Clinical nutrition means that we use food as medicine. Food is medicine (nutritional therapy) when we feed a natural diet to correct a nutritional deficiency and when we use specific supplements to treat disease. Food is also medicine when we use supplements for detoxification.
Nutritional deficiency is more common than we realize. One reason for this is that we have been feeding our animals processed (packaged) foods instead of whole, fresh foods. Processed foods are almost always deficient and/or unbalanced and/or contain toxins. Food sensitivities have become increasingly common because GMO's and Round-up (in the food and water) directly injure the intestinal lining and GI flora. Chemical and metal toxins contribute to most of the diseases we see in our patients and nutritional therapy is our treatment of choice.
How does it work?
The first step is to find a diet that is "clean" (free of toxins) and appropriate for each patient. For animals with food sensitivities we must determine (via testing) which foods we need to avoid. Raw foods are appropriate for some but not all animals. Food options include commercial raw foods, dehydrated foods (add water), home-cooked foods and canned foods. Kibble is unhealthy for many reasons so we don't recommend it. We routinely test commercial foods and are happy to share our findings. In general, we recommend a variety of recipes made from whole, unprocessed foods. There is no single recipe or diet that is "complete and balanced". This is only achieved through the use of a variety of foods.
In sick animals, an additional step is needed: a carefully designed treatment program. The program is designed to correct nutritional deficiencies, provide support for healing and (usually) facilitate gentle detoxification. In order to design the treatment protocol needed for each patient we need to start with some diagnostic information. Though we utilize conventional testing methods (blood tests, urinalyses, etc.), the best way to obtain information about the nutritional status of a patient is to use applied kinesiology. The method we use is called Energy Resonance Testing (ERT). This method is based on a systematic testing scheme designed by a biochemist (Dan Newell, MS, CN) over a 30 year period. What makes it different from most applications of "muscle testing" is that we are scanning off of the acupoints that are connected to energy meridians. This allows us to see how everything is connected and it is much more accurate. Rather than just asking the body a yes/no question we use homeopathically prepared test vials (energy resonance frequencies) that allow us to obtain very specific information. Each of our test vials contains a specific energy resonance for whatever we are measuring. For example, we can detect specific infectious organisms and toxins in the patient because we have test vials for those agents. With our monitoring vials, we can measure a variety of biochemical markers that help us evaluate various organ systems (immune system, organ function, electrolytes, hormones, etc). Quality control is performed on each animal in order to determine whether the testing is accurate; we start each test by checking the nervous system (the communication system) for "blocking" (a nervous system that is stuck or not moving) and for "switching" (a confused nervous system). The patient must be "unswitched" and "unblocked" or we won't get accurate results. Chemicals in the nervous system are the usual cause. Once we have the diagnostic information we use the same testing method to determine which herbs and foods are needed in order to alleviate symptoms and cure disease. The supplements and remedies in the treatment protocol are designed to work together. Adding or subtracting individual components can interfere with our success.
Energy Resonance Testing is a non-invasive test that gives us immediate results so treatment can begin right away. We have access to the most current clinical research giving us cutting edge insights into the diagnosis and treatment of the toxins and infectious diseases that are puzzling to most practitioners. We can treat most diseases that would otherwise be treated with drugs (lameness, anxiety, hyperthyroidism, gastrointestinal disease, respiratory and cardiovascular disease, etc). We can also use nutrition to treat difficult infections (viral, bacterial, fungal and parasitic).
Limitations: Every diagnostic tool has its strengths and limitations. We cannot use AET to detect cancer or foreign bodies inside the body. We cannot detect subluxations or fractures or an enlarged heart. For these issues we need imaging techniques such as ultrasound or x-rays or MRI.
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We use whole food supplements, made with organ meats and organic plant materials. This is based on the philosophy that mother nature put all the bits and pieces together so that the vitamins and minerals are complete and biologically available to our bodies. Whole food supplements contain the whole vitamin complex: the enzymes, co-factors & synergists are all there in the right amounts. We are using herbs, organ meats and whole food supplements to feed, support and repair organs, to support and balance the immune system, to provide fuel for the detox pathways, to chelate toxins, to de-activate bacterial resistance mechanisms, to untangle a tangled nervous system and restore functional communication. This is in contrast to the use of nutraceuticals, which contain isolated fragments of foods in mega-doses. When you buy Vitamin E or Vitamin C at the health food store, you are buying a nutraceutical - a product that acts pharmacologically (probably made by a drug company), chemically altering the biochemistry but not necessarily getting to the root of the problem. A meta-analysis of 220,000 people revealed a higher death rate in those taking "anti-oxidant" supplements than those who did not. Thus, mega doses of vitamins can be harmful and I do not recommend them.
The herbs we use have been carefully screened for toxins as many herbs on the market have unfortunately been contaminated. We use Standard Process, MayWay and Starwest Botanicals, but only those products that are free of toxins.
