Basics of acupuncture (Proceedings)
As a healing method, acupuncture has been used for several thousand years. However, recent interest in alternative medicines and especially in the alternative medicines in veterinary medicine have made acupuncture an evermore popular complement or alternative to western or allopathic medicine.
A brief history of acupuncture
For over twenty-three centuries acupuncture needles and ginseng have mended what is now one-quarter of the world's population. Yet it is only in the last two decades that most Americans have even heard of them. In 1971, the year before the "Bamboo Curtain" lifted, New York Times journalist James Reston became ill while on assignment in China. After having his appendix removed, he was treated with acupuncture for post surgical pain. The front-page report he sent home blared: "I've seen the past, and it works!"Evidence indicates that acupuncture has been used for at least 5,000 years, with its site of origin likely in China. Koreans dispute the Chinese origin, citing recently discovered needles made of stone and fish bone that date to about 3,000 B.C.
Acupuncture and other Chinese medicine techniques were exported to Asian countries by the 6th century, to Europe by the 17th century, and to our part of the world in the 19th and 20th centuries.
A brief history of veterinary acupuncture
A treatise on elephant acupuncture dating about 3,000 years ago was recently discovered in Sri Lanka. By the time of the Chinese Chou Dynasty (1066 to 221 B.C.), several veterinary applications were recorded: Shi Chinq (Book of Odes) was written, containing recorded observations on animals; Chao Fu was identified as an expert on animal diseases; and acupuncture was practiced by veterinarians who were government employees. About 430 B.C. Shun Yang (also called Pao Lo) was the first full time practitioner of Chinese veterinary medicine, and he is considered the father of Chinese veterinary medicine.
Acupuncture, what is it?
Acupuncture is actually only a part of an entire holistic health system that is referred to as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Traditional Chinese Medicine's first premise is that we are all a part of nature and that to retain our health we must be as one balanced with the natural world.
Acupuncture (the inserting of needles into the body) is only one aspect of a total system of health that includes proper lifestyle (including avoiding mind/body stresses and toxins etc.), correct nutrition, exercise, and when needed, the addition of herbal remedies.
Acupuncture acts by balancing the body and helping it return to a state of homeostasis. The methodology used is to insert very fine needles along various energy lines (meridians) of the body. The proper placement of the acupuncture needles enables the body to restore itself to a condition of healthy balance and wellness.
How acupuncture works
Since the Chinese way of looking at disease, diagnosis of disease, mind/body health, and body homeostasis is so different from our western way of seeing things, it is often said that trying to understand Traditional Chinese Medicine may, at first, require a willing suspension of disbelief. However, there are some aspects of acupuncture that have been explained using our understanding of medicine, as seen from the westerner's mind.
For example, neurophysiological experiments have demonstrated that acupuncture modifies the transmission of neural impulses between the spinal cord and the brain, forming the basis of the "gate control" theory. This theory postulates that the action of pain fibers in the spinal cord is blocked by acupuncture. Acupuncture is also known to stimulate the release of endorphins and enkephalins.
We know from experimental evidence that acupuncture not only inhibits pain, but it also directly affects peripheral microcirculation, rhythm and stroke volume of the heart, blood pressure, levels of circulating immunoglobulins and lymphocytic T cells, gastrointestinal peristalsis, secretion of hydrochloric acid, and the production of RBCs and WBCs.