Seizures in dogs 101 – a holistic approach

March 17th, 2017

I just saw a very cute little Cocker Spaniel today with a history of seizures and it made me realize I needed an article on the starting points in working with seizures. Once we get to directing herbs at seizure disorders it is a little more complex, maybe I’ll attempt an article about that someday.

So here’s a few simple things to consider if you have a dog with seizures

  • Remove any toxins from the environment. Get rid of any herbicides or pesticides in the home and on the lawn. That means no chemical bug baits, no herbicides or grass enhancing agents on the lawn and no artificial chemical smelling agents in the house. Many of these products are neurotoxins, your brain is made of neurons, we don’t want anything that could hurt these neurons.
  • No chemical flea products. These are neurotoxins and can potentially contribute to seizures. If you have flea issues in the home consider using natural agents like diatomaceous earth. If you need to treat for fleas consider using the safest product you can find, Revolution is the one I normally recommend, and only on the other animals in the home.
  • Food!! Food is important for animals with seizure disorders and some seizures will actually go away with a proper diet. Feed a diet with no grain which is minimally processed. I like raw, freeze dried raws, or cooked whole food diets. In Seattle I often turn to Natural Pet Pantry, which makes an excellent cooked stew product and a raw, or Darwins for raw food. Other options are Stella and Chewy’s, Honest Kitchen, My Perfect Pet or Instinct raw.
  • Consider a consultation with a holistic vet to see if there are underlying imbalances that can be corrected or if acupuncture would be helpful. Many of these animals have underlying issues.
  • Hemp/CBD products. There is some question about if these will stay on the markets but I have had dogs with seizures significant improve on HempRx.

Seizures are a hard to treat condition and not every dog is simple to get under control. If dogs are having potential life threatening seizures then medications need to be started but for those with milder or less frequent seizures some of these other things can be tried first.

Using supplements to treat young onset Parkinson’s from LRRK2 mutation

February 18th, 2017

As some of you know who frequent my blog, I was recently diagnosed with young onset Parkinson’s. I also recently learned that I have a genetic mutation called LRRK2 which is responsible for my disease. Over the past few months I have been working with an amazing naturopathic team (Thank you Dr.Samantha Evans!) and doing my own research and I am actually getting better and feel like my brain is starting to heal! I want to share what I have been doing and also find a way to connect with anything else that is helping other folks, especially with LRRK2. I’ll get back to the animals soon!

My natural parkinson’s protocol for YOPD 8 (LRRK2 mutation) – click on the names for Amazon links

  • Sinemet 100/25 1 twice a day. This is the standard drug for Parkinson’s disease. I’m on a very low dose! I know my Sinemet helps my symptoms but it is really everything below that is healing me and keeping me on this low dose.
  • Niacin 500mg 2 capsules three a day . Niacin completely got rid of the severe anxiety component of my disease and decreased my fatigue symptoms significantly. Niacin helps with blood flow to your brain and helps preserve mitochondrial function. It converts to NAD (Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) which is showing promise for neurodegerative diseases.You need to take real niacin, not flush free and you will go through flushes. See The Niacin Flush I started with 500mg a day and slowly moved up to 3g a day. I rarely flush now and when I do it’s mild. There was a recent study on niacin and its potential benefit for genetic parkinson’s to slow disease progression. People with forms of early onset PD may benefit from Niacin.
    I followed Bill W. (who started AA)’s protocol.
  • Lion’s Mane 3g (6 pills) a day . I saw significant improvement in my fine motor control and bradykinesis with this dose. Lower dose didn’t help me. Lion’s mane contains NGF which helps repair nerves. This mushroom is pretty amazing. See Anti Stress Lion’s Mane Mushroom and Parkinson’s Disease. It also enhances cognitive ability and lowers stress. The dose I take sometimes causes mild itching.
  • Glutathione – I can’t say enough about glutathione. I get immediate improvement from the injections. We know that PD patients have reduced glutathione. We know it improves symptoms. Us LRRK2 folks don’t make it properly. It is a powerful antioxidant and reduces oxidative stress. I get injections from my naturopath, take an intranasal twice a day and a liposomal product orally when I travel. To have it work orally you need a liposomal product. Here’s a couple pubmed studies
    Glutathione and Parkinson’s disease: is this the elephant in the room?
    Reduced intravenous glutathione in the treatment of early Parkinson’s disease
  • Citicholine 1g a day has been shown to improve the effectiveness of l-dopa drugs like Sinamet. See Citicoline in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease . It seems to have some ability to repair the brain as well. My Sinemet doses last a long time, I think this is why.
  • Fish Oil 2g a day – helps increase dopamine in your brain and reduce inflammation, need I say more. Make sure to use a product that is tested for heavy metals and high in Omega 3s. See A Simple Intervention in Parkinson Disease?
  • Vit D/K2 – vitamin D may slow down Parkinson’s progression. Most of us are deficient in it anyway. See Study shows vitamin might be beneficial for parkinson patients with certain genetic makeups
  • Vit B multi – Sinemet can make you deficient in B vits so I take this to compensate.
  • Ginkgo is an antioxidant which increases dopamine and blood flow in your brain. I take a supplement with gotu kola, ginkgo and Siberian ginseng, 2 pills a day. Gotu kola also increases dopamine production.
  • Magnesium with calcium and vitamin C This supplement almost guarantees that I will sleep well! Magnesium lowers stress and relaxes muscles. If you have issues with constipation it also helps there. If I forget my magnesium my sleep is off. Sleep is what let’s us heal!

