Optimum Choices will be offering canine massage August 19-20, 2006 at a
North American Dog Agility Council (NADAC) trial, hosted by Front Range
Agility Team at Fairmount Park in Golden, Colorado. For more information,
click on the logo to the right.
This is a picture of Cajun
the day after he arrived in Denver, having being rescued from a shelter
in Louisiana following Hurricane Katrina. He was about 6 months old here
in this picture (in September 2005) and was a delightful, playful cat. He was called Sparkle and then his new owner
renamed him "Cajun". He thought he had his forever home, but
the owner's situation has changed and he is available again in July 2006.
The owner's other cat is also available for adoption and they do not need to
stay together. Optimum Choices helped adopt out this cat when it first
arrived here from Louisiana and hopes that even though Hurricane Katrina is
now a distant memory, that someone in the Denver area will open their heart
to this wonderful cat.
Click here for more details.
A recent study showed nearly 50% of older pets will get cancer (Morris Animal Foundation)
Over 60% of Golden Retrievers will die of cancer (Kali’s Wish Foundation)
Does your pet suffer from:
Adrenal or thyroid problems?
Inflammatory bowel symptoms?
Arthritis and flexibility problems?
Sensitivity to foods, fleas, tick bites?
Overweight issues diets have not been able to help?
Any health condition unresponsive to traditional treatments?
Don't wait until your pet has symptoms. Most supplements (even holistic) only
treat symptoms. Come learn how you can prevent all the above through whole food
super nutrition. Give your pet the Fountain of Youth!
BioPreparation has been clinically shown to nutritionally help cancer in
animals. Other conditions that BioPreparation has nutritionally supported
include low thyroid, arthritis, autoimmune disorder, dry skin and coat, kidney
disease, flexibility problems, overweight issues and blood diseases.
BioPreparation activates your pet's own natural ability to heal. Come to The
Whole Cat & Dogs, too! to learn about this amazing new product.
Instructor: Russell Louie has studied holistic health for over 20
years and is an aromatherapy practitioner for both people and animals, Reiki
Master and the top expert in this country on the use of BioPreparation with
The following is a testimonial from a NingXia RedTM user:
am writing this statement as a testimony to the effectiveness of NingXia
RedTM. I have taken it for
about 4 months now and have really noticed a difference in my health. I
am a special education teacher working with children of severe cognitive
and medical challenges. My room has been described among other things,
as a "cesspool" of infection. We have had strep, colds, sinus
infections, influenza, stomach flues, pink eye, and the latest being
hand, foot, and mouth disease. There are 5 other adults besides myself,
who work with our 7 students on a daily basis. Every child and every
adult except me have become ill at one time or another during the 4
months I have taken the NingXia RedTM.
I credit good health to the NingXia RedTM.
I must admit that there have been times when I have felt a little
"tickle" in my throat or a slight sniffle. When this has happened, I
just increase my intake of the NingXia RedTM
for a day or two. It seems to fight off anything I have been exposed to.
I highly recommend NingXia RedTM
for anyone who works closely with children. It is by far the best
holistic product I have taken and the results are amazing.
Sincerely, Ginger Jentzsch
To give you an incentive to try this newest health secret from China
we are offering the following Sale of the Month. Place an order
at the full retail price (1 liter, $50.99) during the month of August
2006 and we’ll send you a $5.00 rebate plus the DVD ($2.00 value)
highlighting the legend, modern proof and medical substantiation behind
the remarkable wolfberry fruit in NingXia
RedTM. Find out the advantages and immediate and long
term health benefits other NingXia RedTM
users and medical experts are experiencing. To order, call Russell Louie
at (303) 271-1649 or 866-305-2306 (toll-free) or
For a limited time get Multi-Pure's popular new Aqua Dome water filter for
$100 off the retail price! This is a $180 value filter for only $79 + tax,
shipping/handling and a $4 registration fee (to become a distributor). We took advantage of this offer
recently and are passing on the word to everyone that wants to drink healthy
water for less money. Multi-Pure is a leader in water filtration technology
and with this promotion, we were able to afford the purchase of a filter,
eliminating trips to the health food store to fill up our 5 gallon bottles with
filtered water. See our article on
for you and your pets to find out why we recommend filtering
Recently I developed a toothache on a tooth that has had extensive fillings and
a crown. The crown is over 30 years old. My dentist sent me to an endodontist
for a root canal but I couldn't get an appointment until one week later. I
pulled out my essential oils and went to work. I put one drop of clove oil and
one drop of ThievesTM oil on a
cotton swab and then wiped the gums around the tooth. I then left the cotton
swab in between the gums and my cheek so all the oils would get absorbed into
the gums and root of the tooth. (CAUTION: this will feel like burning as these
oils are the "hot" spice oils. If you are sensitive, dilute the oil mixture with
a suitable carrier oil. One could develop blisters on the inside of the cheek).
