Animal Health

Winter 2002-2003
By Diane Schivera

Holistic Health Care necessitates a frame of mind that differs from that of allopathic medicine. I have been reminded of the importance of that requirement often lately. One case was a question on ODairy about hairy heal warts. (Odairy is a electronic mailing group that allows organic dairy producers to interact by email; sign up at Some of the responses to the farmer’s question included methods of treating the warts, which is fine but doesn’t address the cause of the problem. When you approach a disease from a holistic viewpoint, the possible causes of the disease are as important as, or even more important than, the treatment. This doesn’t mean you should let the patient suffer until a cure takes effect, of course.

In Lim Sankaran’s book The Substance of Homeopathy, this “frame of mind” is explained is another way. He writes about miasms (a disease state in homeopathy) and attributes many of these states to how humans and animals cope with the modifications that man’s activities have had on the natural environment. One example that I see is the high incidence of hairy heal warts. It the late ’70s, when I began studying animal medicine, this disease was never mentioned; now it is common. Does this disease result from the environment in which dairy cattle are now raised? One farmer in the ODairy group mentioned a farm that transitioned to organic production, from an intensive free stall operation to a pasture based arrangement. The incidence of hairy heal warts decreased dramatically after a few years. Another example given by Sankaran “is the case with antibiotics and I believe that the increasing incidence of new pathologies and infections is just an expression of the body’s attempt to substitute the older ‘cured’ infection with another which fills in the void. The substitute may be less appropriate than the state and this results in a worsening of the patient’s general condition…”

Because other factors, such as genetics, can cause disease, we need to keep a open mind about the possibilities of obtaining a cure through breeding. Many diseases are not believed to have a genetic component. Years ago, for example, no one considered that a propensity of an animal to get internal parasites could be due to genetics. Now research is being done on breeding parasite-resistant sheep.

However, the most insidious factor causing disease is stress. When raising animals, creating healthy environments is critical. This includes clean housing and an outside exercise area or pasture that is not too crowded; healthy food raised on healthy soils that are supplemented with needed minerals; and a clean source of water. When disease does occur, supportive therapy must be given and the cause of the problem must be determined. Otherwise the same diseases will recur.

About the author: Diane Schivera is Assistant Director of Technical Services for MOFGA. You can address your questions to her at 207-568-4142 or [email protected].

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