Dr. Pitcairn

How I Became Interested in Alternative Medicine

by Dr. Pitcairn

I graduated from veterinary school in 1965, from the University of California at Davis, California. My idea was to be a practitioner and that is what I did for the first few years. Starting in a mixed practice (small animals, farm animals, horses, circus animals) I saw a wide variety of health problems and also learned much more about the conditions of veterinary practice. I did not see the results that I expected to have using the treatments learned in veterinary school and this, to me, was a disappointment.

My assumption was that I was not that skilled, that I needed more education. This led me to Washington State University and eventually into a graduate school program. There I worked on a Ph.D. degree emphasizing the study of viruses, immunology and biochemistry. During that time I worked intensively with cell cultures and inbred mice, trying to understand how the different tissues in the body were able to recognize each other. I also helped teach the classes in virology, running the laboratory section with another graduate student. This training finished in 1972 and I graduated with a degree in Veterinary Microbiology. Staying on for a while at the university, I did research in muscles diseases and taught public health in the veterinary school.

After a few years I left the academic world and returned to practice. During my training I had learned a great deal about how the body worked, especially the immune system, but did not know any better how to cure disease. This led me to study nutrition having realized its importance in maintaining a healthy body. Finding out about the pet food industry and what sources were used to make the food led me to recommend fresh foods for animals, prepared at home. This was very satisfying and many animals were greatly helped by making this change.

However, there are animals that are not helped by nutrition. These are the ones that are too ill to eat or have injuries or illness that is so severe that there is not time for nutrition to have an effect. I continued to look for some other means of restoring health in a true sense, not just covering symptoms with drugs or removing diseased tissues with surgery. Looking into many approaches I settled on homeopathy as the most practical and effective that I could find. For example, much is known about using herbs in healing but most animals simply will not take these herbs in sufficient quantity or for long enough to make this approach practical. If we compare this to giving one or a few doses of pleasantly tasting pellets as done in homeopathy we can see the practical advantage of this method. I also find that homeopathy is much more specific in how the medicines can be used with extraordinary detail on how even herbs can be used as medicines.

I found homeopathy to be intellectually complete and satisfying. As a 200 year old system of medicine it has been very well developed and an incredible amount of experience and information have given us the tools we need to work with almost any kind of health problem. The difficulty for me was to learn how to use the books, the repertories and materia medicas that were developed for human beings, to help animals. This has taken some years as you might expect, actually some 20 plus years, but has been very successful.

I have been fortunate that I have been able to teach other veterinarians how to do this work. Since 1992 there has been a yearly course, the Professional Course in Veterinary Homeopathy, and to date we have over 300 animal doctors trained in using this method.

This brief introduction may satisfy your curiosity about how I came to this work. If you want more detail on my professional career, look at my detailed biography.