Archive for the ‘health’ Category

Change your perception

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

My perception of the world has been blown. This weekend I had the honor of being able to attend a day of lectures by Jeffrey Yuan on essential oils. And I’m pretty sure I walked away a new person. If someone could have reached into my soul and opened up the reality of the world in a room buzzing with florescent lights I would have told you that was crazy. But that was exactly what happened. It seemed that we were all touched deeply, Jeffrey had a message for all of all not just on how we practice, but on who we truly are.

I thought I was treating the root of disease in my patients. I thought I was reaching for the root of my own problems. But I learned that there is a level far deeper than the root. In the end it is our perception of the world that changes us and cures us, not the root, not even the emotions that lie there.

This was a lecture about oils but it also applies to herbs, and acupuncture and psychotherapy. It was a lecture about our core beliefs of the world. With your intention, you apply oils and change the animal’s perception of the world, with that you change the owner’s perception of the world. Through our animals we heal, through us they grow. Chronic disease occurs when our view of the world is rigid. To make it move again we need to change the way we look at it. Not just processing emotions, not just healing emotional wounds, we need to open our hearts and take another view, not be bound by our beliefs or what we have been told or what we have been taught. When we perceive the world as not getting better our consciousness is stuck, we are rigid and disease occurs.

Through plants we can begin this work. Pu Gong Ying or dandelion “makes our grandfather more outstanding” or brings out our ancestral qualities. Did you know that other plants grow better around dandelions because dandelion provides nutrients to the soil? Just like a kind and gentle grandfather. Roots help to strengthen us and ground us and help us see where we belong. Seeds help us start a new beginning. Flowers change the way we view life and especially high altitude flowers and plants help us endure and start a new direction. They know what it is like to live in a place of low oxygen and can help us move into a place of love when there has not been enough love in our lives. Barks, which support a tree, help us when we are rigid and diseased in our bones and our support; they help us break out of chronic disease patterns there. Our inability to let go of pain settles into our joints.

I am so excited to get back in my pharmacy. What herbs will call out to help? What will I discover in the formulas I make? What new points will call out to me when doing acupuncture? What will facing the world from a different direction bring?

Chronic Diarrhea in dogs – herbs and diet to the rescue

Sunday, September 14th, 2014

Now this isn’t an article about the occasionally bout of diarrhea or the garbage eating dog. For that kind of thing see Natural solutions to treat acute diarrhea.

This is for those of you with dogs that always have runny stool, for those people who have spent hours talking poo with their vets, for those who have been up evenings comforting a dog with an upset bloated tummy. Do you think more about poo then you ever imagined you could, know the exact shade of brown/yellow that your dog’s was this morning, check the back yard for evidence of what has happened while you were away?

If you know what I am talking about please read on and hopefully I can offer some help. This is not always an easy problem to treat but there is hope!

There are a number of syndromes that can cause chronic diarrhea and stomach upset is veterinary medicine. The one thing I see more than anything is the term IBD and IBS used interchangeably. There is a thought that they may be different sides of the same coin, IBD being a more serious form of IBS, however generally we consider them to be different diseases. With both there may be a food allergy component that can make things worse or their may not be.

So what is the difference?

IBD – inflammatory bowel disease. This is an immune mediated disease aka autoimmune. The animal’s immune system is attacking the gut wall and causing inflammation. If you biopsy the gut you will see inflammatory changes. People will often see blood in their dogs stool with this disease, many times these animals will be very sick and there is often a nausea component with this disease. There can be a fairly severe pain component with this disease. There is also often weight loss and or loss of appetite. If gut inflammation is severe there can be a loss of protein from the body that can in excess be fatal. This can be checked on blood work. This disease is commonly treated with steroids.

IBS – irritative bowel syndrome. This disease is milder than IBD. These animals will often rotate between bouts of constipation and diarrhea and may have bloating and pain in their abdomen. If you biopsy the gut of these animals it will look pretty normal. These animals will not have gut damage that results in a low protein level. It is thought that this is more of a nerve mediated disease involving abnormal gut motility. Stress can very much make this syndrome worse.

Another disease that can look very similar is chronic pancreatitis. In this disease the pancreas has chronic inflammation which can manifest with all the symptoms of IBD or IBS however biopsy of the gut will often be normal. I test called a PLI/TLI can help diagnose this disease and sometimes pancreatic inflammation can be seen on an ultrasound.