This protocol is working well for me. If you have something to add that has helped you please let me know!

Heart Disease in Dogs – Herbal Approaches

January 16th, 2017

I’ve been receiving quite a few questions on heart disease in dogs and though it was time to address it in a blog post. I’ve been pretty impressed on how much herbs and acupuncture can help stabilize these dogs.

You all know where I’m going with this! I do believe acupuncture is a great treatment to slow down heart disease. Acupuncture works with blood flow, helps keep blood pressure stable, and helps assure blood flows smoothly and easily throughout the body. I really love to work with dogs with heart issues because I think it helps them feel better and live longer!

I just want to say a word about medication. Unless they are very early in disease, most of the dogs I work with are also on medication. This is a disease where western and eastern treatments work well together. Don’t skip the meds!

Below are a few of my favorite herbals/supplements

  1. Hawthorn is about the best heart supporting herb out there. It is also very safe. I combine it with ginkgo, which also supports the heart and blood flow. I sell a version on etsy called Heart and Brain support and Animal Essentials also has a product called Heart Health.
  2. Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang. This Chinese formula helps with blood stagnation especially in the chest. Most of the heart disease we see in animals is due to blood stagnation (not true in humans) and I’ve seen this formula really help. You can use the formula I make with added E Zhu and Sang Leng or the formula without the added two herbs.
  3. Coenzyme Q10. I’m more of an herbalist than a supplement vet but I do really like CoQ10 and use it in some of patients. It is a powerful antioxidant, helps supplement the health of the heart muscle and studies have shown it prolongs survival in people with heart failure. It also helps protect the heart from drugs that can damage it like the chemotherapy drug doxorubicin. I use 200mg a day for average sized dogs.

There are other supplements and herbs that can help with heart disease but these are my favorites!

And so begins a new chapter in my own journey with chronic disease

October 28th, 2016

Today will be my last day not being on a drug that I will take for the rest of my life. As of tomorrow I will come to rely on a drug so I can move the left side of my body normally again. But with this comes hope that I’ll be able to use my body in the way that I did before my nervous system decided to stop working a year and a half ago. I look forward to dancing normally, doing yoga, typing with my fingers (Yes I’m dictating this with my voice), and I look forward to walking without people asking me why I’m so stiff. Already with an herbal called Mucuna I’m getting a hint to what it’ll be like. With taking a small amount of this herb, I have energy again and feel like myself. My skin is no longer too tight on my body, I no longer feel so twitchy and out of sorts and I’m not as painful because of the rigidity in my muscles.

