By Amy Snow & Nancy Zidonis, Tallgrass Animal Acupressure Founders
This is the true story of Ben. Ben is a 13-year old Golden Retriever with a lovely large frame and a fading red coat. His guardians were told by their veterinarian that his pancreas had failed and it was best to put him down. Ben’s guardians decided to take him home.
Let’s back up on Ben’s story. His guardians were feeding him a relatively high-quality, dry, manufactured food. After a week on a new bag, Ben vomited yellow sudsy bile. They fed him par-boiled meat and rice for a few days and his stomach went back to normal. His guardians assumed it was a temporary upset and they fed Ben the same dry, manufactured food. And again, Ben vomited yellow sudsy bile. For some reason, this rotation of par-boiled meat and rice with the manufactured food went on a few more times. Ben was sick each time they gave him the dry food.
Finally, Ben was very sick. He was completely lethargic and could not eat or defecate. His guardians rushed him to the veterinarian who thought it was time to put him down. Ben’s pancreatic function was zero. His guardians brought him home with the hope that canine acupressure or other natural therapies could bring him around. They live in Colorado very close to the Tallgrass offices and called us.
Before going to see Ben, Nancy gave me suggested acupoints for pancreatitis. When I got there, Ben was lying flat and not moving a muscle. He didn’t even pick up his head when I entered the living room. When I “Opened” Ben along the Bladder meridian my thumb dropped into deep, cold indents on both sides at the Stomach/Spleen Association points (Bladder 20 & 21). “OH MY!” was my only thought.
Because Ben’s energy level was so low, I decided to only show the guardians a few acupoints for this first session, and at that point, I wasn’t at all sure there would be a second session. The acupoints suggested for pancreatitis were in all: Stomach 36, Conception Vessel 12, Pericardium 6, Spleen 3, Liver 2, and Stomach 39. Rather than overwhelm Ben’s system, I decided to select acupoints Ben’s guardians could find easily. The points I selected were: Stomach 36, Conception Vessel 12, Bladder 20 & 21.
The next day Ben was up, walking, and eating small meals of meat and rice. By the second day, Ben had a bit of a bounce in his step, was interested in eating, and was defecating. Ben was back! “WHEW!” is all I could say.
I was so thankful to be going back for a second session. When I arrived, Ben came bouncing out the front door to greet me and Tilley. What a different dog. I added 2 more immune system strengthening acupoints to Ben’s acupressure session regime and strongly suggested they only feed Ben home cooked meals and consult with a Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner specifically trained in food therapy.
By Amy Snow & Nancy Zidonis, Tallgrass Animal Acupressure Founders
EQUINE CASE STUDY: DAKODA
By Michelle Deacon, Tallgrass Animal Acupressure Institute Participant
Michelle is from NSW, Australia and has many years of working with energetic therapies such as Reiki and crystals. She began her studies in Equine Acupressure with Tallgrass in 2014 and has found that acupressure adds a level of effectiveness to her work that’s very gratifying for all concerned. Below is one of her first Case Studies where she used a multi-therapy approach to working with a highly traumatized pony.
8-year old miniature pony
Rescued from Abattoirs
Lives with two other rescued ponies
Association points showed no specific issue
History: Dakoda was abandoned and rescued from an environment where he was exposed to death. He was literally living in it, hearing, smelling, and seeing death surrounding him.
Initially, I grounded him using Reiki and aragonite, a grounding crystal. Dakoda began to release and I could see he was letting go of the sheer horror he had experienced. After his great releases, I was able to bring more positive energy in by using chakra balancing of the third eye, throat, heart, solar plexus and root. He was receptive and continued to release and looked toward his owner and lifted his top lip. He seemed to be acknowledging his new owner for helping him.
The plan I chose was “Adapting to Change”, which is an article by Amy Snow & Nancy Zidonis (Tallgrass Founders), where they covered so much of what was relevant. Stress from change in environment and paddock mates, both loss of and adjustment to new ones. New environment, grief, abused, abandonment, loss of sense of self, safety and so forth. It was the perfect series of acupressure points for Dakoda.
I closed the session with the Tui Na (Chinese acupressure-massage) technique Pai Fa along the Bladder Meridian.
