Acupuncture FAQ

What is Acupuncture?

Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) has four main components: acupuncture, herbal medicine, food therapy and Tui-na (medical manipulation). Acupuncture usually involves the insertion of thin sterile needles into discrete and specific points on the body in order to cause a therapeutic effect, but many include other methods, such as electrical stimulation and moxibustion. The point on the body is called “Shu-zu” or acupuncture point (acupoint). The ancient Chinese discovered 361 acupoints in humans and 173 acupoints in animals.

What is the history of acupuncture?

Acupuncture has been practiced in both animals and humans for thousands of years in China. The earliest veterinary acupuncture book, “Bo Le Zhen Jing” (Bole’s Canon of Veterinary Acupuncture), is believed to have been written by Dr. Bo Le in the Quin-mu-gong period (659 BCE to 621 BCE). Veterinary treatment protocols using acupuncture are well-documented in this textbook. Since then, acupuncture has been a part of the mainstream veterinary medical system in China.

Is there any scientific evidence on how acupuncture works?

Modern research shows that acupoints are located in the areas where there is a high density of free nerve endings, mast cells, small arterioles, and lymphatic vessels. Most acupoints are motor points. A great number of studies indicate that he stimulation of acupoints induces the release of beta-endorphins, serotonin, and other neurotransmitters. The US National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine has a total of 22, 148 articles regarding acupuncture and 349 animal specific articles as of March 2015.

What is Qi?

Qi (pronounced “chee”) is life force or vital energy. There are two contrasting forms of Qi: Yin and Yang. Yin energy tends to be cool, dark, still and moving downward, while Yang energy is warm, light, mobile, expanding, and moving upwards. Physiologically, Qi flows throughout the body all the time, maintaining a balance of Yin and Yang. When the flow of Qi is interrupted by any pathological factor (such as a viral or bacterial infection), the balance of Yin and Yang will be disrupted and consequently, a disease may occur. Pain is interpreted as the blockage of Qi flow. Acupuncture stimulation resolves this blockage, freeing the flow of Qi and enabling the body to heal itself. Homeostasis is restored when Yin and Yang Qi are in balance.

What is a Channel or Meridian?

A Channel or Meridian is where Qi flows inside the body. There are 12 Regular Channels and 8 Extraordinary Channels. The most commonly used acupuncture points are located along these Channels. Each Regular Channel is related to specific paired organs. The network of Channels is called the Jing-Luo system.

Is acupuncture safe?

Yes! Acupuncture is a very safe medical procedure when administered by a qualified practitioner. Very few negative effects have been found in clinical cases.

How long does each treatment take?

Each session may take 20 to 45 minutes; the first session usually takes longer than follow-up appointments.

How soon can we expect results?

Some results can be seen immediately, but others will require several treatments. Generally, a minimum of 3 to 5 treatments 1-2 weeks apart for chronic conditions are needed before one can expect notable improvement.

How many treatments are needed?

As in all medicine, this depends on the situation and treatments can be done daily, weekly, monthly or even further apart depending on the severity and chronicity of the condition.

Does acupuncture hurt?

Rarely! Acupuncture is not painful because acupuncture points are stimulated using very fine needles, almost as thin as a hair. Over 95% of patients are comfortable with acupuncture therapy. Due to the relaxation effect, some animals will fall asleep during acupuncture treatments. In general, sedation is not needed before an acupuncture treatment.

Who is qualified to perform veterinary acupuncture?

Only licensed veterinarians are qualified to practice veterinary acupuncture in most states in the USA. A veterinarian that is certified in acupuncture is highly recommended. A certified veterinary acupuncturist (CVA) can be found at the Chi Institute of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine.

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