Dr. Cynthia Lankenau

by Neal Sivula



When did your interest in Veterinary Medicine begin?

I am one of those classic "I always wanted to be a vet" people.  I grew up on a 45 head dairy cow farm with a grandmother who insisted everyone had to have a profession (education was crucial in my family).  Literally as soon as I could walk, I was in charge of the calves.  I always had to be with the animals.  Our farm vet, Doc Jenkins was like a hero to me yet as I got older, I always thought that more could have been done.....

What led you to Holistic Medicine?

I had been fascinatied with acpuncture since those first Bill Moyers news clips from China when trade relations were opened during Nixon's time. But it was my animal patients that forced me to seek ways to really try to heal them and not just medicate them; A lame horse, led me to acupuncture; a horse in a trailer accident; chiropractic; homeopathy, a dog with chronic diarrhea after a vaccine; and still, on it goes on and on.

Did you have any mentors as you became involved in Holistic Medicine?

There has been no one close enough to directly mentor with but all of the instructors in all of the classes that I would consider mentors, Drs. Xie,  Pitcairn, Sharon Willoughby, Allen Schoen, Steve Marsden, Barbara Fougere.  I have always used the AHVMA and IVAS meetings as my mental anchor.  They would help me plan what I needed to learn next.

What modalities do you practice, and where did you get your training?

Acupuncture from IVAS in 1991.

Animal chiropractic in 1994 from ACVA, when Sharon Willouhby was still in charge.

 Homeopathy from Dr. Pitcairn's basic and advanded course in mid 90's; also a course with Jeremy Scherr.

Chinese Herbal Medicine-both IVAS classes, the original one with Jake Frakin in 1995-1996 and the new internet one 2009-2011.  The Chi Institute's herbal courses in 2003-4.

Tui Na from the Chi Institute also.  

Western Herbal Medicine- Rosemary Gladstar basic and advanced classes and Michael Tierra's course (hope to start Barbara Fougere's CIVT course soon).

Reiki; Dawn LaBarbara

Homotoxicology-short weekend classes with PJ and Rick.

Shamanistic techniques-Sandra Ingerman from the International Shamanistic Foundation.


What is the structure of your practice (eg. Solo, group, Integrative, solely Holistic)?

I have a solo practice which is solely Holistic.  My practice is 50% horses, 10% organic food animals, 40% small animal with the occasional bird, pig, camel, llama and ostrich.


How many support staff do you have?

I have one woman who helps during small animal office hours and helps with inventory and ordering.

What is your physical practice environment? 

I have a remodled mud room that I have turned into a very homey waiting area and a very homey exam room in my home.  We have a very small lab area for basic work.  My gargage serves as storage area for all of my herbs. I live in a wonderful environment; rolling hills off of Lake Erie with great farm and horse owners.

What is a normal workday like for you?

Every day is different; Monday and Wednesday are spent in my Small Animal office.  I start at 8 AM ish and end 5-7 PM.  Thursday and Friday are Large Animal days-they tend to be long start at 5-6 AM to 7-8 PM. Tuesday is my swing day, and my day to drive my daughter to gymnastics. There is usually half small animal with enough time for any Large animal urgent calls.  Weekends-just truly urgent cases, unless a client who truly only has weekends available. 

What are your favorite tools (eg. Supplies, products, computers, etc)?

My hands and my acupuncture needles, herbs and homeopathic remedies.


What provides you with inspiration in your practice life?

My daughter, to impress upon me the importance of creating the best environment for future generations.  My animal clients, watching how they love alternative modalities and truly heal.   All of the work and wonders done by others who practice holistically;

Nature, plants, trees and all the many wonders she has.

What are your favorite conferences? 

AHVMA's annual meeting is by far my favorite, seeing all of the modalities together in harmony. IVAS right after that with the international connections and the International Herbal Symposium.  But there are so many great conferences today, all of the associations have wonderful conferences; AVH, ACVA, AAVA.

Are there any other things you do to be inspired professionally?

I love reading old medical texts.  I am fascinated at how brilliant the early homeopaths, herbalists and Chinese Medical practitioners were. So I read a lot.

I also love hearing other different approaches, so I go to many meetings. Right now Jeremy Ross and his TCM approach using western herbs is incredible.

Do you have any other professional activities?

Currently I am president of the Veterinary Botanical Medical Association, on the Council of Elders in the AHVMA, and trying to organize a Complementary and Alternative Veterinary Medical Association in NYS.

I am also a tutor for the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids.


How do you maintain balance between your professional activities and home life?

Although I always prioritize my daughter's activities, my work and home lives are very intertwined.  My husband, daughter and I try to "walk the talk"; we eat locally raised food as much as possible, leave a minimal carbon trail, live as organically as possible, try to grow many of my herbs, and be involved in community affairs.  Having my small animal office in our house, my clients all seem to become family friends.   My clients love when my daughter is helping in the office,  So work has enriched my family, and my family enriches my work.

Also, most of our family vacations revolve around the international IVAS meetings.

What do you like to do away from the office?

I spend a lot of time driving my daughter to gymnastic practice and meets.  As a family, we all go to Karate.  On my own, I have two trail horses who really keep me sane.   I scuba dive.  That is my real source of relaxation.  I can sneak in a quick drift dive weekly in the Niagara River ( In winter, it is a little tough though).

The Future

What is the future of holistic veterinary medicine?

Hmm...There is such a incredible need of which so many people recognize.  I am very encouraged by the acceptance in some corners of the conventional world, enough to truly hope and believe that every veterinary college in the future will offer training in all alternative modalities, minimize drug use, and truly practice wellness maintenance medicine.  But I see two problems both created from greed.  I am nervous that when the conventional world realizes the loss of income from animals being truly healthy, they might wage an aggressive smear campaign.  Secondly, I am embarrassed by the prices that some practitioners are charging when they are minimally trained in barely one modality.  It damages our credibility and destroys people's confidence in alternative medicine.

Do you have any advice to those just starting out?

Follow Your Heart

Are there any new developments in Medicine that excite you?

Actually, it is the newly found old developments that excite me; reading Paracelsus, Hildegard von Bingen, Culpeper, Scudder, Felter, Ellingwood, Cook, Shang Han Lun, and on and on.