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Acu in Practice: Let's NOT stagnate together!

Welcome to Acu in Practice! Wow, what a difference a week can make!?! First off, I would like to say to our strong international community, let’s be that – let’s continue to be a community, stay connected, offer support and inspiration! Let’s engage on the platforms available to us while we can’t engage in person. The focus of this weeks practice is to prevent STAGNATION. Yes, the pathogens are out there and we must take precaution. AND, we need to keep ourselves and our pets moving, whether inside or outside.

Veterinary acupuncturists know how frustrating and painful the effects of Stagnation can be for our patients in both the physical and emotional sense. Stagnation can occur in the muscles and joint channels causing pain, the organs causing dysfunction or in the emotional sense causing anxiety and other stress related behaviors.

Liver Qi Stagnation is one of the most common internally generated patterns we see as integrative veterinarians. It is worse when the patient cannot move, is not mentally stimulated, is bored or under stress. During this unique time on our planet, Liver Qi Stagnation is going to be a challenge we and our pets face every day. WHAT CAN WE DO?

1. Continue to move – if you are in a place where you are no longer allowed to leave the house, this may be more challenging, but you can do it! Get your pets to play, use puzzle toys, have them work a bit for their food. If you can go outdoors, there are more options. I have heard from my clients even in population dense areas that they are able to get out, walk and maintain distance due to the reduction in foot traffic. Consider taking your dog out at non-peak hours.

2. Feed an appropriate amount of food – overfeeding literally causes Stagnation in the gut in the short term and organ stagnation in the long term. Feed healthy foods and include at least some amount of whole food in your pet’s diet. For a quick calorie calculation and a food topping recipe that works for dogs or cats visit: If your pet has a history of digestive sensitivity, please consult your vet first and/or try feeding the toppings in a very small amount to see how your pet responds.

3. Remain calm and reach out when you are feeling stressed – when we remain calm, our pets remain calm. When our cortisol levels rise, theirs do too! This IS Liver Qi Stagnation. Retain some level of routine. Your pets rely on this to keep their anxiety levels low. Even the most laid back animal instinctively follows some type of daily routine, keep it up.

4. Acupuncture and Herbs – If you are in a place in the world where you are still able to take your pets to the vet/perform acupuncture on patients, there are many acupoints that resolve stagnation at Channel, Organ and Spirit (Mental/Emotional) levels. When applied, these help to move blood circulation and resolve or spread the nervous or clogged energy that is stagnating. If your patients can’t visit you, talk with them about herbs that help to move the Stagnation such as Xiao Yao San or Minor Bupleurum. If you are a pet owner, ask your integrative veterinarian which formulas would work for your specific pet – don’t just doctor google! Herbal Formulas are specific and need to be used under the guidance of a vet that is knowledgeable in herbal indications and contraindications.

5. Massage – massage relieves muscle and Channel stagnation, moves lymph to improve immunity and toxin clearance, and improves mood! At home, pet owners can use small circular motions and gentle to moderate pressure using their thumbs on the muscles that border both sides of the spine. This stimulates an entire Channel of points called the Shu points that intern help to move stagnation in the organs. Rubbing the surface of the body with flat hands from head to toe helps to improved circulation (Stay tuned for videos coming in the future!)

If you have photos, videos or tips that you would like to share as an integrative vet or a pet owner, please ENGAGE and share them here as a comment. Productive and positive mind sharing is one way to support, inspire and maintain the collective health – especially in times of concern.

This post is created by Nell Ostermeier, DVM, CVA, FAAVA and is intended for informational use, not to replace veterinary medical advice.


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