American Journal of
Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine

Scalp Acupuncture in Dogs and Cats

Neal J. Sivula DVM, PhD, FAAVA


Scalp acupuncture is a contemporary acupuncture technique that integrates traditional Chinese needling methods with Western medical knowledge of representative areas of the cerebral cortex. It is effective for treating both acute and chronic central nervous system (CNS) disorders with just a few needles resulting in marked improvements. This relatively new technique is considered one of the most significant developments in Chinese acupuncture in the past 60 years. There are several characteristics that separate modern scalp acupuncture from needle placement based on traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). First, the location of treatment areas are based on the reflex somatotopic system organized on the surface of the scalp; they do not correlate with TCM channels/meridians. The scalp somatotopic system acts as a small window with access to the CNS and endocrine systems. Stimulating these areas has a direct effect on the cerebrum, cerebellum, thalamo-cortical circuits, thalamus, hypothalamus and pineal body. Next, scalp acupuncture needles are subcutaneously inserted into whole sections of various zones rather than at specific acupoints. These zones correspond to cortical areas that are responsible for central nervous system functions such as motor activity, sensory input, vision, speech, hearing and balance. Finally, scalp acupuncture is similar to conventional medicine in that patients with the same clinical diagnosis all receive the same or similar treatment versus individualized TCM diagnoses. Common indications for its use in clinical practice are paralysis/motor dysfunction and spinal/limb pain.

Sivula N. Scalp acupuncture in dogs and cats. Am J Trad Chin Vet Med 2019; 14(2):71-80

Scalp Acupuncture in Dogs and Cats

Neal J. Sivula DVM, PhD, FAAVA

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