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Acupuncture is an ancient therapy that is only one part of a more comprehensive, 4000 year old, chinese medical system known as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Acupuncture treats disease by placing needles (or other stimuli) into specific acupuncture points in order to remove energy blocks and in so doing rebalances the energy (Chi) in the body. The removal of these blocks allows the energy to flow in a more balanced manner down energy path ways known as meridians.
The western medical perspective of acupuncture believes that acupuncture needles, when inserted into acupuncture points, stimulate the body's neuro-endocrine system to produce natural, narcotic, pain killers, known as "endorphins". These endorphins are many times more potent than morphine.
In addition, acupuncture needles can affect the function of internal organs through the stimulation of specific acupuncture points which produce reflexes that either speed up or slow down the internal organ function (a somato visceral reflex).
Acupuncture can be performed either by twirling very thin, sharp, solid needles into acupuncture points or by using a hollow, hypodermic needle and syringe to inject substances like saline or vitamin B12 into these same points (aquapuncture). These substances, when placed under the skin, will provide a longer-term effect than when only solid needles are used. Furthermore, acupuncture can be performed without needles using devices that electrically detect and stimulate acupuncture points on the skin or with low-level infra-red or helium-neon lasers. Electro-acupuncture is sometimes performed by first inserting the needles and then electrically stimulating these needles with an acupuncture device that connects to the needles with wires and clips. Most of the time, acupuncture is relatively painless. However, certain points are more sensitive than others. Certain patients, like many cats, have a lower tolerance for needle acupuncture. A form of acupuncture called acupressure can be performed by the pet's guardian, at home, after having been shown the location of the points and the proper way to apply manual pressure at these points.
Acupuncture has been used to successfully treat a large number of diseases including: arthritis, seizures, inflammatory bowel disease, vomiting, diarrhea, kidney disease, lick granulomas, inappropriate urination, incontinence, constipation, megacolon and anesthetic emergencies to name just a few.
Like most alternative modalities, a single treatment does not a cure make. My rule of thumb is that if no significant improvement is seen after 6 treatments, then the likelihood for success becomes much more unlikely. On the other hand, improvement is often noticed after the third treatment