Sunday, December 14, 2014

Acupuncture helps sick owls return to the wild

Two months ago a 25-centimetre (10-inch) "little owl", or Athene Noctua, hurt his back when he flew by mistake into a stovepipe at a factory in eastern Madrid, Spain. The city lies on a mountainous plateau teeming with such birds. He was sent to Brinzal, an owl-rescue charity based in a park in the west of the city.

Now he lies, his speckled brown and white breast puffing in and out, as the acupuncture needles stimulate key points in his nervous system. "When he first came, he couldn't stand up. Then he started taking little steps. Now he is flying again," says acupuncturist Edurne Cornejo. She has given the unnamed owl 10 weekly acupuncture sessions so far. "It stimulates self-curing mechanisms in the organism. It does not cause side-effects" as some medicines do, she says.

The use of the ancient Chinese technique in animals is growing worldwide, according to the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society, a US-based body formed in 1974. Acupuncturist vets recommend it in animals for muscle and joint problems, such as the owl's bad back, as well as for nerve, skin, breathing and gut complaints. A family vet specializing in acupuncture for dogs and cats, Cornejo visits Brinzal as a volunteer to treat some of the hundreds of ailing night birds brought there each year by the public.

Elsewhere in the Brinzal centre, about 80 eagle owls, tawny owls, little owls and other species at various stages of recovery relax or practise flying again in covered enclosures. About 1,200 birds are brought to the centre each year, of which about 70 percent recover and can be returned to the wild, says Brinzal's co-ordinator, Patricia Orejas. Brinzal's centre opened in 1989 and has been providing acupuncture for its owls for six years. Cornejo estimates that acupuncture has been used on animals in Spain at least since the 1980s.

1 comment:

Tapejara said...

Corrections and clarifications:

- The only way acupuncture 'stimulates the nervous system' is by causing pain. [1]
- Acupuncturist ideology is actually based on fictional 'qi meridians' ('energy' lines) so it's nothing to do with the nervous system, anyway. [1]
- Acupuncture is known not to work by any mechanism, let alone 'self-curing' ones. [2]
- "It does not cause side-effects" Tell that to the 16 people given HIV by a Swiss acupuncturist, this year [3], and the 30 people given tuberculosis by a Chinese acupuncturist, this year! [4]
- Acupuncture is not an "ancient Chinese technique" - it dates to the 19th century (post-Industrial Revolution, when it became possible to make the fine needle points) [1]
- The closing implication is that 70% recover because of acupuncture, but this recovery rate is coherent with 'natural' recovery - if wild animals couldn't stay alive on their own, they'd go extinct pretty quickly - no 19th century pseudoscience is necessary.

For a catalogue of cases of people harmed by acupuncture, see:

One of the scariest side-effects of acupuncture is... get this... a punctured lung! They put the pin in, and just keep pushing! [5] I'm sure anyone can judge whether punctured lungs, needle-transmitted diseases, etc, are worth it, just for the sake of a technique that's based on the idea 'stab them all over and they might get better; fingers crossed'.