Dakoda was much more contented and grounded. He was more relaxed and less wary. He seemed to know he was safe now.
Two days later, the farrier, who attends the property, commented on how much more comfortable Dakoda was and he could see the difference the session had made.
Large Intestine 4 (LI 4), He Gu, Joining Valley*
Large Intestine 4 (LI 4) is the second super-power acupoint in the Amazing Acupressure Point series. Like Stomach 36, the first acupoint in this series, LI 4 is the go-to point for so many health issues it’s hard to believe this one acupoint can do it all. Thousands of years of clinical observation says it can!
Why is it so powerful? Because it’s a dynamic chi mover. LI 4 is the Yuan-Source point for the Large Intestine meridian. As a Yuan-Source point, LI 4 enhances the flow of Original Chi to the Large Intestines and thus supports its immune system capabilities. This point is the Master point (also called “Command point” in some texts) for the face, mouth, nose, jaw, and neck. In other words, LI 4 can and should be used to resolve any issues related to those anatomical locations.
NOTE: Because LI 4 is a powerful chi moving point it’s contraindicated during pregnancy unless there’s a difficult birth or a need to induce labor. LI 4 is known to promote both labor and expel retained placenta.
Energetics & Functions
The energy of LI 4 is upward and outward, hence LI 4 Dispels Wind Cold or Wind Heat, releases pathogens from the body, clears Heat/Fire, strengthens Wei chi, resolves pain anywhere in the body, restores yang chi, while also directly influencing the face, nose, mouth, jaw and neck.
Like any powerful acupoint, the list of what LI 4 can resolve lengthy: headaches, fever, nasal /sinus congestion, facial swelling or pain, eye problems, mouth issues, jaw/teeth pain, neck stiffness or pain, emotional stress, non-sweating issues (anhidrosis), retained placenta, and pain anywhere in the body. Because of its location LI 4 benefits the forelimb. It can soften hard masses and relaxes the soft tissues of the body. Additionally, this point should be added to any acupressure session where the immune system has been compromised in anyway.
Stomach 36 (St 36) and Large intestine 4 are super-power acupoints. Combine these two points in a session and you can almost conquer anything. This is probably why we hear the phrase “When in doubt use St 36 and LI 4” in Traditional Chinese Medicine classrooms.
Equine: LI 4 is found distal and medial to the head of the medial splint bone.
Feline: LI 4 is located between the first (dewclaw) and 2nd metacarpal bones on the medial side of the 2nd metacarpal.
Canine: Same location as Feline above.
*In some texts the Chinese name He Gu is translated as “Union Valley.” It’s interesting to note how descriptive of the location the name He Gu is.
Amazing Acupressure Point Series:
Stomach 36, Zu San Li, Leg Three Miles*
Stomach 36 (St 36) is the acupoint any practitioner could say is the key point of all the 365 classical acupressure/acupuncture points on the body. It’s the go-to point for such a wide-range health issues that it can almost be included in every session. Professors in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) schools are heard to say, “When in doubt, use Stomach 36 and Large Intestine 4.” We begin this series of Amazing Acupressure Points with St 36, go on with Large Intestine 4 and many more powerful acupoints.
In TCM there are classifications of points that describe their location and function. St 36 has an impressive list of ways in which it is classified. It’s the He Sea Point on the Stomach Meridian, which is the last acupoint point where chi collects before flowing into the ocean of the body. It’s the Master point for the gastrointestinal tract and thus affects the process of digestion and absorption of nutrients. As the Earth Point (or Earth-on-Earth Point) on the Stomach Meridian it’s considered an extremely powerful transporting point in the Five-Element Theory construct. St 36 is the Command point of the Abdomen. Another name for this point is “The Sea of Water and Grain Point” because of the Stomach’s role in being the origin of fluids and the food source for the body. And, last but not least, St 36 is a powerful Tonification point for chi, blood, and Wei chi (Protective chi).
Depending on which text you refer, the functions attributed to St 36 could be endless. Here are just a few functions: regulates and tonifies Spleen; regulates and strengthens Stomach chi and yin in the middle and lower Jiao (middle and lower sections of the trunk); tonifies Ying chi (nutrient chi), reduces stomach stagnation; redirects rebellious chi (chi going up, e.g., vomiting, burping); dispels dampness from the Lungs; regulates and moistens Large Intestines; tonifies Kidney yang and source chi; regulates and tonifies chi and blood; dispels Wind and Cold pathogenic factors; clears Heat; restores collapsed yang…. Need we go on!
