Studies of acupuncture in dairy cows, bulls and sows

Studies of acupuncture in dairy cows, bulls and sows

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Jan 01, 2005


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The "bai hui" acupuncture point can be useful in treating various reproductive disorders including anestrus, cystic ovaries, retained or cystic corpus luteum, silent heat, pseudopregnancy, impotence, penile paralysis, inflammation of the reproductive tract, retained placenta, uterine prolapse, prevention of abortion or to induce parturition (Lin and Panzer 1992). The "bai hui" acupuncture point, the "point of 100 meetings", at which all yang meridians merge, is located at the lumbosacral site in the depression between the spinous process of the last lumbar and first sacral vertebrae.

Lin et al. 2002 treated dairy cows that had failed to respond to GnRH with acupuncture. Most animals showed heat within 14 days after acupuncture and were inseminated artificially. After treatment, the pregnancy rate was 66-77 percent, suggesting acupuncture as a simple and effective method to treat repeat breeders in dairy herds; however, the delivery rate was only 44 percent.

Cerovsky and colleagues, Research Institute of Animal Production, Czech Republic, studied use of acupuncture, aquapuncture (the induction of water subcutaneously for pain relief) and moxa-acupuncture, to induce estrus in gilts. Their data confirmed the conclusions of Taiwanese workers that acupuncture can be used to induce estrus by shortening the anoestrus interval in gilts. Two sessions of acupuncture had more effect than a single session. Failure to show a significant difference in the percentage of gilts showing estrus within 28 days (70.3 percent of acupuncture-treated gilts vs. 57.5 percent of control gilts) might have been due to the limited numbers of animals studied.

Dr. Gary Van Engelenburg, DVM, CVA, dairy specialist for the Iowa Veterinary Acupuncture Clinic, started using acupuncture in his standard practice for those cases that were refractory to conventional medicine, especially for anestrus and cystic ovaries.

"When these cases were not responding to conventional medicine, I thought, what do I have to lose, I'll try acupuncture. I was amazed as were the producers. I had not been doing it more than a couple of months," Engelenburg says. "As my receptionist would laugh as clients called the office, saying 'send Doc out, he has such and such to look at, make sure he brings his needles'. They didn't understand it, but they saw the results. Then I started treating pyometra and metritis and similar cases using acupuncture along with conventional medications. I was astounded. I remember the first pyometra I treated. I had treated her about mid-morning, and the farmer called me back later that day. He couldn't believe that there were 8-10 gallons of fluid that had been expelled from the cow's uterus. I found you could restore uterine tone and calm uterine contractions and empty the uterus in a matter of hours. I also began using acupuncture for retained placenta in lieu of common medications. It reached the point a few months later, where I put the hormones, drugs, etc. on the back shelf, and I used acupuncture as my first line of treatment for most reproductive disorders. The results were excellent, about 80 percent success rate."