Posts Tagged ‘old age’

Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang – Chemotherapy herbal support for dogs and cats

Saturday, September 24th, 2011

Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang is one of the formulas I take myself when I’ve been under too much stress and my adrenals are a little deficient. It has a deep root flavor with just a hint of citrus – yum!

In my practice, this is the main formula I use for chemotherapy support. Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang helps to support digestion, the immune system, blood cell counts, and adrenal function in the body and at the same time has some strong anti-cancer herbs.

So what is in Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang?

  • Huang Qi – Astragulus
  • Bai Zhu – Atractylodes
  • Gan Cao (sometimes Zhi Gan Cao is used instead) – Licorice
  • Ren Shen – Ginseng
  • Chen Pi – Tangerine peel
  • Dang Gui – Chinese angelica root
  • Chai Hu – Bupleurum
  • Sheng Ma – Black cohosh

In 2007 a study was done out of the University of Minnesota by K. HWa Choi DVM. This study looked at dogs being treated with chemotherapy (including doxorubicin) for lymphoma and the side effects from treatment. It was found that dogs administered BZYQT had much less diarrhea and vomiting then dogs getting just chemotherapy. They also did much better than dogs getting chemotherapy and western drugs to control vomiting and diarrhea. In addition the dogs on BZYQT had better appetites. BZYQT also significantly raised white and red blood cell counts. Overall the dogs getting chemotherapy and Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang did much better than dogs just getting chemotherapy or those being treated with western drugs for the side effects.

Not bad for an herbal therapy!

There has also been some success in the herbal veterinary community with this herbal to help manage hemangiosarcoma.

So how does it work?

Bupleurum has some amazing cancer fighting abilities. Bupleurum can induce apoptosis or cell death in cancer cells and inhibit cancer cell growth and division. Many studies have been done on this plant especially for lung cancer.

Many of the herbs in this formula work in pairs. Astragulus and ginseng strongly support the immune system and have direct anti-cancer effects. Ginseng and licorice support adrenal function. Dang Gui with Huang Qi stimulates the bone marrow to increase blood cell production. Licorice and tangerine support digestion.

This formula also works to increase peripheral circulation and can help to prevent some skin and nail inflammatory disorders. Many animals with deficient immune function also do well on this formula. I also often use it to support animals with deficient adrenal function (Addison’s disease). Some of its other uses are for incontinence and prolapse.

In Chinese medicine terms Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang lifts up sinking qi, supports the liver and spleen and tonifies lung qi.

When do I use this formula?

Any dog or cat getting chemotherapy which includes the drug doxorubicin also known as adriamycin should be on this formula. This drug is one with the most potential for side effects and Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang can help reduce these.

I also use it for dogs or cats on other chemotherapeutic agents who are having side effects or problems maintaining cell counts.

In addition I will sometimes use this formula in very debilitated animals to help them gain strength and balance. I currently have one dog I treat who has a weakened immune system and is prone to getting nail bed infections that turn to cancer. He had lost three toes to this process before we found a protocol which included his formula.

How is Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang dosed?

I usually dose it twice a day and use powdered whole herbs in my patients. I use 1/8 teaspoon once or twice a day for cats and small dogs, 1/4 teaspoon twice a day for dogs up to 25 lbs, and 1/2-1 teaspoon twice day for larger dogs. For tea pills use 2,4, or 8 twice a day for the above sizes of animals.

If I am using a tincture I use 0.2ml per 5lb once a day.

Many companies will substitute Codonopsis (Dang Shen) for ginseng (Ren Shen). If at all possible use a product that has ginseng as it is a much stonger and more powerful herb than codonopsis.

You can now buy Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang from my etsy store, Kingdom of Basil

As with all articles on this site, please check with your animal’s vet before starting any herbal treatments.

Return to Integrative and Holistic Methods for Treating Cancer in Cats and Dogs

A Jake shaped hole in the universe

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

jake7Old Black Dog

Warm brown eyes, clouded by age,
touched lightly with pain.

Deep understanding. Alert for other eyes,
a touch, an opportunity for play or communion.

