Scientific Basis and Clinical Applications of Veterinary Acupuncture: How Does It Really Work and for What Conditions?
Founder/President, Center for Integrative Animal Health, Salt Spring Island, BC, Canada
During the past few decades of research pursuing an understanding of the physiological and anatomical basis, a number of theories have been proposed to explain all the varied effects of acupuncture. Science-based acupuncture may be defined as the stimulation of specific predetermined points on the body to achieve a therapeutic or homeostatic effect. Acupuncture points (acupoints) are areas on the skin of decreased electrical resistance or increased electrical conductivity. Acupoints correspond to four known neural structures. Anatomically, all of these four structures are wrapped in connective tissue.
Each proposed theory only explained a limited number of the effects of acupuncture. Dr. Mae-Won Ho’s Liquid Crystalline Collagen Continuum (LCCC) Theory of acupuncture integrates all the other theories as well as the classic TCM into a cohesive, practical explanation of the scientific basis of acupuncture. As we entered into the 21st century, there has been increased research documenting the LCCC Theory and fascia-based acupuncture theory. The western medical theories, such as the gate theory and multiple gate theory, vascular and neuroanatomical theory, autonomic theories, humeral mechanisms theory, and the bioelectric theories are all integrated more clearly based on the LCCC Theory. The integration of all these theories and their clinical applications in veterinary practice are discussed in this paper The Liquid Crystalline Collagen Continuum Theory was proposed by Dr. Mae-Won Ho in 1998, which ties the previous theories together.1 Dr. Ho proposes that the acupuncture system and the direct current (DC) bioelectrical body field are both located, in part, in the continuum of the liquid crystalline collagen fibers that constitute the majority of the connective tissue.1 Collagen fibers’ bound water layers provide proton conduction pathways for rapid intercommunication throughout the body, enabling the organism to function as an integrative circuit.1 Water and collagen are two of the best conductors of electrical currents. This offers further validation of the bioelectric theory of acupuncture, that “Chi,” or one component of it, is based on a bioelectrical body field located within the liquid crystalline collagen continuum of the connective tissue.
Acupuncture has been found to be beneficial therapeutically in the treatment of various musculoskeletal, gastrointestinal, neurological, reproductive and respiratory conditions in veterinary practice.
Musculoskeletal conditions that may benefit from AP include chronic degenerative joint disease, nonsurgical cervical and thoracolumbar disc disease, immune-mediated myopathies, trigger-point patterns and soft-tissue injuries.2 Neurological conditions treatable with AP include nerve paralysis, epilepsy, coma, cerebrovascular accidents, various neuropathies, neuritis and neurogenic deafness.3,4 AP may be beneficial in the treatment of most immune-mediated conditions via its immunomodulatory effects, both stimulating or suppressing immune responses.4 Cardiovascular conditions, such as cardiac and respiratory depression and arrest, shock, arrhythmias and congestive heart failure, may benefit form AP as an adjunctive therapy.5 AP has a normoregulatory effect on GI motility, thereby being an excellent adjunct to the treatment of any vomiting or diarrhea.6 It also can be of benefit in the treatment of pancreatitis and various hepatopathies. AP can help with various reproductive disorders through its neurohormonal regulatory effects.7 AP is also being used as an excellent perioperative and postoperative analgesic therapy.8 Acupuncture does not just relieve the pain and mask a problem but actually may accelerate the healing process, restore homeostasis and resolve many conditions through its normoregulatory effects. Acupuncture is an exciting new (yet ancient) diagnostic and therapeutic technique that one can incorporate into a conventional veterinary practice. It offers an additional approach to diagnostic and therapeutic dilemmas that may not have adequate answers based on conventional western medicine. It may also be of benefit when conventional medicine and surgery are not available. Further research will continue to explain the physiologic basis of acupuncture. Acupuncture will continue to be incorporated into veterinary practice as an additional complementary therapy and as an adjunct to our therapeutic armamentarium as we develop a further understanding its mechanisms of action. The latest textbook on veterinary acupuncture offers comprehensive descriptions and references on all aspects of veterinary acupuncture.
1. Ho MW, Knight D. The Acupuncture System and the Liquid Crystalline Collagen Fibers of the Connective Tissues. American Journal of Complementary Medicine. 2005.
2. Schoen AM. Acupuncture for Musculoskeletal Disorders. In: Schoen AM, Veterinary Acupuncture, Ancient Art to Modern Medicine. Mosby, St. Louis, MO. 2001. 161–170.
3. Kline K, Caplan E, Joseph R. Acupuncture for Neurologic Disorders. In: Schoen AM, Veterinary Acupuncture, Ancient Art to Modern Medicine, Mosby, St. Louis, MO. 2001. 179–192.
4. Bierman, N, Thompson C. Acupuncture for Immunologic Disorders. In: Schoen AM, Veterinary Acupuncture, Ancient Art to Modern Medicine, Mosby, St Louis, MO. 2001. 269–280.
5. Smith F. Acupuncture for Cardiovascular Disorders. In: Schoen AM, Veterinary Acupuncture, Ancient Art to Modern Medicine, Mosby, St Louis, MO. 2001. 212–216.
6. Dill S, Bierman N. Acupuncture for Gastrointestinal Disorders. In: Schoen AM, Veterinary Acupuncture, Ancient Art to Modern Medicine, Mosby, St Louis, MO. 2001. 239–260.
7. Lin JH, Chan W, Wu L. Acupuncture for Reproductive Disorders. In: Schoen AM, Veterinary Acupuncture, Ancient Art to Modern Medicine, Mosby, St Louis, MO. 2001. 261–268.
8. Klide A, Gaynor J. Acupuncture for Surgical Analgesia and Postoperative Analgesia. In: Schoen AM, Veterinary Acupuncture, Ancient Art to Modern Medicine, Mosby, St Louis, MO. 2001. 295–302.