A Boothbay Animal Hospital veterinarian is treating her patients with the ancient Chinese art of acupuncture. Dr. Jenny Marvelle recently completed her training in animal acupuncture and is now treating her older patients with it instead of medicines.
Marvelle described herself as “skeptical” at first about acupuncture as a medical treatment, but she changed her mind four years ago after hip surgery. She encountered chronic pain following surgery and her doctor treated it using acupuncture. Marvelle receives a monthly injection which alleviates her pain and keeps her mobile. “I really didn’t understand it before my surgery, but it’s worked the best in treating my pain. So I began thinking this may benefit my patients,” she said.
Acupuncture is a form of alternative medicine and a key component of traditional Chinese medicine. The practice uses thin needles inserted into the body. Acupuncture is not based on science and is often called “pseduoscience” because its practices are not based on scientific knowledge. Earlier this year, Marvelle attended the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society in Texas. On four occasions, she flew to Texas and spent five days learning about pet acupuncture. She also studied the method online.
Marvelle believes acupuncture will benefit her patients who can no longer use medications. “Older animals have trouble processing medicine because of their kidneys and livers. Acupuncture treats the pain without medication,” she said.
So if acupuncture isn’t a proven scientific method then why has it been around for centuries? Marvelle describes acupuncture as stimulating pain nerve fibers which blocks pain messages to the nervous system. “From a Western medicine perspective, it’s like rubbing your sore arm. It changes the type of nerve fibers and blocks pain messages,” Marvelle said.
So far, five of her 16 patients are treated using pet acupuncture. Marvelle also reports an increasing number of pet owners calling Boothbay Animal Hospital about pet acupuncture's availability. “Summer residents call before coming to the region to see if it’s available. It’s been around since the ’80s so I think it’s being used more due to concerns about the opioid crisis.”
Boothbay Animal Hospital is located at 285 Wiscasset Road in Boothbay.