12/26/2010 09:00 am ET | Updated Jul 29, 2011

Veterinary Care: Advances In Integrative Medicine To Consider For Your Pet

Ranger, a 13-year-old black English cocker spaniel, sat trembling on his owner's lap. He looked up at me with nervous brown eyes as his stubby tail wiggled back and forth. His guardian smiled and greeted me as I entered the exam room. Ranger was scheduled for surgery to remove eleven large, nasty looking skin masses that were located all over his body. A prior visit included special testing which identified these tumors as common benign cystic tumors of the skin's oil glands (called sebaceous adenomas).

Something bothered me about this surgery, so I began talking to Ranger's guardian about alternative medicine. He had never heard of homotoxicology, but he liked the idea that Ranger might have formed these masses as a response to toxins inside his body. He also liked having an option that might spare Ranger a painful surgery. After a discussion about treatment options, he elected to try some detoxification therapy with homotoxicology agents. In the best case, some of these masses might reduce, and in the worst case, nothing would happen and we could reschedule surgery knowing that the pain and expense were medically necessary.

According to basic bioregulatory medical principles, I prescribed a simple combination of homotoxicology formulas which stimulate cellular detoxification and drainage, and reduce toxin accumulation in the skin and lymph. One of the herbal ingredients, Galium aparine, has been used for many centuries as a deep detoxification agent. In homeopathy, bee venom can be diluted and is useful in management of skin conditions and cysts. When used as an extract it can be very helpful for many issues including arthritis. When homeopathically prepared and combined with other substances it is a highly useful geriatric agent known as Galium-Heel.

Ranger did not know any of this information. He was just happy not to have surgery that day, so he hopped off the owner's lap and they both walked happily to the reception desk to pay their bill and make a recheck appointment for two weeks later. They missed their suggested two week appointment and came in one month later; and to my surprise all but one of the eleven masses were completely gone!

Ranger's dad said happily, "Doc, this was crazy. Just like you said, some of the masses turned grey and some turned red and then the grey ones just faded away and vanished. The red ones got "juicy" and then dried up and fell off!" The first ones that changed started the next day following starting the detoxification agent. He was also excited because Ranger was brighter and more playful and his arthritis seemed improved, too.

"He's just younger all over," he exclaimed.

I smiled in knowing disbelief. Even though I've been doing this work for many years, it never ceases to amaze me how some patients make such amazing responses with simple techniques designed to activate their own natural system defenses. My clinic's veterinary surgeon looked at the dog, nodded and laughed, "there goes another surgery."

I'm fortunate to work with professionals whose true goal is healing. They get happy when patients recover and don't need more invasive therapy.

The remaining mass was exactly placed in an acupuncture point called GV-20 which is important in maintaining awareness. This point is on the top of the head in a place that people rub instinctively when they are thinking. We discussed this point, and its importance, and the owner elected not to do surgery since the body might well have biologically elected not to remove this point for some other reason. Older patients need to maintain good circulation to their brains and we did not want to do anything that might negatively affect Ranger's cognitive abilities later in his life.

In natural medicine, the location of masses on important acupuncture points may give us a clue that the underlying tissue needs further assistance. The mass was benign and not harmful, so we decided to simply remove it if it grew or changed. In the five years since this occurred the mass has remained stable.

That year we saw over 50 benign skin masses resolve without surgery through the use of natural medicine like herbs and homotoxicology. Most of these were sebaceous adenomas or sebaceous cysts. After that we stopped counting. It's just something we do on a regular basis in integrative veterinary medicine.

A year later I presented Ranger at a veterinary conference and other veterinarians began doing this technique, too.

The idea of fewer pets needing surgery makes me smile.

And I am grateful to a human physician from Germany named Hans-Heinrich Reckeweg for creating the formulas we use and for writing his experiences down so other doctors could learn from them. This is how medicine should work. A clinician discovers gentle, nontoxic things that seem to assist in patient recovery. He or she then communicates this to others who find similar experience. This apparent success and apparent repeatability warrants further responsible scientific research in three spheres:

  1. The first sphere involves basic scientific research to understand what mechanisms are involved with the apparent results. Do the agents investigated affect cell cultures, enzyme systems, and other biological testing methods? How do they work? What are their target tissues or cell constituents?
  2. The second sphere of scientific medical research involves investigating specific agents for use in specific disease states. Such studies verify or disprove applications of a particular agent or therapy. Randomization and use of placebo are important aspects of these studies.
  3. The third sphere of research involves "translational medicine," which is the application of science to move therapies from basic biological theories into useful patient applications.

I just returned from the biannual International Society of Homotoxicology and Homeopathy in Baden-Baden, Germany where I lectured to a group of human physicians and health care providers about an integrative medical approach to a complex veterinary case. Brilliant work was presented at that conference, particularly a paper by Brown University professor Georges St Laurent. Dr Laurent presented a paper entitled, "The genomic landscape of homotoxicology at single molecular resolution." The talk was spell binding for research geeks like me. Technology has finally progressed to the point where scientists can examine specific locations of molecules and record activity there. Dr. St Laurent's work shows conclusive evidence of molecular genomic activity from homotoxicology agents. This is brilliantly done basic science (category 1 above) that clearly shows an understandable mechanism of action for these agents.