In Chinese medicine you do not need a biopsy or even test results to treat these diseases. However, if you have not done basic blood work and a parasite check including for giardia, please do so before going any further. There are many very serious diseases such as kidney or liver failure that can manifest with gut signs. Parasites that are not treated can be extremely harmful. Low protein can be a serious condition. In addition some forms of cancer can cause similar symptoms. If you have not been to a veterinarian for a full work up please make sure to do so to rule out any illness that needs to be addressed immediately.

There are a lot of drugs that are commonly used to treat the causes of chronic diarrhea including metronitazole, Tylosin, Cerenia, Famotidine, prednisone, and many more. There are many articles that mention these treatments so I will not go into details about them. In my practice many of the animals who come to me are already on some of these drugs. I usually make changes and add in treatments and then work with the animal’s western veterinarian to discontinue western treatments only after we get the dog feeling better.

In treating chronic diarrhea in dogs it is very important to look at the patient as a whole. In Chinese and holistic medicine the main focus is on balancing the dog’s body for lasting health. I do this through four different holistic approaches.

  • Diet
    Diet is extremely important for these guys. We want a food that has vitality and is anti-inflammatory. You are what you eat! A lot of these dogs will do very well on a raw diet however if they have had damaged digestion for a long time or have been on kibble the transition can some times be too great all at once. I usually move them to a canned, homemade or dehydrated raw first. In addition sometimes there is a food allergy component to their disease. Sometimes I can get a feel for if there is an allergy when I am doing the initial interview. For example if the dog has periods of normal digestion usually it is not a food allergy. If they are always sick or always have diarrhea it has to go higher on my list. Sometimes owners will also notice that there are certain foods that they have more problems on or they will show other signs of allergy when they eat certain foods (like itching).

    If there is not evidence of allergy I usually start out assuming there isn’t. If symptoms fail to improve I then explore food allergy later on. To determine a food allergy you usually need to feed a single protein for 4-6 weeks that they have never had in their diet before such as buffalo, rabbit or venision.

    Here is where I start

    • Home cooked diets. A simple home cooked diet is cooked chicken/turkey with sweet potato/yams/pumpkin 70% meat:30% yam. The yam or sweet potato can be canned just make sure it does not have added sugar. If your dog stays on this for more than a few weeks I recommend adding in a calcium supplement. I also recommend adding in the green vitamineral powder I’ll talk about later. After they have been on the simple diet for a month start adding in vegetables one at a time and then giving a variety of vegetables on a regular basis. There may be some vegetables they can eat and some they can’t – go slow with new additions.
    • But I don’t have time to cook for myself let alone my dog!

      Yep got it! Here is some options if you don’t want to cook.

    • Honest Kitchen makes a dehydrated raw that I have found works well – I recommend Force
      or Embark.

    • If you are in the Seattle area, Natural Pet Pantry makes a cooked stew available at their stores in Burien and Kirkland. It is also available at All the Best Pet Stores.
    • I have also had good success with some of Merrick’s canned food such as
      Thanksgiving Day Dinner .
    • If your dog has been eating a canned food, home cooked or dehydrated raw you may be able to switch over to a raw diet. I really like Darwin’s line of raw food. If you are in Seattle Pet Pantry also has a great raw line. If you are out of state also check out Small Batch, Nature’s Variety, and Primal. My preference is for frozen raws over freeze dried. Make sure you start out slowly and cook the food for at least the first week.
  • As most of you know who read my blog, I am not a supplement person. However this is a supplement that I really like and diarrhea is a disease I like to use it for. This Healthforce Vitamineral Green Powder not only is full of good nutrients but also probiotics and digestive enzymes. I find it can really help with digestive issues and highly recommend it for my dogs with diarrhea and absorption issues. If you don’t use this product I recommend using another good quality probiotic.
  • Herbal formulas – Ok now we are getting to the part of this I love! I have been so impressed at what these herbal formulas can do.
    • To begin with – I almost always start out dogs with chronic diarrhea on a formula I make called Zhi Xie San. I learned about this formula from my acupuncture teacher Richard Panzer and boy does it work well. The majority of dogs I use it in have a positive response. It helps firm up the stool and helps with intestinal inflammation. Most dogs tolerate it well mixed in with their food. I try not to self promote but I don’t know anyone who makes it besides my Kingdom of Basil herbal shop. I’m happy to pass on the recipe to any herbal pharmacy or your veterinarian.
    • Usually this formula can help these dogs but often I need other formulas to get to the underlying issues of disease. I use Zhi Xie San and then usually add in one of the following four formulas. If at all possible consult with a holistic vet to find out if these formulas are right for your dog. If your dog is on other medication please check with your vet before starting anything new.

