Tracy A. Lord, DVM
For thousands of years acupuncture has been used to re-balance the total energy system of animals’ bodies to facilitate health and healing. It effectively treats many varied conditions such as arthritis, disc disease, nerve pain, kidney failure, liver failure, cancer, and heart disease to name a few. Acupuncture affects every major system of the body, including the cardiac, gastrointestinal, circulatory, cerebral, genitourinary, endocrine and immune systems.
Broadly speaking, acupuncture has three primary effects:
It relieves pain.
It reduces inflammation.
It restores homeostasis.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Explanation:
Using very fine, stainless steel needles, acupuncture can be used to rebalance Qi, and facilitate health and healing. According to Eastern medicine, when an animal is healthy, there is a strong and even circulation of energy, life-force, or Qi which runs along well defined channels on the body surface and deeper within the body cavities. Qi travels along meridans (pathways) throughout the body where it affects organs, muscle and joint structures, nervous and immune systems. Acupuncture points, which lie along meridians, are areas on and under the skin at which the flow of Qi and blood can be influenced.
For those who prefer to look at this from a more scientific point of view, we can shift and assess acupuncture from a Western viewpoint.
The World Health Organization and the National Institute of Health have performed clinical studies on the effects of acupuncture and have developed five medicial theories to explain how it works.
Brain Chemical Balance: Acupuncture stimulates sensory neurons by stimulating the secretion of endorphins in the central nervous system.
Autonomic Nervous System Theory: Acupuncture stimulates the release of natural opiods, normalizing the autonominc nervous system and reducing pain.
Gate Control Theory: Acupuncture activates receptors that inhibit the transmission of pain.
Vascular-Interstitial Theory: Acupuncture affects the balance of chemicals inside and outside cells, causing toxic chemicals to be filtered and eliminated from the body.
Blood Chemistry Theory: Acupuncture affects triglycerides, cholesterol and phospholipids in the blood, regulating the body towards homeostasis. Homeostasis is the body's natural process that maintains the stability of the internal environment in response to external conditions.