Acupuncture for equines

When acupuncture is used to stimulate specific points along
affected energy channels, blockages are opened and the normal flow of energy is restored, says Kim Dyson.

Acupuncture for equines
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According to the principles of traditional Chinese medicine, every living organism has meridians (channels) running through it. These carry energy essential for the health of each living thing. A disruption in the energy flow causes disease.
The theory of acupuncture is that stimulating specific points along the affected channel will open blockages and restore normal energy flow. Diagnostic acupuncture uses these meridians to locate blockages.

The needles used in acupuncture are inserted to correct the flow of ‘qi’ (pronounced chi). The acupuncture needle is rounded and not blade-like. It glides through tissue, unlike a normal injection needle, which cuts the tissue. This makes acupuncture (also called needling) relatively painless. Conditions from colic and fever to lameness can be treated using acupuncture. It can also be used in combination with any other healing practice.

Types of acupuncture
In the process of simple needling, a fine, solid, metal acupuncture needle is inserted into the animal. This is left in place for a specific length of time, occasionally being twisted. Not every animal enjoys the sensation of being needled and some animals do not tolerate it at all. However, it’s my experience that most animals sense that you want to help them and tolerate it remarkably well.

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The next type of acupuncture is a form of electrical stimulation. Once in place, the needles are attached to an electrical stimulator that sends electrical pulses to that point. Horses tend to enjoy this type of acupuncture. But again, there are equines that simply will not allow it. One of my favourite forms is moxibustion or ‘moxa’. A smouldering fat ‘cigar’ of rolled herbs is held above the acupuncture point, until the heat becomes uncomfortable. It is removed then reapplied, an operation which is repeated many times.

The alternative is using moxa to heat a previously inserted acupuncture needle. This is a practice only used by highly experienced acupuncturists. In laser stimulation, a beam of light enters the cells. Lasers vary in their specifications and the power of the laser determines the level of penetration. The final type of acupuncture is ‘point injecting’, in which a liquid is injected into the acupuncture point. This type of therapy can have a fairly long-lasting effect, but many horses will not tolerate the injection.


Now that you know what acupuncture is, you’ll need to know when to apply it for the best results. My rule is that if tissue damage changes with time, acupuncture is ideal. Cases include laminitis, any tendon damage, navicular and colic.
Nerve paralysis responds well to acupuncture. I like to use acupuncture for lameness related to a musculoskeletal problem. Hives, shock, cribbing, stomach ulcers, nervousness and bleeding are also helped by acupuncture.

Contact Kim Dyson on 082 888 6511 or at [email protected]. Please state ‘Horse therapy’ in the subject line of your email.