Episode 7 – Jody Bearman

We talked with Dr. Jody Bearman who graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a BS in Bacteriology and from the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine with a DVM. Dr. Jody tells us how she switched from traditional western medicine to homeopathy, what homeopathic remedies animal rescue professionals should have on hand, how can people incorporate homeopathic practices at home with their pets and much more! To learn more about Dr. Jody and her practice you can go here, www.anshenvet.com

Welcome to the Professionals in Animal Rescue podcast, where our goal is to introduce you to amazing people helping animals and share how you can get involved with animal rescue. This podcast is proudly sponsored by doobert.com. Doobert is a free website designed to connect volunteers with rescues and shelters, and the only site that automates rescue relay transport. Now, on with our show.

Today we’re talking with Dr. Jody Bearman. Dr. Jody graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a BS in Bacteriology, and from the University of Minnesota, College of Veterinary Medicine, with a DVM back in 1992. She worked in small town mixed practice, then small animal and exotic practice, using Western medicine for 16 years. Wanting to help animals that couldn’t be diagnosed or treated with Western medicine and those that developed severe side effects from Western medicine, she took the Chi Institute for Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine, mixed animal course and became a Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist in 2005. Dr. Jody is also a Certified Veterinary Chinese Herbalist and now is an instructor at the Chi Institute, the first of its kind outside of China. She’s excited every day to help animals heal and stay healthy. She works with many different animals, including horses, dogs, cats, goats, birds, sheep, cows, rodents, reptiles, rabbits, and more.

Hi, Dr. Jody. Welcome to the program. Tell us a little bit about you. You’ve got quite a very interesting background.

Well, I’m a veterinarian. I graduated from the University of Minnesota Veterinary School after coming to Madison for undergrad in bacteriology. I did conventional medicine for the first 13 years until I paid off my student loans and I wasn’t happy with the results I was getting. I was finding out that a lot of diseases weren’t treatable with conventional medicine and sometimes weren’t even diagnosable. I didn’t like the answer being euthanasia for things we just didn’t know what to do with. So I took the money that I was paying towards my student loans and took Chinese medicine courses at that Chi Institute for Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine in Florida. I did there acupuncture courses, the Tui Na courses, I did all the herbal courses, I did food therapy online, and ended up TAing there for a few years. I loved it.

Actually, after I finished acupuncture courses, I just couldn’t do conventional medicine anymore so I started my own business, AnShen. It was AnShen Veterinary Acupuncture. We just changed the name to on AnShen Holistic Veterinary Care. I moved to Hawaii for a couple of years with one of my classmates, who was at the Chi Institute also. She asked me to do some relief work for her. I ended up really loving it. She was a veterinary homeopath also who got me really interested in that. I did learn a little bit about – studying it for a year after school when I was in vet school with a few other students. That really got me a lot more motivated. So when I came back here, I took Chiropractic courses and then I took homeopathy. I graduated from both of those programs and that’s what I do now, it’s Chinese medicine homeopathy. We have to call it Veterinary Spinal Manipulation therapy in the State of Wisconsin but it is the same as Chiropractic. I’m a member of the College of Animal Chiropractors.

Wow, there’s a lot there. So let’s start with what is homeopathy? I mean, for somebody like me, I hear the term, I hear it a lot, but I don’t really always understand what it means. How is it? Is it the same as holistic?

That is such a good question. It is not the same as holistic. Holistic just means using everything. It’s a general term for using lots of different modalities and there are tons of modalities out there. Modalities just needs different ways of treating. There are lots and lots of different ways of treating but homeopathy is a specific way of treating. That came about due to a physician from Germany named Samuel Hahnemann in the late 1700s. He knew 13 different languages, and he studied all different kinds of medicine. He was also a chemist. He was really unhappy with medicine at that time. He found that like now, when people were treating disease, they would treat the disease, but the treatment of the disease would eventually kill the patient. Just like a lot of things that might happen now, if you listen to commercials advertising drugs you hear that a lot, blah, blah, blah and death. That’s just what would happen back then and he was really unhappy with that. He said, “I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to try to get rid of somebody’s syphilis and end up killing with Mercury poisoning. I want to come up with something different.” So he was listening to or he was not listening to – You didn’t have podcast back then. He was reading up study from another physician at the time who said, “Oh, cinchona bark works to kill malaria because it’s really bitter” and he’s like, “Well, that’s ridiculous. I’m a chemist, there are a lot of things more bitter than cinchona bark.  You know what, I think I’ll just take a little bit every day and see what happens. I’m a super healthy guy, and I’m going to see what happens.”

