Acupuncture has been shown to be an effective treatment for all kinds of human conditions – in fact, the World Health Organization lists almost thirty disorders that have been proven to respond to acupuncture.
But acupuncture for animals? Can an animal's body respond to needle insertion the way human bodies can?
iv>What Is Acupuncture?
China, from which acupuncture originates, is an ancient culture. Its history is measured in millennia rather than centuries! For at least 3000 years (maybe even longer), the Chinese have used acupuncture techniques on humans and animals. The technique involves the insertion of very thin needles into the skin. The needles are not inserted at random; they are inserted in key areas (called meridians or acupoints) of the body.
How Does It Work?
Traditional Chinese medicine attributes all life forms with life energy, or chi (also called qi). Animals are also said to have this life energy. Chi is purported to flow through the body at all times, and when it is flowing properly the body is in balance. When there are problems such as illness or injury, the chi flow is disrupted. Acupuncture is said to restore this flow.
The needle's placement on the body's meridians is key – chi is said to flow through these meridians like water through an open dam. Disorders and injuries act like a closure to the dam. When the thin needles of acupuncture are inserted into the energy channels of the body, the needle acts as an opener of the dam, so to speak, allowing the energy to flow through the channel.
Western veterinarians who use acupuncture take a slightly different view. Instead of chi and energy flow, western vets consider the needle insertion points as areas of nerve and muscle stimulation. They call these areas not meridians or channels, but acupoints or trigger points.
What Animals and Conditions Can Be Treated by Acupuncture?
* Horses – For horses and other large animals, acupuncture is usually employed for problems of function, such as soreness in the skeletal muscles, problems with the nervous and reproductive systems, as well as skin, respiratory, and gastrointestinal problems.
* Dogs and Cats – Small animals respond to acupuncture as well. Conditions such as muscle pain, arthritis, and spinal problems can be treated with acupuncture. Feline asthma can respond to acupuncture, as does lick granuloma in dogs (a "hot spot" on a dog's leg from excessive licking). Digestive disorders such as diarrhea can also respond to acupuncture.