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Veterinary acupuncture is defined as the insertion of needles into specific points over an animal's body to stimulate the body's immune and homeostatic functions.  Dr. Drost is certified in Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine, or TCVM for short.  The Chinese have used acupuncture to treat humans and animals for thousands of years. 

How does it work?

The insertion of needles into specific points causes a physiological reaction, depending on the area used.  Typically, points are over nerve endings or neuromuscular junctions, where the needle stimulates these free nerve endings, which then causes the release of different neurotransmitters.  Endorphins, epinephrine, serotonin, and all sorts of other "feel good" and healing substances are triggered with this stimulation.  Acupuncture needles also increase circulation, regulate hormones, and moderate the immune system.  Additionally, we can manipulate the needles with an electrial unit, called electroacupuncture, which sends electrical impulses from one needle to another and activates meridians along the way and helps relieve pain.  Vitamin B12 can be injected into certain points that remain problematic after the treatment, which extends the benefit of acupuncture.

Dr. Drost may also recommend the use of Chinese herbs to supplement the treatments.  These are natural, high quality products which target the animal's underlying problem.  Think of herbs as "daily acupuncture".  Though some herbs are rather pungent, most animals will take them with no problem.  Herbs offer a natural option for treatment of disorders and pain.

What kind of conditions are responsive to acupuncture?

There are many conditions which can benefit greatly from an acupuncture treatment.  Since the basis of TCVM is identifying the underlying pattern of the animal, including any excess or deficiency, we are able to not only help improve the surface problems, but also benefit the animal's consititution and any other underlying problems.  It is very effective in treating musculoskeletal problems, such as lameness, back soreness, intervertebral disc disease, joint problems, laminitis, and other ailments, but can also be used for endocrine disorders such as Cushing's disease, Insulin Resistance, immune disorders, and reproductive issues.  Animals can also benefit from preventative measures using acupuncture and herbs.

Is it safe?

Most side effects are minor and very rare.  The needles are made of a thin, flexible stainless steel, and typically are not painful to use.  As areas become stimulated, the release of energy and return of normal flow may cause sensations in animals, such as relaxation, and sometimes excitement.  This is known as a "De Qi" response, and lets us know that its working.

How often and how many treatments?

Typically, at least 3 sessions are needed to reach the full effects, but often results are noted after the very first treatments. Treatment generally takes around 20-30 minutes, but can be longer or shorter based on the animal's condition or temperament.  Depending on the condition, animals can be treated as often as every 2 days, weekly, or monthly.  Acute problems typically need 2-3 treatments, while chronic conditions can take 4-6, with followup appointments every few months afterwards.  Dr. Drost can help you to determine the frequency and interval of treatment. 

Want more information?

http://www.aaep.org/info/horse-health?publication=694