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News from Optimum Choices, LLC

September 2006

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Current news
Fall Sale
Oil of the month
Is glucosamine the answer for arthritis?
Book of the month
Contact us

Current News

Event Calendar Online

You can now find out about our upcoming classes, lectures and special events at our new online calendar.

Canine Massage at Happy Dog Daycare

Optimum Choices will be offering canine massage sessions at Happy Dog Daycare in Denver on Friday, September 15.
Click here for more details.

Hurricane Katrina cat available again

Cajun was rescued from a shelter in Louisiana following Hurricane Katrina. He thought he had his forever home, but the owner's situation has changed and he became available again in July 2006. 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.


Aromatherapy: Wonderful World of Essential Oils

Sat, September 16, 2006, 11:00 am - 3:00 pm
$33 through Sept. 9 ($44 thereafter)


Sunday, Nov 12 @ 12:00 PM-4:00 PM
$33 through Nov 5 ($44 thereafter)

Journey Books & Gifts
1050 S. Wadsworth, Lakewood, CO

Ancient Egyptians used essential oils for medicinal purposes and to cleanse the emotional body. Join us as we rediscover the therapeutic uses of essential oils and learn the science behind why they work. Topics include: fighting colds & viruses, boosting the immune system, relieving stress & pain, safe use on animals, emotional releases, clearing mental blocks and help with mid-life transitions. Includes a free sample bottle of therapeutic-grade essential oil.

Instructor: Russell understands the need to balance the emotional, mental and spiritual bodies in order to affect the physical body. He is excited to bring the knowledge of essential oils into every day practice on these subtle bodies. He synthesizes both Eastern and Western wisdom into an ultimate healing experience.

Registration: For more information on this class, contact Russell Louie at (303) 271-1649. To register, call Journey Books at (303) 239-0382. Journey Books is located at 1050 S. Wadsworth, Lakewood, CO in the Villa South Shopping Mall at Mississippi (NE corner).

Fall Sale

Try the holistic combination of BioPreparation-F3+ and Active Care Joint Treats for 10% off when you buy both. Use the combination of these whole food products to help the body naturally reduce the pain and inflammation of arthritis without all the side effects of glucosamine supplements and drugs. The discount will not show in your shopping cart online but will be given when your order is processed if you mention our "fall sale". Or you can call us to order. Discount good on orders placed through October 31, 2006. To learn more about glucosamine's possible side effects, see our article below.

Healthy water for less: Multi-Pure® Fast Track special offer

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 Healthy water for you and your pets to find out why we recommend filtering your water.

For more information, see our Multi-Pure page, e-mail us or call 303-271-1649 or 866-305-2306 (toll-free).

Oil(s) of the month

by Russell Louie

This month I would like to highlight a combination of oils that help support a body that has bone spurs, bulging disks, damaged vertebrae and ligaments. One wouldn't think an oil historically used for purification and digestion and an oil blend that was meant to help respiratory congestion could help these conditions. But that is the holistic miracle of using essential oils. Essential oils don't just address symptoms but work synergistically to holistically balance the body and activate the body's natural ability to heal.


Product #3581 ($10.00/$11.58/$13.16)
Lemongrass (Cymbopogon flexuosus)
Botanical Family: Poaceae or Gramineae (grasses)
Plant Origin: India, Guatemala
Extraction Method: Steam distilled from leaves
Key Constituents:
Geranial (35-45%)
Geraniol (5-10%)
Neral (25-40%)
Trans-beta-Caryophyllene (2-6%)
ORAC: 1,780 µTE/100g

Historical Data
Lemongrass is used for purification and digestion. Research was published in Phytotherapy Research on topically applied lemongrass for its powerful antifungal properties.

Medical Properties
Antifungal, antibacterial, antiparasitic, anti-inflammatory, regenerates connective tissues and ligaments, dilates blood vessels, improves circulation, promotes lymph flow.

