I will be a guest on the Tripawds’ radio show November 17th at 3pm to talk about holistic cancer careNovember 15th, 2013
Tripawds is a community for people who have three legged cat and dog companions. They have a great website with some amazing information and support. I’ll be talking on Holistic Cancer Care at 3pm Pacific time on Sunday November 17th. If you are around please listen in to Tripawds holistic care for dogs and cats. If you aren’t able to hear the show it will be recorded for later listening.
There’s been a lot going on in my life.
First of all I finished the first draft of the cancer book!! I’m so excited about this! However there has been such a push the last six months to get it done, that I feel like now that it is, it is hard for me to refocus on what else I should be writing about. I’m also a little overwhelmed by the vast amount of editing I need to do to get it into shape. I want it to be in a form that you can hold in your hands.
At the same time I started looking for a space to finally have my healing center for animals and people and herb shop and we may have found a space. It is a small former medical clinic right next to the center of a cool little multicultural neighborhood on the peninsula I live. Hopefully we will be putting an offer in on it soon – going to talk to a real estate attorney on Monday. It’s a little outdated and may stay that way at first but I think with love and a little bit of decorator touch it is going to be awesome.
I can not wait to have a space where I can share my love of herbs and healing with others!
So far we have a small group of practitioners that I just love involved with the clinic. On the human side we have a naturopath Cheryln, acupuncturist and chinese herbalist Joleen, and massage therapist Kim. For the animals the same massage therapist, Kim Rogers, also does animal massage and then my friend Lisa Reising and I who do animal acupuncture and herbal medicine. And of course I will still have my wonderful assistant Diane helping, who holds my world together in so many ways and those of my clients as well. Once I have a space I will be seeking one or two more practitioners to join us. I feel like not only will we be able to offer an oasis of healing for two and four legged being but also share ideas with each other and become better practitioners because of it.
My herb shop Kingdom of Basil on etsy has been getting more and more orders and I am so excited to see the same people order again and again. I feel like I am able to make a difference in these animals’ lives. A few weeks ago I was able to get my longtime friend and human naturopath, Cheryln Crowl to come in on Mondays and spend a few hours making herbs for me. I am thrilled to have not only help but help from a human doctor who has loved herbs and understands how important it is to handle them well and put love into how you work with them.
Dr. Cheryln will be part of the healing clinic Kingdom of Basil and I am so looking forward to working with her more and being able to share my human clients with her. She lived with me during my lovely cat Basil’s reign of our home and understands what it means to live in the Kingdom of Basil and have a supportive and healing center. Did I mention that we have been friends since we were three years old? Funny how we both ended up in the healing arts.
So back to this blog. Here are some thoughts on articles I want to write
Liver disease and elevated liver enzymes and herbs to treat them with
Inflammatory bowel disease
Is there other articles that would be helpful?
I’ll keep you all updated on what happens. I’m feeling like everything is circling into place, the book, the clinic, the herb shop and all the wonderful practitioners. It all just needs to come together now! Wish us luck!
One of my clients Margaret recently lost her very sweet older girl Sadie. In the end Sadie had a lot of health issues including signs of dementia. She recently sent me this letter as a follow up to my article Dementia and Anxiety in older dogs and gave me permission to share it with all of you. I hope it will be helpful for others dealing with the same issues in their loved canine companions.
From Margaret – I read your post on aging dogs with interest and with my usual twinges of grief. I appreciated all your kindness as we were experiencing so much decline with Sadie. I thought I’d follow up with a couple of points we were talking about the last time you saw us.
In addition to the herbal tea you sent her, and the benefits of acupuncture and acupressure, I ended up relying on several things. Maybe some of the others you know who are living with this stage of life could use the tips.
After lots of short stabs at various kinds of food she would eat, toward the end it was chicken baby food (she preferred Beachnut to Gerbers) with her pills ground up and mixed in along with some warming/thinning water and some Pedialite to balance her electrolytes a bit. I used baby syringes (free at the Rite Aid pharmacy) to give it to her as she lost the ability to figure out how to eat out of a small bowl unless she was really really hungry and the food tasted really really good to her at that moment. We did the syringe feeding twice a day with little treats at other times (people chicken – she preferred sharing Gary’s BBQ’d bits; Red Barn log bits; soft bickies).
We followed her vet’s caution about sticking to only a couple of sources of protein as she wasn’t able to process a variety. Since she wasn’t able to chew or digest well, we diced or minced what we gave her. The vet suggested that as she was having problems with nausea, in addition to the Pepcid AC we had been giving her for quite a while, toward the end we gave her half a Cerenia tablet every other day (wrapped in a smudge of smoked salmon, which really got her attention). She did well on that, as vomiting undigested food had become a problem. Baby food slurries helped as well. For the last couple of weeks she wanted syringe meals more often, so she had those 4-5 times a day, each “meal” = about 6Tbsp. I also mixed in Benefiber as she wasn’t getting much fiber in her food. Helped with constipation.
