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Acupuncture: Getting Straight to the Point

Acupuncture, an ancient Chinese practice of inserting thin sterile needles into specific points in the body, has been known to be effective in treating dogs with epilepsy. After numerous unsuccessful drug trials, we decided to give acupuncture a try for Porter, along with supportive Chinese herbs. In July of 2020, we were referred to Dr. Karen Collins, VMD.

I despise needles and will pass out if I need to have blood taken, so I was extremely nervous to try acupuncture with Porter. A phone call with Dr. Collins’ nurse set my mind at ease. I learned that there is no pain when the needles are placed in the dog’s skin, and that most dogs will even become very relaxed during the session.

Porter’s First Acupuncture Treatment

During the initial visit, Dr. Collins reviewed Porter’s history, performed a physical examination and a discussed Porter’s individual needs. She created an individualized treatment plan which included acupuncture, Tui-Na and Chinese herbs. Porter also had his first acupuncture treatment.

Herbal Medicine

Porter’s plan included incorporating:

  • Di Tan Tang
  • Tian Ma Bai Zhu

In addition to the above Chinese herbs, Porter also began taking Neurotrophin PMG supplement. Neurotrophin PMG helps to support healthy central nervous system function. We did not discontinue or alter his traditional anti-seizure drugs during this time.

Dr. Collins also provided me with the following information about Chinese herbal medicine:

Chinese herbal medicine uses herbal formulas, which are groups of herbs that work together synergistically. Many of the herbal formulas have been in use for hundreds and even thousands of years. The many constituents in the herbal formula are present in small amounts, but work together. Side effects are possible, but happen uncommonly, especially when the herbal formulas
are prescribed by a trained herbalist. If adverse events occur, they are generally very mild and limited to gastrointestinal upset. I tend to start all herbal medicines at a low dose and slowly increase the dose and this avoids almost all GI problems. Herbal formulas work physiologically, not pharmacologically. The appropriate herbal formula is chosen based on a
Chinese medical diagnosis. We now also have large amounts of information about the biochemistry of the individual herbs and formulas and their mechanisms of action. Depending on the formula, it may increase blood flow to particular tissues or organs, have anti-inflammatory effects, help resolve chronic inflammation, relieve pain, slow and prevent degenerative processes, support digestion, normalize smooth muscle contraction, act as an immune modulator, have anti-microbial effects, and/or control cancer growth. When herbal medicines are used to help treat patients with cancer, the herbal medicines act through many possible mechanisms and most individual herbs act in several places in the cascade of events that allows cancer cells to thrive. Herbal medicines can be integrated into a western medical protocol or used on their own.

Therapeutic Massage

Tui-Na (Chinese healing massage) was also introduced and the following directions were given:

For this particular massage, use gentle touch. Think of yourself as only touching your pet’s fur and skin. This is not a deep tissue massage.

Use your pointer finger on their midline (spine), thumb and middle finger on either side.

Start at the top of their head at the little smart bump.

Slide your hand from the top of their head, down their back, to the base of their tail. Allow your pointer finger to follow the midline or spine, your thumb and middle finger on either side.

Repeat 5 or 10 times.

Then, continue down the back of one or both hind legs. Work on the leg that is easier to reach.

Find the back of their knee (stifle) and massage right where the knee bends.

From there, you will find their ankle. There is a fleshy area located between a bone and a tendon. Massage that area above the ankle (hock) with your pointer finger on one side and your thumb on the other side, gently.

For the last leg point, you will simply slide down and rub up against the large pad.

Porter is not the typical case for sure. He has trialed many things that have been reported to help dogs with epilepsy. Almost everything we have tried has not made a difference for out boy. Although we learned so much from Dr. Collins, the acupuncture was not beneficial in reducing Porter’s seizure frequency or severity, so we stopped treatment in October of 2020.

Recommended Books

Chinese medicine had many benefits for illnesses and ailments of all kinds. Want to learn more? Below are two great books recommended by Dr. Collins that I very much enjoyed:

Note: This post contains affiliate links. I will receive a commission if you click a link and then make a purchase.

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  1. Pingback: Porter’s Epilepsy Episodes | Cello's Corner

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