Bladder infection, respiratory/sinus infection, digestive problems, parasites, torn ligaments/muscles, fluid retention, varicose veins, Salmonella.

Fragrant Influence
Promotes psychic awareness and purification.

Dilute 1 part EO with 4 parts VO; (1) apply 1-2 drops on location, (2) chakras/vitaflex points, (3) directly inhale, (4) diffuse, or (5) take as dietary supplement.

Found In
Di-Gize, En-R-Gee, Inner Child, and Purification.

Selected Research
Pattnaik S, et al. “Antibacterial and antifungal activity of ten essential oils in vitro.” Microbios. 1996;86(349):237-46. Inouye S, Yamaguchi H, Takizawa T. Screening of the antibacterial effects of a variety of essential oils on respiratory tract pathogens, using a modified dilution assay method. J Infect Chemother. 2001 Dec;7(4):251-4. Lorenzetti BB, et al. “Myrcene mimics the peripheral analgesic activity of lemongrass tea.” J Ethnopharmacol. 1991;34(1):43-8. Elson CE, et al. “Impact of lemongrass oil, an essential oil, on serum cholesterol.” Lipids. 1989;24(8):677-9. Friedman M, Henika PR, Mandrell RE. Bactericidal activities of plant essential oils and some of their isolated constituents against Campylobacter jejuni, Escherichia coli, Listeria monocytogenes, and Salmonella enterica. J Food Prot. 2002 Oct;65(10):1545-60. Venturini ME, Blanco D, Oria R. In vitro antifungal activity of several antimicrobial compounds against Penicillium expansum. J Food Prot. 2002 May;65(5):834-9. Inouye S, Uchida K, Yamaguchi H. In-vitro and in-vivo anti-Trichophyton activity of essential oils by vapour contact. Mycoses. 2001 May;44(3-4):99-107.

R.C. blend

Product #3405 ($16.75/$19.39/$22.04)
Gives relief from colds, bronchitis, sore throats, sinusitis, coughs and respiratory congestion. Decongests sinus passages, combats lung infections, and relieve allergy symptoms.

Eucalyptus globulus has shown to be a powerful antimicrobial and germ-killer. It is expectoriaant, mucolytic, antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, and antiseptic. It reduces infections in the throat and lungs, such as rhinopharyngitis, laryngitis, flu, sinusitis, bronchitis, pneumonia.
Eucalyptus radiata
is anti-infectious, antibacterial, antiviral, an expectorant, and anti-inflammatory. It has strong action against bronchitis and sinusitis.
Eucalyptus australiana is antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal.
Eucalyptus citriodora decongests and disinfects the sinuses and lungs. It is anti-inflammatory, anti-infectious, and antispasmodic.
Myrtle (Myrtus communis) supports the respiratory system and helps treat chronic coughs and tuberculosis. It is suitable to use for coughs and chest complaints with children.
Pine (Pinus sylvestris) opens and disinfects the respiratory system, particularly the bronchial tract. It has been used since the time of Hippocrates to support respiratory function and fight infection. According to Daniel Pénoël, M.D., pine is one of the best oils for bronchitis and pneumonia.
Spruce (Picea marina) helps the respiratory and nervous systems. It is anti-infectious, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory.
Marjoram (Origanum majorana) supports the respiratory system and reduces spasms. It is anti-infectious, antibacterial, and antiseptic.
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is antispasmodic, hypotensive, anti-inflammatory, and antiseptic.
Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens) promotes blood circulation and lymph flow. It is anti-infectious, antibacterial, antimicrobial, mucolytic, antiseptic, refreshing, and relaxing.
Peppermint (Mentha piperita) is a powerful nasal and lung decongestant with antiseptic properties. It opens nasal passages, reduces cough, improves airflow to the lungs, and kills airborne bacteria, fungi and viruses. A 1994 double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized cross-over study at the University of Kiel in Germany found that peppermint oil exerted a significant analgesic effect (Gobel et al., 1994). Alan Hirsch, M.D., documented peppermint's ability to curb appetite when inhaled.