I also took two drops clove oil and two drops ThievesTM
blend in a gelatin capsule orally twice per day. The only other thing I did was
take one 200 mg tablet of ibuprofen 3-4 times per day to reduce the pain to a
manageable level and reduce the inflammation. It is one week later now and the
pain is almost gone and I can chew on that tooth again. My endodontist
appointment is this week so I will wait for the initial exam and his conclusions
before I decide whether to have that root canal.
Product #3524, $13.75/15.92/18.09, 15 ml
Botanical Family: Myrtaceae (myrtle)
Plant Origin: Madagascar, Spice Islands
Extraction Method: Steam distilled from bud and stem.
Historical Data The people on the island of Ternate were free from epidemics until the 16th
century, when Dutch conquerors destroyed the clove trees that flourished on the
islands. Many of the islanders died from the epidemics that followed. Cloves
were reputed to be part of the "Marseilles Vinegar" or "Four Thieves Vinegar"
used by grave-robbing bandits to protect themselves during the 15th century
plague. Clove was listed in Hildegard's Medicine, a compilation of early German
medicines by highly-regarded Benedictine herbalist Hildegard of Bingen
(1098-1179). Healers in China and India have used clove buds since ancient times
as part of their treatments. Eugenol, clove's principal constituent, was used in
the dental industry for years to numb gums. Courmont et al. demonstrated that a
solution of .05% eugenol from clove oil was sufficient to kill the tuberculosis
bacillus (Gattefossé, 1990).
Fragrant Influence A mental stimulant; encourages sleep, stimulates dreams, and creates a sense
of protection and courage.
Application: Dilute 1 part EO with 4 parts VO; (1) apply 2-4 drops on location,
gums, or mouth, (2) chakras/vitaflex points, (3) diffuse, or (4) take as dietary
supplement. For tickling cough, put a drop on back of tongue.
CAUTIONS Anticoagulant properties can be enhanced when combined with Warfarin,
Found In the Following Oil Blends Abundance, En-R-Gee, ImmuPower, Longevity, Melrose, PanAway, and ThievesTM.
Selected Research 36 articles too numerous to list. E-mail us for the entire reference list.
Product #3423, $29.50/34.16/38.82, 15 ml
A blend of highly antiviral, antiseptic, antibacterial, anti-infectious
essential oils. ThievesTM was
created from research of a group of 15th-century thieves who rubbed oils on
themselves to avoid contracting the plague while they robbed the bodies of the
dead and dying. When apprehended, these thieves disclosed the formula of herbs,
spices, and oils they used to protect themselves in exchange for more lenient
punishment. Studies conducted at Weber State University (Ogden, UT) during 1997
demonstrating its killing power against airborne microorganisms. One analysis
showed a 90 percent reduction in the number of gram positive Micrococcus luteus
organisms after diffusing for 12 minutes. After 20 minutes of diffusing, the
kill-rate jumped to 99.3 percent. Another study against the gram negative
Pseudomonas aeruginosa showed a kill rate of 99.96 percent after just 12
minutes of diffusion.
Clove (Syzygium aromaticum) is one of the most antimicrobial and
antiseptic of all essential oils. It is antifungal, antiviral,
Lemon (Citrus limon) has antiseptic-like properties and contains
compounds that amplify immunity. It promotes circulation, leukocyte
formation, and lymphatic function.
Cinnamon Bark (Cinnamomum verum) is one of the most powerful antiseptics
known. It is strongly antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal.
Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus radiata) is anti-infectious, antibacterial,
antiviral, and anti-inflammatory.
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis CT cineol) is antiseptic and
antimicrobial. It is high in cineol a key ingredient in antiseptic drugs.
