to bring in speakers once a month initially, and then switched to actually training faculty and technicians in acupuncture. In fact, currently there are four faculty members in the process of becoming certified in veterinary acupuncture.
With further financial help from the foundation, last year Dr. McConnico was able to add a fulltime acupuncturist to the staff to work primarily with small animals, and also to back her up. It has been a tremendous benefit to have that person onboard.
In terms of research, Dr. McConnico says they were able to save a little money by involving clinicians in doing research. She says it will benefit them greatly in the future to have more resources to pursue specific research projects involving standardized and controlled studies.
I asked Dr. McConnico how encouraging clinicians to do research might advance the integrative movement. She replied that right now the integrative practitioners work separate from the mainstream veterinary professionals, but having them work together on clinical cases – collaborating on traditional treatments and complementary and alternative treatments and collecting quantifiable data under experimental conditions – those results will be well-received by the public, especially academicians and scientists.
My Thanks to Dr. McConnico for Joining Us Today
I want to thank Dr. Becky McConnico for talking with us today. She's doing some really exciting work, and the future looks bright for integrative medicine research at Louisiana State University! It's good to hear that the AHVM Foundation is providing her and her colleagues with opportunities to advance the practice of equine integrative veterinary medicine.
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.