Dilute 1 part EO to 1 part vegetable oil. Possible skin sensitivity. Diffuse/humidify, directly inhale, apply on chest, neck, throat, or over sinus area. Use as a hot compress or with Raindrop Technique. Dilute 1:15 with vegetable oil for body massage. Put 4-8 drops on cotton ball and locate on vents. TO COMBAT SINUS/LUNG CONGESTION: Add R.C., Raven or Wintergreen/Birch to bowl of hot, steaming water. Place a towel over your head and water/oil mixture and inhale the steam. Combine with Raven (alternating morning and night) and Thieves to enhance effects.

©2005 Essential Science Publishing. The information in this article is from the Essential Oils Desk Reference, which can be ordered here: Essential Science Publishing, 1216 South 1580 West, Orem, Utah 84058, (800) 336-6308, www.essentialscience.net

It is the anti-inflammatory nature of lemongrass and its ability to regenerate connective tissues and ligaments, improve circulation, and promotes lymph flow that helps with bulging disks and damaged ligaments. Combine that with the anti-inflammatory nature of four eucalyptus oils and the ability of cypress to promote increased blood circulation and lymph flow and you have a winning holistic formula. Can you imagine buying these two bottles of these oils for $26.75 to help the body with bone spurs, bulging disks and damaged vertebrae? What a bargain.


I have used Lemongrass, RC, Valor and Idaho Balsam Fir essential oils to help reduce the pain and inflammation from several bulging cervical disks damaged in an auto accident. My initial headaches were greatly reduced and I feel the ligaments and muscles are regenerating and finally returning to a balanced state. I also used chiropractic adjustments, physiotherapy exercises and a spinal decompression machine developed by NASA researchers called the DRX 9000. The DRX 9000 treatment is a non-surgical, non-invasive spinal decompression therapy that is an option for herniated or degenerated discs and sciatica. See www.center4spine.com/nutrition/ for more details.

Russell Louie

Here are some more testimonials:

Title: fractured lumbar and bulging discs
Author: Nicole
Due to an automobile accident, I fractured my 4th lower lumbar, had nerve damage in my neck, and three bulging discs (two ended up dehydrated) in the cervical and thoracic area of my back. For the first three and a half years after the accident I was in incredible amount of pain. Migraines plagued me daily along with pain throughout my body and pain along my spine. Numbness in arms and hands were caused from nerve damage from my neck injury. It was thought that spikes (bone spurs) forming on my spine would eventually fuse my spine together. My appointment (June of 2000) with the doctor was very disturbing. The doctor said I would be in a wheelchair by the time I turned forty. The daily migraines and back pain made life difficult, let alone adding extra therapy and exercise to my then current regimen. I left his office frightened and frustrated ... but determined to find a solution! My neurosurgeon discussed surgery when the nerve block injections in my back didn't work. Exhausting many avenues of conventional medicine, I was finally open to other avenues which could regain my health. Then Young Living came into my life! Gary Young's personal story gave me MUCH hope. If Gary Young could walk after spending 13 years in a wheelchair, I could stay out of one! And there began my wonderful and amazing journey with Young Living.

I began with Sulfurzyme and a few essential oils (peppermint, RC, and wintergreen). Within a month or so my pain was drastically reduced and migraines were a thing of the past. Within six to eight months the pain was GONE! My son Mikol learned the Raindrop Technique and performed this when needed. I gained my life back ... PAIN FREE! I exercise daily and can even bend backwards! I now include NingXia Red to my daily regimen with amazing results! I reached the great age of FORTY (40) in June of 2004 and in no way will I ever need a wheelchair because of the effects of that accident! I am as healthy now as I was at 20!

RC - RC - and more RC - AMAZING OIL!! The combination of therapeutic grade essential oils and YL supplements plus Raindrop Technique saved me on many levels! If you give the body what it needs to find balance it will heal itself! PLEASE feel free to pass along my testimonial!

