Recently DogTo.ca asked Dr. Rona Sherebrin, DVM, CVA for an introduction to Integrative Medicine, and specifically acupuncture for dogs with varied ailments.
Dr. Sherebrin replied:
As people across North America are returning to more natural methods of improving their health, they are seeking the same for the companion animals that share their lives. Integrative medicine focuses on health maintenance, illness prevention and non-invasive treatment through its modalities: acupuncture, botanical (herbal) medicine, nutritional-orthomelocular therapy (customized diets and food-derived nutritional supplements) and bodywork (massage and osteopathic-type manipulation). These modalities work together to restore health and wholeness and to maintain and optimize wellness. The philosophy and practice of integrative medicine are consistent with the most significant developments in veterinary health care today:
- emphasizing regular examinations and preventive care;
- less-invasive or non-invasive approaches;
- balancing environmental, physical, emotional and spiritual factors in health,
- focusing on the cause as well as the symptoms, and
- the role of the veterinarian as a partner to the pet’s guardian, facilitating thepet’s health and well-being.AcupunctureThe ancient Chinese discovered that animals have similar channels and acupuncture points to humans, and also have many specific points unique to each species. Modern research has shown that these specific points have a higher density of nerve endings, immune-cells, small arterioles and lymphatic vessels than the surrounding tissue. By stimulating these points, sometimes located far from the site of symptoms, the veterinary acupuncturist can assist the animal’s innate ability to heal itself by balancing or unblocking its flow of Qi. This balancing is now known to be mediated primarily through beta-endorphins (the body’s own pain-relief factor), serotonin (associated with behaviour), and other similar neurotransmitters. Other mechanisms including hormonal factors that reduce inflammation are also involved. The stimulation of acupuncture points adjusts blood circulation, relieves muscle spasm, and alters hormone levels and the functioning of organs.
Incorporating multiple modalities into a treatment plan for an individual pet requires an in-depth history and physical examination from both conventional veterinary physical examination and one from a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective. The home environment, personality of the pet, observation of the interaction and bond between the guardian and pet, even the season of the year and current weather are taken into account. This physical examination resembles a thorough “nose-to-toes” checkup aconventionally-trained veterinarian would perform, but with special attention paid to many additional factors such as areas of sensitivity at special acupoints, and areas of the body that feel warmer or cooler compared to the rest of the body. The pulse is carefully palpated in 6 locations, and the tongue is examined for shape, size, colour and coating. All the information recovered is synthesized into a final diagnosis and treatment plan.
The primary goal of treatment is to restore homeostasis (balance and harmony) to the animal permitting it to heal its physical, mental, emotional, and energetic symptoms. Restoring balance in simple cases allows the symptoms to dissipate on their own. In more complicated and serious cases, working to restore balance can reduce or eliminate the foundation of the symptoms, enhance their treatment, and minimize the amount of therapy required. When the animal’s body processes, emotional condition, spiritual state and energy flow is in balance, they feel good and they help us feel good too.
For more information, contact Dr.Rona Sherebrin at Dr.firstname.lastname@example.org. Her Bio: Dr. Sherebrin graduated in 1991 from the Ontario Veterinary College. In 2002 she began to integrate her personal approach to health care with her professional work, studying acupuncture and Chinese Medicine at the Chi Institute, then from 2007-2010 completing an intensive course of study in Classical Chinese Herbal Medicine through the Association of Veterinary Acupuncturists of Canada (AVAC).
She is a Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist and is in the process of becoming a Certified Veterinary Herbalist through the VBMA. She is active on the AVAC board of directors as well as on the board of the Veterinary Botanical Medicine Association (VBMA). She also serves on the International Education Committee of IVAS and mentors veterinary students and veterinarians completing veterinary acupuncture certification.