Three days ago I was diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s. It didn’t come as a total surprise, I’ve been having symptoms for almost two years, although I’ve been hoping for a long time that I have a disease called dystonia, which isn’t so great anyway. You would think with this diagnosis but I would feel sad and fearful. But really I don’t, I have found that I’ve smiled more in the last few days than I have in awhile. This came as a surprise to me also, I had no idea I would respond to this outcome like this. In many ways it is freeing to know what I have, it’s an illness I share with many many people in this world. There are treatments for it and there’s promise that there will be better treatments and even a cure for it within my lifetime.

And I’m finding that I don’t want to fight this but I am convinced that it can be cured or kept in check by embracing it. I think the key is actually accepting it but not letting it take over my life.

In my cancer book I wrote “And in embracing life fully, I found that these dogs and cats didn’t progress into death. Once we have embraced death fully there is nothing left but to live. And live they did!” While I do not have a death diagnosis I feel the same. I plan on living fully! I look at the animals I treat that have cancer who live a long time and in many cases they aren’t in remission but their body has learned how to live with the cancer within it and it is not the cancer that kills them or even makes him sick. Many of them died of normal old age changes and live better lives than if they had not been diagnosed with cancer. So I think the key is finding peace within my body, within the fact that I will have to take drugs probably for the rest of my life. I think the key is opening my eyes to each day and not regretting anything that I don’t do. I think how to live with this disease, is to find happiness in every step of the way and to appreciate everything in every moment. To not say I’ll do that in 10 years, to let go of all resentments, to take ownership of living my own life in the best way possible. To find joy and move towards joy. When I am eighty someday, and no Parkinson’s does not kill you, I want to look back and not have any regrets of the things I didn’t do, especially the things I didn’t do while I could still do them. This is really no different for any of us whether we have a chronic disease or not.

Everyday I plan on telling my dopamine producing cells in my brain how much I love them and care about them. I plan on getting myself in the best physical shape possible and everyday making a conscious decision to move towards joy. I get to dance again!

I have not been me for a long time, if it takes a drug or two to make me me again, that’s okay. I look forward to what the future holds and I’m ready to meet it with open arms.

One last thing, please don’t feel sorry for me. I don’t and you being sorry for me doesn’t help me. This is part of my journey and I plan on learning and growing, loving and living!

Blessings!

Help in preventing cataracts and retinal degeneration (including PRA)

August 8th, 2016

I’ve recently been listening to a set of lectures from Dr. Carmen Colitz, who is a veterinary ophthalmologist. I’m impressed with the product she developed, Ocu-glo, which has the ability to prevent or slow down both cataract formation and retinal atrophy.

She highly recommends it for all dogs with PRA and also diabetic dogs (who over 50% go blind). I would also use it in the older dogs who start to get the lens clouding. It is a blend of antioxidants and very safe in any dog. Here’s an Amazon link Ocu-glo and for small dogs Ocu-glo under 10lbs.

Melatonin in dogs – beware of xylitol!

July 1st, 2016

One of my clients brought to my attention recently that most Melatonin contains xylitol which can be highly toxic to dogs. I have not had any toxicity in dogs who have been on the brands with xylitol so I think the amount is low enough to not cause major issues. However I highly recommend not using the brands that contain xylitol.

The one brand that seems to be safe is Natural Factors Melatonin. Melatonin is commonly used in dogs for sleep disturbance issues and seasonal alopecia. Thanks Relaena!

Is the sky falling down? Fireworks and your animal friend.

June 23rd, 2016

Soon we will celebrate July 4th. Unfortunately for many of our animal friends this can also be a stressful time because of the loud fireworks that many people set off. For many animals, fireworks can seem like the world is ending and every year animals injury themselves by trying to escape out of houses or by running away and getting lost or hit by cars.

If you have an animal who is afraid of fireworks or a new animal in your household this is a good time to be home with them if at all possible. Here are some things you can do to avoid stress and injury to your furry companion. Not everything works for every animal and many of these suggestions can be used in combination. Some animals get such severe anxiety that they need to be sedated with medication, so if your animal falls under that category this is the time to call your veterinarian. Most of the suggested products below can be purchased at natural pet supply stores or online by clicking on the links.

