Integrative Medicine: A Functional Approach to Healing

Analysis by Dr. Karen Shaw Becker

Story at-a-glance

  • To celebrate the 10-year anniversary of Mercola Healthy Pets, this week is dedicated to bringing awareness about the practice of integrative veterinary medicine
  • I’ll be talking with integrative veterinarians all week about why it was important to them to continue growing and learning beyond their basic veterinary school education
  • Today’s guests are integrative veterinarians Dr. Jean Dodds (California) and Dr. PJ Broadfoot (Arkansas)
  • Be sure to check out the Pet Game Changer link at the end of the article and enter the daily prize giveaway contest, happening all this week
Dr. Becker

We call them "Game Changers" — the exemplary, hardworking individuals who have gone the extra mile to promote animal welfare all around the world. Every week, we feature a special Game Changer, so if you know someone in your community who deserves this award, nominate them and help us get the word out about the magnificent work they do! Click .

Incredibly, this year marks the 10th anniversary of Mercola Healthy Pets! I can't tell you how thankful I am that 10 years ago, Dr. Mercola made the decision to build a natural health site for pets inside his immensely popular site, and then invited me to be his lead veterinary consultant for this new platform.

I'm also tremendously grateful to all of you, my newsletter readers and visitors to the site, for your continued loyalty and unbelievable support over the years. Without you, none of this would be possible and because of you, we've become the largest pet health website in the world.

Healthy Pets has given me an unparalleled opportunity to grow a national and international community of pet lovers that not only embraces common sense integrative veterinary medicine, but also shares my passion for proactive wellness: intentionally creating healthier animals by making informed, wise lifestyle decisions over a pet's lifetime.

My hope is that the massive amount of free educational articles, videos, seminars and webinars Healthy Pets has provided over this last decade will ultimately translate into pets living longer, healthier lives.

To mark this important 10-year milestone, this week, all week, I'll be talking with other integrative veterinarians about why it was important to them to continue growing and learning beyond their basic veterinary school education, to add additional tools to their medical toolbox, and how broadening their knowledge base has positively impacted them.

Today's guests are integrative veterinarians Dr. Jean Dodds and Dr. PJ Broadfoot. The following are highlights from our conversations — the full transcripts can be downloaded at the above links.

Dr. Jean Dodds

My first guest today is the one and only Dr. Jean Dodds, a frequent guest here at Mercola Healthy Pets.

Dr. Dodds is a fellow integrative veterinarian like all my interviewees this week, but she's also a clinical research veterinarian, founder of the Hemopet national animal blood bank and Hemolife diagnostics, the developer of the NutriScan and CellBio diagnostic tests, author of Canine Nutrigenomics: The New Science of Feeding your Dog for Optimum Health, and much more.

Dr. Dodds considers the concept of holistic pet care as wholism, defined as "the original, traditional form of health care that encompasses the whole body and the ambient environment." In wholism, the sum of the body is more than the sum of its constituent parts, so any treatment that addresses a sole aspect of the animal's body would be considered incomplete and inadequate. I asked Dr. Dodds when and why she embraced the idea of wholism.

"I've been a veterinarian for 56 years and I don't intend to retire until the good Lord above tells me it's time, whenever that is," she says. "But when I was a veterinary student, I was involved in taking care of animals that were born with bleeding diseases like hemophilia and Von Willebrand disease. And of course, those were issues in people as well.

And so, as a hematologist and also an immunologist, at that time, at the New York State Department of Health, there was no physician to run the blood program for humans when AIDS and blood safety became so critical in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

I was given the position by the commissioner of health and I had to go throughout the state of New York telling physicians and psychiatrists to treat AIDS patients humanely, with compassion.

And then one day I decided, wait a minute, there's more than just blood and the immune system involved. The whole body is involved, and we need to take a more holistic wholism, with a W, approach to helping people heal when we use conventional medicine, or holistic medicine, or all other alternative medicine modalities.

In 1977 I was invited to a holistic veterinary conference to talk about vaccine issues I'd been working on for 30 years, along with Dr. Ronald Schultz. And I can remember thinking that the veterinarians at the conference would be wearing ponchos and sandals and beads and be woo-woo. I decided I better tell them what I was thinking because they probably already suspected.

So, I told them, and I also told them I was ashamed to feel that way. Somebody in the audience said, 'I've got sandals on.' Somebody else said, 'I'm wearing beads.' A third person said, 'Here's my poncho.' We all laughed, and at that point I became a holistic alternative medicine veterinarian."

It's important to note that when she began practicing holistic medicine, Dr. Dodds didn't just ditch all the conventional medicine wisdom she'd acquired up to that point.