Title: Saved from having neck surgery
Author: Doug Long
My experience with essential oils started like most people, with a physical condition and pain. I began having severe neck pain which progressed down my left shoulder and ultimately to my left elbow. At first I just lived with it, but then I started to experience weakness in my left tricep and that's when I decided to contact a doctor and see what was wrong. An MRI showed the disk between the C-6 and C-7 vertebrae to be bulging. The swelling in the joint was putting pressure on the nerve which was causing the pain and the weakness in my arm. In fact the tricep muscle was actually beginning to atrophy. My doctor gave me 3 options, first, physical therapy sessions. I did that with little effect. Second, an epidural in my neck, which is an injection of anti-inflammatory drugs directly into the disk designed to reduce the swelling and help the disk move back in place. The third option was surgery where they would fuse the two vertebrae together. I was in my early 30's and very active in sports and skiing and did not want options 2 or 3!

That's when a friend told me about the oils and how they had helped him with a similar problem with his back. Long story short, I tried them and it was nothing short of a miracle! Within minutes my neck and shoulder felt better and by the next morning I had no more pain! ZERO! My neck and arm have been fine since, nearly 10 years now, and I regularly use the oils as simple maintenance and for many other reasons that are too numerous to list here.

Many people have asked me which oils were used on my back and neck, so here is a list of the oils and how they were applied by Julie Herbert whose husband Gordon first introduced me to these amazing medicines -- start with Valor on the feet. Then layer oils of Basil, Marjoram, Aroma Siez, Wintergreen, Panaway, Cypress, Lemongrass, Geranium and Peppermint on the Vita-flex points on the feet one after another. (There is a foot chart in the book, Essential Oils Desk Reference, which shows where points related to the spine, shoulders and neck are located on the feet called vita-flex points.) Then apply the same oils on the neck and shoulder or pain-effected area using Peppermint last, followed by Ortho Ease. Peppermint is used last because it is the amplifier of the other oils followed by Ortho Ease.

Today for someone with the same condition you would also use Idaho Balsam Fir and then start taking the supplements BLM (for bone, muscle, and ligaments) and Sulfurzyme. BLM and Sulferzyme were not available when I had my neck problem. I am a true believer in the power of these oils to heal the body, mind, and spirit. I hope you will experience the same kind of results as you use these wonderful products. I can't put into words how grateful I am to have discovered essential oils! They are truly God's medicines.

Title: Lemongrass for knee pain
Author: Ardi Keim
At the beginning of winter my knees started hurting -- first one, then the other. It got to where as I straightened up my legs at each step when walking the knees would 'click' accompanied by the sharp pain. Not wanting to use painkillers I tried several different oils and supplements with no luck until I tried lemongrass. I applied it in the evening and could feel it working immediately! The next day the pain and clicking was almost gone. I applied 2 - 3 times a day for just 3 days and the symptoms completely subsided.

Title: Wrist pain
Author: Tina Cooper
I recently was having some carpentry work. My carpenter was complaining about the pain he had repeatedly in his wrist. I asked him if I could put some oils on him and he agreed, and used lemongrass, RC and wintergreen, I layered them on neat. It wasn't probably 10 minutes later, that he told me that he was having no pain at all. The next morning when he came back to work, he told me that his wrist still wasn't hurting, and asked me if I would get him the oils.

To order

Click here to order on our Young Living World Essential Oils website. Click on Product Catalog, then pull down the menus Essential Oils/Singles A-M to find Lemongrass or pull down Essential Oils/Blends M-Z to find RC, or call us at (303) 271-1649 or (866) 305-2306 (toll-free).