Soft ears, moving toward my outstretched hand,
leaning into the tenderness.

A weathered torso, thick with fatty tumors, like the
trunk of an ancient tree.

Muscles stiff, contracted against the pain of simple deterioration,
A long life. With a touch, frozen muscles melt, a sigh, a stretch.

Our morning ritual. Sweet. Intimate. An almost invisible thread of daily life.
Comfort for an old dog.

But what of the exquisite texture of black fur against each finger?
Warmth and softness. The sounds of a sigh. The unmistakable
presence of breath – rising and falling.

I am here. You are here. We are here together.

The simplest need.
The rarest pleasure.
Noticed now in its absence.
A Rufus-shaped hole in the universe.

Now, humbled by grief, I see something essential.

We are not alone.
We must not be alone.
We are born to breathe together
Touch one another
See one another deeply

And then we go.
And then we go.

Lynn Morrison (written on 12/18/07 in memory of Rufus, 11/1/93-11/15/07)

jakecloseThis poem was written by a client of mine when her dog passed away and gifted to me a couple years ago. At the time I knew it was special and put it away for safe keeping. But it wasn’t until our beloved dog Jake passed away this weekend that I realized how special it was. Lynn has given me permission to share it and I hope it can help others who are also grieving.

Jake was 14 years old and for the last six months had slowly progressed to the point of barely being able to walk and not always knowing where he was or what was going on. Our lives had come to revolve around making sure we were there for him, cleaning up after him when he had accidents in the house and on himself, and helping him get up and down as he would often get stuck and could no longer go outside on his own.

While I am very sad to have him gone from my life, I realize that the dog I mourn was not the dog that was confused and unable to do any of the things he loved the last few months. It was clearly time for him to pass from this world into a place where he could run again and be free of a body that stopped him from doing anything and just caused him pain and suffering.

The dog I mourn was the happy dog who loved everyone. The dog who would bounce around the house in joy whenever I would get home (even if I had just walked down the steps to the mailbox to get the mail). The dog who heard every sound, kept an eye on everyone and was proud of the job he did protecting our home. He was the dog that sometimes tried too hard and was always inches behind me. The dog that would go up stairs backwards bouncing his bottom into each step so he could watch me coming up behind him the whole way.

jake-2At the dog park he would bound ahead with his curly tail waving in the air. He made friends with everyone, even the dogs who didn’t like anyone. He was the dog that all the little kids wanted to pet. In his later years he would limp up to anyone who passed on the street and captivate them with his kind eyes.

He made us laugh with his inability to realize that he had a whole body sometimes as he was a little on the clumsy side. In fact my son used to introduce Jake as,”this is my dog Jake, he thinks he is a floating head.”

He was always there for us. He helped my son when we was young and was afraid. He helped me through my divorce and slept by my side every night I was alone. He showed us all that love is a wonderful thing and that it can be unconditional. We will miss him very much.

May 1995-June 29,2009

As the tide comes in

Friday, February 6th, 2009

The supreme good is like water,
which nourishes all things without trying to.
-Tao Te Ching

One of the vets I often work with has told me that the clients we share become more accepting, open, and confident as they work with me. I think half my work is helping people to accept the place their animals are at and being open to whatever happens. Sometimes I wonder how much of these animals’ healing is from this acceptance and not just the acupuncture work I do.

When animals are old and sick, that is the time to cherish them and love them. We don’t have to make everything better. There is only so long we are all given here and that is not a problem we are supposed to solve.

Take the time today to stop for a moment and look upon those you love and who mean so much to you, fuzzy or non-fuzzy. We have but this moment, everything else is just a memory or a future worry.

Much of my work is with older animals and because of this I see many animals pass on. It is always so sad when I lose an animal I have worked with. I try to appreciate the way that I have been touched by being a part of their life. For a fuzzy being to have trusted me to help and included me in their family and circle of care opens my heart.

