Acupuncture is the stimulation of specific points on the body (acupoints) with a very fine needle to produce a therapeutic effect. Chinese practitioners have used this treatment for over 2,000 years to promote health and treat disease. It is quickly gaining popularity in the United States as more people become familiar with its wide range of benefits. When describing acupuncture and how it works, we can explore both the traditional Chinese medical theories and the modern Western scientific approach.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM):

The ancient Chinese explained the health of the body in terms of the vital life force, Qi (pronounced “chee”). In health, Qi flows freely throughout the body along pathways called meridians, and there is a balance between the two opposite forms of Qi, Yin and Yang. If the flow of Qi is obstructed, the balance of Yin and Yang is lost, resulting in disease. Pain is interpreted as stagnation or blockage of Qi flow. Acupuncture stimulation clears the blockage, allowing Qi to again move freely and the body to heal.

The Scientific Explanation:

The Western scientific community proposes that acupuncture causes changes in the patient's neurologic and endocrine systems. Modern research shows that acupoints are focal areas of increased electrical conductivity (decreased resistance). Acupoints are located in areas with high concentrations of free nerve endings, mast cells, small arterioles and lymphatic vessels. Stimulation of these specific points causes the release of neurotransmitters (beta-endorphin, serotonin, etc.) which in turn cause systemic effects on the body to promote healing. Recent research into the relationship between acupuncture meridians and fascial planes provides greater understanding of this complex modality. If you are interested in learning more about the scientific basis of acupuncture, Dr. Rathbone would be happy to provide further information.

acupuncture needles

Whether you examine acupuncture through a scientific lens or prefer the holistic Chinese perspective, your dog will still enjoy the same therapeutic effects!