More Uses for Cold Therapy Laser

Takota getting laser therapyWe continue to find new, innovative ways to use the high-powered, cold-therapy laser. This is a picture of Takota, a 9 year old, neutered male golden retriever. Takota has hypothyroidism, as well as severe seasonal allergies.

His thyroid condition and his allergies are all well controlled at this point, but he recently developed a lick granuloma on one front leg. Lick granulomas form when a dog (they don’t occur in cats) licks a given spot on a leg incessantly. As the pet licks the leg it gets irritated; as it gets irritated it triggers increased licking. Increased licking causes increased irritation, and a perpetual loop is formed.

There are many ways to treat lick granulomas, and none is any better than the others. Each case is different, and different treatments work for different cases.

We’ve recently started to use the K-Laser Cube 4 cold therapy laser to treat these areas. The Cube 4 is a 15 watt Class 4 cold-therapy laser. It is the highest powered cold therapy laser on the market today.

Tissue Effects of the Cold-Therapy Laser

Cold therapy laser has many benefits and absolutely no side effects. Among other benefits, it:

  • Increases blood supply to the treated area
  • Decreases inflammation
  • Decreases pain, irritation and itching
  • Increases oxygenation of treated tissues
  • Reduces free radical formation in the area. (Free radicals are toxic molecules that form when tissues and cells are damaged. Their presence causes further tissue damage.)
  • Increases energy production and healing in affected areas

This is just a short list of all the benefits of the cold therapy laser.  The laser can be used on any tissue in the body to achieve the results we just listed. In general, anywhere there is inflammation can benefit from laser therapy.

Differences in Cold-Therapy Laser Machines

Our laser – the K-Laser Cube 4 – is the highest powered laser on the market. This is important, as some areas that we treat are deep within the body. For instance, hip dysplasia in large breeds, such as labs and rottweilers, is a serious problem that can lead to chronic breakdown. To treat the hips in some of these dogs that weigh up to and over 120 lbs, it takes a high-powered laser to achieve maximum efficacy.

Many of the lasers currently sold in the veterinary market are low-powered lasers. Many are less than 1 watt, which means they aren’t even Class 4 lasers. These lasers simply do not have the power to penetrate tissues more than 1-2 mm. They cannot treat deeper tissues, or tissues with chronic damage.

Other than price, there is no advantage to these low powered lasers. Our high-powered K-Laser Cube 4 has no side effects. It is very comfortable for the pet, and adds only a slight warming sensation to the treatment area. Most pets lay comfortably while being treated.

Besides being the highest powered laser on the market, the Cube 4 also uses 4 separate wavelengths of laser light. This is done intentionally, as each wavelength of laser light achieves a different purpose. Different cells respond to different wavelengths, and by covering a broader spectrum of wavelengths more tissues can be positively impacted. Most of the cheaper laser models on the market use just one – or at best 2 – laser wavelengths.

As our knowledge of the therapeutic effects of high-powered cold laser therapy grows, so will our ability to positively impact more pets and more problem areas in the body. Because we have the absolute best laser available today, there is no therapeutic treatment we won’t be able to provide.

Mushroom Compound to Prolong Canine Cancer Patients

Up until just recently, when a man’s best friend is diagnosed with cancer, such as hemangiosarcoma, even if the dog received chemotherapy treatment the prognosis was extremely guarded for living a long, full life. Hemangiosarcoma is relatively common in dogs, and is usually fatal.

At this point, this cancer, which is an aggressive tumor of blood based organs and tissues such as the spleen, remains incurable. Unfortunately, over the past two to three decades, there has not been any significant advancement in the standard of care for dogs with hemangiosarcoma, and early detection is rare due to the lack of effective testing for the disease. By the time the tumors have become large enough to detect, the cancer has often already progressed to advanced stages.

