You may be able to revitalize a mature dog with two supplements that could slow some of the typical symptoms of old age.
Sam, my 11-year-old German Shepherd, has a number of complaints-hip dysplasia, arthritis, bowel disease and skin allergies, and he's generally very slow and lethargic. Is there a natural 'pick-me-up' or tonic I can give him? I'm finding the cost of multiple supplements expensive.
German Shepherds are prone to a number of diseases and, unfortunately, Sam has succumbed to the more common ones. Like you, many of my clients have similar issues with the cost of long-term supplementation or drug use for their pets.
Although supplements are no doubt excellent for many complaints, attempting to sort out particular conditions with large batches of pills of any variety to target particular conditions can become difficult for pet owners not simply because of cost, but also because of a lack of compliance.
It's difficult enough to give pets one or two pills every day, and trying to administer a range of supplements every day often leads to the dog's outright refusal of them, which means that any potential gains up to that point are quickly lost.
The other problem with introducing a number of pills at the same time is that it's hard to identify which one is working, which makes it difficult to modify the treatment. This situation arises frequently with dogs started out on four or five pharmaceuticals at the same time. Besides the expense, the individual side-effects of each drug are often multiplied when the drugs interact with each other in the body; it's then impossible to separate out ones that are beneficial from those doing harm.
Sam also appears to be suffering from what I refer to as 'old dog syndrome' as he's generally slowing down because of age. Combatting this situation requires a holistic approach because you have to treat the whole animal, not just one specific organ or system.
I suggest you take a fresh look at the supplements Sam is taking and start from scratch by choosing a few key supplements that treat a variety of conditions. This will allow you to monitor his improvement, determine which ones are working and introduce another supplement only if necessary.
I recommend you start off with just two supplements: omega-3 fish oils and natural stem-cell enhancers.
A huge array of products on the market claim to contain omega-3 fatty acids, yet actually contain very little or the wrong type of omega-3. The key is choosing products with high levels of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). Numerous studies and clinical investigations into the metabolic uptake of omega-3s in domestic animals and humans show that EPA and DHA contribute significantly to reducing inflammatory responses.1
As many of Sam's conditions are related to inflammation, reducing inflammation is an important first step.
DHA and EPA are currently thought to be essential for the maintenance of healthy skin function, immune function and inflammatory response, but they also seem effective for cases of osteoarthritis and cardiac dysfunction too. Both essential fatty acids apparently work by inhibiting the production of proinflammatory eicosanoids and leukotrienes.
I recommend giving Sam an oral supplement of fish oil delivering at least 500 mg of EPA and 360 mg of DHA, plus 1 g of lecithin, every day. Lecithin contains phosphatidylcholine, thought to assist in the transport and utilization of fatty acids and lipoproteins.
Don't opt for a product that also contains omega-6 fatty acids, as omega-6 can cause inflammation, and most animals probably get adequate amounts
of omega-6 in their diet. Just be aware that omega-3s oxidize quickly, so a good supplement should also incorporate antioxidant vitamin E to slow the oxidation.
Every cell in your body is either in the process of dying or being regenerated. A disease is essentially a collection of dead or damaged cells in a tissue or organ so, in theory, by getting rid of damaged cells the disease is cured, which is what happens with organ transplantation. There are approximately 50-80 trillion cells in a dog's body, and 60 million of them are dying every day through a process called 'apoptosis', or natural cell death. The cell's DNA is programmed to kill the cell via apoptosis after a certain period of time, which means that all cells only live for a preset number of days or years.
Every animal and human is also born with adult stem cells, which should not be confused with embryonic stem cells, the use of which in medical research has prompted numerous ethical issues. Adult stem cells are found in bone marrow and, until recently, scientists did not understand much about the natural repair and renewal system of the body, and believed that these cells simply differentiated into a limited number of cell types.
Recently, though, the Nobel Prize-winning discovery of green fluorescent protein (GFP) from the jellyfish Aequorea victoria has enabled scientists to monitor the movement of adult stem cells in the body and learn how the body naturally repairs itself.
