ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
Molecule in Skin May Link Eczema and Asthma
Air Quality Better in Northeast, Midwest
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Grapefruit Compound Inhibits Hepatitis C Virus
Should Your Child Be Seeing a Chiropractor?
ANIMAL CARE
Safe Toys for Dogs
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Beware of Dog Bites
BONES & JOINTS
'Snowbirds' Beware the Climate Changes
Returning to the Road Tricky After Injury
Fractures in Older Adults Up Death Risk
CANCER
Green Tea Compound Slowed Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia
Occaisonal Dieting May Cut Breast Cancer, Study Says
Broccoli May Help Battle Breast Cancer
CAREGIVING
Distance No Bar to Kidney Transplants in Remote Areas
More Than 60,000 Patients Risked Hepatitis Infections
Injected Medication Errors a Major Problem
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Grapefruit-Heavy Diet Helped Spur Dangerous Clot
Mercury in Fish Linked to High Blood Pressure
Laughter Can Boost Heart Health
COSMETIC
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
DENTAL, ORAL
Obesity Boosts Gum Disease Risk
Scientists Find Gene for Tooth Enamel
Holistic Dentistry-My View
DIABETES
Diabetes Linked to Cognitive Problems
Brown Rice Bests White for Diabetes Prevention
Fructose-Sweetened Drinks Up Metabolic Syndrome Risk
DIET, NUTRITION
Vitamin D Vital for the Heart
Uncover Why Turmeric Helps You Heal
Trans-Fat Ban In New York City Is Proving successful
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Prenatal Exposure to Traffic Pollution May Lead to Asthma
Climate Change Could Sting Allergy, Asthma Sufferers
Small Doses of Carbon Monoxide Might Help Stroke Victims
EYE CARE, VISION
'Blind' Man Navigates Obstacle Course Without Error
Impotence Drugs Don't Harm Vision: Study
Diabetic Eye Disease Rates Soaring
FITNESS
Weak Muscles May Cause 'Runner's Knee'
Fliers Can Keep Blood Clots at Bay
Community Exercise Programs Boost Seniors' Strength
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
GENERAL HEALTH
Can a Bad Boss Make You Sick?
Food and Water Supply Poisoned by Perchlorate
Uncover Why Turmeric Helps You Heal
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
A Little Alcohol May Help the Heart: Studies
Fondness for Fish Keeps Japanese Hearts Healthy
Relaxation Tapes or Mozart Lower Blood Pressure
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
The HPV Vaccine: Preventative Medicine or Human Sacrifice?
Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Teen Stress May Have Roots in First Three Years of Life
Exercise Helps Reduce Falls in Young and Old
Meaningful Conversations Boost Kids' Language Skills
MEN'S HEALTH
Low Vitamin D Levels May Boost Men's Heart Attack Risk
Vigorous Exercise Cuts Stroke Risk for Men, Not Women
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
MENTAL HEALTH
Psychotherapy Can Boost Happiness More Than Money
Meditation, Yoga Might Switch Off Stress Genes
17 Ways to Create the Perfect Workday
PAIN
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Prenatal Stress May Boost Baby's Asthma Risk
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Sugary Colas Tied to Gestational Diabetes
SENIORS
Vitamin D May Help Keep Aging at Bay
Older People at Greater Risk of Swine Flu Death
For a Healthier Retirement, Work a Little
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Acupuncture May Help Relieve Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Green Tea May Help Treat Uterine Fibroids
Spice Compounds May Stem Tumor Growth
Add your Article

Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch

Things were looking grim, but then a concerned friend took the 10-year-old to an acupuncturist, who treated her three times in half-hour sessions.

"Almost immediately after the first treatment, Nelly's energy went from zero to 100," recalled that friend, Annie Washburn, who works as a community organizer in New York City. Nelly became more mobile, ate more and resumed regular bowel movements. "She bounced back in a way that seemed miraculous," Washburn said

It's a story that might be familiar to people who've benefited from the ancient healing technique. But Nelly, who lives with Washburn, is a frisky, fluffy bichon frise.

"I'm not really into alternative therapies, that's not my thing," Washburn stressed. "But this was really unbelievable."

Dr. Leilani Alvarez, the veterinary acupuncturist who treated Nelly, confessed that even she was once a bit skeptical of what acupuncture could do for four-footed patients.

