Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine


Cooper receiving EA Acupuncture

There are 5 branches of Traditional Chinese Medicine which help to maintain and restore an individual’s harmony with nature.  They include Acupuncture, Herbs, Tui na (specialized massage), Qigong (energetics and exercise) and Chinese Dietary therapy.  

Acupuncture has been used in animals and humans for centuries to treat pain and illness. Acupuncture uses very fine needles to regulate Qi (Yang energy) and Blood (Yin fluids), produced by the internal organs, which flow through the 12 meridians.  Acupuncture points can be stimulated through the insertion of painless and sterile tiny needles or by gentle manual pressure (acupressure) at precise locations on the body. Modern research shows that acupuncture stimulates a variety of sensory nerves in the body that transmit the signal through the nervous system to the brain, which then releases various chemicals that produce multiple physiologic effects that activate the body’s homeostatic regulatory mechanisms.   Acupuncture is well known for its ability to help relieve pain. 

Acupuncture can be used to treat numerous ailments: 

  • Orthopedic conditions, arthritis
  • Diseases of the nervous system including seizures, cognitive dysfunction, intervertebral disc disease, degenerative myelopathy, and vestibular problems.
  • Gastrointestinal issues – diarrhea, vomiting, IBD
  • Cancer support, including treating and preventing side effects associated with chemotherapy
  • Internal medicine diseases including heart disease, kidney disease, liver problems, and allergies

There are multiple acupuncture techniques: dry needle acupuncture, moxibustion, aquapuncture, electroacupuncture, laser acupuncture, and gold wire implantation into acupoints. These various methods allow for flexibility in animal acupuncture because different pets respond to the various techniques in different ways.

The number of sessions varies greatly depending on the condition. Minor, acute conditions may require only 1-3 treatments while chronic diseases such as arthritis, degenerative myelopathy, and chronic kidney disease may require lifelong management.

Frequency likewise varies depending on the condition. Severe problems such as paralysis with no deep pain may need to be seen 2-3 times a week, while support of a slowly progressive condition such as arthritis or kidney disease may be managed with once monthly maintenance.

Our patients tolerate and even enjoy their acupuncture sessions!

Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine (TCHM)

Acupuncture and herbal medicine are typically used together because clinical results can be obtained more quickly that way. The combined effects are also stronger, this is especially important in the treatment of difficult cases.

Herbal medicine is the use of formulas containing plant parts and minerals to treat specific conditions. Herbal medicine differs from allopathic medicine in that herbal medicine maintains the benefits of the whole plant part rather than just a single active ingredient or synthetic chemical. Herbal formulas contain ingredients that work together to treat disease as well mitigate potential side effects from the herbs.

Chinese herbs can be used to treat most conditions recognized by conventional medicine. They can be used alone or combined with other therapies for an enhanced or synergistic effect. Often, a Chinese herbal and a conventional prescription will be used together.

Chinese herbs are especially helpful in the treatment of internal medicine disorders, failing organs, chronic diseases and diseases of the geriatric animal. They can be used to relieve pain, help improve and restore organ function, resolve skin conditions, strengthen and support the immune system.

TCHM herbal prescriptions are specific for the individual patient and are directed at the root cause of an illness to correct it, and are not given to disease prevent and are not used to control symptoms alone. Therefore, Chinese herbal prescriptions used at TIVC are not available over the counter; they are prescribed the same as conventional pharmaceutical drugs. The herbs we use have been tested for purity and quality. TCM herbs are safe and effective and can be used for long periods of time without side effects when prescribed by a qualified herbalist and used appropriately.

Herbal medications come in a variety of formulations: pills, tablets, capsules, liquids, topical tinctures, washes or pastes, and concentrated herbal extracts in powder or granule form. The formulation used depends on the type of condition treated and the species of animal.  Most herbal formulas require twice-daily administration mixed or given with a meal. Topical formulas are generally applied once daily with any residual paste being removed 12 hours after application. In general, TCM herbal prescriptions must be given for longer periods of time than pharmaceutical drugs, but the benefit lies in their natural ability to gradually return the body to a state of balance and health, without adverse effects. 

For best results, our veterinarians will monitor your pet’s condition annually or more frequently if warranted, by utilizing both conventional diagnostics and Chinese veterinary medical examination  to determine if the formula they are being given is effective and still appropriate. In general, for acute conditions an animal may need to be rechecked once every 3-7 days; for chronic cases, once a month or longer may be adequate.


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