I recently began reading The Royal Treatment: A Natural Approach to Wildly Healthy Pets. In the book, the popular Chicago veterinarian Dr. Barbara Royal discusses successful ventures involving acupuncture with various animals she has worked with over the years. I admit that I thought acupuncture for our pets sounded a bit over the top, but then I stopped to consider how acupuncture treatment worked wonders for me… So why not try it on our furry friends?
If it relieves their pain or solves their health issues, isn’t that better than having them suffer or – even worse – being forced to make that oh so difficult decision no one likes to talk about? The more I read, the more inspired I became to be a bigger advocate for acupuncture in general. So here it is, acupuncture explained.
What is Acupuncture? How Does It Work?
An ancient Chinese healing technique, acupuncture works by focusing on the energy flow called Qi (pronounced Chee) that runs within our bodies’ interconnected pathways, known as meridians. I found that Dr. Royal has provided the best explanation I’ve ever heard in her book:
Acupuncture is ostensibly about needles, but what the needles help is circulation, by sending a message to the body. Sharp messages such as “relax this muscle” or “a little more blood here, please” or “could you drain here” or “remember this foot?” …. A neuromuscular connection is stimulated by the needles. They exhibit a measureable charge in polarity that affects the tissues when they are inserted. This corresponds to chemistry – the idea of positive and negative charges that rule intercellular interactions, nerve impulses, muscular contractions and physiologic functions. Acupuncture needles affect body chemistry. They balance the flow of nutrients in and out of the body. Injured areas of the body have different resistance and electrical charge than healthy areas. Needles redirect flow and impulses to deficient areas. The body is then able to facilitate the healing process. At the acupuncture points, there is an increase in nerve endings, small capillary beds, nerve fibers and aggregations of mast cells. As a result, needled areas have a measureable physiologic change in beta-endorphin release, stimulation of circulation, and decrease in inflammation.
How Can You Benefit?
- Pain relief for back, neck, shoulder, knee, head (migraine), rheumatoid arthritis etc.
- Increases circulation in the body, especially in those that suffer from diabetes
- Minimizes the side effects of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease as well as high blood pressure
- Helps alleviate or clear up the symptoms of allergies, asthma and chronic colds
- Calms and soothes those that suffer from stress, anxiety, depression, and insomnia
- Diminishes the issues associated with gastrointestinal problems such as constipation, diarrhea, and urinary incontinence
- Aids with fertility issues, sexual dysfunction and hormonal changes occurring during menopause and andropause (male menopause)
- Can help individuals who suffer with various addictions
Is Acupuncture Painful?
The needles used in acupuncture are very thin with a sharp but rounded tip. Therefore, they typically are not felt when inserted unless it is at an inflamed point, in which case there might be a little sting. Most acupuncturists use a small tube that surrounds the needle called an insertion tube. The multiple taps of the tube before pushing the needle in often distract the skin from feeling the needle. Even strong points may not notice a needle until a few minutes into treatment when a “zing” can be felt, known as the arrival of the Qi. Most become relaxed and sleepy during treatment. When the needles are removed, not much is felt. Most points will show no evidence a needle ever existed in the skin, but occasionally there will be a few specs of blood when a needle is removed. This is actually a good sign; it means the congestion in that point was released (Royal p.168-172).
How Often Should You Receive Treatment?
Treatment typically starts as once or twice a week for a period of 4-6 weeks. Obviously, it will depend on your condition and the recommendation of your physician and acupuncturist.
I received treatment for about a year for an issue I had my entire life and was completely cured. I am still amazed that acupuncture treatment fixed my issue and ecstatic that the World Health Organization now recognizes the benefits and accepts the practices of acupuncture. Many insurance companies have finally started covering Chiropractic care and now they are covering acupuncture as well!
Information taken from: Royal, B. (2012). The royal treatment: A natural approach to wildly healthy pets. New York: Emily Bestler Books.
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