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Acupuncture For Animals

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    NHNE News List Current Members: 757 Subscribe/unsubscribe/archive info at the bottom of this message. NHNE 2002 Fall/Winter Fundraiser: Money needed = $2090.00
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 12, 2002
      NHNE News List
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      By Sean Markey
      National Geographic News
      November 25, 2002


      When Mary Morrison's 16-year-old border collie, Shadow, was diagnosed with
      kidney disease last year, traditional veterinary medicine offered two
      options: kidney dialysis or euthanasia. Neither was acceptable to Morrison,
      so she chose an alternative: acupuncture.

      Three times a month for the past year, Morrison has brought Shadow to the
      Del Ray Animal Clinic in Alexandria, Virginia. At the clinic Shadow is
      treated by Anne Mixson, a board-certified veterinarian trained in veterinary
      acupuncture, who inserts up to a dozen needles into various acpuncture
      points on the dog's skin during a typical 20-minute session.

      Acupuncture has not cured Shadow's kidney disease or slowed the decline of
      old age. But it has helped alleviate the collie's symptoms and discomfort.
      "She has more interest in life, more pep. She's eating," said Morrison. "We
      haven't felt like she was ready to be put down."

      Shadow represents both the promise and challenge facing veterinary
      acupuncture today. While there is wide anecdotal evidence to suggest
      acupuncture is an effective treatment for a host of ailments in animals,
      much remains unknown about how and why acupuncture works. The challenge now,
      supporters say, is to bridge the research gap to better understand the
      promise of this alternative therapy.

      According to the American Academy of Veterinary Acupuncture, acupuncture can
      be used to treat ailments ranging from hip dysplasia and chronic
      degenerative joint disease to various respiratory, gastrointestinal,
      neurological, and urinary tract disorders. Horses, cows, dogs, and cats are
      the most commonly treated animals. But acupuncture can be applied to more
      exotic pets like ferrets, rabbits, and birds.

      The demand for acupuncture services has increased over the last decade, and
      it is raising fewer eyebrows from skeptical colleagues, practitioners say.

      "Clients are asking for it every day," said Kevin Haussler, a lecturer with
      the Department of Biomedical Sciences at Cornell University's College of
      Veterinary Medicine. "[They] are the number one reason why any of us are
      doing alternative therapies like acupuncture or chiropractic, because they
      want something more than just drugs or surgery."

      "Within the greater veterinary medical community, I would say that
      acupuncture is very well accepted," said Haussler. "Because we're always
      looking for the next thing that is going to make animals feel better [and]
      reduce pain."

      Historical Uses of Acupuncture

      Acupuncture was first developed and used on people more than 4,500 years ago
      in China. It is the process by which small needles are inserted into
      specific locations, or acupuncture points, on the body to stimulate healing.

      The first use of acupuncture on animals can be traced to the Western Jin
      Dynasty period of China from 136 to 265 A.D. The technique in this early
      form used sharp stones to cut and bleed specific locations on horses and
      other large animals used in agriculture.

      In the United States, interest in the use of acupuncture on people
      mushroomed in the early 1970s after James Reston, a reporter for the New
      York Times who was covering United States President Richard M. Nixon's
      historic 1972 visit to China, fell ill with appendicitis. Chinese doctors
      used acupuncture to treat Reston before and after surgery. Acupuncture has
      been used in veterinary medicine in the United States since the early 1970s.

      Acupuncture is explained in traditional Eastern medicine as a method to
      assess and rebalance the flow of qi, or energy, that travels along 12 main
      linear pathways, or meridians, in the body. Sickness is believed to be
      caused by blocks or imbalance in the body's qi. To correct these imbalances,
      small needles are inserted in any number of 365 basic acupuncture points to
      redirect the flow of energy and bring the body back into health.

      Western explanations of acupuncture center instead on the fact that most of
      the body's 365 main acupuncture points are located at clusters of nerves and
      blood vessels. Stimulating these areas trigger a host of local and general
      physiological effects in the body, leveraging the body's own healing

      Studies have shown that acupuncture causes specific physiological effects in
      the body, such as increased blood flow, lower heart rate, and improved
      immune function. Acupuncture is also known to stimulate the release of
      certain neurotransmitters like endorphins, the body's natural pain-killers,
      and smaller amounts of cortisal, an anti-inflammatory steroid.

      Closing the Research Gap for Animals

      A small number of scientists are leading research into the veterinary
      applications of acupuncture. Some of that research is taking place at
      Colorado State University's College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical
      Sciences in Ft. Collins.

      Researchers there are exploring how acupuncture used in conjunction with
      anesthesia during and after surgery can reduce the amount of anesthetic gas
      and post-operative pain medicine required for a patient. The reduction in
      medication can significantly lower the risk of adverse drug reactions in
      patients, according to Narda Robinson, a veterinarian and adjunct faculty
      member leading research in the veterinary program at Colorado State

      "I think the thrust of all this [research] is, how can we improve patient
      safety from medicial procedures and [improve] their quality of life," said
      Robinson. "The more that veterinarians learn and accept acupuncture and some
      of the other complimentary [alternative] medical techniques, the safety of
      medical intervention for animals will be that much better."


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