In experimental studies acupuncture appears to have a modulating effect on immune function. This may be via endorphin release and similar to the effects of exercise.
Atopy and pruritus in general causes such significant suffering in dogs (especially) that it would be useful to know whether acupuncture can really have an effect on this condition and if so, what proportion of patients may respond and how quickly?
In my pain clinic population I do not see cases that are presented with atopy as the primary complaint, but some patients being treated for chronic pain have concurrent atopy. Patients that appear to respond to acupuncture in terms of pain relief do not always respond in terms of relief from their atopy, but sometimes they do. Recently, at my clinic in Stirling (Broadleys Veterinary Hospital) I started treatment of a little dog who has been suffering with atopy for years and is still suffering despite autogenous vaccine. This year she has been particularly affected and has licked the hair off both carpi (must make a note to do before and after photos!) – the attached photo shows where the previously areas are starting to grow back. Over four weeks, the owner has observed a gradual but significant reduction in her licking. We are now starting to reduce the frequency of her treatment.
It is my intention to treat a series of these cases to get an impression of whether further study is warranted.
Any comments positive or negative from colleagues in general practice would be appreciated.