Saturday, January 24, 2009

Health and Deep Ecology

More deep ecology reading is on my list of things to do. Once my books are out of storage :-( BTW, one of the fathers of the movement - Arne Naesse, died last week.

But as for scientific proof of the philosophical concept, that's been harder to come by. Check out this BBC news item:

Diverse roots of human disease

* Richard Black
* 23 Jan 09, 05:17 PM GMT

Does loss of biodiversity affect human health?

The United Nations Environment Programme believes it does - the notion was one of the top lines in the last edition of its massive five-yearly Global Environmental Outlook, which came out in 2007.

The nuts and bolts of the link, though, can come across as a bit tenuous - loss of species may affect the discovery of new drugs; biodiversity can impact water quality; and so on. They're not necessarily the most convincing arguments to those who pride themselves on having hard heads.

This week, I came across something a bit more concrete - and what makes it more interesting is that it relates to one of the really poor cousins of the medical research field, schistosomiasis..........Read more here:

BTW, a great introductory book that I can recommend to anyone is Green Psychology, by Ralph Metzner (apparently a Harvard contemporary of Timothy Leary, Ram Dass, Andrew Weil, etc).

Yunnan paiyao and pyometra in dogs

B. Salgado, R. Paramo and H. Sumano. Successful Treatment of Canine Open Cervix–Pyometra with Yun-Nan-Pai-Yao, A Chinese Herbal Preparation. Veterinary Research Communications, 31 (2007) 405–412

Methods: "Nineteen bitches were included in this trial. All were treated with Yun-Nan-Pai-Yao and no control bitches with open cervix-pyometra were included in this trial because spontaneous remission of this disease has never been documented, and hence ethical considerations reject the possibility of including control groups. Also, only open cervix-pyometra bitches were included because bitches affected with closed cervix-pyometra are usually brought for medical attention in very critical conditions (grade III) and it is unsafe to wait for a slow clinical response."

"Patients with open cervix-pyometra were categorized as I, II or III, according to the severity of clinical signs and laboratory data (Table II). Only categories I and II were included in the intervention study" [according to severity of vaginal secretion, polyuria, anorexia, plasma creatinine and weakness].

Doses used ranged from 500mg/kg/day for dogs weight 1-4.9 kg (1 capsule bid) to 1500mg/kg/day for dogs weighing 30-60 kg (2 capsules TID).

Table IV: Oral dose of Yun-Nan-Pai-Yao in 250 mg capsules, for the treatment of open cervix-pyometra in bitches

Size of dog Weight (kg) Dose/frequency (mg/kg/day)

Small 1–4.9 1 capsule BID 500
Medium 5–12.9 1 capsule TID 750
Large 13–29.9 1capsule QID 1000
Giant 30–60 2 capsules TID 1500

"Fifteen patients (75%) showed full recovery in 3 weeks of treatment, while 20% needed 5 weeks. Therewas good correlation between severity grading
and number of leukocytes using Spearman rank-order correlation (r > 0.9; p < 0.05).
Only one patient did not respond well and was dropped from the trial; this was regarded as treatment failure and the patient later subjected to overiohysterectomy with a good outcome." [interestingly, they report that this was a doberman with 'hind limb paralysis'].

The authors appear to speculate that the effect of Yunnan Paiyao against pyometra was due to an enhanced immune response, and they did not try to relate this effect to the well known coagulant effect we use it for more often.

Two things struck me about this study. First, I wondered about the claim that spontaneous resolution has never been reported. I'm wondering if anyone has ever let a bitch with open pyo go as long as 3-5 weeks before taking them to surgery. Anyone know? (I'd check my books but they are in storage until a find a new house...wah). Second, their dose table is messed up and doesn't make any sense - it seems to suggest that they are using doses as high as 1500mg/kg/day which is pretty high for an herb extract, and that they are using progressively higher doses as the dog's weight increased, which also doesn't make sense.

I don't know what to make of this study and will have to check with my therio friends.

Degenerative myelopathy - canine MS or ALS?

A recent report from the University of Missouri suggests that degenerative myelopathy (DM) in certain breeds of dogs is due to a genetic mutation that is identical to that of humans with Lou Gehrig's disease (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS). You can read about this discovery here:

For the past decade or more, Dr. Clemmons has been working on a different theory - that DM is a form of multiple sclerosis. In fact, he is certain enough to say "In fact, based upon new data concerning the pathology of MS, we can now say with some degree of certainty that DM is MS in dogs. " (Read more about his work and integrative approach to the diseaes here:

The good thing about this difference of opinion is that there may be more research money devoted to the problem since these dogs now serve as models for potentially TWO devastating human diseases.