Feeding a species-appropriate diet is perhaps the most important thing you can do for your animals. Although the pet food industry has been largely successful in convincing us to feed packaged foods, these unnatural diets contribute to many health problems: dental disease, digestive troubles, urinary tract disease, nutritional deficiencies, etc. A natural diet is one most suited to the unique physiology of the species. For healthy dogs and cats, this is a raw diet. Horses are designed to graze on a variety of grasses. Switching to a natural diet provides benefits that are quickly apparent and easy to accomplish. Sick animals may not be able to handle a natural diet, but will benefit from a diet that supports healing.
Horses evolved to graze most of the day, on a variety of grasses. Modern feeding practices (pelleted food, twice a day feeding, etc) contribute to digestive problems. Soil depletion further complicates our efforts to provide all the nutrients they need. Thus, many horses need supplementation.
Dogs are carnivores, but they are also successful scroungers. Their natural diet includes prey animals (raw organs, muscle, skin, bones), herbs, ripe fruit, compost. They have no requirement for grains: fiber is supplied in vegetables, fruit and organ meats. As human companions (for 10,000 years) they have done well on a diet consisting of fresh foods and whatever they could scrounge. Since the introduction of commercial diets, there has been a significant decline in their health.
Commercial Foods: The Hidden Cost
Published incidents of pet food contamination may catch our attention (briefly) but these are just the tip of the iceberg. In spite of the advertising, commercial foods are far from safe. To cut costs, some manufacturers use meat and poultry by-products (waste products from slaughterhouses), toxic preservatives, sugar and non-nutritive fillers. Genetically modified foods (corn, soy, canola oil, alfalfa) contribute to an increasing incidence of food sensitivities and bacterial infections, because they damage the GI tract and immune system. Some foods (esp.grains) are
For More Information:
Schedule a nutritional consultation (by phone or in person) with Dr. Chalmers.
www.feline-nutrition.org This website has excellent articles about feline nutrition, written by a veterinarian.
The New Natural Cat: A Complete Guide for Finicky Owners, by Anitra Frazier. Plume, 1990
Give Your Dog A Bone, by Dr. Ian Billinghurst. Published by Ian Billinghurst, 1993. Order from Direct Book Services (800) 776-2665 Order #DN138.
Pottenger’s Cats: A Study in Nutrition, by Francis M. Pottenger, Jr. MD. Price Pottenger Foundation, Inc. 1983. Order this book from the Pottenger Foundation; (619) 574-7763.
Holistic Horsekeeping, by Madalyn Ward. Order from www.holistichorsekeeping.com
Dr. Joyce Harman offers information about equine nutrition: www.harmanyequine.com
Video by Dr. Link re Applied Kinesiology http://energyhealingsystems.com/video/
Acupoint Integrative Testing: acupointintegrativetesting.com
Pet portraits: www.rachelsturzstudio.com www.salliemacywatercolors.com
Cats evolved primarily in the desert, and as desert animals, their kidneys naturally conserve water by super-concentrating the urine. They are not natural drinkers: they get their water from their food. Their natural diet includes birds, bugs and rodents. Kibble food is dehydrated and feeding it is one of the most harmful things that we do to cats. It puts tremendous strain on their kidneys, so the kidneys wear out and eventually fail. Kibble has also been associated with cystitis (bladder inflammation). DO NOT FEED YOUR CAT KIBBLE FOOD. The idea that kibble is good for teeth has been disproved and there is evidence that commercial foods (canned and dry) along with vaccines are the two most significant causes of dental disease (see Pottenger’s Cats*).
contaminated with heavy metals (aluminum, lead, arsenic, mercury) as well as pesticides. Toxic levels of fluoride were found in some dog foods (bone meal). Artificial preservatives like BHA, BHT, ethoxyquin, and nitrates are carcinogens. Bisphenol-A (a hormone disrupter, used in the lining of canned foods) is one suspected cause of hyperthyroidism in cats fed canned food.
In addition, pet foods are not “complete and balanced” in spite of label claims. They have been cooked until much of the nutritional value is lost. In fact, vitamins and minerals have to be added back into the food or the test animals will not survive the feeding trials. Synthetic vitamins and minerals are used instead of whole food sources. Taken out of context, they lack the co-factors that make them usable by the body. Formulated pet foods will never be superior to real food: they can and do result in nutritional deficiencies and toxicities. Thus, they contribute to modern day health problems and can be an obstacle to cure. In addition, foods that are processed at very high heat (kibble, canned foods) contain Maillard Reaction Products, which are in themselves harmful and which contribute to accelerated aging.
Raw food diets are the optimal diet for dogs and cats, provided that they are properly formulated. However, not all animals can tolerate raw food: immune compromised animals and animals with gastrointestinal disease may need to eat home-cooked foods until healthy enough for raw food. If you decide to go raw, seek guidance about making the transition and about proper handling methods.