This website uses cookies so that we can provide you with the best user experience possible. Cookie information is stored in your browser and performs functions such as recognizing you when you return to our website and helping our team to understand which sections of the website you find most interesting. We do not share any your subscription information with third parties. It is used solely to send you notifications about site content occasionally.

Rickettsial Diseases

  • Dear Readers,

    Welcome to the April 2018 issue of TotalHealth Magazine Online.

    Dallas Clouatre's, PhD, article, is "Caloric Restriction, Ketogenic Diet Or A Third Way?" Clouatre states, "His primary focus of this and related articles has been the concepts of metabolic fitness and metabolic flexibility. Human physiology and metabolism can adapt to a quite wide range of circumstances and can be "tweaked," likewise, with a broad number of approaches. Enhancing healthspan, even if perhaps not absolute lifespan, can be achieved through caloric restriction, fasting and dietary interventions involving properly balanced and selected foods combined with nutrients / dietary supplements. Some of these approaches are more easily sustainable under modern conditions and habits than are others."

    Elson Haas, MD, "Food Reactions—The Sensitive Seven," is in reference to Wheat, Cow's milk, Sugar, Eggs, Corn, Soy, and Peanuts. There are many causes of indigestion including too much food, not chewing food thoroughly, and too much liquid while eating. Haas discusses toxins we are exposed to, their impact and the value of detox for us.

    Gene Bruno, MS, MHS and Arthur Presser, PharmD present, "The Principles Of Homeopathy." A discussion on the history of homeopathy, how it is formulated and the benefits of use. If you have questions on homeopathy this is a great read on a subject that may appear complex but a natural medicine of value.

    Sherrill Sellman, ND, "Helping Our Pets Stay Healthy With Hemp Extract," explains the value and use of Hemp Extract for use with your pets.

    Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS, continues her Smart Fats Series with "Vitamin, Mineral and Amino Acid Deficiencies." The focus is on low thyroid along with all the other reasons behind a metabolic slowdown and the benefits of smart fats as coconut oil, GLA (gamma linolenic acid), CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), omega-7 and pastured butter in correcting problems with metabolism.

    Gloria Gilbère, CDP, DAHom, PhD, presents "WAIT...Don't Toss that Pickle Juice!" You'll find dozens of uses for pickle juice. You can make more cucumber pickles, pickle soup, meat marinade, and more suggestions that you haven't thought of—limitless uses and you won't "toss that pickle juice" after reading this article.

    Charles K. Bens, PhD, "The Early Detection of Chronic Disease," current blood tests are very inadequate and usually detect chronic disease five to ten years after it has already begun. Good examples are kidney disease, liver disease, heart disease, breast cancer, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's Disease and diabetes. Bens also includes a chart on the five stages of cell deterioration.

    Shawn Messonnier, DVM, this month the second and final in the series on, "Rickettsial Diseases." A discussion that includes, fish oils, flaxseed oils Proanthocyanidins and antioxidants, along with other natural treatments and conventional treatments.

    Best in health,

    TWIP The Wellness Imperative People

    Click here to read the full April 2018 issue.

    Click here to read the full April 2018 issue.

  • Rickettsial diseases are those caused by rickettsia, microscopic organisms that are not quite bacteria and not quite viruses. In dogs, the most common rickettsial diseases are ehrlichiosis, Lyme disease, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. The rickettsial organisms that cause each of these diseases are carried by ticks and transmitted to the pet within 24 hours after the tick bites and attaches to the pet. Tick control is useful to decrease the spread of these diseases. Rickettsial diseases are zoonotic, meaning they can be transmitted to people. However, an infected pet can only transmit the disease to a person through a tick bite and not be directly infecting the person itself. Tick control is therefore important to decrease the chance of spreading the disease to the pet owner as well.

    Clinical signs vary with the specific disease
    Ehrlichiosis. Clinical signs are varied and may include fever, lack of appetite, anemia (pale gums), decreased platelet count, weight loss, abdominal pain, enlarged lymph nodes, enlarged spleen, difficulty breathing, swollen joints, eye abnormalities (blindness, redness, cloudiness of the cornea), discharge from the eyes, and diarrhea.

