Acupuncture At The Zoo: The Story of Lottie The Koala

Anyone who suffers from arthritis, or is close to someone suffering from it, knows how debilitating it can be to live with. That isn’t limited just to us humans, either.

Lottie is a Koala bear that has been at the Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia, South Carolina since 2002. Any mother knows that raising young ones can be a physical burden, and since Lottie arrived at Riverbanks Zoo in 2002, she has given birth to 11 joeys. All that joey-rearing (Koalas use their back to carry their children) and climbing and the physical rigors of everyday life have taken their toll of Lottie, who the staff at Riverbanks found had began suffering from arthritis and muscle tension.

However, Lottie has been showing signs of improved motion and strength recently, and the credit can be granted to the veterinary staff at Riverbanks, who treated Lottie’s arthritis and muscle tension with acupuncture.

“The animal care team at Riverbanks currently performs acupuncture on Lottie once every two to three weeks,” said John Davis, the director of animal care and welfare at Riverbanks told the Free Times. “Each treatment session last about 15 to 20 minutes, with the staff veterinarian inserting at least 10 small needles (about the size of a human hair) into Lottie’s lower back and hip area.”

If you’re wondering how easily a wild animal takes to acupuncture, Lottie has her days.

“We realized that she’s okay with it some days and not OK with it on other days,” Davis says. “If she starts to retreat up the tree in the middle of a session, then we just end the session.”

But based on Lottie’s improvement, it looks like she’s been OK with acupuncture more than not.

How Long Does Acupuncture Take to Work?

When you’re suffering from pain or a chronic ailment, waiting to see results can be frustrating. So often, we’re asked at the center “when will I feel better?” Or, “when will this start to work?”

Often, it depends on the specific concern you’re seeking treatment for, the level of your pain (if it is pain related, of course)

Many times, patients that are seen for chronic pain feel immediate relief when specific acupoints are utilized, and then notice longer lasting relief as days pass, and sessions continue.

Here are some general guidelines in regards to frequency, and when effects can be seen.

  • For fertility patients undergoing IVF/IUI, treatments will depend on your cycle. We recommend coming while taking your medications, before retrieval, and right around implantation. We also encourage treatments at least throughout the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

  • If you’re having terrible pain (like 10/10) daily treatments are possible until improvement is noted. For middle level pain, biweekly treatments are suggested.

  • Chronic issues that are not severe, once a week for 6-8 weeks and then we will re-evaluate.

    Really long term chronic issues, once a week for ten weeks or twice a week for 5 weeks.

  • For PMS, endometriosis, and/or menstrual cycle related issues, having treatments weekly until you have a more manageable cycle is ideal. Then, biweekly to maintain the improvements.

  • For stress or anxiety, once a week works well, but twice a week is better! These sessions will work well combined with meditation, aromatherapy, and massage.

  • For injury/surgical recovery, your practitioner will work with you to devise a plan of healing. It’s important to ensure circulation is restored and qi is balanced as your tissues heal.

Generally speaking, your best bet is to come in at least once a week in the beginning and then for maintenance treatment after that. Your acupuncturist will guide you towards a personalized treatment plan that is uniquely yours.

Interested In Acupuncture? Watch These Documentaries

Though it is increasing in popularity around the country, awareness of acupuncture and its effectiveness for various pain management and treating illnesses is still a bit lacking. Spreading the word is something we’re deeply invested in, as so many people out there remain who can still discover how acupuncture can safely and lastingly better their quality of life.

Though it’s an endlessly interesting subject with a rich history, acupuncture isn’t too often the subject of much entertainment. However, there are a some documentary films that have been made about acupuncture or feature the treatment in some way that we’d like to highlight.

The brother of documentary filmmaker Doug Dearth, Devin, is a former bodybuilder whose years of competing took a toll on his body—eventually causing him to undergo a massive stroke When he was unable to find proper, lasting treatment in the United States, Devin headed to China to seek out Eastern medical cures—and Devin took his camera along to document the experience. Out of it came the film 9000 Needles; made in 2009, the documentary featured at many major film festivals.

