Alternative medicine for chickens

Jody Bearman at Cluck.jpg
Dr. Jody Bearman

We were reminded once again last weekend of how much we still have to learn about caring for chickens. Thanks to Dr. Jody Bearman for spending a couple of hours with us to explain how she uses both the science of Western medicine and the healing traditions of Chinese herbal medicine, acupuncture, homeopathy and other alternative treatments to help all kinds of animals, including chickens.

Listening to Jody was like drinking from the fire hose. She has years of experience and a treasure trove of information, but so much of her knowledge is new to us that it’s really hard to recount the particulars

Here’s a brief summary of the topics she covered:

  • Homeopathy is a medicine in which “like” treats “like”. It requires humans to carefully note changes in their animal’s behavior and bodily functions to treat correctly. Vaccine reactions, unusual behaviors, many acute diseases and some chronic diseases can be helped with homeopathy.
  • Acupuncture is the insertion of very thin sterile wires into points along energy channels in the body which releases blockages and helps energy to flow smoothly and comfortably, which relieves pain and increases function.
  • Chinese herbal medicine has been used for thousands of years to cure and keep healthy millions of animals and humans alike. Herbal formulas are used for all of the same diseases as acupuncture and also to prevent disease, such as influenza and kennel cough.

A couple of general lessons stood out.

You can’t really mix Chinese medicine and Western medicine because they are based on totally different understandings of health and wellness. Chinese medicine is all about the live force – chi – which exists both for the person or animal as a whole, and also resides in each specific organ. Organs such as the liver, kidneys, lungs, etc., are responsible for various conditions which might be found throughout the body, not just in one place. Enhancing chi and opening up the flow of chi is a central tenet of Chinese medicine.

Before using Chinese methods, it’s important to get a full diagnosis of the problem from the Chinese point of view. Don’t just mix and match Western medications and Chinese herbs, she warned. They might be working at cross-purposes.

Jody also emphasized the importance of mindfulness, both for animals and humans. Many illnesses can be traced to stress and mental imbalance, she said. Chickens don’t meditate, but you can help your chickens by meditating yourself so you approach them with a calm mind and help them stay calm.

If you are interested in using alternative medicine with your birds or other creatures, we invite you to contact Jody at Anshen Veterinary Acupuncture.