Because of its location below the stifle, St 36, when stimulated, benefits the stifle because it brings more chi and blood to that area, hence, St 36 can be used for any stifle injury, arthritic changes, or other bone, tendon, or ligament problems surrounding the stifle. Common use of St 36 include: colic, diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, weight loss, mucus or blood in the stool/manure, muscle weakness, abdominal distension or pain, poor appetite, dehydration, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety, restlessness, edema, shock, fatigued extremities, lethargy, grounding, dizziness, hypertension, shortness of breath, seizures, blood deficiency, jaundice, immune system disorders, etc. Believe it or not, St 36 has even more benefits then the ones listed.
Equine: Craniolateral aspect of the pelvic limb – One half cun (0.5) lateral to the tibial crest on the lateral side of the tibia.
Canine: Craniolateral aspect of the pelvic limb – One finger-breadth lateral to the tibial crest in the lateral portion of the tibial muscle 3 cun below St 35.
Feline: Craniolateral aspect of the pelvic limb – One finger-breadth lateral to the tibial crest in the lateral portion of the tibial muscle 3 cun below St 35.
*NOTE: Some texts translate name Zu San Li into English as “Foot Three Mile,” “Foot Three Miles,” or “Leg Three Mile.”
Gretchen Dietz, Animal Acupressurist Blogger
I met a new client this week — Harley. She’s a nine-year-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and completely adorable. She was putty in my hands, rolling on her back to make certain I had direct access her belly and offered to crawl in my lap so I didn’t have to reach and strain my back to work on her.
Harley’s biggest concern is a pacing gait and a tendency, when tired, to drag her right hind foot. Within 15 minutes of the assessment, the guardian asks the question I know is coming, “What do you think it is?”
I remember when this question made me squirm. I fought with myself to not answer it even though I really, really wanted to. It’s not my job to diagnose, I’ve reminded myself more times than I can count. And how many times have my ideas ended up being wrong or not quite right?
So over time I’ve learned to give this response: I am not a vet. Followed by: I can tell you what I feel (as an animal acupressurist)vand then, if you want me to discuss with your vet my observations or you want me to recommend someone who could provide you with a diagnosis, I’d be happy to do so.
In Harley’s case, there’s a lot going on with her cervical spine — it’s hot, it feels slightly askew, and whenever I touch the area around her atlas, she turns her head away and offers another area instead. I show the owner and I begin our discussion with “If Harley were my dog” — my other pat answer — and then proceed to offer the guardian names of holistic vets who might help.
As I worked on Harley after the assessment, my suspicions were confirmed when I lightly held GV 14 and Bai Hui – Harley melted into her blanket on the floor and fell sound asleep. The tension in her neck subsided and the next day, the guardian called me to say, “She didn’t drag her feet at all on our long walk today. It was amazing!”
Still, I encouraged her to seek help from Dr. G (the veterinarian chiropractor and acupuncturist I recommended). The guardian was already on top of it and had an appointment for the next day. Long story short, Dr. G confirmed my assessment — Harley’s atlas needed adjustment as did her TMJ and occiput.
The best part of the story for me, though, was having Dr. G email me today and provide me with more points to work and areas to massage in between Harley’s chiropractic adjustments. The guardian is pleased as well and we’ve scheduled a series of weekly and alternating massage and acupressure sessions under Dr. G’s guidance.
Lessons for the week: I am not a vet and I must use the skills I do have to provide the best care for my clients. The skill of referral is as important as the skill of assessment.
Stay Tuned for Next Month’s Entry of The Acupressurist’s Diary: Part Two: Stumped!
The Power of the Jing-Well Points
By Amy Snow & Nancy Zidonis, Tallgrass Animal Acupressure Institute
Jing Not Ting Points
As Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) was edging into the western world, the soft, fricative sound of the “J” was translated as a hard “T” sound. That’s why you will often see the Jing-Well Points translated as Ting Points in older texts. Most schools have shifted to calling the acupoints located around the coronary band on horses and at the nail beds on dogs and cats (except for Kidney 1) Jing-Well points.
