Integrative Therapies

Our approach to your pet's healthcare will be integrative--offering treatment options from Western & Eastern medicine based on your preferences and your pet's needs.  
We will work with you and your pet's current practitioners to implement a holistic care plan.
 

TCVM: Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine

There are 4 major components of TCVM: 
Acupuncture
Herbal Medicine
Food Therapy
Tui-Na
What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is defined as the stimulation of a specific point on the body with a specific method, resulting in a therapeutic homeostatic effect. The specific point on the body is called "shu-xu" or acupuncture point (acupoint). The ancient Chinese discovered 361 acupoints in humans and 173 acupoints in animals. Modern research shows that acupoints are located in areas where there is a high density of free nerve endings, mast cells, small arterioles and lymphatic vessels. Most acupoints are motor points (in terms of nerve endings). A great number of studies indicate that stimulation of acupoints induces the release of beta-endorphin, serotonin and other neurotransmitters.  Therefore, acupuncture for pain relief is well supported by these scientific studies. As more studies are conducted, the mechanism of the ancient therapy of acupuncture will be better understood. 

 

What is Qi?

The ancient Chinese discovered that the health of the body depends on the state of Qi (pronounced "chee"). Qi is the life force of vital energy. There are two opposite forms of Qi: Yin and Yang.  Physiologically, Qi flows throughout the body all the time, maintaining a balance of Yin and Yang.  When the flow of Qi is interrupted by any pathological factor (such as a virus or bacteria in Western Medicine, or the 5 Pathogens of Chinese Medicine: Summer Heat, Heat, Wind, Cold, Damp), the balance of Yin and Tang will be lost and, consequently, a disease may occur. Pain is interpreted as the blockage of Qi flow (or no free flow of Qi) and is a form of stagnation in Chinese medicine. Acupuncture stimulation resolves this blockage (stagnation), freeing the flow of Qi and enabling the body to heal itself. Homeostasis is restored when Yin and Yang Qi are in balance. In acute illness, restoration of homeostasis may be rapid, requiring only short-term treatment, but in chronic illness, restoration of homeostasis is more difficult, and may require frequent and long-term treatment. 

 

What is the history of Acupuncture?

Acupuncture has been practiced in both animals and humans for thousands of years in China. The earliest veterinary acupuncture book, Bo Le Zhen Jing (Bo Le's Cannon of Veterinary Acupuncture), is believed to have been written by Dr. Bo Le in the Qin-mu-gong period (659 BC-621 BC).  Veterinary treatment protocols using acupuncture are well documented in this textbook. Since then, acupuncture was, and still is, a part of the mainstream veterinary medical system in China. 

 

What are methods and goals of Acupuncture?

Acupoints may be stimulated in a variety of ways. These techniques include dry needling, moxibustion, aqua-acupuncture, hemo-acupuncture, and electro-acupuncture. More recently, laser acupuncture has also been practiced. Whatever tools are used, the goal is always the same: to restore the flow of Qi and allow homeostasis to return. 

 

How safe is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a very safe medical procedure when administered by a qualified practitioner. Very few side effects have been found in clinical cases. 

 

How long does each treatment take?

Each session may take 20-60 minutes to complete, but needles are generally only left in place for 10-30 minutes. 

 

How many treatments are needed?

This depends on the nature, severity, and duration of the disease or health condition. A single treatment is often effective for an acute condition that can resolve easily (such as a headache). More serious conditions may require a series of 3-10 treatments and ongoing/chronic conditions will likely require treatments at least once monthly to maintain effect. In general, when starting treatment with acupuncture for chronic health conditions such as arthritic pain, treatments are recommended at least every 3-5 days for 2 weeks, then at least weekly for 2 more weeks. After this initial ~1 month of therapy, the patient is reassessed to see if less frequent treatments will be possible. When acupuncture is performed on a regular basis, the effects of each treatment will have a longer duration of effect than when acupuncture treatments are performed sporadically or infrequently.

 

Does Acupuncture hurt?

Acupuncture is rarely painful, and over 95% of patients are comfortable receiving acupuncture therapy. Acupuncture can be quite stimulating for some patients though, and some patients will his a strong response to needle placement even though they will enjoy and respond favorably to the treatment overall. Due to the relaxation effect acupuncture often provides, some animals will fall asleep during the acupuncture treatment. There are, however, some animals who do not enjoy or accept acupuncture therapy, and this simply means that it is not a good treatment option for them at that time (it may be at some point in the future).  Chemical sedation and/or heavy physical restraint are not acceptable as means to allow acupuncture treatment as they interfere with the therapeutic effects of acupuncture.

 

What physiological effects are induced by Acupuncture?

Numerous studies show that acupuncture stimulation induces the following physiological effects:

  • Pain Relief

  • Regulation of Gastrointestinal Motility

  • Anti-Inflammatory Effect

  • Immuno-Regulation

  • Hormone and Reproductive Regulation

  • Anti-Febrile Effect & Micro-Circulation Promotion

 

For what conditions is Acupuncture indicated?

