If you’ve never experienced acupuncture for yourself, I would encourage you to give it a try. Acupuncture can be very beneficial for a variety of conditions (I’ve had it performed for neck and shoulder pain, lower back pain, and hormonal imbalances), but make sure you find a highly-trained acupuncturist who knows what they’re doing. I use a Traditional Chinese Medicine doctor who specializes in acupuncture and herbal therapy.
But isn’t acupuncture where they stick needles all over your body? This is a common question I hear. Why, yes, it is! And if performed correctly, it doesn’t hurt at all–and this is coming from someone who’s had needle phobia for most of her life!
I’m certified in equine acupressure, which employs the same underlying principles as acupuncture, only with finger pressure instead of needles. (See this post for more information on the difference between acupressure and acupuncture.) In the United States, only veterinarians can perform acupuncture on horses (or any any animal).
The following is my Q&A with Dr. Patricia Baley, a veterinarian who specializes in Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine, including acupuncture.
Dr. Patricia Baley, DVM, PhD, CVA, CVH, FAAVA, graduated from Texas A&M University’s School of Veterinary Medicine in 1999 and then became certified in animal acupuncture through the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society in 2001. She also studied Chinese Herbalism, Tui-Na, and Traditional Chinese Medicine Food Therapy through the Chi Institute, based in Florida. Dr. Baley currently practices Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine on dogs, cats, birds, exotic animals, and horses at her mobile practice based in Hockley, Texas. For more information about Dr. Baley and her practice, see her website.
What led you to study Traditional Chinese Medicine and animal acupuncture?
Before and while I was in vet school, I worked with an equine veterinarian who did integrative medicine. I started vet school thinking that this was how everybody did medicine. Boy was I disappointed when I discovered that acupuncture wasn’t a standard part of the curriculum.
How and when do you incorporate acupuncture with your equine patients?
I just do traditional Chinese veterinary medicine and acupuncture. So my patients who need conventional medicine see their regular veterinarians. We treat each patient with acupuncture and often with a prescription herbal therapy and food therapy based on their Chinese medical diagnosis.
In your experience, which equine conditions respond best to acupuncture?
I treat things that are slow to respond or difficult to treat with conventional medicine. So my patients have anhidrosis, head shaking, metabolic diseases, difficult to treat lameness, non healing wounds or tendon injuries. I do some supportive pain control for geriatrics as well.
Can you give us a specific equine case study in which acupuncture was successful?
I’m currently treating a patient who went to TAMU CVM for a salmonella infection. While the patient was there, they stopped sweating. After 3 days after acupuncture and starting herbal therapy, I just heard from the owner that this horse has started sweating again.
I treated a 29 year old horse with chronic colic, stemming from stones in her bile ducts. After initiating treatment of acupuncture and herbs, this horse also got better, she didn’t colic for the rest of her life. She died at 30+ when she developed breakdown of her hoof walls.
Anna’s horse had Cushing’s disease. We maintained him without pergolide and in good body condition without other symptoms of Cushings, for years on some acupuncture and mostly herbal therapy.
Which other treatment modalities do you believe work best in conjunction with acupuncture?
I’m primarily trained in Traditional Chinese veterinary medicine. So I do acupuncture, Chinese herbal therapy, food therapy, and prescribe some medical massage. I occasionally use some simple homeopathic or homotoxicology (Heel) remedies. We can use TCVM either by itself or with conventional western medical therapy.
To learn more about Dr. Baley and the services she offers, see her website.