BTW for those who have or work with these patients, there is a test for DM. This is useful because there are other nonpainful paralytic diseases in dogs. For more information on the test and interpreting it, here is the webpage:

More peanut butter recalls

For those of us who like to buy ethical products, the Salmonella-tainted peanut butter recall has been a bit of a shock. The FDA just released yet another recall - this one for a Whole Foods carob energy food. (For more information, see this NYT article on the problem:

That makes about 130 recalled products so far. And my preference for buying from local businesses would not have helped me if I were a peanut butter fan - the Peanut Corporation of America is a Georgia company. The global food distribution system is really scary - the fingers of this peanut butter paste distribution reach far and wide into all kinds of manufactured foods, like the Chinese wheat gluten reached globally into pet and baby foods. Sigh. I'm renewing my CSA subscription this year.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Dog Biscuits Recalled

From the FDA website:

PetSmart Voluntarily Recalls Grreat Choice® Dog Biscuits

PetSmart Customer Service

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE -- PHOENIX, AZ, January 20, 2009 -- PetSmart is voluntarily recalling seven of its Grreat Choice® Dog Biscuit products that contain peanut paste made by Peanut Corporation of America (PCA). PCA is the focus of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration investigation into potential salmonella contamination of peanut butter and paste made at its Blakely, Georgia facility.

Although PetSmart is not aware of any reported cases of illness related to these products, it has removed these products from its store shelves and website and is conducting the recall as a precautionary measure.

The recalled products include only the following types of Grreat Choice Dog Biscuits sold between Aug. 21, 2008 and Jan. 19, 2009:

* Small Assorted 32 oz., UPC 73725702900
* Small/Medium Assorted 4 lb., UPC 73725700601
* Small/Medium Assorted 8 lb., UPC 73725700605
* Small/Medium Assorted 10 lb., UPC 73725702755
* Large Assorted 8 lb., UPC 73725700638
* Extra Large Assorted 8 lb., UPC 73725700779
* Peanut Butter 4 lb., UPC 73725700766

Customers who purchased the recalled dog biscuit products should discontinue use immediately and can return the product to any PetSmart store for a complete refund or exchange. Customers can visit for more information or contact PetSmart Customer Service at 1-888-839-9638.

No other products or flavors are included in this recall.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Antioxidants and kidney disease - should we supplement?

The kidney is a particularly metabolically active organ, generating high levels of reactive oxygen species which can cause oxidative damage to the kidney. Normally the kidney maintains an environment that suppresses this damage by running antioxidant defense systems which include enzymes such as catalase, superoxide dismutase, nitric oxide synthase, glutathione peroxidase and nonenzymatic antioxidants like glutathione, carotenoids, vitamins E and C, and albumin. When kidney disease is present, the remaining functional tissue becomes hyperactive, which increases metabolic activity and the risk for oxidative stress. At the same time, the reduction in functional tissue results in less available antioxidant activity. This loss of antioxidant potential is worsened by concurrent conditions associated with kidney disease, such as hypertension and anemia (Brown, 2008).

Studies by Scott Brown at University of Georgia have shown that supplemental vitamin E, carotenoids, and lutein in addition to fish oil, slowed degeneration fo kidneys in older dogs.
Although optimal doses are unknown, Brown points out that oversupplementation can be as dangerous as undersupplementation, and settles on a recommendation of 5 IU vitamin per kg of body weight, daily (Brown, 2008).

A study published in 2006 also pointed to benefits in supplementing Vitamins E, C and beta carotene to kidney patients, this time in cats. Yu and Paetau-Robinson, researchers with the Hill's Science and Technology Center, investigated the presence of oxidative stress in cats with chronic kidney disease and whether antioxidant supplements could control the damage. Chemical analyses revealed that, in cats with renal insufficiency, the serum urea nitrogen (BUN) was signifcantly reduced after feeding antioxidant supplemented foods for 4 weeks, but serum creatinine was essentially unchanged. In addition, oxidative damage (as measured by serum 8-OHdG concentration and comet assay) was suppressed by antioxidant supplementation. The doses of antioxidants used per cat can only be approximated, as they were reported in mgs per kg of diet. Using standard calculations, we can guess that the doses each cat received were about: Vitamin E - 46 mg (about 46 -60 IU); Vitamin C - 5 mg; and beta-carotene - 131 ug, which if my calculations are correct, is about 433 IU beta-carotene.

Most authors claim that prescription diets for kidney disease contain enhanced levels of antioxidant, although I was unable to find the levels in company literature. It's probably wise to avoid supplementing antioxidants to animals eating these prescription diets. That's the point - pets with kidney disease often have poor appetites, and it is sometimes difficult to keep them eating any of the prescription diets. These are the pets that might benefit from antioxidant as well as fish oil, supplementation.


Brown SA. Oxidative stress in chronic kidney disease. Vet Clin Small Anim 38 (2008) 157–166

Yu S, Paetau-Robinson I. Dietary supplements of vitamins E and C and beta-carotene reduce oxidative stress in cats with renal insufficiency. Vet Res Comm 30(3):403-413