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To assess the therapeutic efficacy of acupuncture in combination with Chinese herbs for treatment of horses affected with anhidrosis.


44 horses affected with anhidrosis for up to 3 years’ duration were enrolled. Inclusion required both compatible clinical signs and results of a quantitative intradermal terbutaline sweat test.


Study horses were randomly allocated into 2 groups. Group 1 (n = 19) was treated with daily Chinese herbs and 4 weekly acupuncture sessions. Group 2 (n = 25) was given daily hay powder as a placebo and 4 weekly sham acupuncture sessions. Horses were tested by quantitative intradermal terbutaline sweat test within 2 days after treatment completion and again 4 weeks following treatment.


Terbutaline-induced sweat responses (mg) were not different between groups within 2 days and 4 weeks after treatment. Two days after treatment, ratios of sweat responses (compared to baseline) were higher (P < .05) in the treatment group compared to the placebo group at terbutaline concentrations of 1.0, 100, and 1,000 µg/mL. The number of horses responding to treatment was higher in the treatment group (5/19 [26%]), compared to horses in the placebo group (1/25 [4%]) for 1 of 5 terbutaline concentrations 2 days (10 µg/mL) or 4 weeks (0.1 µg/mL) after treatment.


Ratios of sweat responses were higher in treatment horses 2 days after treatment, compared to baseline, but not 4 weeks later. The efficacy of a traditional Chinese veterinary medicine protocol for anhidrosis treatment with acupuncture and Chinese herbs was low but higher in treated horses compared with placebo.

Open access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association