Research from category 2 above demonstrated that human diabetics benefited from use of an antihomotoxic drug called Lymphomyosot used in combination with alpha-lipoic acid. Other human studies have shown that homotoxicology drugs such as Traumeel have anti-inflammatory effects in basic biological studies as well as in category 2 studies involving single agent applications. In a study comparing Zeel, an anti-inflammatory homotoxicology agent, with a conventional nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, investigators found similar outcomes in tested groups with the Zeel group taking longer to reach its effect but not having significant, or life threatening adverse effects. A recent paper, published in the prestigious Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association supports its use in dogs.

Thanks to sophisticated advances in scientific methods, medical research on homeopathic and antihomotoxic agents is beginning to accelerate, and it is exciting indeed to watch people awaken to the possibilities their use carries for modern medical reform and advancement. Veterinarians are contributing to this motion both by publication of critically important case reports and case studies, but also in the development of species and problem specific research. The idea of a therapy that works in cooperation with biological regulation opens all sorts of doors to improving outcomes and reducing adverse effects associated with many standard pharmaceutical agents. And this stuff works in plants and animals making the argument that it is all placebo laughable. Using drugs at lower concentrations to gently stimulate the body's natural defenses, instead of using them at higher doses which strongly suppress vital physiological mechanisms creates an entirely new set of tools for doctors and health care professionals to consider.

Ranger didn't know the science behind the six drops of liquid he drank three times daily. But he sure was happy not to have 10 surgeries, and his guardian still tells the tale every time he comes to our office. His enthusiasm for natural therapies applied in a scientific environment is contagious and he seems to be causing an epidemic of people interested in learning more about these gentle techniques.

That is one epidemic I welcome!

I love to read about people's successes in addressing both simple and complex veterinary issues with natural medicine. Please share them with us here at Huffington Post. And for those interested in joining me in supporting research into complementary and alternative veterinary medicine, visit the AHVMA Foundation website for further information at Happy New Year.

Interesting Reading
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Bonamin LV, Endler PC. 2010. Animal models for studying homeopathy and high dilutions: conceptual critical review. Homeopathy. Jan;99(1):37-50.

Frenkel M, Mishra BM, Sen S, Yang P, Pawlus A, Vence L, Leblanc A, Cohen L, Banerji P, Banerji P. 2010. Cytotoxic effects of ultra-diluted remedies on breast cancer cells. Int J Oncol. Feb;36(2):395-403.

Garofalo S, Briganti V, Cavallaro S, Pepe E, Prete M, Suteu L, Tavormina P. 2007. Nickel Gluconate-Mercurius Heel-Potentised Swine Organ Preparations: a new therapeutical approach for the primary treatment of pediatric ranula and intraoral mucocele. Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol. Feb;71(2):247-55.

Heine H, Schmolz M. 2000. Immunoregulation via 'bystander suppression' needs minute amounts of substances--a basis for homeopathic therapy? Med Hypotheses. Mar;54(3):392-3.

Kassab S, Cummings M, Berkovitz S, van Haselen R, Fisher P. 2009. Homeopathic medicines for adverse effects of cancer treatments. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. Apr 15;(2):CD004845.

Khuda-Bukhsh AR, Bhattacharyya SS, Paul S, Dutta S, Boujedaini N, Belon P. 2009. Modulation of Signal Proteins: A Plausible Mechanism to Explain How a Potentized Drug Secale Cor 30C Diluted beyond Avogadro's Limit Combats Skin Papilloma in Mice. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. Jul 16.

Längler A, Spix C, Edelhäuser F, Kameda G, Kaatsch P, Seifert G. 2011. Use of homeopathy in pediatric oncology in Germany. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011:867151.

Liu H, Tong F. 2003. [Advances in the study of bee venom and its clinical uses]. Zhong Yao Cai. Jun;26(6):456-8.

Neumann S, Stolt P, Braun G, Hellmann K, Reinhart E. 2010. Effectiveness of the Homeopathic Preparation Zeel Compared with Carprofen in Dogs with Osteoarthritis. J Am Anim Hosp Assoc. Dec 16. [Epub ahead of print]

Shah-Rossi D, Heusser P, Baumgartner S. 2009. Homeopathic treatment of Arabidopsis thaliana plants infected with Pseudomonas syringae. ScientificWorldJournal. May 20;9:320-30.

Valentiner U, Weiser M, Moll I, Schumacher U. 2003. The effect of homeopathic plant extract solutions on the cell proliferation of human cutaneous fibroblasts in vitro. Forsch Komplementarmed Klass Naturheilkd. Jun;10(3):122-7.