ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
New Spray Could Benefit Cystic Fibrosis Patients
Climate Change Could Sting Allergy, Asthma Sufferers
Using Music and Sports to Improve Kids' Asthma
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Acupuncture May Help Restore Lost Sense of Smell
Health Tip: Anticipating Acupuncture
Acupuncture May Ease Depression During Pregnancy
ANIMAL CARE
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
BONES & JOINTS
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Human Ancestors Put Best Foot Forward 1.5M Years Ago
Drinking Cuts Rheumatoid Arthritis Risk
CANCER
Smoking Ups Risk of Second Breast Cancer
Poor Women Seem to Be Skipping Breast Cancer Drugs
Vitamin D May Improve Melanoma Survival
CAREGIVING
Simpler Sleep Apnea Treatment Seems Effective, Affordable
Mom's Smoking May Lead to SIDS
Medication Errors Could Be Cut: Experts
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Grapefruit-Heavy Diet Helped Spur Dangerous Clot
Vitamins Do Older Women Little Good
Mercury in Fish Linked to High Blood Pressure
COSMETIC
Health Tip: After Liposuction
What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
DENTAL, ORAL
Laser Technology Spots Cavities Before They Start
Gum Disease Treatment Doesn't Cut Preterm Birth Risk
Scientists Find Gene for Tooth Enamel
DIABETES
Out-of-Control Blood Sugar May Affect Memory
Treatment for Type 2 Diabetes Updated
Older Diabetics With Depression Face Higher Death Rate
DIET, NUTRITION
Proven Strategies for Avoiding Colds and the Flu
For Fitness, Cutting Calories May Not Be Enough
More Educated Choose Healthier Foods, But Pay More
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Pesticides Linked to Parkinson's
FDA Faulted for Stance on Chemical in Plastics
Chemical in Plastics May Cause Fertility Problems
EYE CARE, VISION
Antioxidant-Rich Diet May Protect Against Eye Disease
Glaucoma Associated With Reading Impairments in Elderly
Just Like Skin, Eyes Can 'Burn' in Strong Sun
FITNESS
Living With Less TV, More Sweat Boosts Weight Loss
Exercise Guards White Blood Cells Against Aging
Study Shows Exercise Shields Against Osteoporosis
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Gum Chewing May Speed Colon Surgery Recovery
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
GENERAL HEALTH
Vitamin D Best Taken With Largest Meal of Day, Study Finds
Natural Oils Help Lower Body Fat For Some
Coffee Cuts Liver Scarring in Hepatitis C
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Drinking Your Way to Health? Perhaps Not
Rheumatoid Arthritis a Threat to the Heart
Fewer Heart Attacks After England Goes Smoke-Free
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Hand Washing 10 Times a Day May Help Keep Flu Away
Dry Weather Boosts Odds of Flu Outbreaks
Swine Flu Now Reported in All 50 States
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Babies Cared For In Others Homes Might Become Heavy Toddlers
When It Comes to Toys, Shop Smart, Shop Safe
Teen Stress May Have Roots in First Three Years of Life
MEN'S HEALTH
Could Chinese Herb Be a Natural Viagra?
More Vitamin C May Mean Less Chance of Gout
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
MENTAL HEALTH
Reminiscing Helps Build Emotional Strength
A Simple 'Thank You' Brings Rewards to All
Love Hormone May Ease Discussion of Painful Topics
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
Pregnant Women Exposed To Certain Pollutants Could Lower Childs IQ
Expectant Mom's Exercise Keeps Newborn's Birth Weight Down
Prenatal Stress May Boost Baby's Asthma Risk
SENIORS
Keeping Mentally Active Seems To Keep The Brain Active
Exercise Helps Reduce Falls in Young and Old
Want Better Health in the New Year, Add Exercise to Your Day
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Heart Defects in Newborns Linked to Antidepressants
Frankincense Provides Relief for Osteoarthritis
Smoking Ups Risk of Second Breast Cancer
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