Understanding acupuncture

Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese medicine which aims to stimulate healing powers and restore energy flow. It takes a holistic approach to maintaining health and managing illness.

First introduced to Europe in the late 17th century, the treatment has grown in popularity for humans and, more recently, animals during the past 50 years.

The Chinese believe that energy (or Qi, pronounced “Chi”) circulates around the body and helps maintainhealth and vitality. When the energy becomes blocked, there is an imbalance which in turn leads to illness and disease.

Acupuncture can be useful either on its own, or used in conjunction with Western medicine in the treatment of most gait abnormalities, such as stiffness, going disunited and bucking, and is frequently used for temperament problems.

A good practitioner will be fluent in both traditional Chinese medicine and the Western medical approach to acupuncture. The object is to re-establish normal energy flow – balancing “yin” and “yang” is the main concept.

This treatment has been used successfully to relieve pain, as well as for COPD, colic, laminitis and skin disorders, and does not leave residue or contravene FEI rules.

How does it work?

Fine, flexible needles, usually made of stainless steel, are inserted at specific acupuncture points along traditional meridian lines (channels connecting related nerves). When stimulated, each point has a specific action, which can relate to the internal organ.

Stimulating acupuncture points will release certain neurotransmitters, including endorphins (natural hormones) which help to suppress pain. It also has an effect on spinal pathways and reflexes.

Chinese medicine works on the principal that a healthy body which is working in harmony can go a long way towards healing itself. It is only when the body’s energy flow is worn down or blocked that those normal defence mechanisms are weakened and illness can set in. Acupuncture works simply by correcting the flow of the body’s natural energy.

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons guidelines state that only a vet trained in acupuncture can treat animals with needles.

  • To find out more contact the Association of British Veterinary Acupuncturists, East Park Cottage, Handcross, Haywards Heath, West Sussex RH1 6BD
    (tel: 01444 400213 or 020 7937 8215).