Acupuncture, along with many other holistic modalities, can enhance the benefits of Western medicine in both preventative care and the treatment of disease. Acupuncture, and traditional Chinese medicine in general, help to maintain and restore the balance of energy flow within the patient.
Colleen Coyne DVM, CVM
Integrative Veterinary Healthcare Solutions
Acupuncture is an ancient practice of health care originating in China thousands of years ago. The ancient Chinese healers discovered 361 acupoints in the human and 173 in animals. Modern research has demonstrated that these acupoints are associated with dense populations of nerve endings, tiny arterioles and lymphatics, as well as vital cells of immunity within the tissues within the skin and underlying tissues. Stimulation of the acupoints induces a release of serotonin, endorphins, and many other helpful neurotransmitters that help with the management of pain. Traditional Chinese medical practitioners defined an intricate map of energy conduits (meridians) through which Qi (life force/energy) systematically flows from the surface of the body to the internal organ systems and then back again, maintaining the delicate balance within the individual. It is maintained in Traditional Chinese Medicine that health is achieved through understanding the patterns within the inseparable physical, environmental, and emotional elements that affect an individual at any given time. This concept is generally new to the practice of conventional Western medical practice. We stand to benefit immensely in our healthcare approach when we honor the validity of this concept.
While it is a relatively new modality to the United States (introduced in the 1970’s), acupuncture has quickly gained the respect of both Medical Doctors and Doctor’s of Veterinary Medicine, and is now a much sought after therapy by human patients as well as the guardians of animal patients. Acupuncture is safe and is usually well-received by the veterinary patient. Occasionally a patient will fall asleep during their session. Even birds, reptiles, rabbits, chinchillas, and other exotic species benefit, tolerate, and usually appear to enjoy their treatments.
Most importantly, acupuncture, along with many other holistic modalities, can enhance the benefits of Western medicine in both preventative care and the treatment of disease. Acupuncture, and traditional Chinese medicine in general, help to maintain and restore the balance of energy flow (Qi) within the patient. There are many applications of acupuncture in veterinary medicine, but the most common conditions for which we see favorable therapeutic responses to this modality are listed below.
- Muscle, ligament, or tendon injuries, degenerative joint disease/arthritis, intervertebral disc disease
- Neurological disorders such as epilepsy, laryngeal paralysis, facial nerve paralysis, peripheral nerve injuries, and degenerative myelopathy
- Urinary or fecal incontinence
- Allergies (skin, respiratory, and digestive manifestations)
- Asthma, cough, sinusitis, etc.
- Gastrointestinal disorders (vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, anorexia/nausea)
- Behavioral problems (anxiety, inappropriate urination, etc.)
- Endocrine issues (Cushing’s disease, hypothyroidism, etc.)
- Prevention of disease/immunoregulation
- Ocular issues (conjunctivitis, uveitis)
- Pain management
- Geriatric care
While acupuncture is not a panacea and should not be expected to cure disease alone, it can bring an improvement in quality of life and resistance to disease. It also has the benefit of working synergistically with other treatment modalities, including those of conventional Western medicine.
Consult with any of our veterinarians or veterinary technicians if you have questions about how acupuncture might benefit your companion.