    • Xiao Chai Hu Tang – this formula is often best for dogs with more upper gastric symptoms such as nausea and bloating and tummy gurgling. It can also help with pain in the abdomen. I rarely use this formula for dogs under five years old. These dogs tend to often have some anxiety.
    • Xiao Yao San with or without He Huan Pi is one of my favorite formulas for chronic gastrointestinal issues. It works best for dogs that have worsening of symptoms when they are stressed. It is also good for dogs who have a human who is very stressed or anxious. These dogs can also have stomach pain and can experience nausea and or diarrhea and sometimes constipation. I often add an herb called He Huan Pi to this formula which helps stress in the household from effecting the dog.
    • Si Miao San – This formula works well for dogs with lots of inflammation. Their stool often times has mucous in it and can be yellow in color. It is often smelly. They also may vomit up yellow bile. They may have other inflammatory disease such as skin or ears issues. They are sometimes overweight but never underweight.
    • Eight Treasures – This formula is good for the dog who is too thin and can not keep weight on. In older dogs this is one of the first formulas I reach for. This formula helps support digestion and is an overall qi and blood tonic.

    In addition here are a few treatments that I use as needed to treat symptoms

    • Marshmellow/slippery elm balls – I love to roll little balls made from a 50:50% combo of ground marshmallow and slippery elm powder with a little honey. These two herbs help with inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract. The honey is anti-microbial and soothing and support digestion. This can be used in any animal especially if there is nausea or upset tummy and can help with diarrhea. You can buy these powders from herb companies like Mountain Rose Herbs or in mixed together from Kingdom of Basil. You will need to mix with honey yourself. I recommend a raw local honey if possible.
    • Phytomucil is a tincture made by Animal Apawthecary that contains both marshmallow and slippery elm plus other gut soothing ingredients. It is a liquid that can be given easily for any digestive upset and does not have to be mixed with food.
  • Last but not at all the least of treatments is acupuncture. I find acupuncture really can help with these chronic digestive diseases. I highly, highly recommend finding someone in your area to work with who is a veterinary acupuncturist. Many of these folks will also have herbal knowledge and can help direct you to help with diet as well

Wishing you solid poo and happy tummies!

We are bought young but we can change – how the veterinary community is courted

Sunday, February 16th, 2014

An addition to Dog’s Naturally Magazine’s Why Vets are Getting Away With Murder posted by Natural Pet Pantry.

I remember looking up at the large brick building of Bustad hall, holding my arms closer to me as I walked up the few steps to the building, that would consume a good portion of my life for the next four years. I’d made a split second decision to change my path from medical school to vet school about two years before and here I was walking up to my first day of class. I was excited and nervous and wondered what this journey was going to be like.

Walking into the cubby room with its slight smell of cleaners and wood, I went to my little slot in the wall pulling out a stack of papers with information I would need to navigate the first week and a cute little luggage tag from one of the companies that sold cow dewormers. Hmm that was nice, they were welcoming us onboard. I had no idea.

I soon learned that is was a regular occurrence. Before our first anatomy exam colored pencils appeared in our boxes – color pencils that were exactly what we would need to make the exam easier. There were often pens, pencils, and notebooks, candy for those hard days of studying, all from drug companies. You name it, if it fit in a cubby, it would appear.

I learned that almost every day you could get free lunch, usually the yummy local Pullman pizza, if you were just willing to sit through another presentation by a drug company. And believe me I went to many of these lunches. At the time school cost about $9000-10000 a year including books. The minimum we could borrow as students was $18,500 a year, 2% of that would be taken out as fees. Most of us were living on under $8,000 a year, even in the 90s and in Pullman quite a small amount of money. Believe me every pizza lunch counted.

Our animals were a different story. Almost all of us arrived with animals. I had three cats, two guinea pigs, two rabbits and latter added my two dogs in addition to having my own human child. We all loved our animals but here we were barely having enough money to eat decently ourselves. Luckily I had spent two years volunteering at PAWS animal shelter before going to vet school and they had taught me quite a bit about nutrition. I had my cats on a food called Nature’s Recipe, which was considered one of the best foods by the natural foods people back then (it has since changed ownership and quality). Yes back in the days when I thought just dry kibble was ok for cats. I actually had to drive over to Seattle to get this food, as there was almost no choice in Pullman. The hay for the guinea pigs and rabbits was easy.

