Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) has four main components: acupuncture, herbal medicine, food therapy, and Tui-na (medical manipulation). Acupuncture usually involves the insertion of thin sterile needles into discrete and specific points on the body in order to cause a therapeutic effect, but may include other methods such as electrical stimulation and aquapuncture (the injection of liquids, often Vitamin B12, into acupuncture points). At JPESC the veterinary acupuncture we apply is dry acupuncture (needles only), electroacupuncture (EAP), and aquapuncture to help our patients with a variety of conditions. Herbal medicine is also frequently implemented simultaneously as it helps to enhance the effectiveness of acupuncture.
Veterinary Acupuncture Q & A
What is the history of acupuncture?
- Acupuncture has been practiced in both animals and humans for thousands of years. The earliest veterinary acupuncture book, “Bo Le Zhen Jing” (Bole’s Canon of Veterinary Acupuncture), is believed to have been written by Dr. Bo Le between 659 B.C.E. to 621 B.C.E. Veterinary treatment protocols using acupuncture are well-documented in this text. The ancient Chinese discovered 361 acupoints in humans and 173 acupoints in animals. Since then, acupuncture has been a part of the mainstream veterinary medical system in China and more recently the Western Hemisphere.
How does acupuncture work?
- Modern research shows that acupoints are located in the areas where there is a high density of free nerve endings, mast cells, small arterioles, and lymphatic vessels. Most acupoints are motor points. A great number of studies indicate that the stimulation of acupoints induces the release of beta-endorpphins, serotonin, and other neurotransmitters.
What is Qi?
- Qi (pronounced “chee”) is life force or vital energy. There are two contrasting forms of Qi: Yin and Yang. Physiologically, Qi flows throughout the body in a continuous path, just like the blood flowing through your blood vessels. When the flow of Qi is interrupted, the balance of Yin and Yang will be disrupted, and consequently a disease may occur. For example, pain is interpreted as the blockage of Qi flow. Acupuncture stimulation helps resolve this blockage, freeing the flow of Qi and enabling the body to heal itself.
What is a Channel or Meridian?
- A Channel or Meridian is where Qi flows inside the body. The most commonly used acupuncture points are located along these Channels.
Is acupuncture safe?
- Yes, acupuncture is a very safe procedure when administered by a qualified practitioner. Very few negative effects have been found in clinical cases.
How long does each treatment take?
- Each session may take 20-45 minutes; the first session generally takes longer than follow-up appointments as the clinican will ask a series of thorough questions and perform an in-depth examination of your pet.
How soon can we expect results?
- Some results can be seen immediately but others will require several treatments. Generally a minimum of 4-6 treatments 1-2 weeks apart for more chronic conditions are needed before one can expect noticeable improvement.
How many treatments are needed?
- As in all medicine, this depends on the situation and treatments can be done daily, weekly, monthly, or even further apart depending on the severity and chronicity of the condition.
Does acupuncture hurt?
- Rarely! Acupuncture is not painful because the needles used are very fine, almost as thin as a hair. The majority of patients are comfortable with acupuncture therapy, and many even fall asleep due to the relaxation effect. In general, sedation is not needed prior to an acupuncture treatment.
Who is qualified to perform veterinary acupuncture?
- Only licensed veterinarians are qualified to practice veterinary acupuncture in most states in the USA. Dr. Yang completed her veterinary acupuncture training at the Chi Institute in Reddick, FL and is a certified veterinary acupuncturist (CVA).
What physiological effects are induced by acupuncture?
- Studies have shown that acupuncture stimulation induces the following physiological effects:
- Pain relief
- Promotion of tissue healing processes
- Regulation of gastrointestinal motility
- Anti-inflammatory effects
- Hormone and reproductive regulation
- Antifebrile effects
When is acupuncture recommended?
- Clinical trials indicate that acupuncture therapy can be effective in the following ocnditions:
- Musculoskeletal problems: muscle soreness, back pain, osteoarthritis/degenerative joint disease
- Neurological disorders: seizures, intervertebral disc disease (IVDD), laryngeal hemiplegia, and nerve paralysis
- Gastrointestinal disorders: diarrhea, gastric ulcers, vomiting, constipation
- Other chronic conditions: asthma, cough, uveitis, chronic kidney disease (CKD), chronic liver diseases, behavioral problems, Cushing’s disease, hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, geriatric weakness, and skin problems
- Quality of life, maintenance and enhancement, and hospice care
- Performance enhancement and prevention of disease