Vet schools provide invaluable training for, for example, managing infectious diseases and acute traumatic illnesses. What they don't do is a good job of is preparing students to manage life-style related diseases. Practicing integrative veterinary medicine doesn't involve ditching anything — it involves adding to the conventional training we receive in vet school.

I asked Dr. Dodds, "If you could share one idea or thought or insight with all the veterinary professionals watching and reading here today, what would it be?"

"You need to be passionate about what you believe in," she replies. "You need to follow your mission. I've become more interested in my profession during the second half of my career, because I'm doing things that are different and I'm thinking outside the box. We also have to be compassionate.

We have to assure that our patients have a good quality of life. We have to give them dignity and we have to let them go when it's their time to go. We're their stewards and we need to look after them."

Dr. PJ Broadfoot

My second guest today is Dr. PJ Broadfoot, who owns an integrative veterinary practice in Van Buren, Arkansas. Early in her career, Dr. Broadfoot developed an interest in the nutritional aspects of healing, which was the foundation on which she built a holistically oriented practice.

Dr. Broadfoot grew up in a family of medical doctors, and her stepdad in particular sparked her interest in lifelong learning.

"When I was in vet school," she explains, "they brought in a couple of acupuncturists, and I learned there was a much bigger world out there beyond conventional medicine."

Over the years, Dr. Broadfoot was exposed to other non-traditional treatments such as auto sanguis therapy (aka auto-hemotherapy) and ozone therapy. While still in vet school, she learned about "poop transfers" (technical name: microbiome restorative therapy).

"I actually did my first poop transfer my first year out of vet school, while I was working on the movie The Blue and the Gray," Dr. Broadfoot explains. "There was a professional 'falling horse' from Hollywood on the set that developed colic [abdominal pain], and none of the drugs in my armamentarium were helping. I was right out of vet school and desperate because I was about to lose an expensive horse.

So, I created a slurry from piles of manure from various and sundry healthy animals and put it into the sick horse with a nasal tube. And it was miraculous. Now, here's the dumb thing. I didn't do that procedure again for about 30 years. What was I thinking? Why didn't I do it again? Now we're doing quite a few of them."

I asked Dr. Broadfoot to talk about how she helps her clients understand the true meaning of "wellness," which is really about making bodies vibrantly healthy and disease resistant.

"Only weight restriction has level one evidence for longevity," she explains. "So, that's something we emphasize in our practice, because overweight and obesity is rampant in both our patients and their owners. We also emphasize exercise, fresh air, grounding, nutrition, avoiding toxins like glyphosate, and very limited vaccines.

In terms of supplements, deer antlers are a large part of our practice these days, along with dimethylglycine (DMG) and GlycoFlex (Perna) for arthritis. Also, microalgaes, colostrum, and thymus extracts."

Unfortunately, our conventional colleagues don't know about most of these types of bridge-building modalities, techniques, supplements, and interventions, because none of it is taught in veterinary school. It's really a shame.

"As you said earlier, desperation is sometimes what pushes us into integrative medicine, and that's what I found over the years," says Dr. Broadfoot. "I'd like to see our animals live longer with a better quality of life."

"And I'm always very excited about cases that respond unbelievably well without the use of conventional drugs. When those animals come to us, often they've already had all the conventional drugs. So, there are veterinarians who used to think I was crazy.

They might still, but they're more polite about it than they used to be. But they'll actually send me cases when they kind of reach the end of the road, because there is always an end of the road with conventional medicine. There are things that they just can't do because they don't promote healing."

You can learn more about integrative veterinary medicine at the College of Integrative Veterinary Therapies.

Nominate a Pet Game Changer in Your Community

Mercola Healthy Pets has made it our mission to provide animal lovers everywhere with a wealth of free, innovative information about the most common issues facing pets, with the goal of improving both their health and lifespan. We believe in empowering pet owners with resources and tools to build healthier, happier pets.

However, we realize we're just one voice among many amazing veterinarians, healers, rescue organizations and other remarkable individuals dedicated to helping animals.

To celebrate our 10th anniversary, we wanted to create a way to recognize and honor shining stars across the globe doing remarkable things for animals. We want to celebrate the people in your community by highlighting their good work here on the Healthy Pets site. Nominate your Pet Game Changer here.

Enter to Win Free Mercola Healthy Pet Products!

To celebrate Mercola Healthy Pets' 10 Year Anniversary, we're giving away awesome human-grade pet products every day this week! Enter to win free Mercola Healthy Pets products here.

Monday — Heart Health for Cats & Dogs

Tuesday — Organic Fermented Foods for Cats and Dogs

Wednesday — Dehydrated Raw Dog Food - Grass Fed Beef Entrée

Thursday — Seasonal Support for Cats & Dogs

Friday — Joint Support for Cats & Dogs

Saturday — Krill Oil Liquid Pump for Cats & Dogs

Sunday — Complete Probiotics for Cats and Dogs