Traditional Chinese Medicine (also referred to as TCM) was developed centuries ago when agriculture was the main occupation of people worldwide and the bond between humans and the earth was much stronger as well as further clear compared to what exists in contemporary times. Therefore, for an uninitiated individual, the complexities as well as idiosyncrasies related to Traditional Chinese Medicine may at times put the common sense of this primeval healing system in the shade.
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The philosophy of Traditional Chinese Medicine is based on the cadence of nature. It explains the internal arrangement of our body as the different elements, for instance, the earth, water, fire and metal. Moreover, the relations of the different organ systems with one another are assessed in terms like windiness and dampness.
If you wish to comprehend the intricacies of TCM, you should first forget about your Western cultural background for a while. In this age of super computers and advanced technology, which persuade us to keep ourselves detached from nature and separates us from the earth, it may appear to be too simplistic and even strange and possibly naïve to describe our body in terms of nature. However, similarities between Traditional Chinese Medicine and the practical science followed by practitioners of veterinary medicine have actually been imbibed.
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The prolonged existence of TCM notwithstanding, the fundamental theories of this ancient healing system are continue to be unclear to veterinarians with conventional orientation as well as dog owners. However, it is ironic that nearly every one of them is acquainted with at least one most well accepted modality of TCM - acupuncture. What is surprising is that a number of veterinarians continue to practice acupuncture despite not having a profound perception regarding the values associated with this modality.
Instead of merely treating the symptoms or expression related to a disease, it helps a medical practitioner to recognize the basic causes responsible for a disease when he/ she employs Traditional Chinese Medicine as a whole.
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In fact, any individual who is practicing Traditional Chinese Medicine in its true sense is more an artist than a scientist. Typically, he or she will thoroughly examine the patient, who is the practitioner's canvas, to discover any indication of discord or illness. Nevertheless, even the most unsophisticated practitioner may obtain positive results from this ancient therapeutic system, which has been perfected over thousands of years to manifest the fundamental truths as well as the primeval patterns, even though he or she may not be able to distinguish between maroon and magenta!
It is worth mentioning here that TCM is based on numerous interrelated theories, such as those akin to the body's functions that are cured by this ancient healing system, which have indistinct margins and often overlap one another - something that an uninitiated may find difficult to cope up with. In fact, Traditional Chinese Medicine uses extremely simple words to describe very complicated concepts. However, as the practitioner gains knowledge, he/ she becomes further open to curing them as well as their animals.
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Among all forms of holistic treatment modes, perhaps acupuncture is the best known as well as most popular in the medical circles, including human and veterinary. In fact, several conventional physicians as well as veterinarians have accepted the fact that acupuncture offers palliative benefits. They have also acknowledged that they may even recommend their patients to visit acupuncture practitioners to get respite from pain.
To a great extent, the acceptance of acupuncture is due to the fact that this mode of treatment is easy to understand, even within the Western medicine's framework. In fact, one does not have to understand the conception of Qi to be able to elucidate why acupuncture is effective, as it is possible to understand this mode of treatment even on a biochemical level rather than a genuinely energetic level.
According to the Western hypothesis, insertion of needles into acupoints helps to release various chemicals, counting endorphins, which are effective in augmenting blood circulation as well as invigorating the nervous system.
The term acupuncture has been derived from the Latin words "acus" denoting "needle" plus "pingere" meaning "to pierce." In fact, acupuncture has been employed on animals for several thousand years now. According to available ancient records, practitioners used acupuncture on Indian elephants no less than 3,000 years ago! In addition, Chinese rock carvings dating back to 200 B.C.E. demonstrate ancient soldiers piercing their stallions with arrows to get them ready for enduring the harshness of battles.
In contemporary veterinary medicine, physicians use acupuncture for treating neurological disorders like epilepsy; hormonal imbalances; gastrointestinal disorders like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS); problems related to the reproductive system; allergies and many other conditions. In fact, the list of health problems treated with acupuncture is too long to be mentioned in detail here. Perhaps, veterinarians and even physicians treating humans use acupuncture most frequently to treat musculoskeletal disorders like arthritis, slipped disks, hip dysplasia, and lameness. In addition, this modality is also frequently used to cure behavioural disorders in animals like compulsive licking (which can often cause open wounds, called lick granulomas in medical terms), and a condition known as separation anxiety. It is worth mentioning here that acupuncture also aids in accelerating the healing process and, hence, this modality can also be employed following surgeries with a view to facilitate and speed up the recovery of your dog.
Like in any other aspect of our life, acupuncture is also not absolutely risk-free. For instance, there is some risk of developing infection from the needles used in acupuncture. Although practitioners always use sterilized needles, which are never reused, some risks are always there. Although rare, broken needles also happen and in the worst instance, it may require a surgery to remove them from the patient's body. There are other possible risks too, such as puncturing an organ or even striking a nerve accidentally.