On the drugs for senility, it was pretty clear that Senilife for small aging dogs helped her. After 3 days on it, we could see some improvement. I ran out for 3 days, and the issues got worse, but were corrected again after about 3 days back on it. I gave it to her before bed so that she could settle down. Her restless/anxious periods usually started around 8-9 p.m. For the last week she was pretty miserable for several hours in the night. Senilife is much less expensive than Anipryl and doesn’t seem to have some of the side effects they warn about. It’s easy to give because you just snip off the end and squeeze a little “juice” into the mouth.
When she was really miserable, I gave her a little of the Gabapentin you prescribed. It was too much for her most of the time – made her loopy – but it was okay in the middle of the night toward the end.
On the incontinence part, we ended up with PetSmart’s Top Paw washable cover ups. As her bladder problems got worse, I just increased the pad (human ones are cheaper and more varied than dog pantiliners) to “overnight” capacity, folding in the ends since they were too long for our little girl. The kind with wings worked best as she just couldn’t hold it when she woke up even from naps.
The Phyto-B Donna Kelleher gave her stopped the sleeping incontinence in the first week we gave it to her over a year ago. We never stopped that. (NOTE: Phyto-B has recently been discontinued and is difficult to get)
We kept a little bit of light on at night for her as darkness increased her anxiety. Even in the daytime, she wasn’t able to make sense of some of her surroundings, like reflections in windows, recognizing what was going on, figuring out where Gary and I were even when we were close by. She saw movement rather than shape, I think. Rescue Remedy helped when things got bad for her. I’m sorry I didn’t think to try melatonin.
More than the Thundershirt, T-shirt, Equafleece or ACE wrap on her body, Sadie did best with a piece of soft elastic “calming band” (1-2″ wide short strip of ACE bandage or soft underwear elastic tied in a figure 8 around her face: lay elastic at midpoint over nose, cross under chin, tie at back of neck; can be pushed up off nose to above “eyebrows” like a Hillary Clinton headband). The calming cap that both Premier and Thundershirt sell is helpful in some cases because it closes down visual stimuli to some extent as well as providing the light pressure around the face, but in Sadie’s case, her vision was already compromised and subtracting from her ability to see made it worse for her. Oddly enough, the Top Dog “bloomers” provided kind of a Thundershirt for her rear end. It provided a little support for her back legs, probably by bringing awareness to that part of her body, and also separating her legs a little because of the pad. More importantly, feeding her tail through the hole had the effect of keeping her tail from getting tucked. Her back was less roached. Her tail was more relaxed. Robyn Hood and Linda Tellington-Jones say, “Change the tail (or the posture) and you change the dog.” Clamping her tail and her back legs was a default self-protective strategy for Sadie, so the “bloomers” were a big help with her stance, stability, and confidence.
Thank you so much for sharing this Margaret!
My friend Rose DeDan is an amazing healer and reiki and shamanic practitioner. We often trade acupuncture and reiki session for our animal companions and she has done work on me as well. She also teaches Reiki classes and still has some openings in her level one class this weekend. If you have never taken a reiki class before I highly recommend it.
Reiki energy healing restores the balance between the physical, emotional, spiritual and mental levels for all living beings, enabling the body to do what it does best, heal itself. It can also affect reconnection between spiritual beings and the universe around us (if you thought animals liked you before wait ’til you experience their response to Reiki!).
Reiki training offers important benefits for self-healing and as well as for healing for people, animals, trees and plants.
A Reiki Level 1 training incorporates a series of attunements and hands-on training. The attunements open energy channels enabling the student to connect with the Reiki healing energy. This is an important aspect of Reiki—energy comes through the person, not from them—making this form of healing a safe one.
For more information or to register for this class check out Wild Reiki and Shamanic Healing’s Level 1 Reiki class.
It always makes me feel special when animals love to come to my treatment room. Lark always impresses me in that she also can jump up on the couch and sit in a way that I can place all her acupuncture needles and she always has an awareness of where they are, never knocking them out.
Lark is one of those animals who is very emotionally sensitive. She likes to connect to those she cares about. I appreciate that I am one of Lark’s people.
When I moved it out of the way she said,” no I meant to do that” and not only placed her head over my hand but also her paw. She wanted to hold hands while she had her acupuncture treatment. It’s small things like this that warm my heart.
