Acupuncture is a centuries-old method of breaking up old Qi stasis (vital force stagnation). It moves blocked Qi and expels external pathogenic factors with the placement of fine steel needles under the skin in specific points (acupoints). This method is also referred to as dry needling.
Qi (pronounced chee) is a life force energy present in all that exists (animal, vegetable, mineral). It’s a vital and dynamic force that creates balance and harmony by constantly converting and transforming energy and matter within the body.
There are hundreds of acupoints containing pools of energy that follow a deeply interconnected network of invisible energy pathways, called meridians. Meridians run on each side of the body and mirror each other. Each meridian corresponds to an internal organ. Each organ has its own physiological energetic functions that are dependent on the other organ systems, as well as the greater meridian network.
Selecting the appropriate points for needling involves considering all aspects of the animal (physical, emotional, environmental, etc.), and is indeed a skill that is fine-tuned through many years of practice and observation.
Acupuncture can be a highly effective method of healing that, in many cases, can occur quite rapidly. It’s beneficial in the treatment of both acute and chronic disease – but chronic conditions often require multiple sessions because the imbalance has settled deeper into the body and affected multiple systems. It’s like removing a corkscrew. If it’s screwed into a cork with a couple of twists, then a couple of twists may remove it. If it’s screwed into the cork deeper, it will require more effort and time to remove. Clearly, this analogy is far too simplistic in explaining the physiological effects of acupuncture, but the point is that the deeper the imbalance the more complex and numerous the sessions will be. Patience and belief are both key during the healing process.
For pain relief, acupuncture affects not only the joints to aid in the treatment of arthritis, but also just as dramatically helps the related and surrounding soft tissues. Many times, tendons, ligaments and muscles cause just as much pain as the joints. Generally conventional medicine doesn’t have many answers for soft tissue problems that are not surgical. Often the older patient is stiff due to the cold or dampness penetrating the meridians and blocking Qi flow. Acupuncture controls blood flow to depleted tissues and helps the body move cellular debris away from the affected area. The result is often an older dog that becomes puppy-like, or an old cat that can jump on your lap again!
In addition to the treatment of painful conditions, acupoints can be blended in a specific manner to create deep physiologic changes, including organ balance, appetite and immune enhancement, and an endorphin-driven sense of well-being which results in nervous system balancing.
Acupuncture can also be used to balance an overactive immune system, as in the case of immune-mediated or auto-immune disease when the body misdirects its inflammatory cascade to itself, rather than a virus or bacteria. While conventional medicine suppresses all inflammation with steroids or chemotherapy, acupuncture can redirect it without suppression, which means the immune system can still do its job to protect the body against viruses, illness and cancer. There are numerous studies on how individual white blood cells increase in numbers and capabilities following acupuncture.
When treating organ imbalance, the liver and especially the kidney, can benefit from acupuncture to restore flow to the organs themselves. There are numerous studies of the effects of acupuncture on dermatomes, innervation of organ systems and of blood flow to those organs.