- as a complement to your animal’s routine preventative care
- to bolster the effects of medical management of acute or chronic disease
- as a standalone treatment
What is Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine?
Chinese Medicine views the body as just one part of the complex universe in which we live. The forces in the world as well as within the body change and affect the body’s internal mechanisms. Life-force energy or “Qi” in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCVM), can be understood as the complex electrochemical makeup of the body. The nuances of the nervous and endocrine systems play a huge role in regulating a normal healthy state. TCVM also employs an understanding of Yin-Yang theory, in which each part of animal physiology has a balancing and opposing counterpart. An imbalance in the body disrupts the flow of Qi, thus, creating pathology.
TCVM relies heavily on identifying the patterns of disease imbalance. Unlike Western Medicine, TCVM moves beyond the textbook disease signs, and takes into account how those signs are manifested in each patient as an individual. This means the veterinarian will also take into account personality, sex, age, temperament, and activity level of the patient. Have you ever heard the phrase, “That horse didn’t read the book?” It refers to an animal that presents with clinical signs that are not “classic” for a given disease based on the common clinical signs, consequently, confounding the doctor. When you take into account the more detailed pattern diagnosis used in TCVM, the horse that confused us by “not reading the book” becomes easy to diagnose and treat. By using an integrated approach with both Western and Eastern medical diagnostics, we are able to make a more specific diagnosis and offer a treatment plan tailored to that patient’s exact needs.
What is integrative medicine?
Integrative medicine combine the best of both Western and Eastern veterinary modalities. By utilizing the strengths of both methods, we can achieve the best patient-specific, holistic diagnostic and treatment plan for each individual. While Western Medicine can treat pathogenic organisms like bacteria and viruses and literally saves lives in acute and traumatic situations, TCVM is better suited for filling in the gaps where Western Medicine fails to thoroughly address chronic issues such as various organ failures, chronic pain, and anxiety. Both systems have a time and place, but an integrated approach taps into the benefits both have to offer, compensating for each other’s weaknesses and complimenting their strengths.
How long has acupuncture been around?
Acupuncture is just one of many facets of TCVM, which includes acupuncture, Tui-Na (medical massage/chiropractics), food therapy, and herbology.
Veterinary acupuncture has been used to treat animals for thousands of years. The earliest written record of veterinary acupuncture is found in Si Mu An Ji Ji, or Simu’s Collection of Equine Medicine, which was written during the Tang Dynasty (629-907 A.D.). This ancient text contains detailed information on the practice of equine acupuncture.
How does acupuncture work?
Acupuncture stimulates specific points by inserting specialized sterile needles into the body. The points are found along 14 Meridian Channels, along which Qi (life-force/neurochemical energy) flows throughout the body. Most points on animals are transposed from human points, though some “classical points” are distinct to various species.
Acupoints are located at sites of dense neurovascular (nerve and blood vessel) bundles. There are many branching nerves, blood vessels, lymphatic vessels, and mast cells located at these points. By stimulating these components, there is a series of synergistic interactions between the nervous, endocrine, and immune systems.
What does Acupuncture do?
- Relieves pain associated with arthritis, lameness, and musculoskeletal soreness by stopping the transmission of pain signals on Aδ and C nerve fibers before they get to the brain. It also releases β-endorphins, naturally occurring opioids, and serotonin.
- Stimulates the nervous system, thereby promoting normal innervation of muscles and limbs that are affected by injury, disease, paralysis, or neuropathies.
- Regulates the immune system by increasing the level of white blood cells available for defense in the face of immune challenge.
What types of acupuncture are used?
- Dry needle: a sterile, single-use, stainless steel or copper needle is inserted into acupoints
- Aquapuncture: sterile saline, Vitamin B-12, or the animal’s own blood are injected into the acupoint for a longer, stronger duration of effect
- Moxibustion: a form of heat therapy used at specific acupoints, in which dried plant material is burned near the skin to enhance the flow of Qi at that point and on the meridian
- Electroacupuncture: electrical stim is applied to the acupuncture needle while it is inserted. Various frequencies and intensities of electrical stimulation bolster the effects of the acupuncture
- Acupressure: acupoints are stimulated with digital pressure (pressing with the fingers); this is useful with fractious animals and easy for owners to learn to do between treatments by the veterinarian
Laser: cold laser directed at acupoints can stimulate the flow of Qi; this is especially useful with fractious or very sensitive animals (Coming soon!)