Herbals can also be a very good option. I’ve been selling a very safe and supportive herbal, called Senior Dog Support through my shop Kingdom of Basil.
Senior Dog Support contains herbs that help promote blood circulation, help ease arthritis pain and support the endocrine and organ functions of old dogs. It is also safe for cats although requires some creativity in administration, usually this involves making a tea.
This herbal is made up of a few herbs that help promote blood flow in the body. These herbs help support the bone marrow and help with the aches and pains that come with old age. In China these herbs are often added to chicken soup in the winter to help keep older people healthy.
The next two herbs are used for arthritis. They also help reduce pain and are said to release wind and damp that are stuck in the joints.
- Cinnamon twig
- Gentiana root
In addition Senior dog support contains
- Safflower which helps to invigorate the blood and add more lightness to the step
- Corydalis, a powerful pain herb
- Devil’s Club Root -a northwest native adaptogen herbal which helps support the endocrine systems of the body and also has an effect on arthritis inflammation. I have been in love with this herb for older dogs as I feel like it gives them more vitality as they age.
I have had had many people comment that their older dogs do much better on this herbal formula. It can safely be used with glucosamine, steroids, Tramadol, and/or the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like Rimadyl.
Also check out my article Infrared Light Therapy for another safe and easy why to support your older dog or cat through the winter.
I believe that information that can help people or animals should be available for free. I believe that knowledge is powerful and that this should not be held by a few but available to anyone. The more people who can be helped by what I hold in my brain the better. I am one person; I can only share with a few of you if everything stays in my brain.
The internet is a powerful tool. It reaches out to people all over the world. Rich people, poor people, people who speak the same language as me, people who speak other languages. We are no longer a world where we must memorize knowledge but a world where we share knowledge. I want to be part of this sharing.
I believe in the fair exchange that happens naturally in life. As people, I believe we generally want to give for things that are of value to us but that we don’t like being forced to give. And if we receive a gift we want to be able to use it in whatever way we see fit and if we love it we want to share it with friends. What if someone gave you a beautiful cooking pan but told you that you could only make food in it for yourself?
We are delusional if we believe that when information or art is sold that people do not share it. As humans it is natural for us to share. Why not embrace that sharing instead of fighting it?
From Cory Doctorow:
Finally, let’s look at the moral case. Copying stuff is natural. It’s how we learn (copying our parents and the people around us). My first story, written when I was six, was an excited re-telling of Star Wars, which I’d just seen in the theater. Now that the Internet — the world’s most efficient copying machine — is pretty much everywhere, our copying instinct is just going to play out more and more. There’s no way I can stop my readers, and if I tried, I’d be a hypocrite: when I was 17, I was making mix-tapes, photocopying stories, and generally copying in every way I could imagine. If the Internet had been around then, I’d have been using it to copy as much as I possibly could.
So how do artists and writers survive in a world of sharing and giving? What if we let our readers and fans put a value on our art? What if you as the reader only gave what was possible and only if you were inspired to and it felt right? What if there was no requirement to give anything? How would that change the availability of art and information?
One of my favorite performers Amanda Palmer, in her recent TED talk said
A lot of people are confused by the idea of no hard sticker price. They see it as an unpredictable risk, but … I see it as trust.
“I think people have been obsessed with the wrong question, which is, ‘How do we make people pay for music?’ What if we started asking, ‘How do we LET people pay for music?”
The same holds true for my work. There is a donation button in the upper right hand corner. If my work speaks to you and you feel inspired to give something back I deeply appreciate it. If my work can help you or your animal companion that warms my heart.
Please share any of my information, pass it on to your friends, your family, anyone you know that could benefit from it.
Everything I write is licensed under creative commons noncommercial share alike.
What does this mean?
Any of my work can be shared, translated, copied, given out in classes, put on your blog, passed on in anyway as long as it is not sold for money. The creative commons license must follow if you republish it.
What if we could change our world to a system of trust? What if we didn’t cling so closely to mine but opened things up to make knowledge and art all of ours? I want to live in this world!
I love using acupuncture to treat animals with cancer but it involves finding an acupuncturist in your area and some areas simply do not have acupuncturists for animals. It can also be expensive and while most of my clients believe it is worth every penny, it is not always an option for people on a fixed income.
A great option if you can’t find an acupuncturist is to find an acupressure practitioner or to do some acupressure on your own animal.
Here is a good guide to finding an acupressure practitioner Tallgrass acupressure practitioner search.
There are many, many ways to work with cancer through acupuncture/acupressure points. There is no one right way. Below is how I normally work with cancer. You may have found another way in another book. Do what feels right to you or use a combination of different styles.
