Arnold L. Wittstein, DVM, CVA, PC

Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist



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A Brief History of Acupuncture

Acupuncture has been practiced in China for over 2000 years, and was first brought to the United States in the mid-1880's. It has been an accepted part of veterinary medicine for the past two decades. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), everything in nature consists of two opposite, but mutually dependent states: light and dark, hot and cold, health and disease. Problems arise when these two states become unbalanced, resulting in an excess of one and a deficiency of the other. Unlike conventional Western medicine, with its focus on individual pathogenic organisms or chemical processes, a TCM practitioner focuses on rebalancing an out of balance system, thereby improving the body's ability to heal.

Traditional Chinese Medicine recognizes pathways in the body through which energy flows. These pathways are called meridians, and points along these meridians are called acupuncture points, or acupoints. Microscopic examination of these points, which the ancient Chinese recognized thousands of years ago had special properties, show them to be infiltrated with very high numbers of specialized nerve endings. It is through stimulation or sedation of these points with acupuncture needles that energy flow within the body is balanced. A TCM practitioner may use needles alone, or may provide extra stimulation using heat, very low voltage electricity, or even low wattage laser light at acupuncture points. Scientific studies of acupuncture treatment show chemical changes at the local tissue level, within the spinal cord, and even within the brain during acupuncture treatment. It is these changes that produce the immediate and long-term benefits of acupuncture.

Acupuncture needles are extremely thin (thinner than insulin needles, with which human diabetics inject themselves everyday), and elicit very little reaction from our animal patients. Because of the release of endorphins (natural pain killers) from the brain during treatment, most animals like their treatments, and are content to sit peacefully throughout the treatment period. Treatments initially are one to two times weekly, depending upon the severity of the condition. The interval between treatments is gradually lengthened as the animal improves, with many pets eventually requiring only monthly or every other month treatments.

Member American Veterinary Medical Association, Oregon Veterinary Medical Association, American Academy of Veterinary Acupuncture, International Veterinary Acupuncture Society