Homeopathy is one holistic healing system. Homeopathy is not vitamin therapy or herbs. Samuel Hahnemann, M.D., Began the science of homeopathy almost 200 years ago. He realized that drugs and surgery were unable to bring about true healing for anything but traumatic injuries. He saw that drugs removed symptoms temporarily. When the drugs were discontinued, the symptoms usually returned, often stronger than before. Through careful and extensive experimentation, Dr. Hahnemann documented the principle of homeopathy, the law of similars, or "like cures like".
Before going further, I must lay a little ground work. Everything in the universe is composed of matter (physical stuff) and energy. That's what Einstein's theory of relativity says. In reality, everything is composed almost entirely of energy (over 99 percent). Everything includes living creatures. Homeopaths call the energy in our bodies the "vital force." It is responsible for health and healing. When this vital force is disturbed, it causes symptoms. Skin rashes, diarrhea, diabetes, cancer, etc. are the results of a disturbed vital force. Drugs and surgery address only the symptoms. Yet there is no awareness in "conventional medicine" that the vital force even exists. No wonder there is no attempt to heal it.
Since this underlying disturbance is not treated, health problems usually become chronic. They may return over and over with the same symptoms, such as repeated skin eruptions, or they may change form. After years of cortisone therapy for itchy skin, many pets get other "diseases" such as cancer or diabetes. The disturbance in the vital force not only progresses without any attempt to help it, but the body is continually poisoned by a very damaging drug. As a result, more serious problems arise.
Hahnemann realized that to heal the vital force, he must use energy remedies. Once the disturbance in the vital force is corrected, the body heals itself. To prepare energy remedies, substances must be subjected to a series of dilutions and hard shaking. They may be diluted to such a great extent that none of the original substance remains. Yet diluting substances in the appropriate manner magnifies their energetic properties and imprints them in the remedial solution.
How does this relate to the law of similars? Dr. Hahnemann found that the body cannot have two similar disturbances within it at the same time. Therefore, if a physician could introduce into the body a disturbance similar to but stronger than the one already there, the new disturbance would overwhelm the original one. The new one would stimulate the vital force more strongly, and cause it to rid the body of both disturbances.
Simply put, this means that to remove a disease from the body in its entirety, the physician must administer a remedy that is harmless but capable of producing identical symptoms.
Homeopathic remedies are made from herbs, animal products and minerals. Each one has been extensively investigated as to the symptoms it can produce and therefore treat. There are more than 2,000 remedies. To find the correct one, the practitioner examines a patient's physical symptoms, mental symptoms, food and environmental preferences and what aggravates and improves his or her condition. This is a time consuming task. In animals, it is even more difficult since they are not able to give the subjective information which is important to selecting a remedy. Veterinary homeopathy, however, is thriving, and its results can be amazing. When the correct remedy is given, acute conditions begin to dissipate within minutes.
Chronic conditions can take longer to improve. However, as the symptoms leave the body, it is an indication of true healing, not temporary masking. I use homeopathy in my practice on a regular basis. Believe me, it works! Anyone who tells you otherwise has not studied the history, research and data available. If your pet has been on a natural diet for 2 - 3 months and still has chronic health problems, it is time for homeopathy. If we are to improve the health of ourselves and our companions, we must use homeopathy.
NB: The short answer to the title question is "NO"! Holism is a way of looking at the body. Not a treament method. Having a "holistic" vet can mean anything. Your doctor can treat with drugs like steroids, antibiotics, etc. and still be a holistic vet and member of the AHVMA (American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association). As Dr. Swift's wonderful article points out however, homeopathic vet medicine treats sickness as an imbalance ("mistunement") utilizing a holistic framework of interconnectivity of the body. All well-trained homeopathic vets are holistic. Holistic vets are rarely trained homeopaths.--Dr. Jeff