Acupuncture is widely accepted in the veterinary field and more and more veterinarians are performing acupuncture for their patients. 

Acupuncture is used as a diagnostic and therapeutic tool.  It has been greatly successful and used to treat a multiple of illnesses including, but not limited to, musculoskeletal issues, pain (colic, joints and headaches), neurological problems, reproduction, anxiety and allergies.

A key benefit in acupuncture over western medicine is that acupuncture helps the body resolve the primary problem where western medicine, in many cases, treats the symptoms. 

For example, acupuncture can help the body increase the immune system to combat allergies, while in western medicine we are prone to treat an allergy reaction with a steroid.  In acupuncture, we are treating the primary problem, while in western medicine, with the use of steroids, we treat the symptoms. 

Acupuncture departments are present at various veterinary schools and hospitals such as the University of Florida, College of Veterinary Medicine, as well as human hospitals, such as Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and The University of Pennsylvania.

In 1997, the U.S. National Institute of Health (NIH) formally recognized acupuncture as an acceptable means of treating patients while documenting the procedure's safety and efficacy for addressing a range of health issues.


Acupuncture — Helpful Information for Your Horse

Acupuncture is defined as:

...the Chinese practice of insertion of needles into specific exterior body locations to relieve pain, to induce surgical anesthesia, and for therapeutic purposes.  -  Dorlands Illustrated Medical Dictionary, 27th Edition


Acupuncture, as other holistic treatment modalities, is receiving greater acceptance in the veterinarian world. It has become an integral part of veterinary medicine, to the point where some veterinarian schools have added it to their curriculum and services. 

There is written evidence that human acupuncture has been in existence since 621 B.C., and animal acupuncture since 475 B.C.

If it did not work, it would no longer be around.

How it works:

Numerous studies have demonstrated the fact that acupuncture has multiple physiological effects. Acupuncture is based on the nervous system and its relationship with the vascular/endocrine system and may be defined as the stimulation of a specific point on the body, resulting in a therapeutic homeostatic effect.

The points where the needles are inserted are located in areas where there is a high concentration of nerve endings, mast cells, arterioles, veins, and lymphatic vessels.

The stimulation of these areas causes a cascade of events to take place (release of beta-endorphins, serotonin and other neurotransmitters). This results in a local response that then elicits numerous bio-chemical changes within the nervous system and eventually the whole body.  

In acupuncture it is believed that when these pathways are obstructed, interrupted, insufficient or unbalanced, illness occurs. Acupuncture re-establishes these pathways, keeps them open and functional, and allows the body to return to its full, normal functional capacity.

There are multiple acupuncture points. There are 14 meridians (transposition points), which in the horse total 361 acupuncture points, and 173 traditional points, for a total of 534 acupuncture points.


The goal of acupuncture is not only to relieve the patient of symptoms, but to allow the patient’s body to achieve its maximal homeostasis so that the underlying problem, the true basis of the disorder, will be resolved.

Acupuncture Methods:

There are various acupuncture methods. The most common methods used on the horse are:

  • Dry-needle:
    This is what most of us visualize when we hear the word “acupuncture."
  • Electro-acupuncture:
    Electrical impulses are passed through the needles using an electro-acupuncture machine.
  • Moxibustion:
    The needles are heated using the mugwort herb.
  • Aqua-acupuncture:
    The administration of a solution in the acupuncture site. 


Acupuncture is used for multiple medical conditions. Conditions that have been used with success in veterinary medicine are:

  • Musculoskeletal and Performance (back soreness, stiffness, or arthritis)
  • Neurological (paralysis, laryngeal hemiplagia)
  • Gastrointestinal (diarrhea, colic)
  • Reproductive (infertility, abortion, cryptorchid)
  • Endocrine (agalactiam, which is the failure of milk secretion)
  • Respiratory (heaves)
  • Immune system (allergies)
  • Dermatology (allergies)
  • Oncology (primarily in small animal) 

For the skeptics out there (I used to be one), you have probably been using acupuncture points without even realizing it. For example, there is a specific point on the horse, GV-26, that, when it is twisted, releases endorphins which cause a relaxation and calming effect in the horse (for the majority of the horses, anyway). By the same token, when this exact point is stimulated by rapidly moving the acupuncture needle in and out, it releases epinephrine, which results in the stimulation of the patient! Can you guess where this point is located? Just between the lower edges of the nostrils. Right where we apply the twitch!