Clinical trials indicate that acupuncture therapy can be effective in treatment of the following conditions:

  • Overall Wellness

  • Immune System Support & Prevention of Disease

  • Relaxation

  • Musculoskeletal Disorders

    • Muscle soreness, back pain, IVDD (intervertebral disc disease), DJD (degenerative joint disease, e.g. arthritis), weakness

  • Neurological Disorders

    • Seizure, laryngeal hemiplegia, facial and radial nerve paralysis

  • Gastrointestinal Disorders

    • Appetite stimulation, nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, gastric ulceration, colic

  • Respiratory Disorders

    • Anhidrosis, heaves, asthma, cough

  • Urogenital Disorders

    • Renal failure, infertility

  • Endocrine Disorders

    • Adrenal disease (Cushing's Disease, Addison's Disease), hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism

  • Miscellaneous Disorders

    • Uveitis, skin conditions

 

What are the cautions and contraindications of Acupuncture?
  • Acupuncture is cautiously used, or may be contraindicated with the following conditions:

    • Bone fracture

    • Pregnancy/unknown reproductive status

    • Opened wounds

    • Undiagnosed conditions

 

How is Acupuncture combined with Chinese Herbal Medicine?

Sometimes the application of Chinese Herbal Medicine is chosen by the knowledgeable veterinarian as a support for acupuncture, or on occasion, in lieu of it.  Herbs can prolong and enhance the effects of acupuncture, and can often be used in combination with Western medical treatments such as pharmaceuticals.

 

How is Acupuncture combined with Traditional Chinese Food Therapy?

Certain foods will be recommended in the diet (or excluded from the diet) based on the thermal nature and energetics of the food.  This applies to all types of food, including poultry/meat/fish, fruit, vegetables, grains, fats/oils, and herbs/spices.

 
How is Acupuncture combined with Tui-na?

Tui-na is a form of Chinese manipulative therapy often used in conjunction with acupuncture and Chinese herbs.  From a conventional medicine perspective, Tui-na can be thought of as corresponding to a combination of acupressure, conventional massage and chiropractic techniques.  It can be used to treat both acute and chronic musculoskeletal conditionas, as well as many non-musculoskeletal conditions.  It is also useful as a preventative therapy, because it promotes balance in the body.  Small and large animals and exotic species respond well to Tui-na treatments and it can be used for animals that will not allow acupuncture needles to be placed.  It is safe and effective with no known side effects when performed properly. 

 
 
 
 
 

Photobiomodulation: Cold Laser Therapy

 

We are excited to be able to provide in-home medical cold laser therapy.  Medical cold laser therapy is an example of an NPAID (non-pharmaceutical anti-inflammatory device).

Why cold lasers?

Medical researchers began using laser biostimulation in the late 1960’s with low-powered laser beams that produced non-thermal effects on human tissue. The first reported cases involved slow-healing ulcers. The efficacy of this low-level laser therapy, or “LLLT,” has been substantiated by objective research. Laser wavelengths between 820 nanometers (nm) and 840 nm have an extremely low absorption rates in human tissue. This means that laser light penetrates deeply at those frequencies. Experimenting clinicians found that an 830 nm laser is optimal for treating chronic pain.

An example of how LLLT works involves soft tissue trauma. These types of injuries consist of damage to the deep, sensitive layers of tissue beneath the epidermis, including muscular, neural, lymphatic, and vascular tissue. The human body normally reacts to this soft tissue trauma by “splinting” the injury with edema, a thin or watery fluid in tissue spaces or cell interstices. However, excess edema causes swelling that inhibits movement of the damaged tissue. These injuries result in two types of pain. The first is actual traumatic pain from the injury itself, and the second pain is from the swelling that results. LLLT focuses first on the lymphatic system which maintains the body’s fluid balance, while the laser light also helps absorb the excess edema. LLLT thus provides relief in two ways. 

 

How does laser light heal?

Healing with the use of light is not new. Light therapy was reported to be effective for many conditions by Hippocrates. With the development of the laser and its special properties, using light as a treatment has gained more popularity. This is because we can now use specific wavelengths of light and give accurately measured doses of energy directly to the appropriate treatment site, which was not possible with other light sources. 

Low level lasers supply energy to the body in the form of non-thermal photons of light. Light is transmitted through the skin’s layers (the dermis, epidermis and the subcutaneous tissue or tissue fat under the skin) at all wavelengths in the visible range.

When low level laser light waves penetrate deeply into the skin, they optimize the immune responses of our blood. This has both anti-inflammatory and immunostimulate effects. It is a scientific fact that light transmitted to the blood in this way has positive effects throughout the whole body, supplying vital oxygen and energy to every cell.

 

What should I expect from a cold laser therapy session?

For most pets, laser therapy is quite passive. There are no pulsating shocks felt, as in forms of electronic stimulation, nor heat used as with ultrasounds. The most noticeable sensation is the touch of the probe head of the laser, as it comes in contact with the skin.

Following (and even during) a laser therapy session, approximately 75-80% of patients being treated can notice an immediate improvement in their condition. This will depend primarily on the type of condition and the length of time the condition has been present.

Generally, the more chronic or severe the condition, the longer it takes to respond. The majority of conditions treated will take anywhere from 4--5 or 10--18 treatments. Once again, the number of treatments depends upon the severity of the condition and its duration. If the condition does not change immediately, it may take 3-4 sessions before a dramatic or marked change is perceived.

© 2020, Chicago Veterinary Geriatrics, LLC