Welcome to Acu in Practice! This week I’d like to discuss Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV). FIV is a fairly common retrovirus in the feline population. Once infected, it cannot be eradicated from the body. Many cats will live their entire life without becoming symptomatic while others will develop complex medical conditions, mainly due to immune suppression. When a patient is not symptomatic, Western medicine alone really does not have a proposed action plan. With Integrative Medicine, we can reach for herbs or other alternative options in order to be proactive. In Traditional Chinese Medicine specifically, the virus is often diagnosed as “Hidden” or “Latent” Heat. Thus, we can use acupuncture, herbs, and food therapy to help counteract this “Hidden Heat” and to mitigate secondary problems that may develop.
Take for example, Speckles…
He is a 13 year old FIV positive Domestic Short Hair cat. Over the years, he has battled numerous medical problems related to immune suppression. The most complicated syndrome he has developed is Bowen’s Disease which is a combination of multiple cutaneous Squamous Cell Carcinomas (SCC) and papillomavirus. During the beginning phases of this syndrome he actually had to undergo bilateral enucleation because his eyes were inflamed and painful. Each time he visits me, it seems a new mass or a new problem has popped up! Almost all of them can be tied to immune suppression. Most recently, he has been itchy and I found heavy overpopulation of the demodex mite in his ears!
Speckles was already having medical issues when he first presented for treatment. With Integrative Medicine, using a combination of Western therapies, TCM and nutrition, we have been able to maintain his quality of life and overall happiness through counteracting the effects of each problem he develops. However, there are many cats that are FIV positive and have no symptoms…at least not yet. With these patients, we actually have a chance to get ahead of the disease by using acupuncture and herbs to balance the immune system, keeping the virus quiet, and supporting Yin. Because the virus is a Heat pathogen, it damages and consumes the Yin – the cooling, calming, hydrating aspect of health.
Acupuncture points will depend on the specifics of the patient; some useful points would be:
Clear Heat or Latent Heat: GV 14, LI 4 (also stimulates Wei Qi), LI 11 (also cools Blood), SP 10 (for Blood and Blood Heat), LU 7 or 9 (also good for Wei Qi), LIV 2.
Tonify and Protect Yin: BL 23, KID 3, KID 6 (also cools Blood), SP 6
Speckles is a very social creature and he spends his day like many other cats – sleeping about 18 hours daily, snuggling with his owner, eating and laying outside on the porch (supervised of course!) He does not let his complications get in the way of enjoying life!
This post is created by Nell Ostermeier, DVM, CVA (IVAS) and is intended for informational use, not to replace medical advice.