Why add in Chinese herbs?

The addition of Chinese herbs to your animal's treatment protocol may be recommended and tailored to their "Bian Zheng" (their pattern diagnosis).  Herbal medicine can enhance the effects of acupuncture and lengthen the time between treatments.  Most herbs will be prescribed for a relatively short time period (1-3 months).  Herbal medications are not the same thing as the supplements that you may give your animal and any herbal medications prescribed by Dr. Miller come from Jing Tang Herbal, a highly regarded supplier and manufacturer of veterinary herbal medications.  

An Introduction to Acupuncture  

For further information on TCVM watch this special that aired on PBS about the Chi institute where Dr. Miller received her acupuncture training.  

Will the needles hurt my animal when they are placed?

Acupuncture is essentially a pain-free process and most animals tolerate needle placement well.  However, as many acupuncture points are located at sites with a high number of nerve endings or along a nerve, some animals may react slightly when they are first placed.  Many animals actively enjoy the process and may even fall asleep with the needles in.  The needles used during treatment are tiny with some measuring just a few millimeters long.  The number of needles placed per treatment varies depending on the age of the animal, the condition being treated, and the overall health and stability of the animal.  Treatment length ranges from as short as 8 minutes to as long as 30 minutes and is tailored to your animal's specific needs.  Often Dr. Miller will hook particular needles up to an electro-acupuncture unit which conducts a low level electrical current through the needles which helps improve the efficacy of treatment and lengthen the time between treatments.  Following an acupuncture session, Dr. Miller may perform aqua acupuncture at additional acupuncture points to allow for longer stimulation. Additionally, moxibustion may be used if indicated.  

How does acupuncture work?  

Acupuncture is the root of traditional Chinese medicine and operates on the philosophy that bodily functions and athletic performace are dependent on the smooth flow of energy throughout the body.  This energy is called Qi (pronounced "chee") and it flows along discreet, well described pathways called meridians.  Qi must flow seamlessly in order for the body to stay healthy, pain-free, and in balance.  When Qi does become blocked, we recognize this as disease or injury.  Acupuncture involves placing tiny sterile needles at very specific locations along the meridians to stimulate the flow of energy and return the body to its properly balanced state.  While thousands of years of evidence supports the efficacy of acupuncture, there is also extensive modern-day scientific research proving the merits of acupuncture in treating pain, inflammation, and dozens of illnesses and various hormonal disturbances.  Despite the research done on this treatment modality, there is no exact explanation of how acupuncture works as its effect appears to be multi-modal.  Acupuncture points have been shown to be anatomically distinct as each has a high concentration of free nerve endings, blood vessels, mast cells, and lymphatic vessels.  Stimulation of acupuncture points has been shown to increase the body's natural endorphins, opiods, and neurotransmitters which help to explain its use in managing pain.  It is currently recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) as a safe and valid treatment modality.  Some pet medical insurances will cover acupuncture treatments.  

Why does Dr. Miller conduct a Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medical (TCVM) exam at each session?

Dr. Miller examines your animal prior to each treatment including looking at their tongue, feeling their pulses, evaluating their body temperature, and scanning their meridians for any soreness so that she may tailor the days' treatment based on your animal's pattern diagnosis.  As many animals that ultimately are brought for acupuncture have long standing and complex issues, the "Bian Zheng" may change between treatments as one part of the body becomes balanced, revealing a deeper pattern or issue.  For this reason, each appointment may take as long as an hour.