    Lyme Disease. Clinical signs can include swollen and painful joints, enlarged lymph nodes, fever, change in personality, and seizures.

    Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Clinical signs are varied and are almost identical to those seen in dogs with ehrlichiosis. The signs may include fever, lack of appetite, anemia (pale gums), decreased platelet count, weight loss, abdominal pain, enlarged lymph nodes, enlarged spleen, difficulty breathing, swollen joints, eye abnormalities (blindness, redness, cloudiness of the cornea), discharge from the eyes, and diarrhea.

    Principal Natural Treatments for Rickettsial Diseases

    Omega-3 Fatty Acids – eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) – are derived from fish oils of coldwater fish (salmon, trout, or menhaden fish) and flaxseed. Omega-6 fatty acids – linoleic acid (LA) and gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) – are derived from the oils of seeds such as evening primrose, black currant, and borage. Often, fatty acids are added to the diet with other supplements to attain an additive effect.

    Just how do the fatty acids work to help in controlling inflammation in pets? Cell membranes contain phospholipids. When membrane injury occurs, an enzyme acts on the phospholipids in the cell membranes to produce fatty acids including arachidonic acid (an omega-6 fatty acid) and eicosapentaenoic acid (an omega-3 fatty acid). Furthermore metabolism of the arachidonic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid by additional enzymes (the lipoxygenase and cyclooxygenase pathways) yields the production of chemicals called eicosanoids. The eicosanoids produced by metabolism of arachidonic acid are pro-inflammatory and cause inflammation, suppress the immune system, and cause platelets to aggregate and clot; the eicosanoids produced by metabolism of eicosapentaenoic acid are non-inflammatory, not immunosuppressive, and help inhibit platelets from clotting. There is some overlap and the actual biochemical pathway is a bit more complicated than I have suggested here. For example, one of the by-products of omega-6 fatty acid metabolism is Prostaglandin E1, which is anti-inflammatory. This is one reason why some research has shown that using certain omega-6 fatty acids can also act to limit inflammation.

    Supplementation of the diet with omega-3 fatty acids works in this biochemical reaction. By providing extra amounts of these non-inflammatory compounds, we try to overwhelm the body with the production of non-inflammatory eicosanoids. Therefore, since the same enzymes metabolize both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and since metabolism of the omega-6 fatty acids tend to cause inflammation (with the exception of Prostaglandin E1 by metabolism of omega-6 as mentioned above), by supplying a large amount of omega-3 fatty acids we favor the production of non-inflammatory chemicals.

    Many disorders are due to overproduction of the eicosanoids responsible for producing inflammation. Fatty acid supplementation may be beneficial in inflammatory disorders by regulating the eicosanoid production.

    In general, the products of omega-3 (specifically EPA) and one omega-6 fatty acid (DGLA) are less inflammatory than the products of arachidonic acid (another omega 6). By changing dietary fatty acid consumption, we can change eicosanoid production right at the cellular level and try to modify (decrease) inflammation within the body. By producing the proper (anti-inflammatory) fatty acids, we can use fatty acids as an anti-inflammatory substance. However, since the products of omega-6 fatty acid metabolism (specially arachidonic acid) are not the sole cause of the inflammation, fatty acid therapy is rarely effective as the sole therapy but is used as an adjunct therapy to achieve an additive effect.

    Note: Flaxseed oil is a popular source of alpha-linoleic acid (ALA), and omega-3 fatty acid that is ultimately converted to EPA and DHA. However, many species of pets (probably including dogs) and some people cannot convert ALA to these other more active non-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. In one study in people, flaxseed oil was ineffective in reducing symptoms or raising levels of EPA and DHA. While flaxseed oil has been suggested as a less smelly substitute for fish oil, there is no evidence that it is effective when used for the same therapeutic purposes as fish oil. Therefore, supplementation with EPA and DHA is important, and this is the reason flaxseed oil is not recommended as the sole fatty acid supplement for pets. Flaxseed oil can be used to provide ALA and as a coat conditioner.