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Is glucosamine the answer for arthritis?

by Margaret Auld-Louie

Glucosamine has become a very popular supplement for treatment of arthritis in our pets (as well as people), particularly for those looking for alternatives to drugs. Both pet owners and veterinarians alike assume that it is safe and effective. In fact, pet owners often will not consider using a supplement for arthritis unless it contains glucosamine, which they are convinced is the answer for arthritis. Because glucosamine is "natural", people assume that it must be totally safe and free of side effects. When we tell them it can have side effects, they often don't believe us. However, just because something is natural doesn't mean that it is free of side effects. Whenever a substance is extracted from the food it occurs in, there is a likelihood of side effects because it is no longer being presented to the body in the form nature intended (for more information, see our article on Whole Food Nutrition vs. Supplements).

We do agree that glucosamine is often a better choice than an anti-inflammatory drug such as Rimadyl® or Metacam® that can have very serious side effects such as liver or kidney failure. We found this out first-hand when we gave our arthritic cat Metacam® (after exhausting most holistic options) and she experienced acute kidney failure, resulting in 4 days in the hospital on IV fluids. If you search the Internet, you can find cases of both cats and dogs killed by drugs like this. In our cat's case, we knew the risks but felt it was worth trying because of her severe pain level and advanced age (20+ years old). For a younger, healthier animal, pet owners usually want to avoid these risky drugs so they turn to supplements like glucosamine instead. While glucosamine is described as "safe" by supplement manufacturers, that does not mean it is totally free of any side effects. What it means is that it won't quickly kill your pet like the anti-inflammatory drugs can.

Glucosamine is not always effective, either, in relieving the symptoms of arthritis, particularly when used alone. We tried Cosequin® (a supplement containing both glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate) with our cat, after hearing a veterinarian describe how her elderly cat was jumping around like a kitten after 2 weeks on it. Unfortunately, the only effect it had with our cat was to cause digestive upset (vomiting). It's possible that with longer use it would have helped but we had to discontinue it due to the digestive upset. This is one of the drawbacks of isolating supplements from the foods they naturally occur in--the digestive system can have trouble processing them. Glucosamine supplements have only been shown to be beneficial in a few isolated studies and the evidence was conflicting in subsequent studies. Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate studies have shown more promise when taken together. But even the New England Journal of Medicine (2006) recently concluded, "...patients with symptomatic osteoarthritis of the knee that neither glucosamine hydrochloride nor chondroitin sulfate alone has been shown to be more efficacious than placebo." We do know of pet owners that have seen good results with glucosamine-containing supplements so we think the effect varies from pet to pet. Just be aware that it may or may not help your pet's arthritis symptoms.

Since you have probably never heard of the side effects of glucosamine, you are no doubt wondering what they are and what proof we have of them. The side effects we know of include the following, particularly with long-term use:

  • Increased blood sugar disorders (diabetes)
  • Yeast flare-ups (Candida overgrowth)
  • Liver overload

The Physicians Desk Reference for Non-Prescription Drugs & Supplements 2005 reports that glucosamine may impair insulin secretion through competitive inhibition of glucokinase in pancreatic beta cells and/or alteration of peripheral glucose uptake. Patients with diabetes should be cautious since glucosamine may affect insulin sensitivity or glucose tolerance. They cite the following studies to support this:
Balkan B, Dunning BE: Glucosamine inhibits glucokinase in vitro and produces a glucose-specific impairment of in vivo insulin secretion in rats. Diabetes; 43(10):1173-1779. 1994.
Monauni T, Zenti MG, Cretti A, et al: Effects of glucosamine infusion on insulin secretion and insulin action in humans. Diabetes, 49(6): 926-935. 2000.

