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Our Pets and Toxins

Sunday, 27. June 2010 7:45

An study from the Environmental Working Group, Poluted Pets, by Olga Naidenko, Rebecca Sutton, Jane Houlihan, April 2008, begins: “ In the first study of its kind, Environmental Working Group found that American pets are polluted with even higher levels of many of the same synthetic industrial chemicals that researchers have recently found in people, including newborns. The results show that America’s pets are serving as involuntary sentinels of the widespread chemical contamination that scientists increasingly link to a growing array of health problems across a wide range of animals—wild, domesticated and human.”  

While this may not be news to a large number of petowners, the extent of the problem is significant. It is therefore more than ever imperative to make the lives of our pets as toxin free as we can, because in doing so we make our own lives healthier. Multiple and layered illnesses have increasingly been seen in clinic in the human animal, as well as pets over the last several years in part due to this.  The contamination comes from many sources; poluted tap water, commerical pet foods, lawn and garden chemical residues and indoor environment; air, off gassing of manmade materials in the home, commercial products for; cleaning, clothes washing and other home maintenance products, various commerical pet grooming products and flea protection products, cat litter, toys with toxic ingredients, etc.  There are also those chemicals used in the urban environment and general airpolution.  Animals absorb surface chemicals directly through the bottom of their feet, through nosing, licking or eating things off the ground and through grooming themselves thereby absorbing chemicals in ways that a human would not.  All of this puts great stress on a many of the body’s systems and functions.  It is therefore important to purchase products that are safe and luckily there are increasingly more to choose from and places to get them. 

There is much we can do in controlling toxic contaminants for ourselves and out pets, but of course much we can’t readily controll.  But if we provide clean, organic food, filtered or spring water, non toxic products throughout our homes; cleaning/maintenance, laundry, sprays, organic/non toxic products to groom pets, non toxic toys, collars, etc. it goes a long way towards helping our pets and ourselves maintain health. Consider for a moment that we and our children hug our pets, place our faces in their fur and pick up chemicals that may linger there.  Anything we do for our pets can therefore have a beneficial impact on our own health as well.

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Category:Integrative Therapies, Pet Wellness | Comments (2) | Author:


Thursday, 27. May 2010 7:10

Skin diseases such as for example eczema, is  known in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) as shi zhen or damp rash and are generally either chronic or acute conditions.  In TCM diagnosis and treatment is based on what is called pattern discrimination; the disharmonies, stagnations, deficiencies, wind, pathogenic influences, Heat or etc. within the body that affect the whole body health.  The assessment establishes whether there is a pattern of Damp Heat or a pattern of Blood Dryness as seen from the TCM perspective.  A Damp Heat pattern will include red, weepy skin lesions that are itchy, plus other signs and symptoms the TCM practitioner establishes.   With Blood Dryness the lesions are dry and may also be itchy.  The lesions may be more or less red or perhaps even pale plus other signs and symptoms established by the practitioner after a thorough examination of the patient. 

Eczema may have a basis in other allergies.  In dogs, some breeds seem also to be more prone to skin diseases than others; for example golden retrievers, terriers, poodles, Dalmatians, schnauzers.   In dogs the cause for eczema can be internal and/or external parasites, fungus, yeast, fleas, chemical substances and drug reactions and others in addition to dietary and environmental allergies and sensitivities from a western perspective.  Therefore thorough pattern discrimination is important. In TCM no health issue is seen in isolation, but always on the background of overall health.  Once a TCM diagnosis is established the practitioner writes a treatment option for either herbal formulas or acupuncture or both, as well as dietary recommendations, which directly correlates to the specific person or animal’s TCM diagnosis.    The herbal formulas for the two types of eczema will be different and may include topical treatments.   If the condition has elements of dietary allergies, the diet must be checked and changed.  If there are external causes for the eczema, these need to be eliminated not only on the animal, but also in the animal’s environment for treatment to be successful.

 While an acute condition is easier and quicker to treat than chronic, enough time needs to be allowed for the treatment to work and to bring harmony back to the body.

Category:Integrative Therapies, Pet Wellness | Comment (0) | Author:

Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine

Monday, 8. March 2010 7:14

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is the second largest medical system in the world after Western Medicine and has been in continuous use for over 3,000 years.  In TCM individual herbs are classified various categories, for example; nourishing herbs, moving herbs, wind dispelling herbs, damp draining herbs, etc.  Within a category the different herbs may have actions some of which are the same, similar to,  but also different from other herbs in the same category.  Herb are classified as warm, hot, cool, cold, sweet, bitter, bland and neutral, etc and also as having a direction such as up/down/in and out.  All of this and more is important in understanding how to use the herbs.

In TCM herbal formula construction follow specific rules; one or two herbs address the main problem, additional herbs support this action, but also address other issues present.  Other herbs are added to harmonize and  others again send the joint actions of the formula in the desired directions throughout the body and so on.  It must be understood that when you put two or more herbs together, you not only have the action of the individual herbs, but a joint, synergistic action.  Increasingly Chinese herbs are studied and tested based on Western standards.  There are thousands of formulas to draw from, many of which have been updated over time given the prevalent health issues at that time.  It is in the knowing how to put a formula together that one can be very targeted.

Western Herbal Medicine also has a deep history going back some 2000 years.  In this system herbs are also classified in categories to address, for example; the circulatory system, the respiratory system, the nervous system, muscular sceletal system, etc.  The actions of the herbs are classified as; alteratives, analgesics, anti-spasmodics, emollients, diuretics, bitters and many more.  Of great importance is the chemistry of the herbs which desribes plant actions, such as; benzoic acid, citric acid, phenols, coumarins, alcohols, tannins, , flavonois, glycosides and many more.  All this information allows a practitioner to choose the appropriate herb(s) for the patient.

What many don’t realize is that the same plant may grow in different parts of the world simply as different varieties.  For example  Angelica Archangelica in the West and Don Quai (Angelica Sinensis)in Asia are in the same plant family and have similar actions, they are just different varieties.  Hawthorn is used in Western Herbalism  for the cardiovascular system.  In China it was traditionally used for food stagnation, now it is increasingly used there as well for cardiovascular problems.  In the West the leaves of dandelion are used as a diuretic, the root for inflammation and congestion in the liver/gallbladder.  In TCM the whole herb is used to “clear heat, relieve toxicity and resolve dampness”.  Many Chinese Herbs are now regularly in use as part of Western herbal formulas.

As use of herbs to deal with health issues gains acceptance, one needs to keep in mind that herbs can have powerful actions and need to be used with respect.  Just because it is natural doesn’t mean it can’t cause problems, even as the actions are generally far less problematic than conventional medications can be.  There does however not need to be an either or.  If a medication is necessary, it needs to be used.  Using medications  doesn’t mean that a trained herbal practitioner can’t formulate around that medication to the benefit of the patient.

Category:Integrative Therapies | Comments (1) | Author: