Acupuncture, the traditional Chinese methodology targeting specific points on the body using needles, is used for a huge variety of issues including pain relief, tension, and anxiety. It’s just for humans, right? Wrong! Dr. Rachel Barrack, DVM, CVA, CVCH of Animal Acupuncture, sought a way to use an integrative approach to treat and heal her patients, combining western veterinary medicine with the eastern methods of acupuncture.
Located in New York City year-round and Long Island’s Hamptons region during the summer, Barrack’s practice is fully mobile, allowing her to treat your furry best friend from your couch, their favorite bed, or a park bench.
Read on for Dr. Rachel Barrack’s insight on acupuncture and wellness trends, and get the scoop on some of her Instagram-famous clientele!
What is Acupuncture?
Dr. Rachel Barrack (DRB): Acupuncture is a healing art that has been used in Chinese veterinary practice for thousands of years to treat a variety of medical conditions. It is considered the mainstay of traditional Chinese medicine. Acupuncture produces a physiological response by inserting thin, sterile, stainless steel needles into specific points on the body. Most acupuncture points are located along 14 major channels, which form a network that carries blood and energy throughout the entire body. It can provide pain relief, stimulate the immune and nervous systems, increase microcirculation, and decrease inflammation. Acupuncture can also help restore balance between organ systems for optimal health and overall wellbeing.
As a veterinarian, I am always committed to offering my patients the best possible care in order to provide them with the highest quality of life at all times. Therefore, I am always exploring different methods to achieve this goal and wanted a practice that incorporates this principle— utilizing the best of both western and eastern medicine.
How did you start your company and when?
DRB: Two specific patients sparked my interest in Chinese medicine. Many years ago, while working full time at Belmont and Aqueduct Racetracks, I was faced with a particularly challenging case. This particular horse had a very unusual lameness that would not resolve with extended rest and extensive western treatment. I had heard that acupuncture could be of help so although skeptical, I figured why not give it a shot. I reached out to another colleague who was a certified veterinary acupuncturist and shortly after being treated my patient was able to make a full recovery and eventually returned to racing. I was amazed!
Shortly thereafter I was treating a cat suffering from advanced cancer. Although this cat was receiving palliative western therapy, his owner was looking for something further to make him more comfortable. I watched as another colleague utilized acupuncture and Chinese herbal therapy to help better the remainder of this cat’s life.
I was so intrigued that I began studying under Dr. Xie of the Chi Institute in Gainesville, FL in 2012. Once I began incorporating acupuncture into my veterinary repertoire I was astounded at the amazing benefit I was now able to provide my patients and my practice of medicine was forever changed. Initially I began just treating horses and then broadened my practice to dogs and cats as well. Today, I offer an integrative approach to veterinary medicine which allows me to offer the best of both eastern and western therapies to all of the my patients.
What can Acupuncture be used to treat?
DRB: Acupuncture can be used to treat an endless array of conditions in both humans and animals – some common veterinary applications include: degenerative joint disease, neurological disease (seizures, disc disease), gastrointestinal issues (anorexia, diarrhea, vomiting), cardiovascular and respiratory disease, renal disease, skin disease, urogenital disease (incontinence), immune-mediated diseases, chronic ear infections, neoplasia, post operative healing, and behavioral issues.
What is Chinese Herbology? Is this a trend or an evergreen methodology for pets?
DRB: Chinese herbs are often used in conjunction with acupuncture to optimize and lengthen its effects. These herbs are available in capsule, powder, and tablet form and are typically readily ingested and easily digested. In order to ensure the best product and yield the maximum results, I prescribe only the highest quality herbs. They contain no animal by-products, endangered plant species, or heavy metals and are subjected to stringent quality control.
Chinese herbs aren’t an emergent trend, they have been utilized to great benefit in veterinary (and human medicine!) for thousands of years.
How do you measure acupuncture’s success with your clients?
DRB: There are subjective and objective ways to measure acupuncture’s success. Subjectively, owners will report decreased pain, increased mobility and energy, and/or decreased anxiety for example. Objectively, blood work can quantify improvement of internal conditions. Visualization can be utilized to see improvement in chronic skin conditions. I love nothing more than when owners report significant improvement after just one session but typically, particularly for more chronic or tenacious conditions, multiple sessions may be required to see results.
Why is acupuncture so popular with humans, in addition to pets?
DRB: I believe acupuncture is popular with humans and pets alike because it works! It also offers the ability to treat a variety of conditions with very little side effects, when compared to western medications.
What are some health and wellness “trends” that you enjoy in your personal life?
DRB: Taking care of my body is important to me. I maintain a healthy diet and workout daily. In addition to going to the gym, I love to take classes at SoulCycle and Rumble here in NYC. I also visit a human acupuncturist regularly!
You have treated some Instagram famous faces including the late Toast Meets World, any particular favorites?
DRB: I love all my patients and their amazing owners! It is so special to be welcomed into their homes and families. Everyone is treated like a celebrity!
For more on Dr. Barrack and to book your next appointment, visit animalacupuncture.com.