For one of my fourth-year clinical externships, I will be taking a course to become certified in veterinary acupuncture. I have witnessed the benefits of acupuncture firsthand in both human and animal medicine and I am excited to embark on this new journey as I continue down my own career path.
Veterinary acupuncture is becoming more widely recognized and utilized. In 1988, the American Veterinary Medical Association declared that veterinary acupuncture and acutherapy are valid modalities, although they have the potential for abuse. These practices should be considered as medical or surgical procedures by state and practice acts.
Traditional Chinese medicine is built on the idea of balance within the body and spirit as well as between the body and environmental factors. To further illustrate the sense of balance that Traditional Chinese medicine is founded on, the concepts of Yin and Yang are utilized. Yin represents cold and humid whereas Yang is hot and dry. In veterinary medicine, these concepts can be related to Yin representing the parasympathetic nervous system and endorphins and Yang representing the sympathetic nervous system and epinephrine. Therefore, when disease occurs, Traditional Chinese medicine attributes this occurrence to an imbalance between Yin and Yang. In this way, the focus of acupuncture, as it relates to disease treatment and prevention, is to re-establish a harmonious balance within the body. Different modalities to administer acupuncture effects include acupressure (using one’s fingers at precise points), acupuncture (using needles at precise points), aquapuncture (injecting saline or vitamin B12 at specific acupuncture points), and electroacupuncture (transmitting electrical energy at acupuncture points attached to inserted needles). Ultimately, veterinary acupuncture widens the array of therapies available to prevent and treat disease and complications in veterinary patients.