Data from the 1998 AAEP Equine Practitioners Therapeutic Options Task Force showed that remarkably 37 percent of its members
used acupuncture in their practice. The millennia-old practice can be used for a variety of conditions in stallions and mares,
especially for reproductive stimulation.
Acupuncture treatments have worked in stallions that have a low libido and/or poor sperm quality.
Rhonda Rathgeber, DVM, Hagyard-Davidson-McGee, readily uses acupuncture in her equine practice and details the theory and
practice in her book, "Understanding Equine Acupuncture". Acupuncture can be used as a diagnostic tool or therapy, predominantly
for horses that fail to respond to treatment by conventional Western medicine.
Shen Xie, DVM, PhD and MS, University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, compares the uses of acupuncture to treat
reproductive problems to a traffic cop. In a bustling city, people might be inclined to drive their cars aggressively in different
directions, going everywhere, he explains. It would be better to have a policeman there to guide the traffic flow.
Acupuncture is like the policeman to help guide the disorder of traffic flow or the disorder of hormone levels. If hormone
levels, either luteinizing hormone (LH), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) or progesterone are fluctuating wildly or too
high, then acupuncture, in general, is beneficial to regulate and provide homeostasis to the hormone levels. But if there
is a crisis, then Xie says the use of Chinese herbal medicine is necessary.
Physiological mechanisms for acupuncture's effects on the reproductive system include an endorphin-mediated mechanism affecting
the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal endocrine axis and a direct effect on gonadal paracrine and autocrine control of steroidogenesis.
As in a severe auto accident, one needs a fireman or a doctor to rescue the people. If there is a tumor or cyst on the ovary,
then herbal medicine is better suited for the severe condition. Originally, the practice of Chinese herbal medicine, recorded
in ancient Chinese literature, dates back to 3,000-year-old recipes, while others only have been formulated recently, Xie
Acupuncture is physiologically specific compared to other forms of Chinese medicine. While the effectiveness of the Chinese
herbal remedies to treat equine reproductive disorders may be controversial, there have been numerous successful outcomes
over many centuries. However, the difficulty of assigning significant scientific efficacy to the formula or a particular ingredient
of an herbal formula obviously is confusing.
Most of the herbal recipes are of multiple ingredients—usually eight to 10. Within the literature, there are few if any controlled
studies of the individual ingredients to discern their particular role to the effects or successful treatments noted. It would
be of interest to conduct studies on the constituent ingredients at varying dosage levels to measure their result with some
physiological response. It would also be of interest to measure some parameter in the blood or tissues once they have been
consumed. Their bioavailability is of interest, as well as their metabolism. It is not to be skeptical of their benefit, only
to measure their actual metabolic and physiological role and possibly learn to be able to prescribe them at particular dosages,
explore the most effective compounds and get the maximal benefit from each of them.
Equine ICU opens at LSU
The physiological mechanism for acupuncture's effectiveness to treat reproductive disorders, on the other hand, is more definitive.
The two proposed physiological mechanisms for its effects on the reproductive system include an endorphin-mediated mechanism
affecting the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal endocrine axis and a direct effect on gonadal paracrine and autocrine control
Acupuncture is thought to trigger the release or inhibition of the various hormones, including LH, FSH, estradiol and progesterone.
Electroacupuncture (EA) decreased plasma LH levels in sows (Lin et al. 1992). Acupuncture can affect these hormones via endorphin
release. It is known that endorphins, as well as opiods, inhibit LH release.