What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is defined as the stimulation of specific points on the body using specific methods. Ancient Chinese discovered that the health of the body was controlled by Qi, which is thought of as vital energy or life force. In a healthy horse, Qi flows throughout the body and maintains a balance of Yin and Yang. When a pathogen enters the body or an injury occurs, the flow of Qi is interrupted, creating an imbalance of Yin and Yang. As opposed to Western medicine being reactive to a disease process, the philosophy behind traditional Chinese medicine is balance, or homeostasis. The goal is to support any physiological weaknesses so they do not occur again.
What’s the science behind it?
Modern research has shown that acupoints are located in areas with a high number of nerve endings, mast cells, small blood vessels and lymphatics. When the acupoint is stimulated there is a release of beta-endorphins, serotonin and other neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters aid in pain relief, increased blood flow to the area, and anti-inflammatory effects. Studies have also shown that acupuncture stimulation induces physiologic effects that can regulate reproductive hormones, GI motility, the immune system, and induce the release of systemic stem cells.
From acute laminitis to chronic arthritis, acupuncture can be wonderful as a complementary or solo therapy in keeping your horse sound and their health in balance!