When cells are damaged, they release a molecule called 'granulocyte colony-stimulating factor' (GCSF), which migrates to bone marrow, where it stimulates adult stem cells to replicate an exact duplicate cell. This new adult stem cell then migrates to the bloodstream, where it is attracted by other molecules released by damaged cells to their location through tiny blood vessels in diseased tissues or organs.
On its surface, each adult stem cell carries membrane receptors for every cell type in the body, and each cell type releases its own specific molecule that can attach itself to its own receptor on the stem cell membrane. Once a molecule attaches to its given receptor, the adult stem cell is then able to identify which cells are damaged and to replicate healthy versions of the damaged cell in multiples of thousands. In this way, the damaged tissues or organs are naturally replaced by the body's own natural repair and renewal process.
Cells become damaged due to disease and free radicals, exposure to pollutants, poor diet and especially stress. And because cells live for only a set number of days or years and then need to be replaced, the process of renewal is constantly ongoing 24 hours a day. This means that to reverse disease in tissues or organs, it's important for the body to have adequate amounts of adult stem cells in the bloodstream.
Natural stem-cell enhancers
Although scientists have identified the body's inbuilt repair system, they have yet to find a way to apply it to cure disease. Despite spending millions of pounds on research, the evidence for the practical use of stem-cell therapies is so far limited. There are only two stem-cell therapies in veterinary medicine; one of them is an invasive technique that harvests stem cells from adipose (fat) tissue to treat dogs and from bone marrow to treat horses.
In both instances the harvested cultures are processed in patented machines and the stem cells then injected into the stifle joint in dogs (equivalent to the human knee) or injured tendons in horses. Both procedures are extremely costly.
The good news is that certain natural agents found in nature support the release of adult stem cells from bone; when these are given to dogs and horses as supplements, they may eliminate the need for expensive invasive procedures.
Few people have heard of natural adult stem-cell enhancers because the science behind these products is still very new.
The physiology behind the new procedure was only discovered in 2000-2001 by two scientists-Dr Gitte Jensen, research director of NIS (Natural Immune Systems) Labs, and Christian Drapeau, chief science officer at California's Stemtech HealthSciences-who'd been working for several years with the blue-green algae Aphanizomenon flos-aquae (AFA; Latin for 'invisible living flower of the water'). This superfood, consumed in North America and Europe for more than three decades, contains the l-selectin ligand MobilinTM, which acts just like GCSF.
In a scientific paper, Jensen and Drapeau described their discovery that AFA stimulates adult stem cells in bone marrow to replicate and then release the duplicated stem cells into the bloodstream, leaving sister stem cells in situ so as not to deplete adult stem-cell numbers.2
Foods like AFA are referred to as 'natural stem-cell enhancers' because once consumed, they cause bone marrow to release millions of extra adult stem cells, which then go about doing their repair jobs throughout the body. Jensen and Drapeau's early work has suggested that certain natural food supplements can stimulate the release of adult stem cells to replace damaged cells in tissues and organs. Once the damaged cells are gone, the underlying disease process may be partially or totally reversed.
As these are not medicines but food, the latest term in use is 'stem-cell nutrition'. Although the research is still in its infancy, these foods could allow us to move from masking clinical signs to actually reversing the disease process, moving us towards a new direction for natural medicine.
I have been using natural stem-cell enhancers in animals for three years and have seen some truly remarkable results. I recommend you try AFA (or other stem-cell nutrition) supplements to see if the damaged cells in Sam's joints, gut and skin can be renewed, which will make a major improvement to his physical condition and every aspect of his demeanour.
Am J Clin Nutr 2000;71:343S-348S; Proc Nutr Soc 2002;61:345-358; N Engl J Med 1985; 213: 1217-1224
Cardiovascular Revascularization Medicine, 2007; 8: 189-202
Paul Boland, BVSc MRCVS, a partner at Alder Veterinary Hospital in Liverpool, has been a veterinary surgeon for 21 years. Combining herbs, nutraceuticals, acupuncture and more recently natural stem-cell enhancers, he is able to treat a large proportion of his patients naturally (see www.naturalhealthvet.com).
Send your pet questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org