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Holistic Vet Cures Hopeless Case of Cystitis with Chinese Herbs

Story at-a-glance -

  • Dr. Nancy Scanlan, Executive Director of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Foundation, talks about the purpose of the foundation and why it’s so important
  • To ultimately make holistic veterinary treatments more available to pet parents, research studies are necessary to scientifically prove the effectiveness of alternative therapies
  • Research funding for studies in holistic veterinary medicine is hard to come by, which is why every donation, no matter how small, can have an impact

By Dr. Becker

My guest today is Dr. Nancy Scanlan, the Executive Director of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Foundation (AHVMF). Dr. Scanlan helps oversee fundraising efforts and fund-dispersing activities for the foundation.

The purpose of this video is to inspire people to get involved, so I asked Dr. Scanlan to describe what the foundation does.

The AHVM Foundation Raises Money for Education and Research in Holistic Veterinary Medicine

Dr. Scanlan explained that the AHVMF raises money for education and research in holistic veterinary medicine, which is necessary because there is less funding for holistic research than for any other type of veterinary research.

The type of research the foundation funds allows the holistic veterinary community to offer help to animals for whom conventional veterinary medicine has no answers.

There are many people interested in doing research into holistic therapies, and in fact, the foundation has stacks of grant applications, but there is a lack of funding to award grants to researchers.

This is a source of great frustration to those of us in the holistic and integrative veterinary community who know these therapies work. We understand we are responsible for demonstrating through research that they work, but we don’t have the funding to conduct the research.

A Dog with Cystitis, and How Chinese Herbs Worked When Antibiotics Did Not

An example of the type of research we need to conduct is illustrated by one of Dr. Scanlan’s patients, a dog with horrible cystitis. Cystitis is inflammation of the bladder typically caused by a bacterial infection, and is a common condition in dogs and cats.

As Dr. Scanlan explains, the dog’s urine was bloody, smelly, and the poor animal was totally incontinent.

The dog’s regular veterinarian had tried a variety of antibiotics, but the bacteria was resistant to all the drugs but one. The only antibiotic that helped was both very costly and highly toxic, and the dog’s owners weren’t interested. They ultimately decided to do nothing for a month to see if the cystitis would resolve on its own, but it did not. At the end of the month, the dog still had a horrible infection.

That’s when the dog’s owners brought him to Dr. Scanlan, and after a week on the Chinese herbs she prescribed, his urine was no longer bloody, it no longer smelled, and the dog was again able to control his bladder after two months of being incontinent.

Availability of Non-Toxic Treatments for Animals Is Hampered by Lack of Funding for Research

This is an example of holistic medicine providing a cure that conventional medicine could not. Holistic veterinarians have resources we didn’t learn about in vet school, but we’re frustrated because we can’t answer by citing studies when conventional veterinarians ask, “But where’s the science?” behind this or that therapy.

There simply are no formal studies in most instances. Our evidence that a given alternative therapy works is strictly anecdotal based on first-hand experience treating patients.

As holistic veterinarians, we have the potential to move veterinary medicine in the direction of non-toxic therapies by demonstrating our use of alternative remedies through research

How the AHVM Foundation Allocates Funding for Research

I asked Dr. Scanlan to talk about how research funding through the foundation works. She explained that they don’t just give money to anyone with a research interest, even if they have a good idea.

Each researcher must officially apply, and applications are reviewed by a foundation committee comprised of members who have personally conducted research and who have also reviewed research for universities, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and similar organizations.

Once an application passes the foundation committee’s review process, the next step is to evaluate 1) the ability of the applicants to actually carry out the research, 2) their reputation, and 3) their references.

If the application makes it through the second phase of vetting, the foundation then begins looking for money to fund the project. Finding the money is the hard part.

Small Individual Donations Can Have a Big Impact

The goal of AHVMF fundraising week here at Mercola Healthy Pets is to inspire our readers and visitors to donate to the foundation.

Often, it’s a personal experience with holistic or integrative medicine that motivates pet guardians to make a donation, but otherwise, it can be hard to get people involved.

The point I really want to make today is that even a small gift of say, $20, can really add up and make a huge impact if everyone watching and reading here today makes a donation.

Dr. Scanlan agrees, and adds that what helps most is not one person giving a lot, but one person giving something, and telling their friends, who give something and tell their friends, who give something, and so on.

Also, when you give a gift to the AHVM Foundation, you can designate what type of research you are donating to. So if, for example, you were inspired by Dr. Scanlan’s ability to heal the dog with cystitis using Chinese herbs, you can tell the foundation you want your gift to fund research projects involving Chinese herbs.

If you’re a horse lover, you can restrict your donation to equine research. Or if there’s a particular disease you’re concerned about, you can designate that your gift should go to research on that disease.

How You Can Help

To donate, go to the AHVMF website, click on Ways to Give on the top menu, and there you’ll find a number of different ways to make a donation. If you’re not comfortable donating online, scroll down to the bottom of the Ways to Give page, and you’ll see a Ways to Donate Online and Offline link.

At, you can also read amazing stories of animals who have been healed with holistic medicine, as well as stories of animal teachers. There’s also a blog that reports on some of the projects the foundation is working on. If you have any questions while visiting the site, you can send the foundation an email at [email protected].


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