Coriolus mushrooms
Harvested Coriolus mushrooms

Within the past few years, however, there have been promising findings for owners of dogs who have hemangiosarcoma, according to a study conducted by Jennifer Reetz and Dorothy Cimino Brown, two faculty members at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. The study revealed that canines that were treated with a compound which was derived from the mushroom Coriolus versicolor, exhibited the longest survival times that have ever been reported for canines suffering from hemangiosarcoma. The compound is usually called Coriolus PSP, or PSP for short.

According to the study results, the median survival time of the dogs that were tested increased as the PSP dose increased, and the longest median survival times that were reported to date were linked to the dogs that were on the highest dose of PSP. In other words, the higher the dose of this mushroom compound supplemen, the longer the dogs survived with the cancer. Additionally, the dogs receiving the highest doses exhibited slower progression of the cancer in comparison to the dogs receiving chemotherapy.

Chinese medicine has been using the Coriolus versicolor mushroom (Yun-zhi mushroom) for over 2,000 years now. Standardized, purified polysaccharopeptide (PSP) is the compound that is found in the mushroom which is considered to provide immune-boosting and liver detoxifying properties. Just in the past twenty years, studies have theorized that this compound also exhibits tumor-fighting properties.

While the Yun-zhi mushroom has been known in China for centuries, the Western world only recently became aware of it. When studies exposed the chemotherapy and radio-therapy reducing properties that the mushroom demonstrated, clinical trials in the Western part of the world ensued.

In random double-blind clinical trials, humans who were undergoing radiation or chemotherapy treatments took Yun-zhi for two months. These human subjects experienced tremendous improvement in the reduction of radiation and chemo side effect symptoms such as nausea, poor appetite, vomiting, fatigue and sweating. Yun-zhi also helped stabilize the white blood cell counts of these patients. Overall results of treatment revealed an efficacy rate of 83% to 86%.

Currently there is a clinical research trial at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine involving a supplement derived from the mushroom compound called I’m Yunity. This will be a randomized, controlled, single phase study that will compare the effects of the supplement to standard care chemotherapy. Most likely, the results will not be published for at least another couple of years, but at least the research institutions are starting to recognize herbal and alternative therapies as actual possibilities in the treatment of canine cancer.

So, while dog owners may still be left in the dark regarding a cure for hemangiosarcoma, the Yun-zhi mushroom supplement gives us a glimmer of light. If we can prolong the time that we have with our cancer-stricken canine friends for several months (or maybe even up to a year) with the assistance from the natural supplement derived from the Coriolus versicolor, we will have more time to accept their fate while we spend quality time and provide them with the best final months of their life that we possibly can.

At Acupet Veterinary Care, we routinely use mushroom therapy in our cancer patients (mushroom therapy can help most types of cancer, not just hemangiosarcoma). CAS Options is a pharmaceutical-graded derivative of several different species of mushroom, and we’ve seen tremendous benefit in those cancer patients we have on it.

A New Healthy Weapon Against Arthritis and Pain

Perna canaliculus, the green lipped mussel
New Zealand Green Lipped Mussels

We’ve seen a spate of back injuries lately, and so it’s prompted me to discuss Perna canaliculus once more.  Perna canaliculus, or Perna for short, is the technical name for the New Zealand green lipped mussel. It is a bivalve mollusk, found exclusively in the intertidal zones around all of New Zealand.

Perna has been known for years as a medicinal nutritional supplement that helps alleviate the signs, symptoms, and ongoing progression of arthritis and osteomyelitis. It is effective in minimizing the inflammation associated with arthritis and other inflammatory conditions.

Technically, Perna inhibits 5-lipoxygenase, which is necessary for the formation of some of the inflammatory chemicals found in arthritis. By blocking 5-lipoxygenase the inflammatory response is reduced.

Perna canaliculus was discovered when anecdotal evidence led scientists several decades ago to discover that members of the Maori people who lived along New Zealand’s coast suffered fewer cases of rheumatic disorders than those who lived inland. It was also found that Perna was one of the mainstays of the coastal-dwelling Maoris’ diet.