All of the Jing-Well points on each of the 12 channels are powerful Shu Points or Transporting Points. The Jing-Well points are the most superficial
of the Five Transporting Points*. These points are where the yin and yang chi bubble up and transform to the opposite polarity. The chi of these points is highly accessible and easily influenced because the energy is so dynamic.
Energy of the Jing-Well Points
In the Classic of Difficulties, Chapter 68, the energy of the Jing-Well Points is characterized as being centrifugal, or outward, in nature. Hence, these points are known to:
• Quickly expel pathogenic factors such as Wind and Heat
• Resolve yin organ diseases especially those related to Heat, and
• Benefit shen disturbances (mental issues) related to Heat – irritability, restlessness, anxiety, or confusion.
Specific Functions of the Jing-Well Points
Because the Jing-Well points readily eliminate pathogenic factors they can be used for acute and even traumatic conditions. For instance, all 12 Jing-Well points can be used for heat stroke. Other examples of when best to work with the Jing-Well points are:
• Heart 9 and Kidney 1 for anxiety and shen disturbances
• Pericardium 9 for calming irritability and restlessness
• Stomach 45 for confusion
• Triple Heater 1 helps with laminitis for horses
• Lung 11 to expel Heat in the chest
• Gall Bladder 44 and Bladder 67 for hip and hock pain
• Large Intestine 1 for respiratory problems and thoracic limb issues
Five-Element Theory and the Jing-Well Points
The power of the Jing-Well points is reflected in the Five-Element Theory also. The yin Jing-Well points are Wood Command points while the yang points are Metal Command points.
Yin Jing-Well Wood Command Points: Lung 11, Heart 9, Pericardium 9, Spleen 1, Liver 1, Kidney 1
Yang Jing-Well Metal Command Points: Large Intestine 1, Triple Heater 1, Small Intestine 1, Stomach 45, Gall Bladder 44, Bladder 67
The Jing-Well Points can be used to supports the harmonious flow of chi throughout the animal’s body because they have the attribute of balancing the entire meridian thus balancing the entire body.
Equine: To stimulate the Jing-Well points gently press and lightly massage the point with the soft tip of your thumb. Count slowly to 15before moving on around the coronary band to the next point. Kidney 1 is located on the back of the heel bulb.
Canine & Feline: Gently massage around the dog or cat’s nail beds to stimulate the Jing-Well Points. When you have complete the points located on the digits, press the soft tip of your thumb on the back of the back pad. As you massage each point slowly count to 15 before moving to the next point.
*NOTE: The five Shu, or Transporting, Points are located between the coronary band and elbow on a horse, and the nail beds and the elbow on dogs and cats. The five categories of Shu Points in ascending order from the coronary band on the horse or nail beds of the dog or cat are: Jing-Well, Ying-Spring, Shu-Stream, Jing-River, and He-Sea.
Meridian Charts showing major acupoints and Jing-Well points are available by clicking on Animal Meridian Charts.
When your dog has a seizure it’s scary. You desperately want to help him while he looks so helpless and at the mercy of his nervous system going haywire. There are things you can do, including canine acupressure.
First thing you need to do is make sure the dog is in a safe location. Clear any obstacles on which he can be hurt. If there are stairs or any other dangers, block them off or try to slide him away from the danger.
When a dog is experiencing a seizure, his body temperature rises. The longer the seizure the higher his temperature can go raising the risk of brain damage. What you can do to help cool his body down is place an ice pack on the nape of his neck.
Placing an ice pack on the nape of your dog’s neck during a seizure has been shown to lessen the severity and duration of the seizure. There’s a specific canine acupressure point at the dorsal base of the dog’s neck called Governing Vessel 14 (GV 14), or Du 14, which is known to clear heat.
Note: Always consult your holistic veterinarian immediately. If you have not consulted your veterinarian concerning your dog’s seizures, it would be wise to schedule a visit as soon as possible.
