The County Ag Report: Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a form of eastern medicine where thin needles are inserted into the body. More recently, it's become more popular among animal owners, and pets in particular. The practice revolves around qi.

"Qi is your life force. You are born with a certain amount of life force and diseases can certainly lower the amount of qi that you have or block your qi flow in your body. Acupuncture is helpful in unblocking that or trying to add a little bit more qi to your body."

Dr. Hersey-Benner works at Hotham's Veterinary Services, and has been a practicing veterinarian for 11 years, doing acupuncture for about the last 2-3 years. She says the treatment is the same in humans or animals, and she has seen success with this method.

"I've had a couple of cancers go into remission, but most of the dogs are like Matai that are painful, they're advanced in their years, have significant arthritis, and we're doing it for pain relief."

"Matai, actually, he's 11. And so when he was a pup, he had his first seizure. So he had his first acupuncture probably about ten weeks old."

Hollie Umphrey is Matai's owner, and says he has received acupuncture off an on to reduce reliance on medications. Dr. Hersey-Benner sees a benefit to both.

"They compliment each other very very nicely. You end up hitting a wall sometimes with how a pet is responding to western medicine. There's only so many drugs available or so many drugs that animals can tolerate. And so, by combining the two, you sometimes lower a pet's dependence on western medicine."

Aside from her role as a dog mom, Umphrey is involved in agriculture as part of the Central Aroostook Soil and Water Conservation District. Though she hasn't seen acupuncture used on large farm animals in the County, she says it would add on to their quality of life.

"In the midwest, in the southern states, you'll see a lot of the Belgians, the horses that are used for draft pulls, what have you, they do very well with this. So, something for us to be considering up in this neck of the woods."