Besides blocking 5-lipoxygenase, Perna also contains high levels of a unique Omega 3 fatty acid called eicosatetraenoic acid, or ETA. Now, we’ve known for a long time that Omega 3 fatty acids in general are very beneficial in the alleviation of pain and inflammation caused by arthritis. However, the usual sources of Omega 3’s are fish and flaxseed, and they contain primarily EPA and DHA Omega 3’s.  And while EPA and DHA are both good, ETA is a much more potent anti-inflammatory than the commonly found Omega 3’s.

Published reports are consistent in their findings that Perna mussel produces an anti-inflammatory response. A Clemson University study found that Perna was effective in reducing the onset of rheumatoid arthritis as well as reversing it in mice and rats. Out of eighteen test animals with arthritis that were fed Perna mussel, only three developed arthritis compared to 10 out of 15 in the control group. Another study found that the green-lipped mussel was effective in reducing pain, swelling, and stiffness in 60 human patients with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. And importantly, a French study using 53 patients suffering from osteoarthritis in the knee reported that the Perna extract was “well tolerated by the participants with no adverse conditions reported.”

Because of its potent anti-inflammatory effects, we strongly recommend that Perna be included in any joint supplement prescribed to help control the pain and inflammation of arthritis, including back pain and inter-vertebral disc disease. It is rare that routine over-the-counter joint products found at pet stores or health food stores contain Perna as one of their ingredients. Typically, you have to go to a health care provider to get this potent supplement.

EZ Joint ChewsOur EZ Joint Chews that we use routinely for arthritis and back issues not only contain glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, but they also contain high levels of Perna and other Omega 3 fatty acids. And unlike most over-the-counter products, they are pharmaceutical grade, insuring the highest level of purity and bioavailability. They come as an extremely tasty chewy treat that most dogs love, and remarkably, are no more expensive than most over-the-counter medications found at the big box pet stores. We highly recommend them for any form of joint condition.

Click here to learn more about arthritis and hip dysplasia in dogs.

Leaky Gut Syndrome in Pets

Leaky Gut Syndrome (LGS) is a problem in people and animals alike. And recent research is pointing to LGS as a possible causative agent in many previously unrelated diseases.

What Is Leaky Gut Syndrome?

The GI track (or alimentary canal in medical jargon) should be thought of as an internal passageway within the body that connects the environment at each end. When thought of this way, we realize that food and other ingesta in the intestines are actually OUTSIDE the body. To actually enter the body food nutrients and other molecules need to cross the gut wall and enter the blood stream. Besides the digestion and absorption of nutrients, one of the major functions of the gut wall is to make sure that it is allowing the proper nutrients to enter, while keeping toxins, pathogens, and other noxious substances out. When the gut fails to keep these negative molecules out of the body we end up with a condition called Leaky Gut Syndrome.

What Causes Leaky Gut Syndrome?

The GI wall is made up of multiple layers, and these layers differ depending on the part of the GI track they’re located in, for example in the stomach, small intestine, or large intestine. However, one common component of the entire alimentary canal is the interior lining, called the mucosa. In the small and large intestines the cells of the mucosa are very tightly packed together, forming a bond called Tight Junctions (TJs). Tight Junctions have the primary specific function of preventing toxins and pathogens from entering the blood stream inappropriately. It is damage to these tight junctions that is the main culprit in Leaky Gut Syndrome. TJs can be damaged from a multitude of different causes. Any type of environmental insult can – in theory – cause damage to TJ’s, and thus precipitate LGS. These include pathogens such as bacteria and viruses, environmental toxins as well as manmade chemicals in many of the pet foods we feed, as well as free radicals and other toxic molecules from incomplete digestion of otherwise appropriate feeds. Many (if not most) of the feeds we feed our pets are highly processed dry kibble. This heat processing can affect the digestibility of these feeds. Add to that the fact that many of the cheaper diets have added chemicals, colorings, and preservatives, and you realize the intestinal lining of the modern pet is under attack by a barrage of insults that nature never meant for it to face.