  1. Put on loud music or turn up the television to cancel out the noise. If your animal is prone to stress I would suggest classical or other calming music.
  2. Use pheromone sprays such as Feliway for cats and D.A.P. aka Dog Appeasing Pheromone for dogs to calm them down. The comfort zone products are the same as the vet products that are called just Feliway and DAP but are cheaper and can be bought at pet supply stores.
  3. Spray a natural lavender product around the house. Lavender can be very calming but make sure you use a natural product and not one full of chemicals. Do not spray directly on your animal.
  4. Bach flower remedies such as Rescue Remedy can be very helpful for stressed animals. These are homeopathic in nature and very safe for even the oldest of animals. Put a few drops in their mouth or on the ear and a few drops in all the drinking bowls in the house.
  5. My Kingdom of Basil Calm and Peaceful formula is great for taking the edge off anxiety in dogs. Animals’ Apawthecary’s Tranquility Blend works well for anxiety in both cats and dogs. However check with your veterinarian if your animal is on any medications or has any major health issues before using these.
  6. Wearing a T-shirt, Thundershirt , or Anxiety Wrap can help your dog if they have problems with anxiety from fireworks. It sounds weird I know, but it actually does work.

    It is based around the ideas from Tellington TTouch of using an ace bandage. Wearing the shirt enhances your dog’s sense of their own body and makes them feel more confident in their movements and behavior. You can use a snug fitting human T-shirt, a Thundershirt , or an anxiety wrap.

  7. If you are home, talk to your animal calmly and rub them gently. If they become agitated try to stay calm. Your stress will only make them more stressed.
  8. Make sure all windows and doors are closed. Do not leave your animal outside.

Have a wonderful new year and thank you for visiting!

Spring Detox Formula for Dogs

March 2nd, 2016

IMG_0263It’s been awhile since I’ve had time to go into my pharmacy and play! I love working with all the herbs and using them to help my animal friends. Spring is in the air and along with it the explosion of pollens and allergens. Spring is also a good time to clean out any toxins in the blood, because as the weather warms our circulation picks up.

So today I got to make a wonderful and safe little western formula for our animal friends. Although I’m also sitting here while sipping the tea I just made from the formula. I love the supportive and bitter aftertones of the flavors!

So what herbs volunteered for this spring detox formula?

  • Nettles Yes they can string you but they are also great for allergies and are a good tonic for the blood
  • Dandelion root and leaf – My favorite weed is a great tonic and liver cleanser
  • Burdock root – Roots are great tonics. This one helps to support the blood, clears the skin, detoxes the liver and clears waste materials out of our bodies
  • Milk Thistle – A very strong liver protectant.
  • Goji Berry – I love goji berries! Yummy and very good for the blood.
  • Oregon Grape Root Oregon grape is a great liver tonic and is also antibacterial. A great herb for spring detox!
  • Eyebright I bet you can guess what eyebright does! However I also find it has a quality of helping us to see the world clearly and be present in every moment. Very appropriate for the new beginnings of
    spring if you ask me!

As with all the formulas I make, this one is available in my etsy shop Kingdom of Basil

How to help our elderly animal companions with the seasonal change to spring

February 24th, 2016

Did you know that spring is one of the hardest seasons for older dogs and cats?

Often times we think of fall with the dark coming and winter with it’s cold short days as the most difficult but coming out of the dark into spring is also a large time of transition and when I unfortunately loss many of the older animals I work with.

I think part of it is that spring is a time of rebirth. Many new animals come into the world, flowers spring out of the earth and the winds bring change into our lives. The other side of this is that many animals who are near the end of their lives choose the transition of spring to do it in. Whenever there are new beginning their are also endings.

From a practical standpoint I think the ups and downs of weather in the spring as particularly hard on our older friends. It is warm one day, freezing the next, dry than wet and the wind can come in and weaken those who are already vulnerable.

