icon_ying_yangThe Acuvet Clinic of Dr Barry Hindmarch offers alternative treatment options to your pet. Accupuncture, homoeopathy and Chinese herbal medicine may offer an alternative treatment approach to conventional medicine or in addition to conventional medicine for a holistic treatment approach.

At a time when high-technology medicine is pushing back barriers in diagnosing and treating disease, natural medicine is also enjoying a remarkable renaissance. The Acuvet clinic aims to provide an integrated, holistic approach to animal health care. As such it sees itself as complementary to general veterinary practice and the other, highly specialised clinics within Cape Animal Medical Centre. Complementary therapies aim to mobilise self-healing processes to restore the harmonious working of the physical and biochemical elements of the body and mind.

The Acuvet Clinic was founded in August 1999. It was one of the first veterinary clinics within South Africa to offer a referral service for holistic therapies.

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Acupuncture is an element within the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) health system which also includes herbs, acupressure, laser, electro and magnetic therapy, exercise and diet.

Acupuncture has been used successfully on animals and humans for nearly 4000 years. There are many theories as to how and why it works. Western medical acupuncture practice believes it may work by releasing pain-killing endorphins, or that it triggers ‘gate control’, so that nerves carrying pressure messages reach the brain faster than pain messages, which stops the brain registering pain.

Traditional acupuncturists believe that all acupuncture points are connected together to form a complete circuit covering the body, creating an integral web-like system called meridians. Energy or Qi circulates around the body via these meridians connecting organs and tissues.

The ancient Chinese held that illness was a state of imbalance or blockage in the healthy energy flows of the body and that acupuncture, by acting on these channels of energy flow, restored them to normal.

A body of scientific evidence now exists to support the use of acupuncture to treat certain conditions. We at the Acuvet clinic have found that the following conditions respond favourably to acupuncture therapy:

  • Back problems:

    • Disc trouble
    • Trapped nerve syndromes
    • Chronic Back Pain / Weakness
  • Respiratory System:

    • Chronic Catarrh
    • Sinusitis
  • Gastro-intestinal System:

    • Certain forms of Gastro-enteritis
    • Chronic Diarrhoea
  • Some Skin conditions:

    • Lick Granulomas
    • Chronic allergic dermatitis
  • Uro-genital System:

    • Urinary Incontinence
  • Musculo-Skeletal System:

    • Bone disorders i.e. arthritis
    • Hip dysplasia
    • Spondylosis
    • Tendonitis
    • Lameness involving injury to ligaments, tendons and muscles

Light has been used as an aid to healing for thousands of years, and Laser Therapy is the use of light of a particular form and wavelength for this purpose.
It is the application of light of narrow spectral width over injuries or lesions that stimulate healing within these tissues. The reaction with tissues during laser therapy is photochemical not thermal.

  • Effects of Low Intensity Laser Therapy on the body:

    • Gives pain relief
    • Resolves inflammation
    • Increases speed, quality and tensile strength of tissue repair
    • Stimulates the immune system
    • Resolves infection
    • Improves function of damaged neurological tissue
  • How does it work?

    The effects of low energy narrow spectral width light are photochemical, triggering normal cellular function. Photons of light absorbed by the cells result in increased cellular activity, producing physiological changes.
    Effects observed after LILT are:

    • Increase in the production of chemicals concerned with pain relief and the resolution of inflammation.
    • Significant effect on the synthesis, release and metabolism of neurochemicals such as serotonin, aiding pain relief.
    • Affects nerve conduction and hence aids pain relief.
    • Increases level of cells concerned with tissue repair, e.g. Fibroblasts, macrophages.

Conditions in Dogs and Cats that can be treated by Low Intensity Laser Therapy:

  • Musclo-skeletal System:

    Bone problems & Arthritis

    • Hip Dysplasia
    • Spondylosis
    • Tendonitis

    Numerous other lameness involving injury to ligaments, tendons and muscles

    • Back problems

    Disc trouble
    Trapped nerve syndromes
    Chronic Back Pain / Weakness

  • Wound Management:

    • Post operative wounds.
    • Ulcers.
    • Pressure sores.
    • Infected wounds and Ulcers
  • Skin conditions:

    • Lick Granulomas.
    • Burns.
    • Wet Eczema.

    Any chronic pain which is not being controlled adequately by conventional treatment. When the side effects from conventional drugs are a problem.

    The Laser beam may also be used to stimulate Acupuncture points throughout the body, without the use of needles. This is useful for patients with an aversion to needles and is totally pain free.

  • How often should a condition be treated?

    As the treatment is using a very intense form of light, the exposure to the Laser is of a short duration on any particular area on the body.
    Hence treatments are of a short duration, sometimes only 40 seconds of Laser time.

    • Ideally a recent or an acute problem should be treated daily or every other day.
    • For a chronic problem once or twice a week is normally sufficient.

    Occasionally Low Intensity Laser Therapy may exacerbate the condition, but if this is so it is generally only short lived.
    Low Intensity Laser Therapy should not be used within 2 to 3 weeks of a recent long acting steroid injection, as this may cause exacerbation of the symptoms after Laser Therapy.

Animals accept Laser Treatment well and will often relax and some may even fall asleep during the treatment. There is very little risk from Low Intensity Laser Therapy when in expert hands. In some strong reactors, temporary aggravation is quickly followed by a substantial relief.

It has the advantage that undesirable side effects of some of the drug therapies can be avoided.

Herbalism is an holisitic medical system that seeks to restore the body’s self-healing mechanism. Remedies are tailored to the patient, supporting the body’s vital force in its efforts to restore homoeostasis.

Much of the herbalist’s skill lies in knowing the actions of different plants on specific body systems; for example, a plant may stimulate the circulation or calm the digestive system. Herbal ‘synergy’ is a key factor in medical herbalism. According to this theory, parts of whole plants are more effective than the isolated constituents used in synthetically made drugs.

The history of the principle ‘like cures like’ can be found in the writings of Hipporactes, which date from the 5th Century BC, and has been echoed through the ages in folk cures, such as rubbing chilblains with snow.

A German doctor, Samuel Hahnemann rediscovered this principle in the late 18th century. His starting point was the contemporary use of quinine to treat malaria, allegedly due to its bitter qualities. Using himself as a guinea pig, he took regular doses of quinine and developed malaria-like symptoms. He concluded that it was quinine’s ability to cause malaria-like reaction that made it effective against the disease. He then set about to prove that a poison that causes symptoms of illness in a healthy person can treat the same symptoms in someone who is ill. Substances are diluted many times to make a remedy that is safe to use, yet has enough ‘likeness’ between the remedy and the illness to stimulate the body’s self-healing abilities.

Homoeopathy is one of the most popular complementary therapies. Well established in Europe, Australia, India and South Africa.

  • Main uses are:

    • Long term and relapsing disorders
    • Asthma
    • Allergies
    • Skin disorders
    • Anxiety, nervous tension, shock
    • Managing side effects of conventional treatments i.e. nausea as a result of chemotherapy.

Within the Acuvet Clinic homoeopathy is used to support healing in combination with acupuncture and herbal medicine.

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