Acupuncture is an ancient art of medical practice most closely associated with ancient China where it remains part of Traditional Chinese Medicine. The first written record of Acupuncture is found in the 4,700 year old book Huang Di Nei Jing, on the oldest textbooks in the world. Interest in acupuncture in the USA exploded in the 1970’s following president Nixon’s historic trip to China, where demonstrations of surgical analgesia using Acupuncture were made.
Acupuncture is defined as the insertion of needles into specific points in the body causing the restoration of balance in the body and a healing effect. In TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), acupuncture includes using fine needles (dry needles), hemoacupuncture (blood letting), moxibustion (burning of an herb, Artemisa vulgaris, over the acupuncture point ), pneumoacupuncture (insertion of air under the skin), and acupressure. Also electrical acupuncture, laser acupuncture and gold bead implants have been used in the new era of veterinary acupuncture.
Successful treatment with acupuncture depends on three important factors: the acupuncture point selected, the method of stimulation, and the response observed. Stimulation of acupuncture points results in the release of mast cells, activation of inflammatory cascade, increased blood and lymphatic flow, and the conduction of nerve impulses to the central nervous system. The initial sensation is called “de Qi” meaning the arrival of Qi or energy. A person’s health is influenced by the flow of Qi (energy) in the body and the universal forces of Yin and Yang. If the flow of Qi is insufficient, unbalanced or interrupted, then Yin or Yang becomes unbalanced and illness develops.
Yin and Yang is an important theory in the discussion of acupuncture treatment, in relation to the Chinese theory of body systems. Qi is comprised of two parts, Yin, which has female attributes, passive, dark, cold, moist in nature and Yang, which has the male attributes, light, more active, warm and dry characteristics. Nothing is completely Yin or Yang. Within Yin there is Yang and vise versa. When there is balance between Yin and Yang the body will be strong and healthy.
Stimulation of various acupuncture points results in changes in the central nervous system activity. They may be mild when using dry needles but become more pronounced when using electro acupuncture. The biochemistry of acupuncture is the same as that from transcutaneus nerve stimulation (TNS) methods and involves the complex interaction of endogenous opioid compounds like dynorphins and endorphins as well as enkephalins with substance P, acetylcholine, serotonin, norepiniphrine and GABA which provide segmental analgesia.
The effects of acupuncture cannot be explained by a single mechanism. What starts as a local event spreads by way of the nervous system to affect the entire body. Ultimately, the nervous system effects create changes in the endocrine and immune system functions. For example, studies of acupuncture points have provided evidence that they can have profound influences on the body and its function. The acupoint Governing vessel 26 ( GV26), which is located on midline ventral to the nostrils, when twisted, has relaxing effects via the release of endorphins which lead to a relaxation and calming effect on the animal. If this point is tapped repeatedly with a needle or sharp object, there is a release of epinephrine which can help the revival of a patient either during surgery or cardiac arrest. Pericardium 6, which is located near the wrist, has antinausea effects and has recently been shown in studies to decrease lipid peroxidation of the heart, increase coronary blood flow, and stabilize the heat rhythm.
Veterinary Acupuncture has been used for the treatment of many illnesses including but not limited to neuromuscular pain, intervertebral disc disease IVDD, heart disease, lung disease, skin conditions, seizures (epilepsy), cancer, arthritis and other disorders.