July 19, 2017

Veterinary Botanical Medicine Specialty Seeks Recognition

Advocates have petitioned the American Board of Veterinary Specialties for recognition of a new veterinary specialty—botanical medicine.
By Kerry Lengyel
A new veterinary specialty group may soon be joining the ranks if recognized by the American Board of Veterinary Specialties (ABVS).

A 352-page petition from the American College of Veterinary Botanical Medicine (ACVBM) seeking provisional recognition to become the 23rd recognized veterinary specialty group is currently under review by the ABVS.

The ACVBM was established in 2014 to help veterinarians become more knowledgeable about the use of medicinal plants for treating a variety of medical conditions and relieving pain. The group is striving to create a veterinary botanical medicine specialty to promote its ideals and values.

The process to become a recognized specialty is lengthy. First, the organization must submit a petition to the ABVS. Then, the organization must fulfill several requirements to achieve provisional status. Once the requirements are met, the ABVS forwards the petition with its recommendation to the AVMA Executive Board, which has the final say.

After holding provisional status for 4 to 10 years, the organization can then petition for full recognition as a veterinary specialty.

No herbalism specialty is recognized in human or veterinary medicine in the United States, Australia, or Europe—making this potential recognition unprecedented. The ABVS will not make a recommendation, though, unless the petitioning organization demonstrates that it will “serve a defined need within the profession.”

According to the ACVBM, the need for this group to become a recognized specialty reflects the following:
  • Growing public demand for botanical treatment options
  • Increasing use of botanicals by pet food companies
  • Increasing availability of botanicals for animal use
  • Significant research and use by the production animal industries (aquaculture, dairy, swine, and poultry)
  • Increasing use and teaching of students by veterinary college faculties

The petition states: “No other specialty possesses the unique set of skills and knowledge required by herbal medicine practice. If herbal medicine became a subspecialty of pharmacology or any other registered veterinary specialty, too much additional knowledge and experience would be required of diplomate. An even larger concern is the dilutional effect that training in the other registered veterinary specialty plus herbal medicine would have on the practice of herbal medicine.”

Any member of the veterinary profession or public is invited to review the ACVBM petition and make comments to the ABVS about whether the college should become a specialty. The period for comments will close on September 1. Comments will be considered by the ABVS and forwarded to the Veterinary Botanical Medicine Specialty Organizing Committee at the ACVBM for response.

The AVMA Committee on the Development of New Specialties will then prepare its own recommendation, as well as a motion on the status and future development of each petitioning organization by February 1, 2018.

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