In addition to drug companies courting us, every month Science Diet/Hill’s would come and give any vet students, who wanted food for their cats and dogs, food at an extremely reduced price. Almost all students took advantage of this. I learned a couple years later in nutrition classes that cat and dog nutrition was taught along the lines of what Hill’s prescription diet to use for what disease condition.

I wouldn’t feed my animals Science Diet and had learned from the PAWS folks about some of the dangerous preservatives and rendering floor meat in their foods. At the time I was already interested in holistic medicine and learned that there was a small holistic medicine club at WSU. When I went into my first meeting of about five people I learned the president was stepping down and that the club would dissolve if no one took over. Not wanting that to happen, I because president of the holistic club myself. I started to think, what if we could introduce other fellow students to better quality pet foods?

I send some letters, yes before I used email, out to a few of the nature food companies that I liked asking if they would be willing to give out free or discounted food to the vet students at WSU. Precise pet food got back to me and said they would be interested and asked if I could see how many students would want that. I was excited! Not only was I going to be able to get a decent food for my own animals but the vet students around me would also have access to something besides Science Diet. As I put small notes in the student cubbies I had no idea that there was a problem with what I was doing.

The next day I was cornered by another vet student who told me, “are you crazy, do you know how much money Hill’s gives to this school?!”

That was the beginning of people stopping me in the hall to tell me I couldn’t give away free food, that I would hurt the school if I did. I soon learned that not only did Hill’s give out highly discounted food to the vet students but they also gave quite a bit of money to the vet school and here was the clincher. If any other food company gave out food not just on campus but in the city of Pullman to vet students they would not just stop giving food to students but would pull out all funding from the vet school. Wow!

I knew from the experience of others that vet school was not somewhere to go against the system if at all possible. So short story – no natural food was given out.

A couple years later, Iams, which was a decent food back then, found away around this rule. They rented a small storage building just past the city limits of Pullman and once a month we could drive out there and receive free food from them. They had one natural kibble without preservatives and that is what my dogs ate until I graduated.

If you ever wonder why things are how they are, this is a large part of it. As veterinarians we are bought early in our career. We are taught that homemade and raw natural foods are wrong, we are courted by drug companies even after we graduate.

But remember that we are still free thinking individuals. Much can change. One of the largest cat only clinics in my area is now selling raw food. All our local neurologists are trained in acupuncture. Vets are now using Milk Thistle and SamE to treat liver damage. There are more and more vets that are following the minimal vaccine protocol. We are smart folks and our profession can change. As our clients before more and more interested in good nutrition and holistic medicine themselves it will carry over to their beloved animals. It already has started. We need to listen to the people who are connected to the animals we care for. We need to listen to the animals we treat, listen to their bodies and not be afraid to embrace new ideas.

*Photograph of money and pills courtesy of TaxFix – thank you for being part of the creative commons movement!

Follow up to dementia and anxiety in older dogs – Sadie’s hospice care

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

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).

sadie1We 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.

sadie2More 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!

Senior Dog Herbal Support

Saturday, September 7th, 2013

old-dogpowderWhile I love during acupuncture on the sweet older dogs, I realize that not everyone can find an acupuncturist in their area or that the cost is just too much for some.

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.

  • Chinese Angelica root
  • Peony Root
  • Rehmannia Root which also supports the kidneys
  • Chinese lovage root

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
  • and

  • 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.

Shao Fu Zhu Yu Tang – treating tumors of the lower abdomen

Saturday, May 18th, 2013

This formula is very similar to Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang and treats the blood stasis cancers. However this formula works better for cancers in the caudal abdomen. The main cancers I use it for are tumors of the adrenal glands, kidneys, prostate or bladder. It has a wonderful smell to it as it contains the culinary herbs fennel, ginger and cinnamon.