Think of people, places you have known
Sculpted out of sand
The tide’s coming in and we’re going nowhere

Jason Webley

Love me for who I am today

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008

jake-2Beautiful, strong and proud, he leaps across the field with graceful steps, able to turn on his heals in a second’s time if something fun to chase crosses his path. But slowly the gray hairs form on his muzzle and his step slows, his eyes are no longer as clear as in his youth and he no longer hears the door when it opens.

For many dogs, aging is a difficult transition from being able to take on the world to not being able to take on the steps. The fun things they used to do like going to the dog park, going for long walks on the beach, or just making it around the block or into the car become impossible. Many of the very active or herding dogs have an equally difficult time mentally accepting that they can no longer do what they see to be their job.

My own dog Jake recently went through a very difficult period which started when he reached the point of not being able to climb the stairs between the first and second story of our home. Jake had always been the protector and organizer of our family, following everyone around, many times backwards bumping into walls as he went, so that he would not have to take his eyes off of us. He even made it a job trying to herd our four cats, which as any of you with cats know is clearly impossible.

He became extremely anxious about his limitations and would walk around panting nervously until he fell over with exhaustion. This was very difficult because his anxiety was not only very uncomfortable for him but also for us, especially when there was little we could do about it. We quickly got into a pattern of Jake becoming extremely anxious, us leaving the room because he was so anxious, and him becoming more anxious because he wasn’t with us. This was compounded by his anxiety causing him to lose continence and end up walking around panting and peeing as he went or pooping on the living room rug. I became convinced that not only was he losing his footing but that he was also losing his mind.

I would get so frustrated with him that I would shout,” just stay there, can’t you just sit still and relax!” Of course I was not making things any better with my frustration. Jake was not accepting his condition and I certainly wasn’t either. This just made him more agitated because I was upset with him in addition to him not being able to do his job. And he had always tried so hard to be a good dog. Having a career working with older dogs you would think I would have realized right away that we were both stuck in a very bad pattern but it is always harder to see the things that are closest to home.

jake-4Gradually as a family we realized that there was a large problem with acceptance and the first thing to do was accept Jake for where he was at. We also made some changes to our home and routines to improve things. We changed our schedules so that we were able to let him out at the same times every day to poop and pee. One very important change was to put up a gate between our two floors so that Jake could not go up or down the stairs on his own. In the morning we would help him down the stairs and in the evening we would help him up so he could sleep in my son’s room and do his job of protecting him. Because the gate was there he knew that we were purposely stopping him from going on the stairs and he no longer felt that he had to follow us where he could not.

We let him know that we accepted him for who he was and that we valued his job of protecting us and watching over us but that his most important job now was to keep his strength and be our companion instead of our protector. He received more pets and we tried our best to make him understand that he was loved for being Jake and that was separate from what he could or could not do. We praised him when he was calm and sitting still and took more time to sit and talk to him.

In a short period of time he because more calm and stopped following us around everywhere. After about two weeks we were able to take the gate down and he no longer went on the stairs except in the morning and the evening. Now most of the time he doesn’t even need help to get up and down the stairs the two times a day he climbs them. His continence also improved and he no longer pees or poops in the house and can make it much longer without being let out.

Of all the things we did I think the most important was to accept and love him unconditionally. I have had other clients tell me as well that when they were able to truly accept and love their animal companions in the condition that they were in, there was improvement not just for their animals both mentally and physically but also for themselves. I had one client explain to me that when she was able to accept that her dog needed to go out multiple times in the evening and realize how happy she was just to have her here in her old age that she no longer found it so difficult to get up in the middle of the night. In addition I noticed a huge improvement in her dog’s physical condition, she was much more present and less painful.

When we have friends or family who truly accept us regardless of state it makes us feel very loved and protected. We no longer have to pretend to be something we are not. I think it is no different with our animal friends. Through accepting them we are sharing our love and letting them be what they are at that moment. After all with older animals every moment we have with them is precious.

jake-1Love me for who I am today
Tomorrow I will be someone different
Gray may shine through my hair
Like stars in the sky
My eyes may be cloudy
Like the far off sea
But we are together
Our hearts touch as one
I am forever your friend
You are the one I love

Photographs in this story from Jennifer Kogut