Application Dilute 1 part essential oil to 4 parts vegetable oil. Possible sun/skin
sensitivity. Diffuse for 15 to 30 minutes every 3 to 4 hours. Apply to bottom of
feet, throat, stomach, or abdomen. Dilute 1:15 in vegetable oil and massage over
thymus. For headaches put 1 drop on tongue and push against roof of mouth.
Dilute 1:15 with vegetable oil for body massage. Put 4-8 drops on cotton ball
and locate on vents. Add 2 drops to a wet cloth and put in clothes dryer.
Many pet owners assume that if their pet is free of symptoms, it must be
healthy and what they're feeding is supporting its health. They see no reason
to spend money on a more expensive "premium" food or add
superfoods and other
supplements to their pet's diet. And their pet seems to be moving perfectly fine
so why take it to the
massage provider or
acupuncturist? Then a year or 5 years or 10
years down the road, their pet gets cancer or kidney disease or diabetes or some
other degenerative disease. Or maybe their pet gets injured or has arthritis and requires surgery. Now
they are searching for answers and are willing to spend whatever it takes to get
their beloved companion well. Unfortunately, sometimes it is "too little, too
late" at this point. Their pet's body has been so damaged that they cannot be
cured. The best that can be done is to improve the quality of life remaining.
How can you prevent this unfortunate occurrence in your pet's life? As
the saying goes, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure".
Taking steps now to keep your pet healthy will help prevent expensive
problems later as your pet ages.
According to holistic vets, cancer and other degenerative diseases are
increasing in our pets, and it is not due to their living longer. Actually,
since the advent of commercial pet foods 40-50 years ago, pets are living
shorter lives, not longer. It was not uncommon decades ago for Labrador
Retrievers to live to 15-20. Now that would be almost unheard of and they are
elderly at 10. Cancer has become epidemic in pets, with 63% of Golden Retrievers
dying of it. Our pets are also beset by thyroid imbalances, diabetes, chronic
kidney disease, allergies, digestive problems, arthritis and liver problems.
Some breeds are also prone to genetic health problems or injuries (such as hip
dysplasia or torn knee ligaments). Also, behavioral problems are common in
pets, such as thunderstorm phobia, separation anxiety, obsessive/compulsive
disorder, etc. Could these behavioral issues have a physical component?
What can we do to prevent these health and behavioral problems in our pets? We are told by
animal health experts that "preventive care" for our pets consists of
taking them yearly to the vet for checkups and annual vaccines and feeding them
an AAFCO-approved balanced commercial pet food. We agree that yearly vet visits
are important, to assess our pets' health and detect problems early. However,
holistic vets would disagree with the annual vaccine recommendations and the
dietary recommendations of conventional vets. If you ask holistic vets what is
causing the current epidemic of degenerative diseases in our pets, they would
include the following: over-vaccination, poor diet, environmental toxins, stress
and poor breeding. We will consider each of these factors below.
Giving our pets "annual vaccinations" is something that we have been told is
a cornerstone of good health care, to prevent them dying from infectious
diseases. If we don't do this, we're told we are "bad" pet owners. However,
according to current research and the recommendations now coming out of all the
U.S. veterinary schools, annual re-vaccinations are unnecessary. The current
recommendations are for every 3 years, though it is thought that many vaccines
last much longer than that. The premier vaccine researcher in the country, Dr.
Ronald Schultz, DVM, Professor and Chair, Department of Pathobiological
Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Wisconsin-Madison, states
that once the maternal immunity has worn off, vaccines given to puppies will
protect them for life. What is wrong with vaccinating yearly "just to be sure"
our pets are protected? Many holistic vets state that while initial vaccinations
are important, that re-vaccinating yearly after that is harmful, damaging the immune system and contributing to degenerative diseases
later in life. Dr. Martin Goldstein, DVM, specializing in holistic treatment of
cancer, feels that the current epidemic of cancer in pets is due in large part
to over-vaccination. Some vaccines may contribute to specific degenerative
diseases, such as the feline distemper vaccine which is grown on feline kidney
cells. This could set up an auto-immune reaction leading to kidney disease later
in life (chronic kidney failure is a leading killer of elderly cats). While we
would not suggest you go against your vet's advice regarding vaccinations, we do
suggest that you educate yourself on this topic and work with a holistic vet who
is aware of the current vaccination protocols. As is true in many areas of
medical practice, it can take years for the recommendations from researchers to
be put into common practice by practitioners.