  • Tao Ren (peach seed)
  • Dang Gui (angelica root)
  • herborder

  • Hong Hua (safflower flowers)
  • Chi Shao (red peony root)
  • Chuan Xiong (lovage root)
  • Mo Yao (myrrh)
  • Gan Jiang (ginger)
  • Xiao Hui Xiang (fennel)
  • Yan Hu Suo (corydalis)
  • Rou Gui (Cinnamon bark)
  • Pu Huang (cattail pollen)

I usually add San Leng (scirpus rhizome) and E Zhu (turmeric) to this formula to enhance its effect against cancer. Studies done on these two herbs show that they have a significant effect in inducing apoptosis (cell death) in cancer cells.

I dose this one the same as Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang.

Available through Kingdom of Basil.

How to safely surf the internet when searching for cancer information and products

Saturday, May 18th, 2013

The internet has made us closer together and further apart. There is so much information out there but it can be from anyone. Luckily there are many good folks who are sharing information to help but there are also many opportunities to make money easily.

So how do you find the information you need, how do you decide which direction to turn?

First off if you can find a holistic vet to guide you, that will help a lot. When I work with clients not only am I treating their animals but I am holding their hand along the way. We work together, I listen to them, they trust me, I trust them. I am a counselor, a hospice worker, a vet, and part of their circle of care. The internet can never replace this.

On to supplements offered on the internet – which ones? How do you decide?

There are many, many supplements out there that treat cancer. Why is there so many? Because we do not have a cure for cancer – there is not one safe treatment that works most of the time. That being said there are many things that can extend life, help our animals feel better and in rare cases cause remission.

Let me first say that anything that claims to be a cure all and is expensive I avoid. There is no cure all out there. If it cures cancer, diabetes, makes the paralyzed walk again, brings back youth, etc it is probably too good to be true. Is there things that can help with all of this – sure but not cure them all. Beware of false claims especially anyone who claims they can cure cancer.

Second, remember herbs are not very expensive. The most expensive herb I use is $180/ lb but that is unusual. So an herbal supplement should not be hundreds of dollars a month. Beware the expensive mixtures out there. Expensive does not equal effective.

Look at who is writing the information you are reading. Is it from a vet? Is it from an herbalist? Is it from someone who has had a dog or cat with cancer? What is their experience with cancer? How many animals have they treated or worked with? Do they have stories of actually animals they have worked with or treating with outcomes?

There are some excellent sites out there developed by people who have had dogs and cats with cancer. These people have had first hand experience about what it is like to navigate the path of cancer. A lot of these sites such as Georgia’s Legacy keep up on the research, check sources and talk to the experts. They have excellent information that goes far beyond just what they learned from their own dog who fought cancer. Others just have information from one dog or cat they have who did well against cancer and can be very helpful but are maybe not the main resource you could use. Most of these sites, both big and small, are run from the heart and while some do make money, it is not the main reason they offer this information. They offer it in the hope that it will help prevent suffering for both animals and the people who love them.

There are excellent vet sites out there as well although many just offer western options for treating cancer. Don’t ignore the western information – gather everything you can.

There are a few of us holistic vets that offer information. The reason I started Path With Paws was because I found I could help animals with cancer but I was only one person and had to turn people away from my practice. This gives me a space to share what I have learned in my years of practice with anyone with internet access. I put off starting my herb store online for a long time but found that it was hard for people to find good quality herbals. I got a lot of requests to buy herbals but did not have the manpower to handle that without the online store. So Kingdom of Basil was born.

There are other holistic and integrative vets out there who have similar websites and sometimes products or stores.

While the internet is great there is nothing that replaces actually knowing and seeing an animal. I have many folks who contact me to say that their holistic vet is suggesting a different treatment protocol than what I have talked about. That is ok – there is not just one way to treat cancer. There are many paths. They have actually seen your animal and probably know better than I do what they need.

Most importantly trust your intuition, if something feels right for your companion explore it more, if you reach a site online that feels wrong turn away.

For my growing list of resources see Other Cancer Resources.

Return to Integrative and Holistic Methods of treating cancer.

Introduction – Welcome to Integrative and Holistic Methods of Treating Cancer in Cats and Dogs

Thursday, May 16th, 2013

Cancer has become one of the most rewarding diseases that I treat as a practitioner. Strange isn’t it. It is a horrible and debilitating illness and if we can someday find a cure for it I will be ecstatic. But early on I found that in spite of the grave prognosis that was given, these animal with cancer wanted to live and they wanted to share that spirit of living with the people who they loved.

I found that in most of these animals I could do something to ease pain, to prolong life and to bring hope to those who are the caregivers for their lovely animal companions. In the end all the animals I treat with cancer will die but not always of cancer and meanwhile begins the dance of embracing life, of loving every day on this earth.