But hundreds of successful cases later, "it's far surpassed my expectations," said Alvarez, who practices animal acupuncture and traditional veterinary medicine -- often in combination -- at Katonah Bedford Veterinary Center in Bedford Hills, N.Y.

Alvarez noted that many of the referrals she gets are for animals that have not fared well with conventional drugs or other Western medical approaches. In one case, a woman brought a beloved, aging dog to Alvarez's clinic after a gradual weakening of the dog's hind legs had led to fecal incontinence.

"As you can imagine, not many owners can tolerate that for very long," Alvarez said. All the usual treatments had failed to work, and the woman was distraught, even considering euthanizing her pet.

That didn't happen. "I started acupuncture on that dog, and after just two treatments, the fecal incontinence resolved," Alvarez said.

Experts point out that animals have been treated with acupuncture therapy from the very beginning. In fact, Chinese records that go back thousands of years describe the use of healing needles on horses and other livestock.

One common myth: Many people believe that patients must "believe" in acupuncture for it to work, ruling out its use in animals.

"But actually, it doesn't require any higher brain processes to function," Alvarez said. "It simply works because of what it stimulates physiologically in the body when you insert a needle into these points that have been studied for thousands of years."

The points, referred to as loci, represent important locations for nerves and blood vessels that, when manipulated, somehow aid healing, experts say. Acupuncture works in humans, horses, dogs, cats and other mammals "because all our bodies share similar features," explained Dr. Mark Crisman, a professor at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine who specializes in treating larger animals, such as horses.

Over time, he said, veterinary acupuncturists have created "transpositional maps" that shifted the well-known acupuncture points of the human body to animals. This wasn't always easy. "Obviously, horses don't have five fingers like people do," Crisman said. "So, the experts took the points that were equivalent to points on our hands and transposed them around the hooves."

Today, Crisman teaches a certifying course at the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society, which lists more than 2,000 members worldwide, with hundreds practicing in the United States. Two other centers -- one at the Chi Institute in Florida and another at Colorado State University -- offer degrees in the practice.

Crisman said that veterinary acupuncture has proven effective in healing or easing the symptoms of arthritis, acute injuries, hip dysplasia, respiratory disorders, immune system ailments and a host of other problems. It appears to work on a wide range of livestock and household pets, even creatures as small as gerbils and birds. Some specialists have used acupuncture to enhance the fertility of Kentucky racehorses, Crisman said.

A small minority of animal patients balk at the idea of having needles poked in them, the experts said, but most actually appear to enjoy their treatments. That may be because acupuncture seems to release natural painkillers called endorphins.

"Usually by the second or third treatment, they will just lie down, ready for their treatment," Alvarez said. "I have one cat that's known in the rest of the practice as a rather fractious cat. But this cat will literally purr during his treatment."

Both Alvarez and Crisman stressed that while acupuncture sometimes works well on its own, it is often best used alongside Western medicine. "If you have an infection, for example, and perhaps the infection is a result of poor circulation to that area, then you can improve the circulation [with acupuncture] and use the antibiotics to kill the bugs," Alvarez said.

According to the experts, pet owners who decide to seek out an acupuncturist should make sure the practitioner is certified by one of the three U.S. centers, guaranteeing that the person has undergone the required months of rigorous training.

For her part, Washburn worries that too many pet owners don't recognize acupuncture as a potential treatment option.

"I sometimes see people on the street with a dog that's wobbly or it looks like it's limping, an older dog in pain," Washburn said. "I always tell the owners that they should try it. They probably think I'm crazy. But I'm fully convinced that it extended the life of my beloved pet."

- E.J. Mundell

More information

The International Veterinary Acupuncture Society has more on veterinary acupuncture.



SOURCES: Mark Crisman, D.V.M., professor, clinical services/medicine, Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, Blacksburg, Va., and certifying instructor, International Veterinary Acupuncture Society, Fort Collins, Colo.; Leilani Alvarez, D.V.M., Katonah Bedford Veterinary Center, Bedford Hills, N.Y.; Annie Washburn, New York City

Last Updated: March 03, 2009

Copyright 2009 ScoutNews, LLC. All rights reserved.

Licensed by www,eholistic.com

Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Contributed Photo

Annie Washburn & Nelly