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Traditional Chinese Medicine for Pets

Editor's Message: Holistic healthcare is not only for you and me. Many of the natural therapies can be effective treatments for our pets as well. Here are a couple of examples where traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) can be used to treat animals.

Acupuncture & Herbal Medicine for Treating Wind-Cold-Damp Arthritis

Seattle has no shortage of wind, cold and damp weather, three of the most insidious pathogens in traditional Chinese medicine responsible for arthritis. This is true in our animal companions as well. Joint pain and stiffness tend to flare up during the cold and wet months because these pathogens are prominent. Getting outside less often contributes to the stiffness by creating stagnation of qi, or energy. Encouraging exercise, even when it's raining outside, will help to circulate qi and get the blood moving. But what if your pet is in too much pain to want to go out much in brooding weather? Acupuncture and herbs can help!

Gentler than anti-inflammatory drugs that can be hard on the liver and kidneys, Chinese herbal formulas and acupuncture actually tonify the entire body, including what traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) terms the "liver" and "kidneys." In TCM, the bones, joints and nervous tissue are all related to the "kidneys." Arthritis, musculoskeletal, and nervous conditions can all be treated by stimulating acupuncture points and selecting herbs that benefit the "kidneys." According to TCM, the "liver" is responsible for the smooth flow of qi, to keep the body healthy and balanced. Whenever there is stagnation of qi, pain or disease can result. The "liver" can also be pacified through acupuncture and Chinese herbs to smooth out the flow of energy, reduce pain, and rebalance the body.

Additionally, from an energetic perspective, the most commonly prescribed veterinary drugs for arthritis in pets are actually cooling to the system. From a TCM standpoint, if there is wind, cold or damp making the joints painful or stiff, adding a cooling medication is contraindicated. Anti-inflammatory medications are also not recommended for patients with kidney or liver insufficiency, common in elderly cats and dogs. So if your pet is having mobility difficulties, there is no reason to settle for drugs that may not help, or which could be detrimental to your pet-acupuncture and herbal medicine provide safe alternative options for comfort.

Traditional Chinese Medicine for Treating Anxiety in Pets

Long known in traditional Chinese medicine as the "shen," the mind is recognized to be very important to keep healthy. The shen is said to bed down in the heart at night, and to appear through the eyes as consciousness. In allopathic medicine, anxiety is associated with increased cortisol, or stress hormones, and decreased serotonin, the "feel-good" or calming hormone. Acupuncture actually increases serotonin, as well as the body's natural pain- killers, endorphins and enkephalins. Acupuncture also decreases cortisol, and inflammatory mediators, improves blood flow, decreases muscle spasms, and improves immune function. All these actions can have an effect on anxiety, stress, and pain. Safer and with fewer risks or side effects than prescription drugs, acupuncture and traditional Chinese herbs can be a wonderful adjunct to helping relieve anxiety in pets.

Darla Rewers is the owner of Ancient Arts Veterinary Acupuncture Services. She can be reached at 206-547-1025.


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