BIOS Fine Nutrients reports that glucosamine taken orally acts in a different pathway than the glucosamine produced naturally in our bodies. Glucosamine is a derivative of the glucose (sugar) molecule and when taken orally, "...can rapidly lower ATP levels and mimic the insulin resistance brought on by elevated levels of glucose and insulin. Unfortunately, seniors who are overweight and most prone to insulin resistance are also the population most susceptible to osteoarthritis and are most likely to be using glucosamine." They further explain that glucosamine, a derivative of glucose, when made in the body is typically hidden from the areas where yeast and fungi grow. However, orally ingested glucosamine passes through your digestive tract and into your bloodstream where yeast live then feed on the glucosamine. Thus, glucosamine provides yeast with a source of energy as well as an important building block for overgrowth and a flare-up of Candida symptoms. For more information, see : www.biochemicals.com/productfiles/jointez_2005.html

Our human chiropractor, who has extensive experience in treating chronic conditions with nutrition and supplements, says she sees a lot of her patients that take glucosamine supplements with overloaded or toxic livers. This is a common occurrence when taking isolated supplements vs. whole food nutrition.

There are whole foods naturally containing glucosamine that you can feed your pet. Since glucosamine is used in joints and cartilage, eating cartilage gives one a natural source of it, as well as the other nutrients that work synergistically with it. People can acquire joint and bone nutrition by boiling bones and cartilage in water with a little vinegar (1 tablespoon) to make broth and then drinking the broth or using it for soup stock. Primitive cultures have used this method for thousands of years to nourish bones and joints. For dogs, you can feed them treats made from whole cartilage and trachea, such as the Active Care Healthy Joint Treats by Breeder's Choice. These are available through Optimum Choices as well as many pet stores. The only precaution is that they can be hard, especially when they dry out after opening the bag, so with small dogs you may want to soak them before feeding to avoid broken teeth. This whole food source is naturally high in glucosamine. In fact, Breeder's Choice lists glucosamine levels on the bag, but feeding it this way does not risk the side effects seen with isolated glucosamine supplements, unless you were to feed nothing but joint treats. The joint treats alone would not provide a balanced diet because carnivores like dogs are designed to eat whole animals, with meat, bones and organs, not just the cartilage.

However, we suggest you look beyond glucosamine and joint nutrition when seeking answers for arthritis. "Holistic care" for our pets means looking at the whole animal's situation over their entire lifespan. The first step is to prevent arthritis in the first place. Obesity has become epidemic in pets and greatly predisposes our pets to arthritis, as well as leading to an earlier onset. Our cat probably has arthritis due to her obesity, when we used to free-feed her dry kibble. Cats, being pure carnivores, will often get fat on kibble which is high in carbohydrates. The vet speculates that her obesity led to an undiagnosed rupture of the knee ligament when jumping, which later progressed to arthritis. X-rays show her arthritis is mainly in her left knee, where she has many bone chips, that cause a great deal of pain. At 20 years old, she's too old for surgery to correct this. This is uncommon in cats but unfortunately knee ligament ruptures are commonplace in dogs, and even when corrected by surgery, predispose them to arthritis. While obesity increases the risk, normal weight dogs can injure their knees as well. I have never seen anyone propose a cause for this problem, other than genetics or obesity. However, I suspect that a lack of adequate nutrition also plays a part in the tendency of dogs' knee ligaments to rupture. I base this conclusion on the connection between nutrition and ligament health shown by the studies of Weston A. Price (in his book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration) and Francis M. Pottenger (in his book Pottenger's Cats). It's possible that dogs' ligaments are weakened if they are not fed a diet like wolves would eat (of raw meats, bones and organs), particularly during puppyhood.

Besides nutrition, adequate exercise is key to helping prevent and reduce obesity as well as keeping joints and muscles in good working shape. The body is made to be used, particularly for the breeds of dogs that were created to work all day in the field. Sticking them out in the backyard is not a substitute for a long walk. When I do massage on dogs that compete in the sport of agility, I am always amazed at how much more supple and healthy their muscles feel, and how much more muscle mass they have, even at an advanced age, compared to the average pet dog. I can almost tell a pet dog's age by how stiff its muscles are, whereas an agility competitor will usually have "young" feeling muscles even when elderly.

