Chinese Medicine-Equine Acupuncture, Herbal, Tui-na and Food Therapy

Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) is comprised of several different systems. These systems are:

  • Acupuncture
  • Herbal Medicine
  • Tui-na
  • Food Therapy

According to Chinese Medicine theory, most problems seen in the body are a result of imbalances in Qi (energy) or Blood. If Qi and Blood are flowing in the correct balance then the body is able to heal itself. The goal of any treatment is to correct the balance within the body.

The first step in TCVM is the exam. This is NOT the same as a Veterinary lameness exam and should not replace a Veterinary exam. It views and treats the patient from a different perspective. The exam includes many basics found in any exam plus scanning the body for reactive acupuncture points, checking the pulses, ear temperature, tongue color, moisture, etc.

From this exam a treatment plan is formed.


The body is covered by channels called meridians. These meridians carry the Qi throughout the body. Along these meridians are access points where flow can be affected. These points are the acupuncture points we use for treatment.

Most people think of acupuncture as sticking a needle in the body. There are many forms of acupuncture:

  • Dry needle – the form most people associate with acupuncture
  • Hemopuncture – bleeding at the acupuncture point (most commonly used for laminitis and anhydrosis treatment)
  • Aquapuncture – injecting the point for longer lastingacup3.jpg treatment
  • Acupressure – using finger pressure or massage on a point
  • Electroacupuncture – using dry needles connected to a tens machine to provide more stimulation to a point (great for pain control)
  • Moxabustion – heating needles or just heating a point with an herbal called moxa
  • Photonic Torch – using a red light to stimulate a point (is good for followup treatment)
  • Laser Acupuncture – Class IV laser is used to treat points without using needles.

Treatment time will vary for a treatment from 5 minutes up to 30 minutes or more. Most horses relax with licking and chewing or yawning. While relaxation of muscles is rapid the full effects of treatment are not seen for several days as the body resets itself.


Herbal medicine is not as simple as many web sites portray. Most herbs are not used alone but in combinations. Many of these combinations were formed by trial and error hundreds of years ago. While 4 animals may have arthritis, all may require a different herbal because they have a different underlying “pattern” causing the problem. These patterns are diagnosed based on the TCVM exam.

The goal of herbal medicine is the same as acupuncture – bring the body systems into balance.


Tui-na is a combination of chiropractic and massage. The goal is still to move energy and blood. Treatment involves superficial and deep massage of muscles, chiropractic adjustments and massage of meridians to stimulate energy flow. In most cases Dr. Randy will use this in combination with routine chiropractic care as he sees the need.


This is a very important part of the TCVM system but is the least used. All foods have certain energy values – they are hot, warm, neutral, cool, etc. If an animal is suffering from a gastric ulcer, there is stomach heat according to Chinese medicine. The last thing you want to do is add more heat, you want to cool the stomach. Watermelon rinds will cool the stomach.

This same process can be used when dealing with many disease processes.

Dr. Randy Huenefeld is licensed to practice in Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma. His main practice area is the Kansas City area. He has been providing equine acupuncture services since 2008.