    What is the best dose to use in the treatment of pets? Most doctors use anywhere from two to ten times the label dose. Research in the treatment of allergies indicates that the label dose is ineffective; higher doses may also be indicated in pets with rickettsial diseases. In people, the dosage that showed effectiveness in many studies were 1.4 to 2.8 gm of GLA per day, or 1.7 gm of EPA and 0.9 gm of DHA per day, which is hard for people to obtain from the supplements currently available.

    If this were shown to be the correct dosage for pets, a 50-pound dog would need to take 10 or more fatty acid capsules per day to obtain a similar dosage, depending upon which supplement was used. Therefore, while the studies with omega-3 fatty acids show many potential health benefits, it is almost impossible to administer the large number of capsules needed to approximate the dosage used in these studies. The best that owners can hope for is to work with their veterinarians and try to increase, the amount of omega-3 fatty acids in the diet to get the preferred ratio of 5:1, omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids. (Research on pets with atopic dermatitis suggests this is the ideal dietary ratio.)

    There are diets constructed with this "ideal" ratio. For owners who do not like giving their pets medication, or for those pets who don't take the supplements easily, it might be wise to try some of these medically formulated diets, available from your pet's doctor, that contain the fatty acids. However, because these medicated diets may not be as natural as desired, holistic pet owners may prefer other options.

  • This month we continue discussing supplements that may help your pets with rickettsial diseases, which most commonly are caused by ticks.

    Fish Oils
    Since fish oils can easily oxidize and become rancid, some manufacturers add vitamin E to fish oil capsules and liquid products to keep the oil from spoiling, while others remove the oxygen from the capsule.

    Since processed foods have increased omega-6 fatty acids, supplementing the diets of all pets with omega-3 fatty acids seems warranted and will not harm your pet. The bottom line is there are many questions regarding the use of fatty acid therapy. More research is needed to determine the effectiveness of the fatty acids in the treatment of various medical problems, as well as the proper doses needed to achieve clinical results. Until definitive answers are obtained, you will need to work with your doctors (knowing the limitations of our current research) to determine the use of these supplements for your pet.

    Fish oil appears to be safe. The most common side effect seen in people and pets is a fish odor to the breath or the skin. Because fish oil has a mild "blood thinning" effect, it should not be combined with powerful blood-thinning mediations, such as Coumadin (warfarin) or heparin, except on a veterinarian's advice. Fish oil does not seem to cause bleeding problems when it is taken by itself at commonly recommended dosages. Also, fish oil does not appear to raise blood sugar levels in people or pets with diabetes.

    Flaxseed Oil
    Flaxseed oil is derived from the seeds of the flax plant and has been proposed as a less smelly alternative to fish oil. Flaxseed oil contains alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 that is ultimately converted to EPA and DHA. In fact, flaxseed oil contains higher levels of omega-3s (ALA) than fish oil. It also contains omega-6 fatty acids.

    As mentioned, many species of pets (probably including dogs and cats) and some people cannot convert ALA to these other more active noninflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. In one study in people, flaxseed oil has been suggested as a substitute for fish oil, there is no evidence it is effective when used for the same therapeutic purposes as fish oil. Unlike the case for fish oil, there is little evidence that flaxseed oil is effective for any specific therapeutic purpose.

    Therefore, supplementation with EPA and DHA is important, and this is the reason flaxseed oil is not recommended as the sole fatty acid supplement for pets. Flaxseed oil can be used to provide ALA and as a coat conditioner.

    The essential fatty acids in flax can be damaged by exposure to heat, light, and oxygen (essentially, they become rancid). For this reason, you shouldn't cook flaxseed oil. A good product should be sold in an opaque container, and the manufacturing process should keep the temperature under 100 degrees F. Some manufacturers combine the product with vitamin E because it helps prevent rancidity.

    The best use of flaxseed oil is as a general nutritional supplement to provide essential fatty acids. It appears to be a safe supplement when used as recommended.

