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Mercy © Christa CiliaMercy © Christa Cilia

Every since I integrated Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine into my practice I was at loss how to explain the ability of acupuncture to enhance growth of new tissue and repair what is normally considered irreparable  by conventional wisdom. I have seen it happening many times, cruciate ligament tears, intervertebral disc disease, advanced degenerative  changes...but I had no science backed explanation how acupuncture repairs profound organic changes or rebuilds lost tissue. Until now.


Ancient Chinese propose it is all about the flow of energy in the body. The same universal energy that gives life and permeates everything including our bodies. They believed that most of the illnesses in humans or animals are caused by imbalance or stagnation of this energy which they call Qi.
For those who are not spiritually or metaphysically inclined or like me seek more precise scientific  answers  Western medicine has  increasingly  been able to shed a lot of light on mechanisms that precipitate body healing with acupuncture.  This is a growing field and I am certainly looking forward to more research.

The primary mechanism implicated in the  analgesic  effect of acupuncture involves release of opioid peptides in the central nervous system (CNS) in response to the long‐lasting activation of ascending sensory tracks during the stimulation (1). Adenosine has also been implicated, and interfering with adenosine metabolism prolonged the clinical benefit of acupuncture (2).

However, until recently  no study has been done on regenerative effects of acupuncture.

Enter Salazar at al

Group of researchers has recently conducted a ground breaking study which demonstrated how the use of electroacupuncture (EA) at specific points stimulates mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) release into peripheral blood through the activation of the nervous system.  This is very exciting news indeed.

Adult or somatic stem cells exist throughout the body after embryonic development and are found inside of different types of tissue. These stem cells have been found in tissues such as the brain, bone marrow, blood, blood vessels, skeletal muscles, skin, and the liver. They remain in a quiescent or non-dividing state for years until activated by disease or tissue injury.

Adult stem cells can divide or self-renew indefinitely, enabling them to generate a range of cell types from the originating organ or even regenerate the entire original organ. It is generally thought that adult stem cells are limited in their ability to differentiate based on their tissue of origin, but there is some evidence to suggest that they can differentiate to become other cell types.

Salazar at al have shown EA can  be used to aid tissue repair through increasing the levels of circulating MSC. Moreover, MSC can be harvested directly from the blood of EA‐treated humans and animals and expanded ex vivo. Thus, EA may be a low cost, low risk method for MSC harvest for autologous stem cell therapy.

Clinical application in integrative veterinary medicine

In modern acupuncture, acupoints are stimulated not just by insertion of dry needles (3). In addition to low frequency elctricity  we can stimululate acupoints by injection of  liquids, usually bioactive substances like vitamin B12 or injectable herbal preparations. This is called aqua acupuncture ( AA) . We can also use animal's own blood to stimulate certain points. This is very common procedure in equine acupuncture. 

Electro acupuncture should be applied for 20-30 minutes on main immuno stimmulating points. GV14+Bai hui;  LI11+LI04; St36+Liv03
Blood should be collected 2-4 hours after the EA since the level of circulating stem cells is at the peak during this time window.
Aqua acupuncture with blood is performed on the points closest to the structural damage. For example in case of spinal stroke (FCE) we can use Hua tuo jia ji points close to the lesion.


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