How Does Acupuncture Work?

There’s a complex series of events that occur when acupuncture needles are placed. Here’s a rundown of what happens.
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Equine Acupuncture
Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese therapy that involves placing thin needles along “meridians” in the body to influence qi (pronounced 'chi') energy. | Photo: Courtesy Dr. Sara Sammons

You’ve heard of it and seen photos of the procedure, and maybe you’ve even tried it for your horse. It’s acupuncture—the practice of placing thin needles in certain points on a horse’s body.

There’s a complex series of events that happen when those needles are placed. At the 2016 Western Veterinary Conference, held in March in Las Vegas, Sara Sammons, DVM, MS, cVMA, owner of Lavender Equine Rehabilitation and Veterinary Services, in Canby, Oregon, reviewed how acupuncture works and what we know about the science behind it

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Erica Larson, former news editor for The Horse, holds a degree in journalism with an external specialty in equine science from Michigan State University in East Lansing. A Massachusetts native, she grew up in the saddle and has dabbled in a variety of disciplines including foxhunting, saddle seat, and mounted games. Currently, Erica competes in eventing with her OTTB, Dorado.

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