    Certain vitamins and minerals function in the body to reduce oxidation. Oxidation is a chemical process that occurs within the body's cells. After oxidation occurs, certain by-products such as peroxides and "free radicals" accumulate. These cellular by-products are toxic to the cells and surrounding tissue. The body removes these by-products by producing additional chemicals called antioxidants that combat these oxidizing chemicals. In disease, excess oxidation can occur and the body's normal antioxidant abilities are overwhelmed. This is where supplying antioxidants can help. By giving your pet extra antioxidants, it may be possible to neutralize the harmful by-products of cellular oxidation.

    Several antioxidants can be used to supplement pets. Most commonly, vitamins A, C, E, and the minerals selenium, manganese, and zinc are prescribed. Other antioxidants, including N-acetylcysteine, Coenzyme Q10, Ginkgo biloba, bilberry, grape seed extract and pycnogenol may also be helpful.

    Dosages vary with the specific antioxidant chosen. And there is no one correct antioxidant.

    Proanthocyanidins also called pycnogenols or bioflavonoids may not be essential to life, but it's likely people and pets need them for optimal health. Most often products containing proanthocyanidins are made from grape seed or pine bark. These compounds are used for their antioxidant effects against lipid (fat) peroxidation. Proanthocyanidins also inhibit the enzyme cyclooxygenase (the same enzyme inhibited by aspirin and other non-steroidal medications). Cyclooxygenase converts arachidonic acid into chemicals, which contribute to inflammation and allergic reactions. Proanthocyanidins also decrease histamine release from cells by inhibiting several enzymes.

    Some research suggests pycnogenol seems to work by enhancing the effects of another antioxidant, vitamin C. Other research suggests the bioflavonoids can work independently of other antioxidants; as is the case with many supplements, there probably is an additive effect when multiple antioxidants are combined. People taking pycnogenol often report feeling better and having more energy; this "side effect" may possibly occur in our pets as well.

    Quercetin is a natural antioxidant bioflavonoid found in red wine, grapefruit, onions, apples, black tea, and in less amounts, leafy green vegetables and beans. Quercetin protects cells in the body from damage by free radicals and stabilizes collagen in blood vessels. Quercetin supplements are available in pill and tablet form. One problem with them, however, is they don't seem to be well absorbed by the body. A special form called quercetin chalcone appears to be better absorbed. Quercetin appears to be quite safe.

    Maximum safe dosages for young children, pregnant or nursing women, or those with serious liver or kidney disease have not been established; similar precautions are probably warranted in pets.

    In people, a typical dosage of proanthocyanidins is 200 to 400 mg three time daily. Quercetin may be better absorbed if taken on an empty stomach. The suggested dosage of proanthocyanidins complex in pets is 10 to 200 mg given daily, divided in two to three doses. The suggested dosage of bioflavonoid complex in pets is 200 to 1500 mg per day, divided into two to three doses. The actual dosage of each product will vary with the product and the pet's weight and disease condition.

    While there is no specific research showing benefit in specific rickettsial diseases, the use of antioxidants is widely recommended by holistic veterinarians to reduce oxidative damage to tissues that may occur. More research on antioxidants and other complementary therapies in the treatment of rickettsial diseases is needed.

    Other Natural Treatments For Rickettsial Diseases

    The following herbs may be helpful: alfalfa, aloe vera, astragalus, burdock, dandelion leaf, dandelion root, echinacea, garlic, ginseng, goldenseal, hawthorn, licorice, marshmallow, milk thistle, nettle, red clover, St. John's wort, turmeric, and yellow dock. Also the glycoprotein acemannan and homeopathic nosodes may be helpful.

    These can be used in conjunction with conventional therapies, as they are unlikely to be effective by themselves in most patients. The natural treatments are widely used with variable success, as many have not been proven at this time. As with any condition, the most healthful natural diet will improve the pet's overall health.

    Conventional Therapy For Rickettsial Diseases

    Tetracycline's such as doxycycline are the treatment of choice and generally will cure most cases. For pets that are critically ill, hospitalization with intravenous fluid therapy, transfusions, and force-feeding are necessary.