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Veterinary Acupuncture, an introduction. Presentation Outline. History of acupuncture Traditional Chinese Medicine theories Acupuncture points Mechanisms of action Where can you look for more info?. Eastern and Western Medicine. Western Medicine New techniques

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Veterinary Acupuncture, an introduction

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Veterinary acupuncture an introduction l.jpg

Veterinary Acupuncture,an introduction

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Presentation Outline

  • History of acupuncture

  • Traditional Chinese Medicine theories

  • Acupuncture points

  • Mechanisms of action

  • Where can you look for more info?

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Eastern and Western Medicine

  • Western Medicine

    • New techniques

    • Historical understanding?

  • Eastern Medicine

    • Theories 1000s of years old

    • Historical understanding necessary

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How long ago?

  • Some texts of acupuncture-- 200 BCE

  • Confucianism and Taoist views

  • Physiology and nature are tied

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--A state of harmony existing between internal and external environments


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  • Central core of the Yin/Yang theory

  • Neither can exist in isolation

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Natural World

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  • Yin Organs--Liver






  • Yang Organs--Stomach

    Lg/Sm Intestine

    Gall Bladder

    Urinary Bladder

    Triple Heater

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Classification of Energy

  • Remember Physics?

  • Potential Energy

  • Kinetic Energy

  • Qi

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When the balance is lost…

Illness– an imbalance in the homeostatic mechanisms of the body

Disorders of Qi

Deficient Qi

Stagnant Qi

Rebellious Qi

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Meridian Concept

  • Pathways

  • 1 meridian associated with each organ

  • Total= 14 used mainly in veterinary acupuncture today

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The 5 Phases

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The 8 Principles

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  • History

  • Physical Exam–

    all senses

  • Five Phases

  • Eight Principles

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How is it performed?

  • Thin, flexible, sterile needles

  • Pierce and stimulation specific acupuncture points (“acupoints”)

  • Stimulation causes a complex cascade of body responses

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  • Over 1,000 have been located and mapped

  • Found mostly in depressions located along cleavages between muscles, tendons, and bones

  • Foci of increased electrical conductivity (lower skin resistance)

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Lower Skin Resistance (LRS)

  • Caused by…

    • Local increase in capillary


    • A sympathetic reflex

    • ???

  • Observed at many, but not all, acupoints

    • In dogs, 79% correlation

  • Zones or narrow bands of LRS resembling meridians extending along the long axis of limbs

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Structural Basis

  • High density of nerve fibers and vascular networks in the subcutaneous tissue at or near acupoints

  • Specific structures…

    • Free nerve endings

    • Muscle spindles

    • Golgi tendon organs

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Free Nerve Endings

  • Free nerve endings tend to converge in bundles with vascular structures beneath acupoints

    • Perforate superficial


    • Enter skin

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Form unique cylindrical structures surrounded by a sheath of loose connective tissue

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Trigger Points (Travell and Rinzler, 1952)

  • Skin location that, when stimulated, produces pain in an adjacent or distant location

  • Suggested that this response

    was caused by blood vessels

    or nerves lying close to

    skin’s surface

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Trigger Points, continued

  • Applied dry needling

    technique to trigger

    points to produce pain


  • 71% correlation

    between trigger points

    and acupoints

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Examples of Locations

  • Superficial nerves or plexuses

  • Midline points where superficial nerves meet on the dorsal or ventral midline

  • Motor points (where nerves enter target muscle)

  • Muscle-tendon junctions (where Golgi tendon organs are abundant)

  • Sites where nerves exit bony foramina (supraorbital, infraorbital)

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Mechanisms of Action

  • Neural Opiate Theory

  • Humoral Mechanism Theory

  • Local Mechanism Theory

  • Bioelectric Theory

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Neural Opiate Theory

  • Acupuncture causes release of endogenous opioids into the CNS

    • Enkephalins

    • β Endorphins

    • Etc.

  • These opioids alter the integration and perception of pain

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Humoral Mechanism Theory

  • Acupuncture causes release of a variety of humoral factors from the brain and other organs

    • Cortisol

    • Serotonin

    • Prolactin

    • Luteinizing


    • Etc.

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Local Mechanism Theory

  • Needle stimulation is associated w/ a local defense reaction

    • Muscle contraction around needle

    • Coagulation cascade

    • Activation of complement


    • Vasodilation and increased

      vascular permeability

    • Mast cells degranulate

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Bioelectric Theory

  • Meridians are conduits for sodium ions

  • Acupuncture induces the flow of sodium ions to deficient areas

    • Reducing cell lysis

    • Reducing pain

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Pain management


Immune mediated dz

Dermatologic dz

Neurologic dz

Renal dz

Cardiovascular dz

Respiratory dz


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“It matters not whether medicine is old or new, so long as it brings about a cure.

It matters not whether theories are Eastern or Western, so long as they prove to be true”

Dr. Jen-Hsou Lin


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Where to get additional information:

  • International Veterinary Acupuncture Society


  • American Association of Veterinary Acupuncture


  • American Holistic Veterinary Medicine Association



  • “Veterinary Acupuncture: Ancient Art to Modern

    Medicine”, by Alan M. Schoen

  • “Four Paws, Five Directions”, by Cheryl Schwartz

  • “The Web That Has No Weaver”, by T. Kaptchuk

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  • Schoen, A.M.“Veterinary Acupuncture: Ancient Art to Modern Medicine”, Mosby, Inc., St. Louis, MO, 2001.

  • Schwartz, C. “Four Paws Five Directions: A Guide to Chinese Medicine for Cats and Dogs”, Celestial Arts, Berkley, CA, 1996.

  • Mitchell, D. “Introduction to Veterinary Acupuncture”, Proceedings of the 2000 Annual Conference of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Associations, 2000.

  • Dr. Debbie Wilson

  • Dr. Mary Lindamood

  • Dr. Susan Drapek

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