Archer, Rick

An area veterinarian wants to spread the word that “alternative” medicine is not just for humans.

Dr. Martin Goldstein, who runs the Smith Ridge Veterinary Center in South Salem, has gained national allention for his practice of holistic medicine in the treatment of cancer in dogs.

A native of Long Island, Goldstein said he decided to become a vet after his brother went to medical school. “It seemed like the thing to do,” because of his love for animals.

After he graduated from Cornell University Goldstein discovered the concept of holistic medicine. He has been practicing it ever since and was certified by the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society in 1977.

The holistic veterinary medical approach maintains that the best way to cure a sick animal is to let it cure itself. It combines conventional veterinary medicine with such methods like acupuncture, chiropractic adjustment and homeopathic medicine.

Holistic medicine doesn’t try to replace conventional therapies, but supplement them, he said.

In the early years of his practice, holistic medicine was not very popular, nor was it understood. “I was threatened with having my license pulled,” he said.

Today, alternative medicine is gaining acceptance with a wider number of veterinarians. Goldstein is one of the founding members of one group – the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association. “There’s been an enormous shift,” he said. “It’s been accepted.”

Five years ago, in an effort to further spread his ideas, he wrote a book for pet owners, “The Nature of Animal Healing The Definitive Holistic Medicine Guide for Your Dog and Cat.” “It was something in me,” he said.

The book gives advice on diet and medical care and outlines the holistic medical philosophy including the idea that there is a spiritual aspect to veterinary care. “We are all spiritual beings, those of us with two legs and those of us with four,” he said.

The book picked up an endorsement by actor John Travolta, and both the book and Goldstein’s practice began gaining attention across the country.

Now, he works with four other veterinarians at his Smith Ridge practice, which attracts up to 1,000 patients a year from around the country. “We have at least 12 to 15 states in our waiting room every week,” he said.

The lengths to which people will go to bring their pets to South Salem for treatment, often for cancers that have not responded to conventional treatment, is a testimony to the strong, spiritual bond between people and their pets, he said.

Goldstein also now writes a reader advice column for Animal Wellness Magazine, a magazine for pet owners devoted to holistic ideas.

While holistic vets have their own associations and publications, Goldstein said he hopes to give these ideas even more acceptance in the mainstream, perhaps with an educational institution devoted to teaching holistic ideas.

Copyright Westfair Communications May 03, 2004

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