Optimal nutrition not only gives the body the nutrients it needs to build healthy joints. It can also minimize the inflammation associated with arthritis. Most holistic vets feel that the optimal diet for dogs and cats is a raw food diet that approximates their diet in the wild (whole prey animals). For more information, see our article on Optimal Nutrition for for dogs and cats. Since a raw diet is naturally low in carbohydrates, raw-fed animals are much less prone to obesity than animals fed dry kibble. However, even the best raw diet may not be sufficient to provide optimal health, unless your pet has come from generations of raw-fed animals and lives in a pristine environment which is free of stress. This is where whole food supplements and superfoods can fill the gap. We have seen good results in animals with arthritis given BioSuperfood or BioPreparation superfood algae. These whole food products naturally contain ingredients that can reduce the inflammation of arthritis including:

With these algae that are native to all animal's and human's diets, one can holistically reduce inflammation, pain and increase flexibility naturally without any side effects. One customer's dog was scheduled to have $2,000 worth of surgery for arthritis and canceled the surgery after experiencing the benefits from BioPreparation.

With more severe cases of arthritis, whole food nutrition alone may not be sufficient to correct the problem (as we found with our 20-year old cat). There are alternatives to glucosamine that can be very effective, such as Dog Gone Pain, a proprietary herbal blend for dogs recently featured in the Whole Dog Journal (so you may not be able to acquire it until the demand created by the article dies down). We tried this on our cat as well, but like Cosequin®, it causes her to vomit. Priscilla Dressen, a veterinarian in Ft. Collins, Colorado, reports success with cats using the Mayway Plum Flower Brand "Qi Ye Lian" herbs. She has especially found this useful in the "wood" cats (referring to the Chinese five element theory) that have lower back pain and in cats with chronic renal failure associated back pain. If you do decide to use glucosamine, it can be more effective when part of a blend that supports overall joint health (such as Cosequin®). Dr. Dressen has had outstanding results with dogs using "Myristol" developed by Gayle Trotter, an equine surgeon at Colorado State University. It combines Cetyl myristoleate fatty acid which addresses joint inflammation and pain, glucosamine, MSM, collagen, trace minerals and a few other ingredients. Geriatric patients that were on their last leg of acupuncture with her have been getting up and running when they could hardly walk. It can be found at www.myristol.com. This website notes some possible side effects of glucosamine, stating "In some dogs, glucosamine administration has been associated with gastrointestinal upset, that resolves with discontinuation of feeding glucosamine. Glucosamine has also been associated with increased thirst and urination in some dogs, which also disappears with discontinuation of intake." Increased thirst and urination are symptoms of diabetes, which could be why glucosamine causes this effect.

Other measures that can help arthritic pets include bodywork, such as massage, and energy work, such as Reiki, Healing Touch for Animals, acupuncture or acupressure. One of my first clients was an elderly toy poodle that could barely walk due to severe arthritis. The owner, who could intuitively tune into her dog's pain level, reported a great reduction in her dog's pain from the massage sessions. While massage works primarily on the muscles, energy work addresses all levels of being: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. It can therefore be very beneficial for your pet's overall health, not just arthritis. To find an animal bodywork or energywork practitioner, see the website for the International Association of Animal Massage & Bodywork.  In Colorado, see the member list for the Colorado Association of Animal Massage & Bodywork. You can find veterinarians who offer acupuncture through the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association or the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society. Remember that every animal is individual and while some will respond dramatically and quickly to sessions, others may take many sessions to show results. The results depend on many factors including the pet's age, overall level of health, diet, location of arthritic joints, severity of arthritis and whether the practitioner is attuned to them. For best results in treating your pet's arthritis, we suggest educating yourself and working together with your veterinarian and other health care practitioners to determine the best course of action for your pet.

Disclaimer: We are not veterinarians and the information in this article is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease. We are simply sharing the knowledge we have learned for educational purposes.