So he took a little bit every day. He found out he developed the symptoms of malaria, so he’s like, “Well, it works because it causes the same symptoms. Hmm, I think I’ve read things like this.” So what he did was he got together all his very healthy friends, only healthy people, half men and half women, unlike now. He had them each take different substances that were diluted and shaken by him because he was a chemist. That’s the way chemists did things back then. He’d had them record very specifically, exactly how they felt with each thing that they took, and for certain amounts of time that he would have them follow it and also for certain frequencies he’d have to have them write. It was very scientifically done. He found out that certain things cause certain symptoms. He found that if he treated people with those exact symptoms, they would get better. So that’s how it all started.

It is a completely different medicine. It’s not like anything else. It’s called homeopathy because it’s “like treats like.” If you have the symptoms that cinchona bark causes and you take the very diluted and shaken – the things we give are diluted and shaken thousands to millions of times, you give that, the body actually cures itself. It’s not the medicine that’s curing you. It’s the body recognizes the disease in that medicine and goes, “Oh, I’m doing the wrong thing. I better fix my forces and the body fixes itself.

So give us a couple of examples. People are probably very familiar with the Western veterinary care and things that they do in big drug makers and things like that. How do you contrast that? Give us an example so people can understand how is homeopathy different.

It is so different. Okay, so let me give you – this is an easier one. This one was published in a homeopathy journal recently. This is my patient who’s a young horse named Zip. He is very handsome, very full of life, a very wonderful guy. Anyway, he kicked his barn wall which is made out of metal, and the metal sliced through his foot, through the joint capsule, and broke off a piece of his bone in his foot. The vet school had seen him and said, “You have to euthanize this horse because once a cut like that goes through the joint capsule, it fractures. It’s especially going through the joint capsule. He will never be better. He’ll always have infection. He’ll die a slow, horrible death. You have to euthanize him.” and the person’s like, “No, he’s young. He was one year old.” Anyway, he had been given some antibiotics I.V., but he really didn’t notice a difference. I went to see him, and I put all his symptoms together. He had certain symptoms, especially with how they looked, but the swelling looked like what the discharge looked and smelled like and how he was acting. I came up with the remedy, put all his symptoms together, figured out which remedy it went into, gave him the remedy while I was there, and all I had to do after that was just rinse it with saline, dab it dry, and bandage it to keep it clean. That’s all I do every day for several days. The swelling started to go down and he started to do better. I had to repeat it when we saw some more discharge. It had a funky smell, and that was it. He is 100% now. He is running. Actually, she just put a video up on Facebook. I just saw it where she took him for a trail ride. He’s two, she’s not riding it, but he’s going along with the other horses. He’s moving beautifully, not having any trouble at all. So that’s one case. Would you like a more complicated case? Sure.

Okay, so let’s see. It probably shouldn’t be just two horses, right? Okay, let me give you a case of a dog with cancer. I have a dog patient who I actually I’m going to see today. I’m rechecking her today. She was a rescue, and that is a good reason to bring her up. So she was a rescue. They don’t really know how old she is. She’s a husky or husky mix and she had a severe – Oh, her name is Flurry. She’s extremely beautiful. When they first got her, she had a really weird skin problem on her side where the skin was actually green. The skin itself is green. It was very weird. She also had some pretty serious aggression towards other dogs at the dog park, so they couldn’t bring her to the dog park. She developed a cancer in her front leg. She had it removed, it grew right back, and they said it was a bad cancer. It’s a sarcoma and that you never get rid of it. We did try some Chinese medicine, but she had a bad problem with the herbal medicine so we couldn’t do that anymore.

So I put all her symptoms together. There is a very weird symptom. She had two very weird symptoms that made it easier to figure out the remedy. The weirder the symptoms, the easier it is to figure out the remedy. In her case, she had a green skin at one point, which is very weird and her other symptom is she’s a husky who doesn’t like the cold weather. Those two things were really unusual. It really helped me figure out the remedy. So we gave her the remedy, and she’s been getting better and better and better. She’s not aggressive anymore. In fact, she was always really fearful when she would come in to see me. Now, she comes right up wagging her tail, looking me in the eye like, “I want a treat.” So she’s happy. She goes for long walks. She’s having a great time with the other dogs. She’s not bothered by the cold weather. The mass is not bothering her at all. You can’t see it anymore. Her skin problems are all resolved. The last thing to get better is just a little bit of stuff inside her ears and that is often the last thing to get better. It’s an ear problem, but it’s not a chronic problem. It’s pretty exciting.

Yes, that’s really cool. So, what was really fascinating to me when you were introducing yourself was, you did what I would call traditional Western veterinary medicine for almost 16 years and then was there an event? Was there something that caused you to say, “You know what, this isn’t working for me”?

It took me 13 years to pay off my student loan. So I really couldn’t take the Chinese medicine courses. I really wanted to do it before that, but I couldn’t afford to. I had always wanted to. When I was in vet school, I studied after school with three or four other vet students for a year with a local homeopathic practitioner. He had us read Dr Pitcairn’s book and Dr. Pitcairn is the one who ran the course for homeopathy that I just that I took. He’s an amazing human being, and he just came out with a new book. In fact, I did that when I was in vet school long ago, and I’ve always been interested in Chinese medicine. Again, I didn’t learn anything until I took a short, very short course like a weekend course at another conference. Then I paid off my student loans so I was able to take the full course.

The reason I wanted to do it was that I was just never happy with the answers that I got. Lots of times, there was no answer. There was not even a diagnosis that we could make. There are a lot of diseases that had no diagnosis, and if they did lots of times, the answer was euthanasia. I thought, “Well, that’s not good.” I don’t like that. I want to be able to do something. I need more tools in my toolbox to be able to help animals and I didn’t have enough. Once I did Chinese medicine, then I needed Chiropractic, so I could have more tools. Once I had that, I did have to have more tools. So I did homeopathy and I just took an applied kinesiology seminar, a really intensive three-day seminar, and learned a lot more tools. I feel like the more I know, the more I don’t know, and the more I want to learn to be able to help animals.

That’s really cool. I mean, it’s interesting to bring up some of the other things because I’m looking at your website and just under “Our Services” that mean acupuncture, laser acupuncture, electro acupuncture, spinal manipulation – maybe talk to us about some of these things because somebody – There was one who called it “Aquapuncture? I’d never even heard of that before. I wasn’t even sure what that was.”

Okay, all the things that you just described just go under acupuncture, other than the spinal manipulation, which is also called Chiropractic. We just aren’t allowed to call it that, it runs against the law. Electro acupuncture is acupuncture. We put the needles in and we hook the animal up to electro acupuncture machine. It’s like a tens unit that they would use in physical therapy or something like that, where you just hook. It’s a very, very low electrical stimulation, and there are different settings that you turn it to, depending on what the problem is. You can have one setting for release of serotonin, and another setting for release of dopamine. There are things to relieve pain and to allow more movement of the joints. There are things that are to stimulate, to strengthen. There’s a lot there. The acupuncture that the one that you were really interested in, is injection of a substance at an acupuncture point. That substance it can often be as simple as saline and B12 is something that we commonly do because it lasts a long time for a lot of G.I. problems, gastrointestinal problems. We might want to do B12 at that point, because that’s also good for gastrointestinal problems. Also it just stimulates the point for a long time. If you put in irritating substance and B12 is more of an irritating substance than saline. Yes, it will last longer. It just makes that point last longer.