ANIMAL ACUPRESSURE PRACTITIONERS’ APPROACH TO DEATH
The Tallgrass Animal Acupressure Practitioner Google Group participants share issues they are experiencing with clients. Recently, the discussion turned to how to deal dying animals. The discussion has been thoughtful, respectful, and sensitive. We thought we would share some of the Tallgrass Practitioners’ comments from the extensive participation in the discussion entitled, “The Difficult Conversation.”
This is how the discussion began: I would love to hear everyone’s thoughts on issues of death, dying and euthanasia. Specifically, I have a 14 year old GSD mix who hasn’t walked for the past 8 months. He has bed sores on both hips and while they are healing, he is clearly diminishing before my eyes.
Comment: I always want to give my dogs the best possible remaining days, whether that is for a month, a year, or several years, but I also want to allow them to pass peacefully, without unnecessary or excessive pain, and with their remaining dignity. It is never easy to make the decision, but I feel euthanasia is a kind way for each of us to pass. I would want that for myself, and I am glad to be able to do it for my dogs. Choosing the “right time” is the difficult part. I have always been guided by the thought that when a dog can no longer stand up and walk under its own volition, it is time. At risk of sounding unsympathetic, if you consider how a dog in the wild would pass, it would likely go off on its own, lie down, and eventually pass. The dog you have described is still alive because the owner is likely serving its food and water to it in bed, and carrying outside to do its business, so she is essentially prolonging its life in this state. While I have done similar life-prolonging measures for few days for my dogs, hoping that they would improve, I could never do this a long-term way of living.
Comment: Could we suggest some points for the human to do on themselves to help with letting go/transition….
Comment: It is so very difficult to let our loved ones go; pets or people. Death is messy business and often our emotions and our issues get in the way of making sound decisions. Our pets are here much longer because of the care we give them. I believe we should give them an easy peaceful departure when the time comes and in their familiar surroundings if at all possible. I think we sometimes hide behind excuses and reasons for not opting for euthanasia as an out for not having to be the one that makes the decision to let go. I also acknowledge that each animal and each person have different situations to deal with whether physical issues or financial that impact the decisions that are made.
Comment: I highly recommend Ignatia – (homeopathic) which I took to help deal with my mom’s death (as well as doing points). I have also used it on my own animals after a pet has died, and once when we separated a mare from her foal from for weaning. It took the sharp edge of the sword off my heart, but didn’t take the grief away. I also took it after one my client horses chose to die after I did Ki27 and pain points. He died that night and the same evening I had the most wonderful comforting dream about him – and felt so connected.
Comment: I have found that in-home euthanasia is critical for the other members of the pack to understand that their friend has passed, and wasn’t just taken away. It is amazing to see the others circle around and watch their friend go. When there is so much good energy, I always feel like we have made the best choice for everyone.
Comment: I have a friend who owns a small dog store nearby and her way of deciding when it is time is to think of the top five things that your dog loved to do, when he or she can no long do any of those things on the list, it may be time. The five things could be as simple as loved chewy bones, or liked to sniff mailbox posts on a walk.
Comment: It may be worthwhile to pay attention to this human reasoning before drawing conclusions and applying the results to our beloved animals who may or may not have a different set of parameters within their reasoning. I cannot avoid the awkward experience of learning and uncertainty – even with the Book of the Dead on the bookshelf. The only thing in my power is to grant each dog a full review of all the questions at hand – no matter how many sleepless nights – before making any decisions or before any decisions are made: sometimes the dog decides, but there are times it doesn’t because it doesn’t want to let go for his/her own reasons. But even with the best of intentions I make mistakes and may make better decisions 5 years from now on but + and: ……….. so will the dog.
Dezi came to us after the sudden and tragic loss of his human guardian. A 13-year-old terrier mix who looks one-part Tramp (from “Lady and the Tramp”) and one-part David Niven (the debonair actor), Dezi seemed, at first, like a well-balanced dog. But after those first few weeks, we came to realize that Dezi had been traumatized not only by the loss of his human companion, but also by his human’s declining mental health in the final years of his life.
