Have you ever seen a tv show on the potential medical miracles that might be found in the Amazon Rain Forest? How knowledge of the compounds found there might lead to untold medical and drug advances?
I have to chuckle a little, because, why do we not see the "Amazon Rain Forest" we each have! that is as close as what we see in the mirror or when we look at our horses?
Yes, we are talking about the potential of the universe of the native body.
Let me give you a recent example of some just plain gorgeous research that mentally connects a bunch of concepts together, horse, human, commensensical medicine and modern medicine and what might be a great research fututre.
Please find a summary at the NIH (National Institutes of Health).
Sepsis is an extrodinary inflammation response that is highly lethal, if not during the actual septic episode, then secondarily via the results of immunosuppression.
Luis Ulloa at Rutgers, here in the US, used electric stimulation of acupuncture in a mice sepsis model and DRAMATICALLY reduced the mortality rate in response to a septic episode. The idea behind the biology is this : acupuncture was used to stimulate the sciatic nerve which stimulated a complex nervous response (through the adrenal gland) causing dompamine release leading to decreases in inflammation and increased survival. These results are very exciting not just potentially for humans, but let's think horses too! Interestingly, the adrenal gland often shuts down during sepsis, so the researchers also tried dompamine-mimic drugs and found one, Fenoldopam, that performed as well as the acupuncture itself.
Did you catch that?? Acupuncture, or the knowledge we have gained through its study, as a treatment for sepsis via the wonder of the native body? A treatment for early-stage inflammation in general in hospitals?
Acupuncture has been used for centuries of course, and it has certainly been best associated with "lack of reliability in scientific outcome" both in the field and in research. But thank goodness our preliminary understandings and applications have not stopped us from consciously exploring its targeted and deeper potential further use.
Of course, one immediately thinks of potentially attenuating laministis (acupuncture to "treat" laminitis is not a new idea) if their mind is bent in the hoof direction, by very early stage treatment with a similar acupuncture approach or dopamine mimics, especially in the case of more septic-esque inductions of laminitis. Or perhaps other forms of inflammation as well.
Much of the equine research that might be initiated as a result of this preliminary finding is relatively inexpensive research, as are many commonsensical medical approaches, and does not require the incredibly laborious and expensive work we typically undertake with identifying potential molecular markers and attempting drug discovery from that point.
This would be a GREAT TEAMUP opportunity both for modern research vets, like Belknap here at The Ohio State University (hello! hello! Busy OSU vets ... ), the field vet who practices acupuncture, and someone like me!