I did have a rescue patient that I did that with the one from – He’s going to be a therapy dog. He really had some really weird symptoms. Poop would just fall out of his – He’s a young dog. He had some trouble walking and really couldn’t. There was no diagnosis. I think they had taken him to the vet school and they didn’t have a diagnosis. I did some B12 acupuncture there, acupuncture, and he was better and that was it. I think I saw him once or twice, and he was fine. Now he’s a therapy dog for returned veterans.

That’s really cool. I was reading through some of the FAQs and things on your website, and I guess the question that always comes to mind for me is, when do people need to see somebody like you? Is that after they’ve tried the various therapies with their traditional vet and things aren’t working out? Maybe explain the thought process that people should follow to seek somebody out with your skills.

Well, that’s a great question. If I had my choice, I would say everyone should bring their animal in as soon as possible. The reason is not because I think that I need to see him so, you know, because I need to see him. It’s because we can help them decide what to do with their patients. When we’re doing Chinese medicine, we look at everything and same with homeopathy, we look at every little thing about their animal. We spend a lot of time. Our first appointments are two hours. So we ask. Yes, we ask every little thing about the patient, and this gives us a lot of information. So they – even a puppy, they might – lots of puppies or young dogs have diarrhea. Then we ask about the diarrhea – How frequent is it? What does it smell like? What does it look like? What are the colors? Is there mucus? We ask all these things because it tells us. There’s in Chinese medicine something called damp heat, which is stinky and mucusy, maybe made with blood. In homeopathy it’s even more specific. I want to know what does the blood look like. Is it spots? Is it streaks? I want to know every little thing because it helps point me towards what that dog needs to be his very healthiest.

Another thing that we always discuss is nutrition, and that’s a huge thing. I mean, it’s going to make such a difference in the life of every animal what they’re eating, and that’s maybe the first thing. In fact, we do a lot of just nutritional consults. Some other things with a young dog that we would talk to people about is if they have not already been spayed or neutered. When would we recommend doing that? What would we recommend for vaccines? What would we recommend for de-wormers? What would we recommend for heartworm prevention? It depends on if they decide to do Chinese medicine or homeopathy, we would recommend slightly different things there. What would we say about titers but what kinds of things like that we have to say, and of course, we have them see their regular, but of course, we do. They need to have blood work done. Sometimes they need X-rays. Sometimes we do a full exam when we see them, but sometimes we need more specialized things that we don’t do sometimes. I’m like, I just saw someone recently. I’m like, “You know what, this animal has a heart murmur. You really need to go see a cardiologist or internal medicine specialist who does echocardiogram. I would really feel a lot better if you went and did that right away, even if you don’t see me again, I want you to do that.”

That’s really important so we’re all conventional vets that I work with. Of course, we do that exam also and we want to make sure there everything’s well. But we’re checking other things too that other people don’t know how to check. We check the pulses and the pulses aren’t just feeling tiny 18 pulses and they tell us each about an organ. There’s a lot of information there and we check diagnostic points, which is Chinese medicine. We check tongue. We check -and it’s not just there’s a lot more information than just do they have one. There’s a lot of information on the tongue. We check the paw pads, we check the nail beds, we check for heat, for color, for dryness. We check every little thing on the animal. We want to know every little thing the person has to tell us because it all points us to how they should eat and how should be treated in other ways.

That’s really interesting. I mean, it’s like you’re a guide. You’re helping them, given your experience with traditional medicine. The more advanced training that you’ve had, you’re helping them to choose. You’re giving them various different options based upon a more thorough and comprehensive look at what that situation is. So that’s pretty interesting. You also mentioned nutrition. The question I was going to actually ask you is that people just bring their animal to somebody like you when there’s a problem or is this something that, there are daily nutrition or just normal wellness things. Help me understand how the nutrition and just the day-to-day plays into these things.