Leaky Gut Syndrome and Systemic Disease

LGS is a well-documented disease process in both veterinary and human medicine. On the human side research is currently ongoing to try to discern its role in multiple systemic diseases. It is now hypothesized that many autoimmune diseases can be at least partially attributed to LGS. And several studies are now pointing to a potential role for LGS in the pathogenesis of Type I Diabetes and Celiac Disease. On the veterinary side, research is lagging. However, there is no reason to believe that the same causative link will not be found between LGS and systemic disease similar to the findings in human medicine. Skin allergies, certain forms of arthritis, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, and many other conditions may be found to have a link to LGS. If this is true, it opens up a whole avenue of possibilities for treatment and prevention of these diseases.

New Treatment for Lymphoma and Other Pet Cancers

A vaccine induced fibrosarcoma in a cat
Fibrosarcoma in a cat

Within the last six months a new treatment has come online for lymphoma in both dogs and cats. It is called ImmuneFx, and in essence it uses the pet’s own cancer cells to create a vaccine, which is then injected into the pet, causing its own immune system to destroy the cancer.

This form of treatment has been in the research phase for at least 20 years, but only recently has an actual therapeutic protocol been approved by the FDA. The company that has pioneered and licensed this therapy is Morphogenesis, Inc, and they are located right here in Tampa.

The Technology

The protocol for treatment involves surgery to obtain a tissue biopsy of the tumor. In a case like lymphoma, we would take out an enlarged lymph node. In a solid mass cancer, such as a fibrosarcoma, we would remove as much of the effected tissue as possible.

That harvested tissue is then sent to the company for processing. From the tissue provided they “infect” the cancer cells with DNA from a specific type of bacteria. After that they grow a homogenous culture of these “infected” cancer cells and produce a serum that contains these infected cancer cells.

We then take that serum and administer it to the pet. Inside the patient the bacterial DNA that has been added to the cancer cells then programs the immune system to eliminate these cells and any like them. This tricks the body into attacking the cancer cells at all levels.

Cancers Affected and Treatment Outcomes

To date the company has successfully treated over 20 different types of solid and liquid cancers, and research is continuing on many others.

The cancers treated successfully to date include:

  • Feline Fibrosarcoma
  • Canine Hemangiosarcoma
  • Canine Nerve Sheath Sarcoma
  • Canine Mammary Tumor
  • Canine Histiocytic Sarcoma
  • Canine Squamous Cell Carcinoma
  • Canine B Cell Lymphoma
  • Canine T Cell Lymphoma
  • Feline T Cell Lymphoma
  • Canine Fibrosarcoma
  • Cutaneous T Cell Lymphoma
  • Feline Chondrosarcoma
  • Canine Hemangiopericytoma
  • Canine Osteosarcoma
  • Equine Melanoma
  • Canine Transitional Cell Carcinoma
  • Canine Adenocarcinoma
  • Canine Sebaceous Gland Carcinoma
  • Canine Osteochondrosarcoma

Success rates depend on many factors, including:

  • Type of cancer or tumor being treated
  • Presence or absence of concurrent therapies, such as chemo
  • Stage of cancer – earlier in the cancer process has a much better prognosis
  • Overall health of the patient, including immune system status

In general, long term survival rates range from less than 30% to well over 80%.  That may or may not sound like great success to you, but you have to keep in mind there is little or no side effects to the treatment, and once the biopsy surgery is over, the treatments are very easy for the pet. Treatment consists of eight separate injections given over a period of time that varies depending on the cancer being treated. For lymphoma, it’s one injection daily for eight weeks.

So if your pet is diagnosed with a cancer that carries an otherwise poor prognosis, this gives us one more arrow in our quiver of treatments to help give them a longer and better quality of life.

