The origins of veterinary acupuncture are found in the Far East, with China, Japan and Korea each playing a part in its development.
The horse was a very valuable commodity in China as a war machine as far back as at least 2000BC. Legend has it that it was discovered that lame horses used in battle were found to become sound again after being hit by arrows at certain points. Not a great way to found a whole way of medicine, but then much of our modern conventional medicine has been developed due to discoveries made on the battlefield.
Initially the points were identified and named, but were used in isolation. It soon became apparent that certain acupuncture points were seemingly connected, and although each point has a specific effect, groups of points some as far separated as for example, below the eye on the head and on the toe of the back foot, will affect the same internal organ. These invisible lines connecting certain groups of points are called meridians or channels.
In very simplistic terms in Traditional Chinese Medicine, it is believed that stimulating these points along pathways in the body allows energy or Qi to flow freely around the body. Treatments restore balance of positive and negative energy, with disease being seen as an imbalance. Scientific interest in acupuncture in the west has proved that there are differences in structure at each point, and has explained some of the way that it is thought to work in terms of the release of different chemicals in the brain and body, many of which seem to be the bodies natural painkillers known as endorphins.
The points are traditionally stimulated using fine needles, but more recently the laser is being used. This is very useful for very fractious animals and for some of the more difficult points, such as those around the eye.
Treatments usually last about twenty minutes. The number of treatments needed depends upon the condition being treated, but often we will give four weekly sessions, then top up if and when needed. The needles are amazingly well tolerated in most animals. The first two needles are the worst, after this, many animals become almost sedated. Animals are very often quite sleepy after a treatment sometimes it is hard to convince owners that you haven’t used anaesthetic!
Acupuncture can be used for a lot more than mere pain relief. Because of the correlation between the points on the surface and the internal organs, acupuncture can be used to both diagnose and treat many different diseases, however, as with homeopathy this level of acupuncture takes years of training and practice.
If we are not your primary care veterinary practice, but you wish to have your animal treated using acupuncture, you will need a referral from your conventional vet, which includes them sending us a copy of your animal’s conventional medical history.
This should not alter your relationship with your conventional veterinary surgeon and they will remain your first line veterinary surgeons in case of accident or emergency or if your animal requires conventional medicine.