Book of the month

Animals in Translation

by Temple Grandin and Catherine Johnson

ISBN 0156031442

Click picture to order from Dogwise

review by Margaret Auld-Louie

This is an engrossing and fascinating book that will give you a better understanding of how animals think and a much greater appreciation for their abilities. Author Temple Grandin, PhD is both an autistic person and an accomplished animal scientist. She has learned to use her unique perspective as an autistic person to figure out how animals think and use that to their benefit. There are similarities in how the brains work in autistic people and animals. For instance, autistic people tend to think in pictures rather than words and they notice details that are filtered out by a "normal" person. Temple explains that animals do this also. She uses her ability to "think like an animal" in her professional life, as a livestock handling equipment designer. She is able to go into a meatpacking plant and notice the details that spook or harm the animals (that no one else can even figure out) and determine how to improve them. As a result of her recommendations, the treatment of animals in meatpacking plants in the U.S. has become far more humane and some of the large corporations, such as McDonalds, now require their suppliers to audit their plants according to Temple's standards.

While Temple's expertise is in farm animals, the book also discusses dogs extensively, as well as touching on many other species from cats to prairie dogs. Her book covers a wide spectrum of ideas and research about how animals think and feel. Some of her conclusions are politically incorrect and not all experts agree with them, but the ideas presented are always fascinating and eye opening. For instance, she describes research by Con Slobodchikoff at Northern Arizona University analyzing the distress calls of prairie dogs. He has shown that prairie dogs have an extensive language, with nouns, adjectives, verbs and semanticity  that is used to warn of approaching predators. Their language is so detailed that they can identify predators not just by species but by individual and description (such as clothing worn). Their language is more complex than many animals with larger brains and Dr. Slobodchikoff speculates that it developed because they are "super-prey"; that is, everything in the area eats them and knows where to find them. Developing language helped them survive. So, rather than language being unique to creatures with big brains (like humans), "what's unique about language is that the creatures who develop it are highly vulnerable to being eaten."

One facet of her book that I really appreciated was her explanation of how single-trait breeding ends up damaging animals. She gives the example of farm animals being bred for fast growth or heavy muscling (to increase meat). However, other traits that are linked to the desired trait also end up being changed, often to the animal's detriment. For instance, when roosters were bred to be fast-growing, big breasted with strong legs and sound hearts, their disposition changed and they ending up raping and murdering hens instead of acting out normal mating behavior. The change was so gradual over time that farmers "unconsciously adjusted their perceptions of how a normal rooster should act. It was a case of the bad becoming normal...". The problem is that breeding for a physical trait, different than what nature intended, often ends up unintentionally changing behavioral and emotional traits as well that we didn't know were linked. And when you over-select for any trait, you can eventually end up with neurological damage and emotional changes. This is a real problem with breeding of purebred dogs and some cat breeds as well.

One of the most fascinating ideas in her book is the possibility that humans and dogs evolved together, influencing each other's evolution, rather than human's domesticating wolves, as is commonly thought. She describes a study by Robert K. Wayne at UCLA showing DNA evidence that dogs diverged from wolves 135,000 years ago. At that time, people may not have even had language and were socially similar to chimpanzees. So, two different species, that were on a fairly equal footing at that time, with complementary skills, teamed up and influenced each other. Australian anthropologists believe that humans may have learned from wolves to hunt in groups, develop complex social structures, maintain loyal non-kin friendships and become territorial. Dogs may have made human cultural evolution possible if "humans learned from dogs how to cooperate with people they aren't related to". What's also fascinating is that the human brain began to shrink 10,000 years ago, when people began giving dogs formal burials. When an animal becomes domesticated, the brain gets smaller. In human brains, the midbrain and olfactory bulbs, which handle emotions, sensory data and smell got smaller, areas that dogs excel in. Temple sums this up as follows: "The Aborigines have a saying: 'Dogs make us human.' Now we know that's probably literally true. People wouldn't have become who we are today if we hadn't co-evolved with dogs." So the next time someone scolds you for being overly attached to your dog (telling you that they're "just a dog"), remember that human civilization may owe its very existence to our partnership with dogs.

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