Edit: At Acupet Veterinary Care we don’t service the equine industry. However, ImmuneFX is available for several equine cancers, as well, including Equine Melanoma.

Milk Thistle for Pets

Milk Thistle with a butterflyMilk thistle, also known by its Latin name, Silybum marianum, offers a variety of therapeutic possibilities that can improve the quality of life for pets.  Milk thistle has been recognized as an herbal remedy for a variety of health concerns for nearly 2000 years.

Piny the Elder was the first to start prescribing the extract of milk thistle for medical issues such as plague, reptile bites, depression, and encouraging milk production. Since then, a plethora of research has been conducted on this powerful herbal remedy, which has been used for practically every type of liver condition, and has resulted in seemingly miraculous results in conditions which could have been fatal. .

Silymarin – Milk Thistle Active Ingredient

Silymarin is the active ingredient, an extract derivative that comes from the dried seeds of the milk thistle plant. This bioflavanoid (super-antioxidant and anti-inflammatory) complex extract is known mostly for its liver regenerating and detoxifying abilities. It has also more recently been used for protecting the organs of the body from the destructive effects of chemotherapy and radiation.

In dogs, the antioxidant characteristics of milk thistle were proven in a study published in the Journal of Veterinary Pharmacology and Therapeutics to reduce nephrotoxicity (kidney damage) caused by gentamicin (an aminoglycoside antibiotic).

How Does Milk Thistle Work?

To understand how milk thistle works, it is necessary to be aware of how the liver functions. The main function of the liver is to break down and eliminate the majority of substances which are toxic in the body. Toxic substances that the liver is responsible for destroying and getting rid of can include: chemicals in the environment, drugs, household cleaners, plants that are poisonous, cigarette smoke, toxins in tap water, flea shampoos, dips and sprays, and many more.

Milk thistle aids the liver in breaking down toxic substances, and has also been known to encourage bile to flow from the gall bladder. The elements of silymarin marianum gather in the liver after they are absorbed into the body, and then perform in several ways.

One way that the herbal remedy performs is by stimulating protein synthesis (regeneration and replacement of the cells) in the liver. This amazing herb also blocks toxin absorption in the cells of the liver, therefore defending the liver against potential poisoning (some of which can be fatal). Finally, milk thistle inhibits the development of free radicals – substances that cause inflammation and contribute to degeneration of the liver.

Milk Thistle – Studies

In 1984, a study was conducted wherein canines were fed a poisonous mushroom compound. Silymarin was administered by IV to the canines. In the control group, 30% of the canines died, while all of the dogs who were administered the silymarin IV lived. Additionally, the study revealed that there was not any damage in the livers of the canines who received the silymarin. There have been few other studies with canines and milk thistle (salymarin). Most studies regarding milk thistle have been conducted on humans and rats, rather than canines.

Milk Thistle Has Been Used to Treat:

  • Liver problems
  • Chronic hepatitis
  • Liver cirrhosis
  • Toxin-induced liver damage
  • Disorders of the gall bladder
  • Bowel disorders
  • Poison antidote

Safety for Pets

Animals seem to tolerate milk thistle quite well, and safety does not appear to be an issue. There may be side effects such as mild digestive upsets and loose stools. There is a standing warning that milk thistle should not be used by a woman who is pregnant; therefore this should also be a precaution for pregnant pets.

The use of milk thistle is supported by scientific studies and many holistic veterinarians for the treatment of disorders of the liver. This herbal remedy may also be recommended for treatment of inflammation of internal organs and diabetes mellitus that has shown resistance to insulin. Just like any other nutritional supplement, consult with your veterinarian before administering milk thistle to your pet.

