To treat disease, acupuncture involves stimulation of specific points along affected channels to reopen "blocked" energy flow and re-establish normal function. It has recently been discovered that there are 'Morphine-like' substances located in the central nervous system called endorphins. Endorphins are naturally occurring morphines and they have been found to be effective in blocking pain. These substances are released when an acupuncture point is stimulated. The effects of acupuncture can be seen in a matter of seconds. Diagnostic acupuncture uses these same meridians* to detect an energy blockage. For successful acupuncture, precision in selecting proper points, inserting needles to the proper depth, and maintaining treatment for the proper amount of time are critical.
Some types of acupuncture that are most commonly used in equine medicine involve:
- Simple needling (AP): The insertion of fine, solid, metal needles, leaving them in place while occasionally twirling them, for 20 - 30 minutes. Some horses are needle-shy when it comes to regular vaccinations, being needled for acupuncture may not be their favorite thing. Mostly if their treatment will require several needles or a long period of time. Still, most horses are able to tolerate AP just fine,
- Electroacupuncture (EAP): After placing the needles, they are connected to an electrical stimulator that delivers impulses to the points for 20-30 minutes. Surprisingly, most horses tolerate it quite well, although there could be cases where the horse does not cooperate or accept the treatment.
When To Consider Acupuncture?
If you are not sure at what point you should consider this as a treatment, here are some pointers:
- Seek conventional treatment first.
- Try acupuncture after conventional treatment has produced less-than-satisfying results.
- If your horse has a condition that is time pressing, meaning more tissue damage by the minute or worsening prognosis with time (i.e. laminitis, severe colic, or navicular disease), seek proven conventional care as primary treatment. You can then use acupuncture to augment that protocol.
Some conditions which acupuncture has been reported to have a beneficial effect on are:
- Peripheral nerve paralysis
- Navicular disease
- Hives, shock
- Cribbing Stomach ulcers Nervousness
** Meridians: Acupuncture points. These points usually are master points, command points, influential points, and ting points