From a Chinese medicine standpoint, our bodies change with the seasons. In the winter we hold more blood in our core, preserving our warmth in our organs. In the summer we send more blood out to the extremities which can cause the inner body to be more deficient. In spring we began that process of pumping more blood out. In yin and yang terms we externalize our yang and if we don’t have enough yin to hold to the yang in our bodies it can cause behavior changes such as anxiety, sleep disturbances, organ failures or if yang is not held at all death (the ultimate separation of yin and yang).

So what can we do to help?

  • Consider putting a coat on your older dog when you take them outside, especially one that covers the neck area. The Chinese say that external pathogens can easily get into a body which is already weak and that they come in through the neck.
  • Consider adding some of the tonic foods to your animal’s diet. Bone marrow or a broth made with marrow bones is awesome. Make sure your animal is getting enough protein i.e. meat. Shiitake mushrooms or a mushroom supplement such as Host Defense My Community can be helpful. Tender spring bitter greens such as spinach or dandelions help to keep blood moving well.
  • In the older ones consider using infrared light therapy. See Infrared Light Therapy for dogs and cats.
  • If you are in an area where acupuncture is an option it can be helpful with some of the issues of transition.
  • In older dogs the formula Xiao Chai Hu Tang can be helpful to balance yin and yang and to help with times of transition. Do not use this formula if you have a dog in kidney failure without the direction of a veterinarian.In younger or middle aged dogs consider this Spring Detox Formula.
  • Help your older cat and dog to get some exercise. Exercise is one of the best ways to help with brain function and to help keep blood moving well.
  • Love them every moment. All of us will pass at some point in time. Unfortunately our dogs and cats live shorter lives than us. Sometimes no matter what we do they are ready to move on and all we can give them is our full love and acceptance.

Arthritis and our animal friends -holistic approaches

January 18th, 2016

It’s sad to see our animal companions no longer be able to do the things they once could do as they age and grow older. All older animals have some amount of arthritis, although some have many more problems with it.

Unfortunately, Western medicine has very few options for treating arthritis and uses mostly drugs, to treat the pain. This is starting to change with some veterinarians doing stem cell and plasma rich platelet injections. However these treatments can still be expensive. Ask your vet about if these treatments are right for your dog. Some animals are not able to tolerate these drugs and many times animals are on three different drugs and it still isn’t enough.

In some animals arthritis manifests as weakness caused by the inflammation pushes on the nerves. Many dogs walk around like their feet are asleep, tripping over things, stumbling and no longer having the strength to jump into the car or onto the bed. Unfortunately because they can no longer walk as far or do as much as they used to, their muscles start to atrophy or waste away, causing a vicious cycle. As the weakness increased, they do less, which causes more atrophy from disuse, leading to more weakness and more atrophy and less activity. In the end many of these animals can no longer get up on their own or even take a short walk.

In other animals arthritis will manifest as pain, which can also prevent movement and cause the weakness/atrophy cycle. Many of these animals will become moody and withdrawn and may even snap and bite at their people out of fear of pain. It is so hard to see our friends have so much pain that they no longer want our affection.

In most animals there is a combination of pain and weakness.

Usually dogs suffer more than cats because they carry more weight and are used to daily activity. Also people often don’t notice that their cats are painful because they spend so much time sitting and sleeping

So what do we do for our friends to help them live out their old years happy and pain free? Often the best approach involves both drugs for pain and holistic treatments to support the body.

  • Acupuncture Being an acupuncturist, I always recommend acupuncture first. Of course, this is also because I have seen how well it works in the animals I treat. I often find that if I can work with animals when they first have problems, they do so well, I only need to treat them every one to three months. Unfortunately most of the animals I see have had problems for a while and their people only learned about acupuncture when they had tried everything that western medicine had to offer. In these animals, acupuncture can still work and work well but usually treatments need to be closer together.

    It is so nice to see these animals happy and able to enjoy life again!