Okay, well, like a young animal that someone just adopted, even older animal that someone adopted and they don’t know if there’s anything wrong with them. They just want him checked over. They want to know the best food for that animal. The Chinese exam, the Chiropractic exam, more of the Chinese exam and homeopathic-type exam, will give us a lot of information on what that specific animal needs. You might have heard some of the Chinese medicine terms like yin deficient or blood deficient or qi deficient. We can find that all out from doing the exam and depending on what we find, or sometimes there’s something called excess, there might be something called damp heat, could be like hot spots. If it was actual damp heat that means that the pulses would be excess. The tongue might be red. It might be wet. There would be hot spots on the body, hot areas on the body. If we were – If any of the skin might be moist, the coat might be a little bit moist. In that case, we would say, “Well, we want to have you feed these certain foods because it will really help to drain the damp, cool the dog.”

Once they’ve done that, then we might find that there’s an underlying problem under there. They might be qi efficient or yin deficient, or something like that, too and then we might be able to recommend other things. We will be able to recommend other things that would be good for that specific animal. Often we see animals that are having a lot more trouble. I would say the majority of our patients are not young, healthy, and muscled, although we do definitely see them. We see more animals with cancer, with arthritis, with gastrointestinal disease, with all kinds of unusual diseases and those that are not as unusual as diabetes and interesting complications of diabetes. Just about anything you could think of, I think we see and we have food recommendations for all of those patients.

Okay. So are there things that people hear about homeopathy, and we already talked about holistic and how that’s very different? For example, the one that I hear it seems recently, last few years is essential oils. There’s the dog oiler lady, and there’s all this talk in the animal world that I hear about for essential oils and what they’re used for and things like that. So it leaves me to say, what are the things that you, as a professional, would recommend that people can do with their animals? What things should they exercise caution with? And maybe, talk about some of those things that you would say, “Hey, look, these are things you could do with your animals at home but this is where I would draw the line without getting some professional help.”

Okay, so that’s great. Some good takeaways, my favorite is not an essential oil. I think it’s a Bach flower remedy called Rescue Remedy. I think since you’re talking to rescue professionals, I’m going to assume everybody knows about Rescue Remedy. Make sure it’s the non-alcohol kind. You can buy it not as Bach Flower brand. There are less expensive brands. I tend to get mine from Quintessence in Madison on Lakeside Street. He makes his own and he sells that. It’s a lot less expensive and it’s local so I like that he does sell it all over the world. That Rescue Remedy just helps de-stress the animals, and you might, you probably already know, but I’ll say it anyway. You can put it inside the ear flaps towards the tips. So the inner pinna, where there is no fur you could dab it on there.  You can do it up to hourly if you need to. It’s really not something that’s going to cause problems. You can put it in the food. You can put it in the water. You can put it on the mouth. If you can’t touch any of those places, you can put it on any mucus membrane and so an anus is a mucus membrane. You can put it there, too.

Those things are really nice for helping to calm in certain situations. It’s not super strong. So if it is really a stressed out animal that’s not going to work necessarily, but it’s going to help a little bit. Take a little bit of the edge off. Be really careful with essential oils. Essential oils are very strong. I always ask the animal first, if it’s okay, I even do that with the Rescue Remedy. I’ll hold it up near them if they’re like, “Get away from me” then no. I really don’t use essential oils on cats. Generally, there are some very, very gentle ones that I use that there’s a product called Mad About Organic sets for small critters and cats. I do use that. Some other things that are really good to have on hand the homeopathic remedy Arnica. So homeopathic Arnica, not the plant, not the herbal form of Arnica is really, really excellent to have on hand.

Generally, homeopathy isn’t done in a conventional manner. It’s not for the treatment of things in the way that we do it in conventional medicine, however, Arnica is sort of like that. It isn’t always the right remedy for these situations, but it often is a good place to start with trauma. So I mean an injury or a severe emotional trauma. It can be the right remedy, and often those things go together.

