Acupuncture is the stimulation of specific anatomical points on the body’s surface. Points are located on lines of energy. These lines of energy are able to carry Qi (pronounced “chee”) our Life Energy, to deeper areas of the body. Acupuncture has been used for both humans and pets for thousands of years in China. Modern research shows that acupuncture points (acupoints) are located at areas of the body where there is a high density of free nerve endings, mast cells, small vessels and lymphatic ducts. Many acupoints affect the musculoskeletal and nervous system. Others affect internal organs and the immune system. A number of modern studies indicate that stimulation of acupoints results in the release of beta-endorphins (anti-pain, feeling of well-being, relaxation, slow growth of cancer cells), serotonin (cardiovascular health, GI regulation) and other neurotransmitters. Numerous studies show that acupuncture induces pain relief, anti-inflammation, GI tract regulation and immune system regulation.
Ancient Chinese discovered that the health of the body depends on the state of Qi. There are two opposite forms of Qi: Yin and Yang. Qi flows constantly throughout the body. Balanced Qi results in health. Blockage of Qi flow results in pain. Imbalance of Qi results in disease. Thus, acupuncture often focuses on resolving Qi blockage to relieve pain and balancing of Qi to relieve disease.
Is Acupuncture Safe?
Your veterinary acupuncturist is required by law to be a veterinarian. Your veterinarian should have formal training in the practice of acupuncture. Acupuncture is a safe medical procedure when practiced by a trained practitioner. Few, usually temporary, side effects may occur. Side effects include lethargy for 12-24 hours after treatment. This is an indication that physiological changes are occurring.
Acupuncture can be used with any other therapy, medication or supplement your family veterinarian recommends.
Acupuncture in conjunction with Chinese herbal therapy is more beneficial than acupuncture alone.
Is Acupuncture Painful?
Needles are very small. They are a fraction of the size used for vaccinations. Most pets accept placement of needles. A small pinch may be felt as some needles enter the skin. Once the needles are in place there should be no pain. Most pets become relaxed and some even sleepy. Humans report a feeling of heaviness, deep calm, warmth and mild tingling during treatment.
How Many Treatments are Needed?
The frequency of acupuncture treatments depends on the condition of your pet. Acute conditions may be cured with a few treatments and chronic diseases may require continued therapy. Frequency is tailored to your pet’s needs.
When continued therapy is necessary, treatments are usually started once weekly for three to five treatments and then are tapered to the minimum frequency that obtains desired results. Concurrent use of Chinese herbs often allows decreased frequency of long-term acupuncture treatments. Most conditions require four to six treatments to determine if acupuncture will be of benefit for your pet.
Electroacupuncture (EA) is the application of a mild electrical current to increase the action of certain needles and guide the flow of energy. A machine made exclusively for pets is used. Your pet does not feel pain and it does not cause muscle movement. Pets relax greatly when the machine is turned on. Dr. Dixon will include this in your pet’s acupuncture treatment if indicated.
Chinese Herbal Therapy
Chinese herbal therapy is the use of medicinal plants to treat illness. Chinese people started to record 4,000 years ago their discovery that certain plants had specific properties for helping certain illnesses. These herbs have the same effects on the body as described above for acupuncture. Usually, they are used in conjunction with acupuncture to obtain better results than either used alone. They are given by you and thus provide daily treatment to help your pet. These herbs are medicine and are prescribed according to your pet’s medical diagnosis. Most pets have no side effects to herbs. The most common side effects of herbal therapy are gastrointestinal issues within the first couple of weeks of use. Dose can be adjusted as needed.