“This is helping to improve awareness in parts of the country where acupuncture is not well known,” Doug Dearth said about his intentions in documenting his brother’s story. “I wanted to open up people's eyes a little bit.” The film can be viewed on Amazon Prime video.

In 2012, the film “Escape Fire: The Fight To Save American Healthcare” came out to very positive reviews. The film largely focuses on the American Health care system, particularly how it seems designed to get people into hospitals and medical facilities and treat them with drugs, not necessarily to cure their illnesses in the best possible ways. One of the stories featured in the film is of a military veteran suffering from PTSD and chronic pain whose conditions improve after he receives acupuncture and other holistic treatments. In his review of the film, the famous critic Roger Ebert notes “We learn that acupuncture has been tested and approved by the Air Force for more than 20 years, though few for-profit hospitals make it part of their practice.” That sad truth remains, although we are now seeing the tides shift slightly.

“Escape Fire” can also be viewed on Amazon Prime Video, and we highly recommend checking out both films to learn more about how acupuncture can effectively treat many ailments.

How Acupuncture Grew in the US

October 24 is National Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Day. We all know that acupuncture is an ancient Chinese practice that has been utilized to treat pain and illness in the far east for thousands of years. Acupuncture is now popular all over the world, including here in the US, and it is continuing to gain a foothold as a safe, effective way to treat myriad forms of pain.

50-stars-america-american-flag-1449057.jpg

But how did acupuncture make its way to the US?

Some believe that acupuncture’s rise in popularity can be traced to the 1970s, when President Richard Nixon’s Secretary of State Henry Kissinger was in China on a diplomatic trip. Kissinger fell ill and was treated at a Chinese hospital where he received acupuncture as part of his treatment. A journalist for the New York Times was covering Kissinger’s trip and reported on the Secretary’s hospital stay. This was the first exposure in the popular press for acupuncture for many people, and soon after the practice started gaining traction. In 1972, shortly after the publication of the story, the first legal acupuncture center in the country was established.

But acupuncture had been around long before the 1970s. Back in the beginning of the 20th century, acupuncture-like tapping treatments were being used. In the 1950s, some treatments were occurring where needles were being kept in place for up to a week! But soon, practitioners were using correct techniques, and acupuncture started becoming more and more accepted. After the Times article, things really took off.

Fast forward to today, and acupuncture is popular all across the US. There are over 18,000 licensed acupuncturists operating in the country. So while acupuncture can and will still grow even more, now you know that it has a long and interesting history here at home!

The Versatile Benefits of Acupuncture

Acupuncture is becoming more and more popular around the world as its wide-ranging benefits become more well-known. But exactly how many different disorders and diseases can acupuncture treat? While the number is by no means exact or binding, the World Health Organization currently recognizes acupuncture as an effective treatment for 47 diseases.

adult-beard-blur-810775.jpg

Many people seek out acupuncture as a treatment for general pain. But that pain is usually associated with a larger disease or disorder that is acting as the root cause. Those diseases are too often treated with medications that, while come can be effective, many times bring about a whole set of negative side effects as well. And we’ve learned more and more about the addictive properties of opioids, which many people are prescribed to treat all sorts and levels of pain.

“A lot of people are seeking a natural treatment in order to reduce the number of medications they take,” says Ning Qian, licensed acupuncturist with the Texas State Board of Medical Examiners who has been performing acupuncture for decades.

Qian treats patients who have consistently dealt with what are considered common illnesses, such as sinusitis, the flu, allergies and tonsillitis, as well as diseases and disorders like Parkinson’s Bell’s palsy, hypertension and more.

The fascinating and thing about acupuncture is that it doesn’t input anything into our body that isn’t already there. That’s why it is both such a safe and versatile treatment. Licensed acupuncturists know the body’s 360 major acupoints and which ones need to be stimulated based on the patient’s pain or disease they may be suffering from.

“When the needle is placed into the acupoint,” Ning says, “it allows blood and energy to flow into the targeted area.”

Acupuncture is also beneficial to people who haven’t been diagnosed with any disease or disorder, but want to increase their day to day energy and vitality. Qian treats patients who have consistently dealt with what are considered common illnesses, such as sinusitis, the flu, allergies and tonsillitis, as well as diseases and disorders like Parkinson’s Bell’s