Many people see acupuncture as an ancient, Eastern technique and in some ways this is true. The practice of inserting narrow needles into particular points of the body to treat disease has been going on for hundreds, even thousands of years. However, this practice is still evolving and subject to modern medical research. It would be better to see acupuncture as a modern interpretation of ancient practices. Traditional Chinese Medicine has much to offer us. The method of examination takes account of the animal as a whole, delving deeper into the patient’s history, general health and demeanour than you might expect.This enables an holistic treatment, unique to your pet.
An acupuncture treatment involves a thorough history being taken, an examination of the body and a precise palpation of the muscles. Fine, sterile needles will then be inserted into particular points indicated by the preceding examination. These needles will remain in place for between ten and thirty minutes usually. Many animals will experience a deep relaxation during this time, some will actually fall asleep.
Explained using the concepts of Traditional Chinese Medicine, acupuncture works by restoring the body’s equilibrium; balancing Yin and Yang and promoting the flow of Qi (very loosely translated ‘life energy’) and blood. These terms may appear mystical, but remember to treat them metaphorically. Understand them as a conceptual description of how the body, that infinitely complex organism, functions and lives minute to minute.
As for Western medicine and science, the effects of acupuncture are being further understood as more research is carried out. It has been shown to cause the release of endogenous opioids (our natural pain killers), as well as normalising the autonomic nervous system. It has been shown to influence the immune and hormonal systems and to have local healing effects. Huge progress has been made in recent decades and acupuncture is being recommended by more and more doctors and veterinary surgeons for a wider range of complaints.