cows in field

Acupuncture in the Dairy Cow

Courtesy of Dr. Schoen, Veterinary Acupuncture. Reference: Schoen, A; 2001, Veterinary Acupuncture: Ancient Art to Modern Medicine; pp.565-576.

By Cynthia Lankenau, DVM, CVA

Our present day dairy cow is one of the hardest working animals, using incredible amounts of energy to produce their vast quantities of milk. Often, her ability to maintain herself with this huge demand fails and she is in need of help. Acupuncture can help.

Acupuncture is a very old system of balancing the flow of energy in our body and nourishing the ability to maximize our existing energy. This therapy was developed in China thousands of years ago. The story I hear how it was first recognized was that one of the emperor’s horses was lame in a fore leg. During a battle, the horse was struck in the shoulder with an arrow, and the horse became sound. From this incident, the emperor’s physicians were instructed to find out how this happened. The physicians were able to identify pathways in the body where sensations seemed to travel and distant parts of the body could feel changes. These physicians were able to locate and identify what we call ‘meridians’, or pathways that our body’s energy or Qi flows through. Qi is this force or energy that makes us alive; it is the difference between a dead body and a live one. It activates and maintains our life processes. This energy is derived from our environment through eating and breathing. So when we stimulate these meridians, we can manipulate this flow of energy in the body. So as a farmer, right away, you can imagine the possibilities!!!

The word acupuncture means to pierce the skin at specific areas called acupuncture points. These areas can also be stimulated by many other methods, not just from the puncture of a needle; for example using finger pressure (acupressure), magnets, sound vibration, to name a few. For farmers, the easiest is finger pressure or acupressure, just a few minutes vigorously rubbing some of these points can have dramatic effects on the body.

Now, diet is still the foundation for health and wellbeing. If an animal’s ration is unbalanced or deficient in minerals, it’s response to acupressure will be discouraging. What acupressure can do is maximize your cow’s ability to utilize what she has.

Health can be defined as a state of harmony that exists between the body and its internal and external environment. When such a state of harmony exists, the cows will be able to maintain her milk production; be healthy enough to avoid metabolic diseases; be able to breed back; and not succumb to environmental stresses and become ill.

Disease arises when an imbalance occurs within the internal environment of the cow. Illness then results from an overloading of the homeostatic mechanisms of the body. The Chinese explained this balance within the body as the relationship between Yin and Yang. These are two polar opposites. Yin refers to the substances within the body, like blood and fluids; while Yang refers to the metabolic processes within the body, like the ability to produce the energy for rumen motility. It is the interaction of these two bodily phenomena that allows her to produces Qi, or energy from the food she eats and the oxygen she breathes.

As a farmer, the easiest way to start is rubbing her back muscles, off from the side of the spine. In that area, the Bladder meridian is located. Down this pathway, there are “Shu” points, which are like the fuses for the electrical circuits in the body. Each point influences a different part of the body. This makes perfect sense as the nerves that are coming off from the spine contains the nerves that run the autonomic nervous system, that is the part of the nervous system that runs without us having to consciously think about it, like the heart beating, the lungs breathing and the rumen ruminating. So when you massage this pathway, you are helping to stimulate and regulate this automated system in the body.

When you are rubbing down her back, if you feel a big pit in-between her vertebrae, you have found a deficient acupoint. Rub that point until it feels warmer and ‘filled in’.

To start, let’s concentrate on a digestive point. The most important point to remember, looking at the chart on the left, is Bl-20. That is called the Spleen Association point (our western way of thinking would also include the functions of the pancreas). The Spleen in Chinese medicine is responsible for the transformation of food into energy and then its transportation through the body. It is also responsible for the production of our defensive immune system. This point is located between the last two ribs. So the first step is for you to just start feeling this point on the cows as you are milking and start to acquire an ability to feel the difference in a normal point or an abnormal point. Then, massage the weak points.

In November of 2016, Are Thoresen, DVM, a Norwegian veterinarian who has spent over thirty years using Anthroposophic principals in the development of his Acupuncture protocols, and who is a world renown acupuncturist and speaker, will be giving a day-long lecture at Hawthorne Valley in Ghent, NY (information will be on the website). He will focus on identifying this weak or deficient point, and elaborate on how, by stimulating this one deficient point, you are able to control the body, and control and potentially avoid any disease. Dr.Thoresen has expanded on his ‘Yin Deficiency’ treatment, using the Control cycle in Chinese Medicine, to develop a very successful therapy against cancer.

Cynthia Lankenau, DVM, CVA can be reached by email, or by writing her at: 9002 Sunset Drive, Colden, NY 14033