I had a recent patient, a small dog who was attacked by a big dog very severely. Nearly lost his life. It had some severe brain swelling, was taken into the emergency vet, and they treated him really well. Everything went well there but then he came out like a jellyfish. None of his limbs worked at all. He couldn’t hold himself up at all. He could just barely move his head. Anyway, I treated him with homeopathic Arctic. It fit his symptoms. It fit everything about him at the time. During the appointment, he was able to hold himself up after he got it. So a dog running into a wall, getting hit by a car, or a dog, or cat, any animal having some severe injury. In that case, not only was it a bodily injury, it was also emotional trauma because the dog was attacked. He did have to be treated with a different remedy after that, because that wasn’t the be all and end all for him with his other remedy. He’s actually walking quite well now.

That’s something that I would have in my medicine cabinet, always. It’s homeopathic Arnica, and you can get it at a lot of different places. Usually you’re just going to get the 30C, that’s the thing that’s mostly available, like at Whole Foods or a coop, or maybe a local pharmacy, community pharmacy. Madison carries it just as Quintessence on the Willy Street Co-op, just in Madison too but it’s available to a lot of places on Amazon. You’re usually not going to find the higher potency. When you give the lower potency like a 30C, you can give it pretty frequently if they’re not getting better. If you give it once and you don’t really see any improvement they’ve been hit by car, you can, of course, you’re heading to the vet at the same time of course. You can give it again even if it looks really bad, like they’re not going to make it and they’re not getting any better. You can give him another dose even 15 minutes later, and they start to look like they’re getting better, you don’t give it again. This is very different than conventional medicine. You don’t give it if they’re improving and you want to talk to a homeopathic vet to make sure how to proceed once you’ve given it. I usually don’t give one remedy of a same potency more than three times, and I certainly don’t give if they’re getting better unless they’re stagnating than they’re getting better.

You mentioned something I was going to ask about. What is the best way for somebody to find a homeopathic vet like yourself?

That is a great question. So I think it is the avh.org, Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy. They have lists of people in your area. There are also vets who will do it by phone. You can find a homeopath that way. That’s a really good way to find it, to find a homeopathic vet. Everyone who is in their list has gone to the Pitcairn Institute. We were very well-taught by Dr. Pitcairn and other people who went through his course in the classical style homeopathy, which means you do one remedy at a time.  When you give a whole bunch of remedies at a time, when you give a mix of remedies, you’re never going to get a cure. Lots of times they even cancel each other out. Classic homeopathy is not the same as homotoxicology. It’s not the same as like Ultram ER. Ultram ER is just a palliative. Palliative means it treats symptoms but doesn’t cure and that’s like most of conventional medicine, it treats symptoms but it doesn’t cure, and Chinese medicine, there is palliative medicine, and sometimes it’s curative, too. So it’s variable. I have had some cancer cures with that, with Chinese medicine, and some other things but I’ve had a lot of palliative situations where you can to keep them on herbal medicine and things like that too. Sometimes you just do acupuncture and they’re better, especially young animals, young, pretty healthy animals with just a gastrointestinal problem or something like that.

Okay, this is also interesting. I think you and I could talk for hours about this stuff. Is there anything else that you want to share with our listeners before we wrap up?

What I would really want you to think about – Question everything, and questioning conventional, too. Don’t just accept everything that’s said, question it. I mean, don’t be mean but question. Say, “Is there another way we could do this? Do we have other options? Can we do a titer instead of vaccinating?”  Make sure to not overdo your vaccines all at once. I see this is a big problem. I see a lot in my practice when a whole bunch of vaccines are given once to animals, especially animals that are not healthy which is exactly how we were taught not to do things in vet school. People who do that are not following what they were taught in vet school. You never give a sick animal vaccines, ever, because they’re body can’t handle it. So the body either stops responding to the illness, and then that goes downhill or they can’t even respond to the vaccine, so it’s pointless to even vaccinate them at that time. Don’t give a bunch of vaccines at once. Give one at a time if possible. Do titer testing to make sure that they actually need the vaccination. These are all the things to really be thinking about.

That’s great advice. Well, thank you so much. It was a pleasure to talk to you today.

Pleasure to talk with you too.

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