Points can be massaged in small circles or sometimes holding light pressure on a point will work better in some animals. If you massage use clockwise circles.
I was taught visualizations to go along with the points. I find that they can help but if they don’t feel right to you just use the pressure or massage.
The system of acupuncture I use is based on traditional Chinese veterinary acupuncture and uses mostly shu or association points that run in the bladder meridians along the spine. There are two bladder meridians, in the dips just lateral to the spinal column that run along side it.
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The following points lie just to the side of the spine in the bladder meridian. I have included meridian point names where there is crossover. I always start my treatments with Tian Men.
- Fei Shu or Lung Association Points (BL13) – find the scapulas on your dog or cat. Between the scapula and the spine is a little depression on both the right and the left side. Fei shu lies in this depression towards the cranial (closer to the head) part of the scapula. Massage both fei shu points as you think about a soft white mist – like a slightly foggy day in the forest, slightly cool. Think of healthy lungs, moving air in and out with nice deep breaths.
- Gan Shu or Liver Association points (BL17 or B18) – If you go to the last rib and count four ribs towards the head and then trace that forth rib up to the bladder meridian you will find these points. Often there is a slight change in hair color at this point along the spine. Massage these points as you think of a cool mountain stream that is brilliant green in color. There are no obstructions in this stream. Think of your animal moving and stretching and there blood flowing through the body smoothly. My acupuncture tradition puts gan shu at BL17, many others put it at BL18.
- Pi Shu or Spleen Association Points (BL20) Count in to the second rib from last rib and trace that rib up to the bladder meridian. As you massage these points think of a hot, dry yellow clay desert with the sun shining down from above. Think of your animal eating well and there digestion moving in the body.
- Shen Shu or kidney association points (BL23) Go to the most caudal (closest to the tail) aspect of the last rib. From there make a line perpendicular to the spine and follow that up to the bladder meridian. Kidneys in Chinese medicine have no parts, a yin and a yang component. We will focus more on the yin component with these points but visualize both. Massage these points and picture a deep black sea, out of the seas raises a bright blue fire serpent, shining against the black water. Picture you animal lying happily, content after a long day. They are strong and healthy.
The following points are not on the bladder meridian
- Tian Men is on the midline of the body right behind the boney bump on top of the head, level with the back of the ears in most dogs. Tian Men helps to open up the channels down the spine and open up obstructions in the body, it also helps to calm and relax most animals. I always start with this point as I feel like it helps the other points to work better and relaxes the cat or dog I am working with. As you massage this point think of the love you want to share with your animal.
- Bai Hui is along the spine at the junction between the lumbar spine and the sacrum. When your animal is standing find the front of the hips and follow them straight up to the spine. There is a small depression where bai hui is. Bai hui works with Tian Men to complete the opening down the spine and to remove obstructions. Massage this point and think of the sun shining down on this point and energy following into your animal and helping to make them healthy. Note: Human acupuncture practitioners – bai hui is in a very different spot in animals than in humans where it is located on top of the head)
- Hou San Li (ST36)
This point is in the fleshy area to the side of the leg bone about a 1/3 of the way between the knee and the hock, closer to the knee. It can be massaged on either side or on both sides. I recommend doing just one side at a time. As you massage this point think of your animal eating well, picture their immune system, little white blood cells fighting the cancer cells.
Why these points? My main goals in animals with cancer is to stimulate qi to increase the immune response in the body against cancer and to move stagnation which is often the cause of cancer. Secondary goals are to alleviate pain, promote digestion, help with detoxification in the body and stimulate appetite.
The three organs that stimulate qi production are lung, spleen and kidney. I work with the association points for these organs along the bladder meridians through the points fei shu, pi shu and shen shu.
In addition I always work with liver because it helps to move stagnation in the blood and body and helps with pain. I use the association points gan shu for this.
I often use a point called hou san li or ST36. This point helps to stimulate the immune system, promotes digestion and appetite and is a longevity point.
Bai hui and Tian Men helps to open up the meridian system and remove obstructions. Bai Hui stimulates the yang vitual energy of the body. It is also a very strong intension point. My acupuncture teacher always said that if you could just use one point you could use bai hui and send you healing intension anywhere in the body.
In addition to these points I will sometimes use other points but these are the core points that I feel like really help animals to fight off cancer and have better quality of life. If you are working with an acupuncture or acupressure practitioner ask them to show you the points they use on your animal.
There are many very good books on acupressure for cats and dogs. Here are a few of my favorites.
In addtion there are acupressure programs. Tallgrass Animal Acupressure Institute offers classes that can be taken online and DVDs and books. They also made the beautiful acupressure chart for this book.