Adventures in Acupuncture?

Since my last post, I have worked on quite a lot of horses with various problems but mainly great outcomes. A racehorse I worked on did exceptionally well in a big race at Mohawk racetrack, a navicular horse improved his level of soundness by 2 grades of lameness, a horse who suddenly stopped sweating was able to start again, and many other horses have benefitted in measurable ways.

I would like to share one really interesting case I had. I was performing endoscopy on a nostril (using a camera on a flexible tubing threaded up the nostril), and the horse did have an abnormality present in the nostril, and the abnormal part (a flap of skin/cartilage) had a large blood vessel nearby. He flicked his head at exactly the wrong moment and started a gusher of a nosebleed. If you have ever seen a horse’s nose bleed, it really looks like a lot of blood! The nosebleed will stop and doesn’t cause any harm to the horse but it does take a while, usually around 10-15 minutes. There isn’t much to be done for a horse with a nosebleed, just like a human with a nosebleed other than wait it out. I quickly grabbed a towel and tucked it into his noseband, making a curtain, to prevent him from blowing more blood all over me. It already looked like I had sprouted bright red freckles!

I remembered in our acupuncture course that our professor told us about some acupuncture points to stop bleeding in “30 seconds”. I wasn’t sure if they would work or not, as 30 seconds sounded pretty fast to complete the clotting cascade, but I thought I would give it a try. The points to use are on the back, on midline at specific spaces. I put the first and second needles in and I didn’t notice a very big difference. The third needle I placed, the horse grunted a little and I glanced up toward the nose, and the bleeding had completely stopped! My technician and I looked under the towel, expecting to see a big clot of blood or maybe a trickle of blood, but nothing materialized. The bleeding had literally stopped like someone turned off a faucet. We were absolutely amazed, and thrilled.

One of the very satisfying things keeping up late at night studying is that I am actually helping my patients and improving their lives. While acupuncture likely won’t be the only thing I will use to help my patients (antibiotics and other modern medicine works pretty well in my opinion), acupuncture is proving for me to be an excellent way to impact patients positively without the use of drugs and when all else fails (like our friend with the nosebleed).

Dr.Melanie Barham

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