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 – the first three dogs I worked with, after I became an acupuncturist, all lived beyond two years when they had been given a prognosis of months. That gave me the inspiration to learn more. And to practice more and to believe that these incredible dogs and cats have something inside of themselves that we could harness and open to help make them better.

There were of course animals I could not help. Cancer has a life of its own and sometimes it is simply too strong, it is too late or the animal is too weak to fight it. Every time I couldn’t help tore at my heart. None of us can stop death, I know that but I always hold out hope.

But more times then not, I felt like I could make a significant difference.

maxine1As I became more known as a practitioner, I found that my practice was often full and I could not help all the animals that I wished I could. I was turning people away who had animals who were dying. And so this book came to life. I thought that if I had knowledge that could help, I needed to make it available to anyone who wanted it

And so I began a couple years ago downloading my brain. Here is the result. I hope that this book can act as a guide and a tool for vets, herbalists, and those people who live every day with animals they love. I hope this book can help dogs and cats to live longer, fuller lives with cancer.

Embrace life, love fully, and never give up hope.
Best wishes,
Lena McCullough, DVM

To read more go to Holistic and Integrative Methods of Treating Cancer in Cats and Dogs

Supplements and single herbs for cancer in cats and dogs

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

I don’t use a lot of supplements and single herbs in treating cancer.


Personally I have found that more complex herbals work better in my hands. I feel like you get more bang from the combination herbals and more synergy between the herbals. I can give 4 herbals and end up with 30-40 herbs working together. See Herbal Treatments – plants holding cancer at bay

If I pick out single supplements and herbals and combine them I loss a lot of the synergy. It is also easy to get overwhelmed with supplements – I’ve had dogs come in on a whole shopping bag of them. As I remove them from the protocol one by one, people will ask me, “what is wrong with that one, isn’t it good?”

Sure its good. It is rare that someone comes in with their dog on something harmful. However we can only give them so many things and I want the things that work the best, that are going to help the most.

So here is my very short list of single supplements and herbals that I use with some of the dogs and cats I work with.

  • IP6 – I first was introduced to IP6 by my acupuncture teacher Richard Panzer. He used a lot of it combined with Coenzyme Q10. He got very good results when he combined these with acupuncture and other herbals. I still use a lot of IP6 especially for dogs with hemangiosarcoma. It is very safe and you don’t need to know Chinese medicine to use it.

    Inositol Hexaphosphate, also known as IP6 is important in stimulating the immune system’s natural killer cells to destroy cancer tissue. It is an antioxidant and has effects in inhibiting cancer cell growth and division. Not much research has been done in humans with this supplement but a lot of cancer studies have been done in animals.

    I dose cats at 400mg two times a day and dogs 800-1600mg twice a day when I use this supplement.

    Here are some articles on IP6

    Treatments and side effects IP6

    The holistic vet on IP6

    IP6 cancer research

  • Coenzyme Q10 I often pair with IP6. I use it for any cancer in the heart. I also use it for boxers and breeds prone to heart issues and dogs with active cardiac disease and murmurs. It is a must for any of the chemo drugs like doxorubicin which are know to cause heart damage. CoQ10 has been shown to reduce cardiotoxicity (toxicity to the heart) in people on the chemotherapy drug doxorubicin (adriamycin) in clinical studies.

    Coenzyme Q10 is an enzyme made by the body and found in the membranes of many tissues. CoQ10 has effects in stimulating the immune system and works as a strong antioxidant. In animals and people with cancer it has been shown that levels of CoQ10 are lower then in normal individuals. There is some evidence that CoQ10 can increase cancer survival times.

    Reduced levels of CoQ10 have been found in animals and people with heart issues. CoQ10 can help to protect the heart, lower blood pressure and help with repair to the heart.

    I dose CoEnzyme Q10 at 200mg per day for dogs and 50mg per day for cats.