Dezi’s trauma showed itself in many ways. He slept in a tiny little ball on the smallest corner of the couch, trying as hard has he could not to take up space. Particular noises — beeps on the microwave or thuds from doors closing — rattled him so, he’d scurry away to find the darkest corner in which to hide. He ate very little and any change in his routine would trigger colitis — bright red bloody stools with occasional diarrhea. During acupressure and massage sessions he’d either go completely limp — as if he’d left his body — or move away completely. When he stayed and was fully present, sessions lasted only 10 minutes before he decided he’d had enough.
As the weeks progressed, the more clear it became that Dezi was both in emotional shock and deeply grieving. After a consultation with his Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) vet, we worked in collaboration on Dezi’s “outer channel.”
The Bladder meridian begins at the corner of the eye and runs over the head, down along the spine, and down each hind limb. The meridian runs 1.5 cun off the dorsal midline, but when it reaches the scapula, it separates into an “Inner Channel” and an “Outer Channel.” While the Inner Channel is used more frequently for organ system sessions and assessment, the Outer Channel addresses emotional well-being.
In TCM, each paired organ system is associated with an emotion. For instance, Liver and Gallbladder are associated with anger while Heart and Small Intestine are associated with Joy. Grief is associated with the Lung and Large and Intestine meridians and while Dezi wasn’t experiencing any “lung” issues per se, he was clearly experiencing Large Intestine problems.
To start, the vet recommended monthly acupuncture sessions where she’d focus on balancing his emotional stability and his intestinal concerns. She’d needle BL 13 and Bl 42 as well as Bl 21, Bl22, Bl 25, Bl 40, and St 36. In between sessions, I worked two points at the most every three days, initially focusing my canine acupressure work on Bl 42 and then assessing his progress and adjusting my point selection as he moved through his grief.
After acupuncture sessions, Dezi would come home and sleep for a good two hours. When he woke, though, he was alert, engaged, and ready for action. His energy increased and his mood was clearly happier and more at peace for about three days. This is when I’d step in and work BL 42 bilaterally. I thought I’d see Dezi bounce back regaining the benefits of his initial acupuncture treatment, but this was not the case. In fact, for about 24-36 hours, Dezi seemed even more grief-stricken, which included an unwillingness to eat and, once again, a tendency toward loose stools.
I consulted the vet again and she said to keep focused on Bl 42, that Dezi’s response was, she believed, a sign that he was pushing through the grief. “It has to go somewhere,” she said, “and we’re more likely to see increased manifestations of grief while his body works through the loss and the unsettling time with his previous family.”
And so I kept working Bl 42 and slowly, as the weeks progressed, Dezi’s moods leveled and his bowel movements became more regular and firm. Soon, I moved away from Bl 42 and focused on what was needed based on the assessment of the Association Points.
Dezi still gets monthly acupuncture from the vet and weekly acupressure from me. While he knows when he’s had enough, our sessions have doubled in length and he’s more willing to let me work temperamental points like those on the paws or his belly. He’s clearly happier too. He walks with his head up and wiggles hello when we come home from work. Meal times are no longer a struggle and though he still has an occasional bout of stress colitis (brought on by dramatic changes to his routine), they are more easily managed. While I know there are moments when he still grieves the loss of his previous guardian, I also know he now feels like a loved member of our family.
The birth of a foal is an amazing event. If all goes well, the mare proceeds through three stages of labor relatively quickly. Stage one generally involves overall restlessness as the mare paces the stall, paws, lies down, gets back up, and often begins to sweat. In stage two there are strong contractions, “breaking of the water” occurs, and the mare may lie down to deliver the foal, often in a just a few minutes.
Once the foal is safely delivered there is still more to be done. In Stage three of labor the placental membranes are expelled and it is highly important that placental membranes are expelled completely.
Placental expulsion occurs as the mare continues with strong, labor-like uterine contractions. Generally, placental expulsion takes place within one to three hours after birth, but on occasion some or all of the placenta is retained. The only way to know for sure if the entire placenta has been expelled is to examine it closely after expulsion. If tears have occurred and pieces seem to be missing, there is a likelihood that some of it remains within the uterus.
Clearly, this medical situation is part of your holistic veterinarian’s mare and foal care protocol. The determination of retained placenta should be made by your veterinarian.
When a foal of mine was born several years ago our veterinarian determined that our mare, Mariah, likely had some level of retained placenta. About 3 hours after birth, I worked the equine acupressure points shown in the following chart with success!