Spring is associated in Chinese Medicine with Wood, the Liver, Wind, and growth. I saw many patients this week with slight imbalances in their liver. Isn't that interesting? I thought to myself, if I was looking at these pets from a Western medical perspective, I would have pronounced them completely healthy! But with the tools of Chinese Medicine like pulse and tongue diagnosis, I can pick up on these subtle changes.
For subtle changes, often all that is needed is acupuncture stimulation of points that either wake up or calm areas that need it. Food makes a huge difference too. Adding just small amounts of particular foods have far reaching effects for dogs and cats.
Here's an example: Henry, a sweet St. Bernard, is an Earth dog who I've been seeing for about a year. This week he was especially drooly and licking along his large intestine meridian (top of his front legs) more than usual. He seemed a little weaker in his hind end. Why?
Henry was probably licking more because of his excessive Earth energy. The Large Intestine is part of the Metal element that drains energy from Earth, so Henry just stimulates that area himself to feel better. If I can support his Earth energy with foods and acupuncture he usually stops self stimulating so much! Henry needs to move his Liver Qi too, so foods to drain dampness (drool) and feed his Liver are appropriate. That means lots of spring greens for the liver, and foods to help drain the dampness like radishes, barley, and mushrooms.
If I saw Henry from a Western Medical mindset, I would have seen a basically healthy, but drooly dog (whatever, he's a St. Bernard...get him a bucket), licking his front legs (a behavior issue? -- Prozac anyone?), with some missed steps occasionally (so maybe he needs x-rays, Rimadyl,and blood work....). I wouldn't consider food as medicine, I wouldn't consider 5 Element Theory, I wouldn't use acupuncture.
Yet Henry responds well to all these things! I'm glad these things are in my tool box! What I love about Chinese Medicine is it's powerful ability to detect these subtle changes in animals and make adjustments before they get out of hand.