Gastrointestinal problems

After musculoskeletal problems such as arthritis, gastrointestinal conditions are among the problems most commonly treated with traditional Chinese veterinary medicine. An ever-increasing amount of scientific research shows that acupuncture and other Chinese medical therapies have genuine, beneficial effects on the stomach and intestines and in a wide variety of gastrointestinal problems.

Acupuncture for Gastrointestinal Conditions

Acupuncture has a variety of beneficial effects on the gastrointestinal tract. Studies in both humans and animals show that acupuncture can:

  • Normalize gastrointestinal motility
  • Relieve abdominal pain
  • Improve gastrointestinal motility after anesthesia in horses
  • Reduce nausea and vomiting
  • Normalize gastrointestinal blood flow
  • Resolve diarrhea
  • Resolve gastric and duodenal ulceration

These effects mean that acupuncture can help a wide variety of gastrointestinal problems in animals. For example, diarrhea can occur for numerous reasons, including eating inappropriate or spoiled food, infections, colitis, inflammatory bowel disease, kidney disease and more. Acupuncture has been widely studied in China for treatment of diarrhea in pigs (China is home to an estimated 700 million pigs, over half the world's pig population!). In piglets with diarrhea due to infection with E. coli, acupuncture is typically curative in around 80% of piglets. Similar responses have been seen in human babies, and acupuncture has also been shown to be effective for diarrhea due to ulcerative colitis and other conditions in animals.

Chinese Herbal Medicine for Gastrointestinal Conditions

Chinese herbal medicine is a great complement to acupuncture for gastrointestinal conditions. As with acupuncture, scientific studies have shown that Chinese herbal medicines have genuine beneficial effects on the gastrointestinal tract, for example relieving abdominal pain, reducing diarrhea, relieving gastric or intestinal ulceration and more.

Food Therapy for Gastrointestinal Conditions

Diet is, of course, an important part of treatment of conditions affecting the stomach and intestines. Dietary treatment can vary from temporary withholding of food for acute diarrhea, to construction of a specific home-made diet for an inflammatory bowel disease patient. Like us, animals can suffer from dietary allergies, so it's important to diagnose these (through a simple blood test) and avoid any problematic foods.

Although commercial "kibble" pet foods are nutritionally balanced in terms of vitamins and minerals, specially formulated whole food diets (including both meat and vegetables) are recommended to maximize intake of anti-oxidants, flavenoids and other micronutrients. Some foods, such as refined grains, cornstarch, corn syrup, food preservatives and omega-6 fats, promote inflammation, while others (including leafy vegetables, lean meats such as chicken and omega-3 fats) reduce inflammation. Since chronic inflammation is associated with many serious conditions, including cancer, eating a diet that does not exacerbate inflammation is important for both pets and people.

Foods are also chosen for patients based on their Chinese medical diagnosis and the energetics and other properties of individual foods. For example, the Chinese diagnosis of Damp-Heat with Spleen Qi Deficiency is a common Chinese medical diagnosis for inflammatory bowel disease patients. In these animals, foods that are cooling, Damp-draining and that support Spleen Qi are recommended.

Gastrointestinal problems that can benefit from holistic treatment

A wide variety of gastrointestinal problems can benefit from acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine, including:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation and megacolon
  • Megaoesophagus
  • Biliary disease
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Gastric or intestinal ulcers
  • Equine colic
  • Pancreatitis
  • Cancer of the stomach, intestines or liver
  • Hepatitis and other liver problems such as jaundice
  • Lack of appetite


New York Veterinary Acupuncture Service provides acupuncture, herbal medicine, Tui-na and Chinese food therapy on either a house call basis or at several area clinics. House calls are offered in New York's Orange County (Newburgh, Middletown, Beacon, Warwick, Goshen, Washingtonville, Florida, Chester, Monroe, Harriman, Tuxedo and surrounding areas). Thursday house calls are available in Manhattan. Fees vary by location; for more information, please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Office visits are available as follows:

High Point K9 Center
2224 Mt. Hope Rd., Middletown, NY
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for appointments

Compassion Veterinary Health Center
235 South Ave., Poughkeepsie, NY
Contact CVHC on 845-473-0358 for appointments

Contact NYVAS