Mushroom Compounds for Cancer

Up until just recently, when a man’s best friend is diagnosed with cancer, such as hemangiosarcoma, even if the dog received chemotherapy treatment, the prognosis was extremely guarded for living a long, full life. Hemangiosarcoma is relatively common in dogs and one of the most mystifying and exigent diseases of veterinary medicine. At this point, this cancer, which presents itself as a tumor of the cells that sheathe the blood vessels, remains incurable. Unfortunately, over the past two to three decades, there has not been any significant advancement in the standard of care for dogs with hemangiosarcoma and early detection is rare due to the lack of effective testing for the disease. By the time the tumors have become large enough to detect, the cancer has already progressed to advanced stages.

Within the past few years, however, there have been promising findings for owners of dogs who have hemangiosarcoma, according to a study conducted by Jennifer Reetz and Dorothy Cimino Brown, two faculty members at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. The study revealed that canines who were treated with a compound which was derived from the mushroom Coriolus versicolor, exhibited the longest survival times that have ever been reported for canines suffering from hemangiosarcoma. The compound is usually called Coriolus PSP, or PSP for short.

Increasing Cancer Survival Times with the Coriolus Mushroom

According to the study results, the median survival time of the dogs that were tested increased as the PSP dose increased, and the longest median survival times that were reported to date were linked to the dogs that were on the highest dose of PSP. In other words, the higher the dose of this mushroom compound supplement, the longer the canines survived with the cancer. Additionally, the dogs receiving the highest doses exhibited slower progression of the cancer in comparison to the dogs receiving chemotherapy.

These findings are not only hopeful for canines, but also provide a ray of hope for human cancer patients, as well. There could be a holistic treatment and a feasible alternative to chemotherapies which are currently used to treat cancer. While Hemangiosarcoma is the only cancer that is an almost exclusive canine disease, angiosarcoma, a rare tumor in humans that is similar, occurs with exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and vinyl chloride in the workplace (normally found in tire and rubber plants). An even rarer angiosarcoma, or cancer of the skin, occurs in only a tiny fraction of women who are receiving high doses of radiation treatment for cancer.

Coriolus mushrooms
Harvested Coriolus mushrooms

Chinese medicine has been using the Coriolus versicolor mushroom (Yun-zhi mushroom) for over 2,000 years now. Standardized, purified polysaccharopeptide (PSP) is the compound that is found in the mushroom which is considered to provide immune-boosting and liver detoxifying properties. Just in the past twenty years, studies have theorized that this compound also exhibits tumor-fighting properties. However, unfortunately, the trials that have been conducted to date have lacked any significant evidence of anti-tumor properties in humans.

While the Yun-zhi mushroom has been known in China for centuries, the Western world only recently became aware of it. When studies exposed the unbelievable chemotherapy and radio-therapy reducing properties that the mushroom demonstrated, clinical trials in the Western part of the world ensued. In random double-blind clinical trials, humans who were undergoing radiation or chemotherapy treatments took Yun-zhi for two months. These human subjects experienced tremendous improvement in radiation and chemo side effect symptoms such as nausea, poor appetite, vomiting, fatigue and sweating. Yun-zhi also assisted in making the white blood cell of these patients more stabilized. Overall results of treatment revealed an efficacy rate of 83% to 86%.

Clinical Cancer Research using Yun-Zhi

We just recently received an email from a Veterinary Clinical Research Nurse at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine stating that they were currently in their second clinical trial with the supplement from the mushroom compound called I’m Yunity. This will be a randomized, controlled, single study that will compare the effects of the supplement to standard care chemotherapy. Most likely, another study will not be published for at least another couple of years, because, as Rene Newman, CVT from the Veterinary Clinical Investigations Center stated, “We have a long way to go to get to our n of 100.”

So, while dog owners may still be left in the dark regarding a cure for hemangiosarcoma, the Yun-zhi mushroom supplement gives us a glimmer of light. If we can prolong the time that we have with our cancer-stricken canine friends for several months (or maybe even up to a year) with the assistance from the natural supplement derived from the Coriolus versicolor, we will have more time to accept their fate while we spend quality time and provide them with the best final months of their life that we possibly can.