Veterinary acupuncture and Chinese herbs: Clinical applications and contraindications (Proceedings)

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Veterinary acupuncture and Chinese herbs: Clinical applications and contraindications (Proceedings)

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Apr 01, 2009

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), also known as Traditional Oriental Medicine (TOM) has been utilized over several thousands of years in people and animals. The first veterinary acupuncture text, Bole's Canon of Veterinary Acupuncture, was written by Sun Yang, aka Bole Zhenjing, a Chinese veterinarian that lived from 659-621 B.C.

TCM is a complete system of medicine that is used to diagnose, prevent and treat disease. TCM takes the entire physical body into consideration, as well as the balance between the body and the mind, emotions and spirit. Disease is therefore considered a manifestation of imbalance. It is important to note that TCM treats patterns of disharmonies, rather than specific diseases. A Western medical diagnosis is not necessarily required for successful treatment with TCM, however a standard Western minimum database ( imaging, other diagnostic tests) is often recommended to help uncover hidden or buried issues and to further direct treatment.

There are five branches to TCM: 1) acupuncture, 2) Chinese herbal medicine, 3) Chinese food therapy, 4) Tui-na [Chinese medical massage]; and 5) Qi Gong or Tai Chi.

When two or more treatment modalities are utilized concurrently, the effect is more synergistic than additive and response to treatment is vastly improved. Since we cannot teach our animal patients how to do the prescribed breathing patterns and movements that are specific to Qi Gong or Tai Chi exercises, regular daily exercise is substituted for our animal patients.

In Western medicine, a disease or condition is typically treated with the same medication(s) in all patients even though some variations in physical symptoms may exist. Although there are recognized disease syndromes in TCM such as Bi syndrome (equivalent to arthritis or DJD) and Lin syndrome (urinary incontinence, stranguria, dysuria, pollakiuria), there are multiple patterns associated with each syndrome which require a different treatment. A saying in TCM is "yi bing tong zhi" (different diseases, one treatment) and "tong bing yi zhi" (one disease, many treatments). For example, patients with a TCM Kidney deficiency may be treated with herbal formulas for Kidney Qi Deficiency (e.g., Suo Quan Wan), Kidney Yang deficiency (e.g., Zhen Wu Tang), Kidney Yin Deficiency (e.g., Zhi Bai Di Huang), Kidney Qi and Yin Deficiency (e.g., Rehmannia 11) or Kidney Jing Deficiency (e.g., Epimedium Powder). Thus two animals with the same Western disease (e.g. hyperadrenocorticism, diabetes mellitus, colitis, renal failure, epilepsy) often have completely different TCM treatment regimens.

TCM treatment protocols are designed for an individual based on the pattern(s) of imbalance or disharmony(ies) they are exhibiting at that time; these patterns and disharmonies can and will change with treatment and time. Routine rechecks with adjustments in therapies are therefore critical to the successful practice of TCM. Treatment protocols are designed based on the chronicity (acute, sub-acute, chronic), severity and nature of disease. These protocols may vary in frequency of treatment and interval between sessions. Some disharmonies may be cured with a single acupuncture treatment alone while chronic issues may require periodic treatments during the life of a pet, for example 2-4 acupuncture treatments and herbal re-evaluations per year.

Clinical Applications of acupuncture and Herbs

  • Anhydrosis
  • Behavior: Thunderstorm phobia, stereotypical behavior, aggression, anxiety (note: TCM treatment for behavior issues is not intended to be used as sole treatment for most behavior problems.)
  • Cardiovascular: Congestive heart failure, hypertension
  • Dermatology: Dermatitis, demodicosis, seborrhea, acral lick dermatitis, otitis externa, pyoderma, pododermatitis
  • Endocrine: Diabetes, hyperadrenocorticism, hypo or hyperthyroidism
  • Fever of unknown etiology (may only be temporary alleviation of symptoms in some cases)
  • Gastrointestinal: Gingivitis, IBD, diarrhea, vomiting, pancreatitis, megacolon, constipation/obstipation, colitis, gastric ulcers
  • Hematological disorders: Anemia, leukopenia, thrombocytopenia, pancytopenia
  • Hepatic disorders: Hepatitis, cholangiohepatitis, hepatic lipidosis
  • Immune-mediated diseases: Discoid lupus erythematosus, systemic lupus erythematosus, immune-mediated polyarthritis, immune-mediated hemolytic anemia, immune-mediated thrombocytopenia, Evan's Syndrome, pemphigus foliaceus
  • Musculoskeletal: Spondylosis, hip dysplasia, degenerative joint disease, post-operative rehabilitation, hindend weakness, muscle atrophy, laminitis, navicular disease
  • Neoplasia
  • Neurologic: IVDD, FCE, degenerative myelopathy (potentially slow progression of disease), seizures, vestibular disease, traumatic nerve disease, Sweeny, laryngeal hemiplegia
  • Orthopedic: partial cranial cruciate ligament rupture, osteochondrosis dissecans, cervical instability, fracture (aid in healing and pain management), luxating patellas
  • Pain Management: Generalized, idiopathic, secondary to trauma, improper or over-training, post-operative, colic
  • Pulmonary/peripheral edema, ascites
  • Renal/Urological: ARF, CRF, UTI, bladder and kidney stones, crystalluria, urinary incontinence
  • Reproduction: dystocia, pseudocyesis, infertility, anestrus, "bitchy mare" syndrome
  • Respiratory: Bronchitis, sinusitis, feline asthma, pneumonia, URI, recurrent airway obstruction (RAO; previously known as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD, or heaves)