What role does diet play in your pet's health? If your pet is young and
healthy and appears to be thriving on an AAFCO-approved dry kibble food, isn't
that adequate? Well, that's what I thought until I learned better. I grew up
with a dog, Salty, that was fed commercial dog foods from the grocery store like Alpo,
Gaines Burgers and dry kibble. When Salty died of hepatitis at age 11, we were told
that was "normal" and it was "old age hepatitis". Then we got a cat,
Midnight, and fed her
kibble and canned food from the grocery store. She died at age 12, which again
was considered "normal". These pets went to the vet every year for their annual
When I grew up and got my own cat, Tigger, I was young and poor so I fed
her generic kibble (literally--this was the kibble that came in black & white
bags with no brand name, back in the 1980's). Later, Tigger was upgraded to brand
name kibbles like Purina or Friskies. Like a "good" pet owner, I took her to the
vet yearly and she got all her vaccinations. She was never sick and had no
symptoms, so I thought she was healthy. So, you can imagine my surprise when I
started working at a health food store, put her on a premium kibble and saw an
improvement in her personality (she had been very shy and nervous). All of
young life, she was free of physical symptoms and seemed in perfect health.
obviously her diet was not good enough to provide her with the level of
nutrition that her brain and nervous system needed to function optimally.
When Tigger turned 9, the run of "perfect health" ended. She started vomiting
frequently. I took her to a chiropractor and after being adjusted, she would
stop vomiting, but only temporarily. As I learned more about pet nutrition and
started going to a holistic vet, I upgraded her to better brands of premium
kibble. Later she got chronic kidney failure and died of that at age 17. While
that is a relatively long life for a cat, a healthy cat can live to 20-25. I
think Tigger made it that long because of the improved diet and cessation of
vaccines later in her life. She also had in her favor the fact that in the
1980's, our pets had not had as many generations on processed foods and
excessive vaccinations. Now, in the year 2006, we are reaping the results of
generations of pets that have been fed poor-quality commercial pet foods, exposed to environmental toxins, been poorly bred and over-vaccinated. With each
generation, our pets get sicker.
1996 I adopted my parent's cat, Tabitha, when she was 11 and my father had to
get rid of her due to his wife's allergies. Prior to that, she was mainly fed grocery store kibble and
canned food and received a full complement of vaccines every year. When I got
her, I switched her to premium kibble and ceased vaccinating her . She also died at
17 of kidney failure. I think she lived that long due to the improved diet and
reduced vaccines late in her life.
How long could these cats have lived if they had an optimal diet their entire
life and minimal vaccines? Well, we are starting to get an answer to that with
our remaining cat, Connie (and my third black cat). She is a stray we adopted around 1990. We think she is 20-21
years old now. She was on premium kibble all her life--no grocery store brands
and we only vaccinated her once for rabies (the neighbors fully vaccinated her
before we adopted her). The one problem she did have was obesity, common in cats
free-fed kibble, as she was.
A few years ago, we learned about the importance of a natural raw diet for
dogs and cats, that more closely approximates what they would eat in the wild
(raw meat, bones and organs). We also learned that kibble is too high in
carbohydrates for cats, because they are pure carnivores with no need for carbs.
In fact, one holistic vet calls dry cat kibble "diabetes in a bag". The lack of
water in kibble is also thought to contribute to kidney disease in cats. And
free-feeding kibble is not good for cats as they do not eat constantly in the
wild. So, we switched Connie to a twice a day canned & raw diet, as well as
BioPreparation algae to her diet. At her advanced age now, her only serious
health problem is arthritis. This is most likely due to her obesity, probably
causing a ruptured ligament in her knee, leading to severe arthritis (so if you
think it is "cute" that your dog or cat is fat, realize that you will likely pay
a price for it later with severe and/or early onset of arthritis). Her arthritis
is so severe that we finally gave up on holistic remedies and tried drugs for
it, resulting in damage to her kidneys. However, this is drug-induced and not
diet- or vaccine-induced kidney failure, as with our previous cats. She has
also tested both hypo- and hyperthyroid at times but we have managed to
control that with supplements and diet. (Hyperthyroid is a common degenerative
diseases in elderly cats, normally requiring surgery, drugs or radiation to
So, with Connie, who had fewer vaccines and a better diet than our previous
cats, we are seeing a longer life with fewer health problems in her old age. If
we had fed her canned & raw food her whole life and kept her weight normal, then
she would likely be free of health problems now, at her advanced age (and our
vet bills would be a lot lower). Our experience shows us that diet and frequency
of vaccinations are very important factors in the health of our pets. Most
holistic vets recommend a home-cooked or raw diet for both dogs and cats.