    Here are some additional articles on CoQ10

    Coenzyme Q10 pharmacological and biological treatment

    Cancer Topics – Coenzyme Q10

  • Vit A/D – I used to not be a vitamin pusher but I have seen some very good results with using very high doses of Vitamin A and D in animals with cancer, especially hemangiosarcoma. I use an once a week dosage and because the dosage I use can cause kidney damage and failure I always pair this treatment with either Xiao Chai Hu Tang or Chai Hu Jia Long Mu Li Tang. I do not recommend treating with high doses of these vitamins unless you are under the care of a veterinarian with some knowledge of these treatments. I am happy to give the dosage I use out to vets if they want to contact me.
  • Fish Oil – if you can add Fish Oil to your animals food I start to consider this food and not supplement. Fish oil has some nice anti-cancer effects and can also help prevent cancer cachexia (weight loss in spite of good appetite). The Omega Fatty Acids in fish oils act as anti-oxidants and help support the immune system and reduce inflammation in the body. I like the Nordic Naturals brand.
  • Medical Mushrooms are amazing in their abilities to help the body fight cancer and stimulate the immune system, the Chinese have been using these for years.

  • Mushrooms also help with giving animals added nutrition when they need it, such as when they have cancer or are going through chemo.

The best mushrooms to use for an animal with cancer are maitake, shiitake, reishi, turkey tail and cordyceps. A combination can be used or focus on one.

I recommend at least 300mg of mushrooms be given daily for every 50lb of cat or dog. More in fine.

One of the best ways to dose mushrooms is by adding them to your dog’s food (doesn’t work quite as well in cats). My favorite company for dried mushrooms is Fungusamongus. They have a good price on dried bulk mushrooms. You can also use a mushroom powder such as MUSH Mushroom Blend.

  • Milk Thistle – prevents oxidative damage to normal cells and helps to support the liver in detoxification of chemotherapy drugs. There are studies that show that Milk Thistle not only protects normal cells but also enhances the outcomes of chemotherapy drugs, i.e. it helps them work better and kill cancer cells more effectively. I mainly use milk thistle during chemotherapy or when there is liver malfunction or damage. See National Cancer Institute’s Page on Milk Thistle and Sloan Kettering Cancer Center article on Milk Thistle.
  • Last on my list is Curcumin. Curcumin can help with some of the more blood stagnation cancers. Studies have demonstrated its anti-cancer actions. I don’t often prescribe it but will often leave dogs on it if they come in taking it already. In highly aggressive cancers I usually do not use it as occasionally it can cause them to spread faster.
  • How to use this book – guide for using Integrative and holistic methods for treating cancer in dogs and cats

    Saturday, April 20th, 2013

    See the book this article talks about, Integrative and Holistic methods for treating cancer in dogs and cats.

    It takes a village to raise a dog and it takes a team to work with cancer. I cannot emphasize enough how important a good team is for working with a dog or cat with cancer. Not only to make sure your animal is getting the best care possible but also to offer you, the caregiver, support.

    If you can find a holistic veterinarian to work with, you are going to have a much easier time. I often recommend acupuncture, which is something that cannot be done without an acupuncturist for animals as part of your team. Also because every dog and cat is different having someone who knows your dog or cat will be very helpful. While I have laid out what I normally use for certain cancers, I find in my own practice that this will change from animal to animal. This is because they all present slightly differently and sometimes they don’t follow typical patterns.

    However I understand that some places there are no holistic vet, sometimes money is an issue, some animals cannot travel and sometimes the holistic vets in your area are not herbalists.

    I have found through my practice that many western vets are open to holistic medicine especially herbs and especially for the diseases such as cancer that often do not have good western treatments. Bring this book to your vet and discuss the treatments with them.

    I realize that there are some people that are going to use this information without a vet involved in the process. If you choose this course, make sure that you don’t use anything that makes your dog or cat sick. Add in one or two supplements or herbals at a time. If you dog or cat is under the care of a veterinarian let them know what you are doing. Make sure there are no interactions between the drugs you are giving and any supplements or herbs that you add.

    Do not add multiple supplements to the protocol of an animal who is not eating. Get them eating first. If an animal has a very picky appetite consider giving the supplements or herbals separate from food. Talk to your vet about drugs that can boost appetite and get your dog or cat eating again.

    If there is pain involved do not just rely on just herbals. Make sure you talk to your vet about pain control.

    Remember eating, sleeping and stopping pain first. Comfort and quality of life are primary.

    So that all being said – what do you do with the actual book

    I cannot do phone or email consultations – I have a full practice and only see animals in the Seattle area. I am only one person. Even with animals that are local I am not able to see everyone. Find someone in your community to help! There are many others that do what I do. I don’t hold any miracles that others cannot access. There are also other ways of treating cancer that work well. This is just what I have found works the best.

    May your path be gentle and filled with healing and support!