Perhaps the greatest worry related to acupuncture is whether the needles are hurting. Well, the answer to this is 'no.' Acupuncture treatment is never hurtful, unless the practitioner inadvertently hits a nerve or punctures any organ. It has been seen that when a practitioner inserts a needle into a point, your dog may feel a trivial spasm, but it will not feel any kind of discomfort once the needle is inserted. In effect, there are several dogs for which treatment using acupuncture is quite relaxing and it may actually help them to fall asleep during the treatment.
Although the results of acupuncture treatments are usually instantaneous, you should give some time for the treatment to work. If you are providing acupuncture treatment to your dog, it is important for you to wait for at least seven or eight sessions or visits to the practitioner before coming to any conclusion. This period is essential to evaluate whether the acupuncture treatment is working for your dog or not.
Preferably, you should use acupuncture in the form of a maintenance therapy. In fact, there is a strong argument in support of using this modality as a maintenance therapy. Therefore, it is advisable that you use acupuncture on your dog prior to the problems or symptoms become noticeable. Your dog's body functions even better when the flow of Qi is smoother. And when its body functions optimally, your dog is less at risk of developing imbalances. In such cases it is also unlikely that your dog will suffer from chronic imbalances of yin and yang, which may generally result in ailments and diseases.
However, it is a fact that that several race track horses are regularly subjected to acupuncture treatments, which forms a part of their health regimen, and helps to keep them fit and perform at their peak level. It is possible that embracing acupuncture more broadly and in the form of a healing means will encourage veterinarians to start promoting this modality as a means to maintain the health and well-being of your pet or companion animal.
On the contrary, as more and more vets will learn the principles and techniques of acupuncture, they will, perhaps, they will develop a more profound and more spontaneous perception of this modality - a practice level that reaches further than just a "connect the points" frame of mind.
Although traditional acupuncture technique involves inserting needles into the acupoints located on the meridians, there are several other ways of using this modality - and some of these methods are more effective. A brief discussion on these different methods of using acupuncture is presented below.
The principles of acupressure are similar to those of acupuncture, barring the fact that in acupressure the practitioner uses his/ her fingers instead of needles - a kind of "acupuncture lite."
It is worth mentioning here that financial constrains play a vital role while one is choosing between acupressure as the mode of treatment instead of acupuncture. People who are unable to pay for the acupuncture appointments every week can be trained about the acupressure points and they can easily apply the technique on their dogs at home. In any case, it is likely that the animal will feel more relaxed at home.
Very akin to acupuncture, practitioners also frequently use acupressure to treat musculoskeletal disorders as well as other diseases. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, acupressure is also an important means of treatment and useful in helping an animal in overcoming emotional issues like mourning over the death of a housemate or freight and apprehension.
However, there are some cautions regarding use of acupressure on animals, including your dog and nearly all of these are related to pregnant animals. Although only a handful of acupressure points can bring about premature labor, it is pertinent that you do not use acupressure through the entire period when your dog is pregnant. In addition, you should also not perform acupressure on your dog soon after it has exercised vigorously or immediately after it has eaten a major meal. It is advisable that you should wait till the dog's body has calmed or it has digested the food - precisely speaking, when the energy of the dog is calm and has been disseminated. You ought to also avoid performing acupressure on your dog if it is suffering from any infection or a contagious disease. Moreover, in case you suspect that your dog is not keeping well, you should take it to a vet for examination before you use acupressure on the animal.
In addition to acupressure and acupuncture, Traditional Chinese Medicine employs several other ways to balance as well as normalize the flow of Qi. Nearly all ancient civilizations made use of herbs, which formed a part of their folk medicine. However, it took several thousand years for the Chinese to develop as well as work on their use. This is all the more true when we talk about the various different philosophies of TCM, including the Five Elements and the Eight Principles, to develop a genuine and multifaceted healing system.
Consequently, Traditional Chinese Medicine has assigned different attributes to different herbs. While some of these herbs are considered to be warm or hot, there are others that are known to be cool or cold. In addition, there are other medicinal plants that have been assigned neutral qualities. In this way, the different herbs can be employed to facilitate the regulation of yin and yang and also restore the body's standard equilibrium.
Apart from the thermal properties of the herbs, Traditional Chinese Medicine also identifies that the medicinal herbs also have different directions - they move upward, outward or downward. The complexity increases when we find that all these herbs are also categorized according to their function. For instance, while a number of herbs are known as sweating herbs, there are others that are classified as tonifying or harmonizing.
In TCM, herbs are generally not used individually, but the prescriptions of this ancient healing system mostly use them in a combination in a formula. Some names of such formulae are also interesting. For instance, an herbal formula known as "Can Mao Ling" is employed to prevent viral infections; while another called "Tang Kuei" is used in the form of a blood tonic and often prescribed to boost up immunity as well as to support recuperation.