Numerous brands of pre-made, balanced frozen raw diets are now available at
natural pet stores. If
feeding raw food is not possible, there are now some very good super premium pet foods on
the market, available at natural pet stores. As my experience with my first cat
showed, diet is also an important factor affecting our pets' behavior. If your
pet has behavioral problems or you have difficulty training your dog, take a
look at their diet. Don't just try to change the behavior with different
training methods or flower remedies. Maybe their brain isn't getting the
nutrients it needs to function properly. For more information on diet, see:
environment is full of toxins now, even in formerly pristine environments like
the arctic. Some experts blame a decline of polar bears in the arctic to
environmental toxins (and if you have seen the recent movie
An Inconvenient Truth,
you will learn they are also in danger of death by drowning as the arctic ice
cap melts). Our pets are exposed to higher levels of toxins than us, since they
walk and lie on the ground or floor and then lick themselves. Also, pet food
that is not made with "human grade" ingredients has higher levels of toxins in
it. Some vets feel environmental toxins are a major factor contributing to
cancer in our pets.
Michael W. Fox, MRCVS, has done research on
endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs) that he feels is the primary cause of what
he calls Endocrine Disruption Syndrome (Fox, MRCVS, Michael W., "Endocrine
Disruption Syndrome," Journal of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical
Association, Oct.-Dec. 2005, pp. 33-35). These endocrine disrupting
compounds are so prevalent in our environment they are even found in
human breast milk and arctic seals. EDCs can be found not only in industrial
pollutants, chemical fertilizers, and untreated sewage but also in common
household products such as plastics, clothing, floor material and the lining of
food cans. Dr. Fox believes these EDCs make their way into animal's food and
water and then disrupt the animal's entire endocrine and immune systems function
causing the same epidemic symptoms as discovered by Dr. Alfred Plechner (see
You might think
our pets' lives are stress-free because they don't have to go to work and they
get to lounge at home all day. However, for dogs in particular, being home alone
is very stressful for a pack animal. They are not designed to stay by themselves
for long periods of time but are often forced to, because their owners must go
to work. Even cats can get lonely and depressed when left alone. Also, our pets
often don't get sufficient daily exercise, which is stressful and
health-depleting. Studies with humans show that exercise alleviates depression
and fatigue and it no doubt has similar benefits for our animal companions.
Exercise also helps reduce obesity, which is epidemic in our pets, as in humans
New York Times article on pet obesity by Jane Brody). People who exercise
regularly are less prone to degenerative diseases later in life and the same is
probably true for our pets. And obesity carries with it many health risks for
our pets, just as it does for humans. Part
of the "ounce of prevention" for our pets includes making time or finding the
money to provide adequate exercise and socialization for our pets. So, you can
meet these needs now or pay later for the health and behavioral problems
created when these needs are unmet. For more information, see:
What can you do about the poor genetics/breeding that contributes to our
pets' poor health? The number one thing is don't buy your pets at a pet store!
The vast majority of these animals come from
puppy mills where the dogs are bred
with no regard for health or genetic issues, are raised in filthy conditions and
are not adequately socialized. The cats at pet stores are not responsibly bred,
either. You are just setting yourself up for an animal with lifelong behavioral
and health problems if you get an animal at a store. You may never be able to
fully resolve these problems, no matter how much holistic care and training you
provide. (For more information, see
www.optimumchoices.com/December_2005.htm#Doggy). If you want a healthy
purebred animal, go to a breeder who breeds responsibly and, ideally, feeds a
raw diet. Breeders of dogs and cats that feed a raw diet will tell you their
animals live much longer than "typical", even giant breeds like Newfoundlands.