  • Hydrotherapy is a great option especially in dogs who have muscle atrophy. Unfortunately it cannot be done with cats, although Sheila Wells at Wellspings has told me they have worked with rabbits before. Hydrotherapy is done in a small swimming pool and involves massage and physical therapy in the water. I have seen excellent results with hydrotherapy especially combined with acupuncture. Hydrotherapy helps to rebuild muscles, increase range of motion and work out sore and sensitive areas of the body without the impact on the body of exercise on land. My favorite pool is Wellsprings in Seattle Washington. They have a great website with lots of information and photos that I love to refer people to. Click on the link to check it out!
  • herbs5

  • Herbs
    I have worked with Chinese herbs with many of these arthritic dogs and some cats. The combination of acupuncture and herbs usually helps with pain and movement and helps animals maintain between treatments. I rarely use Chinese herbs in cats because they are very sensitive to them and it is hard to medicate cats. I sell an senior dog herbal formula called Senior Dog Support, through my etsy shop, that helps with arthritis pain and improves blood circulation into the joints. Your holistic veterinarian may have something else they recommend.
  • Fish oil/ Omega oils
    The Omega 3 Fatty Acids in fish and cod liver oil actually helps decrease arthritic inflammation in dogs (not true for cats although it helps with other things). Adding a little fish oil to the diet can help many animals.My favorite brand is Nordic Naturals – Pet Cod Liver Oil . Nordic Naturals is one of the best brands for quality and they test for heavy metals and contaminants.
  • Glucosamine/MSM/chondroitin
    These supplements help to decrease inflammation and rebuild damaged cartilage. They are often sold in combination. The nice thing about these supplements is that they have few side effects and are very safe. Some animals have a wonderful response to them and some have almost no response. It usually takes a month to six weeks to see if your animal will have a positive response. Adequan, similar to glucosamine is also available in an injectable form and works better in some animals. It is also a lot easier to give to cats who are hard to medicate daily. After the initial series of injections it usually only needs to be given once a month. Adequan can only be purchased through your veterinarian. My favorite glucosamine product is Sea Mobility Beef Joint Rescue jerk treats, they work well and are very tasty. There are other good ones out there.
  • Infra-red light therapy – Infrared light helps ease the pain of arthritis in joints and increase blood circulation to the area. It is very cheap to do and can be done at home. See my article Infrared Light Therapy for kidney failure, incontinence and arthritis.
  • Chiropractics
    Many animals have subluxations of their spine especially as they age. A good chiropractor can often help with mobility and pain. I have found that chiropractic adjustments work best in animals with a very tight back and more pain then weakness. For my own cat, chiropractic adjustments have worked better than anything else we have tried and have made his life much better. Make sure you find a chiropractor who is used to working with animals and knows animal anatomy.
  • Massage/Acupressure
    Massage can help to loosen tight muscles and increase blood circulation. It also can help with pain.We know it works for us, why not for our animal friends. Once again make sure you find a massage practitioner who is certified to work with animals. I have two amazing massage therapists I work with in Seattle, Kim Rogers and Jen Streit. Kim also does humans!

    Acupressure works with the acupuncture points and helps decrease pain and relax muscles.

    There are many great books on acupressure and massage for animals. Here are a few
    The Well-Connected Dog: A Guide to Canine Acupressure
    Acu-Cat: A Guide to Feline Acupressure
    The Healing Touch for Dogs: The Proven Massage Program for Dogs, Revised Edition
    The Healing Touch for Cats: The Proven Massage Program for Cats, Revised Edition
    Four Paws Five Directions: A Guide to Chinese Medicine for Cats and Dogs

  • Reiki/Bowen/Polarity/Craniosacral and other energy therapies These therapies help stimulate the body to heal and can decrease pain and improve quality of life. Since there is little regulation of these therapies it is important to get a referral before seeing someone. This is especially true of Reiki since there are so many people who practice it. A good practitioner can make a huge difference in an animal’s quality of life.

It is better to do one thing and stick with it than to jump around between therapies. Often times animals will began with me doing acupuncture and herbs and then we will add in other therapies as needed. If I can’t help an animal with acupuncture I will refer them to another practitioner to try something else. Don’t make too many changes all at once in an old animal’s life. Go slowly instead.