Acu in Practice: Onyx and FIV

Welcome to Acu in Practice! Meet Onyx, a young adult FIV + cat who recently received his first acupuncture treatment due to a sudden, acute decline in his overall condition. He stopped eating and lost weight over just a few days. His bloodwork revealed anemia and leukopenia. His energy was drastically reduced, rendering him lethargic or sleeping for an even greater portion of the day than normal (we all know how cats love to sleep!)

While we can’t draw a definitive relationship between FIV and his acute condition in Western medicine, we do know through the principles of TCM that FIV is a “latent or hidden heat” syndrome that will wear down the Spleen Qi and the Yin over time. On presentation, Onyx’s main TCM patterns were Spleen Qi Deficiency and Global Blood Deficiency. He was not exhibiting any Heat signs due to the “hidden” nature of the FIV. Plus, with such a deficiency in Qi, much of the warming function of his body was lost. His tongue was pale and his pulse was deep and weak.


Based on his current presentation, the TCM principles utilized were:

Tonify Spleen and Spleen Qi, Nourish Blood, Support Yin


The acupoints used were:

GV 20 (permission point and raise Qi), BL 17, BL 20, BL 23, SP 10, ST 36 left, SP 6 right.

In addition, I was also worried about his compromised Wei Qi, and thus added in LU 7 and LI 4 (unilateral, opposite sides – simply for limiting number of needles and because they were not as well tolerated as the other needles).

Onyx is currently taking Spleen Support Formula (Wei Ling Tang) and Four Substances (Si Wu Tang).


On initial presentation, Onyx received a full Western work up including bloodwork, radiographs and ultrasound. His only abnormality was with the CBC as stated above. He also received high quality Western hospitalization and supportive care treatments. Onyx is receiving Western medications as part of his Integrative plan.

Onyx has been home for just over four weeks and is holding steady. Appetite has improved and he is maintaining weight. His red and white blood cell counts are beginning to improve. He is still weak with limited energy, but better than before. Once he has completely recovered from the acute episode, the plan is to develop a long-term treatment strategy to support his Yin Yang balance and minimize episodes of pathogen invasion.


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


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