Although it costs more initially to buy an animal from a responsible breeder, it will
usually save you in health
care costs later. If you do get your pet
from somewhere other than a responsible breeder (such as an animal shelter or
rescue group), then providing your pet with an optimal diet from the beginning,
even if they are young and seem perfectly healthy, is critical to maintaining
their health as they age, as well as helping to resolve and prevent behavioral
If you find it overwhelming to put into practice everything we have
suggested, just do what you can. Every little step helps, as I found out when I
fed my first cat a better kibble and saw improvement in her health. Diet is one
of the most important components of health--animals fed a healthy diet can more
successfully cope with stress, toxins and exposure to disease. And any
improvement in diet is helpful; it doesn't have to be perfect. Adding superfoods
to a less than perfect diet can be very health-promoting. To learn more about
preventive care for your pets, read our past newsletters, which you can find
www.optimumchoices.com/newsletters.htm. For more in-depth knowledge on
holistic care for animals, read some of the books we have featured here:
www.optimumchoices.com/holistic_health-B.htm and here:
Animal Reiki: Using Energy to
Heal the Animals in Your Life by
and Kathleen Prasad
review by Margaret Auld-Louie
This is an eye-opening book on how to work with animals doing Reiki,
although it would be applicable for any form of energy healing work with
them. I wish this book had been available when I studied Reiki for Animals
several years ago (the book was just published this year). It would make a
perfect textbook for such a class, as well as being enlightening for anyone
doing energy healing on animals. Since Reiki can be done on any living
creature--human, animal or plant, students often graduate from human Reiki
training thinking they know all they need to know to work on any of the
above. However, as this book shows, there are differences in how one works
with animals vs. working on humans.
One of the most important differences is not to "force" Reiki on animals.
When working on a person, the person comes to the practitioner asking for a
treatment, they lie down on the table and the practitioner puts their hands
on them and moves through the different hand positions, completing the
treatment after about an hour. However, when doing Reiki on animals, the
authors state that animals can often feel uncomfortable receiving Reiki
hands-on; the energy can be too strong for them. Also, since the animal's
person is asking for the treatment on their behalf, the animal often doesn't
understand what is going on, particularly at first. So, the authors
emphasize the importance of asking the animal for permission to do
Reiki, telling the animal to only take the amount of energy that is
comfortable for them, and often doing Reiki from a distance, rather than
hands-on. To substantiate these claims, as well as their other
recommendations, they offer numerous case studies throughout the book. For
instance, they tell of a case where the Reiki energy did not flow when they
had forgotten to ask permission of the animal. Then when they remembered and
asked permission, the energy started flowing. This seems strange to our
Western minds when we are used to doing to animals as we please. But asking
permission is a show of respect and occasionally an animal may not be in a
space where it is open to receiving Reiki.
This book thoroughly covers all aspects of doing Reiki with animals.
After the introductory material in Part One, Part Two provides guidelines
for doing Reiki on animals including preparing for a treatment, giving a
treatment, including respecting boundaries, allowing animals to move around,
how to tell if the animal does not want a treatment and signs of acceptance
of the treatment. Then it covers when and how to give hands-on treatments,
how to handle insights gained during treatment (including whether to share
such information with the animal's guardian or not) and how to tell when a
treatment is complete. In Part Three, the authors cover working with
specific animals including different species (dog, cat, horse, bird, etc) as
well as senior animals, wild animals and dying animals.
Part Four goes into how to work with clients (when doing Reiki as a
business), guidelines for doing Level 2 Reiki (which involves long distance
healing and working with emotional issues) and how to do Reiki in shelters
and animal rescue organizations. The authors have extensive experience with
shelter and rescue animals, which they share throughout the book in the many
case studies. The case studies in the book are invaluable for illustrating
and validating the author's recommendations for working with animals.
Whether you are a newcomer interested in learning how to do healing work
with animals or an experienced animal energy healing practitioner, this book
is very valuable for understanding how to work with animals and energy. As
an animal Reiki practitioner, I found the book valuable for confirming what
I already understood about working with animals (but could not always
clearly articulate), as well as providing additional insights into how to be
effective with them.
Nothing on this website has been evaluated by the FDA. This information
is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Please
see a qualified healthcare practitioner for any disease or illness.