Thursday, March 28, 2013

Alternatives to prednisone..

While we decided against Lola undergoing chemo treatments, we were advised to at least place her on prednisone. The statistics I have read time and time again are: 

Life expectancy following a diagnosis of Lymphoma: (in general)
3-4 weeks, without any form of treatment
7-8 weeks, with the use of prednisone alone
Up to 8 months, with chemo treatments

Currently she takes 20mg a day and sometimes also receives a shot at the vet called Dexamethasone. 

Dexamethasone is a potent synthetic member of the glucocorticoid class of steroid drugs. It acts as an anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressant. When taken orally, it is 26.6 times more potent than the naturally occurring hormone cortisol and 6.6 times more potent than prednisone.  The "dex" shot works almost immediately to help open her airways to allow her to breathe easier.

Having her take these medications does not make me happy, as I know the harmful side effects they can have. Which leads me to my research in trying to find a natural route to ween her off the pred and only have her on natural remedies. Unfortunately, as I write this, she is having a horrible spell and is having extreme difficulty breathing. She didn't get much sleep Saturday night (neither did I) and all I can do is wait until Monday morning to rush her into the vet to get her shot. 

I have been researching anything that may help her during these sorts of spells. Until we are able to shrink that tumor in her lungs, this will be a constant battle.

The following is what I have come across in my research and will be remedies that I will begin to put into place.


Prednisone is a steroid which is used to stop inflammation. This is treated for skin disorders, allergies, rashes, breathing difficulties and ulcerative colitis. This drug is very powerful but many people have stopped its use because of its side effects.

Dogs that get prednisone as a short term treatment (i.e. 1 to 4 weeks) may not experience any side effects. However, if the treatment is lengthy, prednisone may cause a number of side effects, including:
  • Immunity suppression, which makes the dog more susceptible to infections; the immune system cannot protect the dog, so his health must be carefully monitored and secondary diseases must be treated as soon as they occur
  • Increased appetite, that leads to weight gain
  • Increased thirst and more frequent urination
  • Water retention, caused by the sodium in the salt, in case the dog has a diet rich in salts
  • Fluid in the stomach
  • Myocardial arrest
  • Oily skin, which may be due to hormonal imbalance
  • Coarse hair, unhealthy looking coat
  • Sudden aggressiveness
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Nausea
  • Kidney problems
  • Ulcers, stomach problems
  • Colitis
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Hypertension


Chinese Herbs

Chinese herbs are used as an alternate remedy to prednisone and other types of medicines. There are three types of Chinese herbs called Lig-ZhiKu-Shen and Gan-Cao which are combined together. These herbs is an alternate for prednisone without having any side effects on the patients.

These three Chinese herbs showed remarkable results and also improved the health of patients suffering from asthma and arthritis. These herbs are nearly impossible to find but reading one article advises that "Phyocort" is similar in herbal makeup. I'm not sure. I'm not 100% sold on this.
The other Chinese herb which is called Dong quai is an excellent alternate for prednisone and also controls pain. Dong quai has anti-inflammatory properties and gives an instant boost of energy. Since this herb also has antispasmodic qualities it helps in curing pain in the abdominal region, arthritic pain and headaches. This herb can be consumed with a daily dosage of 530 mg capsules.
This herb should be taken with meals. Nature's Way actually sells this, so I know (or hope) they will have it at my health food store as that is the brand I'm currently using for Red Clover.

Curcumin is a compound found in Turmeric and is considered a natural steroid. It is a highly anti-inflammatory supplement that reduces pain and swelling. Curcumin is the active ingredient in the traditional herbal remedy and dietary spice turmeric (Curcuma longa). Curcumin has a surprisingly wide range of beneficial properties, including anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, chemopreventive and chemotherapeutic activity.  

One thing to consider however, is turmeric can be difficult to absorb.  A way around this is enteric coating. An enteric coating is a barrier applied to oral medication that controls the location in the digestive system where it is absorbed

Other studies of turmeric and curcumin have shown the following benefits:
  • Turmeric extract worked as well as a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug for treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee in a study published in the August 2009 issue of the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.
  • Laboratory studies suggest that curcumin acts as a weak phytoestrogen and seems to have cancer protective effects.
  • Lab studies have also shown that curcumin induces programmed death of colon cancer cells, and clinical trials are investigating the use of curcumin in treatment of colon cancer.
  • Curcumin suppresses microinflammation in the GI tract associated with inflammatory bowel disease.
Neither curcumin nor turmeric taken orally is well absorbed unless taken with black pepper or piperine, a constituent of black pepper responsible for its pungency. When shopping for supplements, make sure that the one you choose contains black pepper extract or piperine. (If you're cooking with turmeric, be sure to add some black pepper to the food.). Be patient when taking turmeric supplements: the full benefits may not be apparent for eight weeks.

I think I am going to test out Dong Quai as the alternative and see how she makes out with that. I also am going to ask my vet if he knows of any alternatives to getting her fast relief if something like this should happen again when they are not open.

If anyone has tried anything else, please let me know.