- Extracted from the stem of the pineapple, this product contains at least
eight different protein-digesting enzymes. Besides its ability to aid digestion,
Bromelain appears to inhibit the synthesis of the E2 prostaglandins (pro-inflammatory)
as seen in arthritic conditions. Clinical trials have shown it to be effective
in reducing swelling and pain due to injury as well as enhanced healing after
surgery. , Recent studies have assessed its ability to reduce the size of
malignant tumors and it has also been evaluated for its antihelmetic activity
against roundworms. Current use of bromelain is for preventative nutrition
for the geriatric dog and in glandular therapy.
(Allium sativum liliaceae) - Garlic is common in most kitchens as a flavor
enhancer. It figures prominently in both western and eastern herbal medicine
and is making its way into the mainstream of western medicine. In Europe,
garlic is approved for cardiovascular conditions in humans with high cholesterol
and triglyceride levels. It contains a wide array of sulfur-containing compounds
(over 100) that have potential health enhancing benefits. Garlic oil contains
allicin; this is subsequently converted by the digestive enzyme allinase to
allicin. This compound, like so many others which contain sulfur, is thought
have many antibiotic, immune enhancing and anti-cancer properties due to their
antioxidant capabilities. As a natural antibiotic, garlic is remarkably potent,
so potent, in fact that one milligram of allicin is equal in effectiveness
to 15 standard units of penicillin against a fairly wide range of bacteria.
Garlic also prevents platelet adhesion and has a therapeutic effect on serum
cholesterol levels and blood pressure and helps to maintain aortic elasticity.
Garlic and ginger may have synergistic effects, and a combination of garlic
and ginger has been shown to be effective in reducing blood glucose and serum
(Zingiber officinale Rose) - The health benefits of ginger seem to stem from
its antioxidant ability. However, it is best known for its ability to aid
digestion. It is thought tostimulate digestion by improving intestinal muscle
tone, initiating bile secretion and soothing nausea. It also contains several
proteolytic (digestive) enzymes. Ginger snaps or cystalized ginger, given
a half hour before a car ride, will often preventmotion sickness in dogs.
Ginger is common in Oriental medicine and is found in a significant number
of the standardized polyherbal preparations.
(Panax ginseng C.A. Meyer(Korean ginsing); Panax quinquefolius L(American
ginseng).; Panax schinseng Nees) - With fewer than a dozen species, the genus
Panax is not well understood, there exists white and red varieties with the
former considered to have a higher antioxidant activity. Among the active
ingredients are several central nervous system stimulating compounds and at
least one that has a sedating effect. Ginseng is probably the most heavily
researched herb in the world and numerous dog studies exist. Certainly, ginseng
is one of the most popular herbs of the Chinese, Korean, Russian and Japanese
medicinal traditions. In addition to it's antioxidant properties, it is thought
to spare glucose during exercise by promoting fatty acids as a favored fuel
source. Ginseng is classified as an adaptogen as it not only supports adrenal
function, assists in maintaining normal blood sugar and cholesterol levels,
but also increases overall resistance to stress and disease. Along with Vitamin
E, ginseng appears to counteract hepatic toxins and boosts the immune system
by promoting increased levels of helper T and natural killer cells. Animal
experiments have demonstrated that ginseng is an immunostimulant. , Ginseng
also stimulates protein synthesis in the liver, which effects that organs
ability to regenerate itself and can increase red blood cell mitosis in the
bone marrow. Paradoxically, even thought the active compounds of this herb
have a very low absorptivity, ginseng seems to alter the permeability of the
intestinal mucosa (lining which contains mucous secreting glands) and enhances
drug and nutrient absorption.
- Milk Thistle
(Silybum marianum (L.) Gaertn) - Also known as St.Mary thistle, lady's thistle
and holy thistle this plant is best known for its liver protective effects.
The most active ingredient, silymarin, appears to block uptake of toxins by
the liver and seems to be able to neutralize some toxins that have already
been absorbed. It is thought to stimulate new liver cell production by promoting
protein synthesis. Milk thistle acts like an antioxidant and is a free radicalscavenger
and several researchers have found it many times more potent an antioxidant
than Vitamin E. It promotes the immune system, but also inhibits the anti-inflammatory
response by stabilizing the cell membrane, much like Vitamin E. The two, Vitamin
E and milk thistle, taken together seem to have a synergistic effect.
(Ginko biloba L.) - This herb has been used medicinally for nearly 5,000 years,
but only recently has emerged in Europe as a billion dollar phytomedicinal.
Recent research has focused on its anti-inflammatory properties, especially
with regard to macular degeneration of the eye. It is especially effective
against degenerative neurological disorders that occur with age, i.e., Alzheimer's
disease and is thus becoming an important herbal medicine for geriatric patients.
Ginko prevents platelet aggregation and appears to improve circulation in
the brain and extremities. Humans who use this herb relate that it improves
their memory and their ability to concentrate.
(Vaccinium macrocarpon) - A native plant of North America with no known toxicities.
The fruit contains a variety of organic acids, some of which have antioxidant
properties. Often suggested for use in prevention and treatment of lower urinary
tract infections, it was thought towork because it acidified the urine; subsequent
research has shown its mode of action is to prevent adhesion of bacteria,
such as Escherichia coli, to the mucosal surfaces of the urinary tract. Blueberries
appear to exhibit similar effects.
(Rosmarinus officinalis) - Rosemary, best known as a spice and flavor enhancer,
is also an antioxidant. Along with sage, rosemary has the has the highest
antioxidant activity of any of the spices. The most active ingredient is a
phenolic compound called carnosic acid. Like Vitamin C and selenium, it has
the ability to 'recycle' Vitamin E, thus extending that vitamin's activity.
Components of rosemary extract have the potential to protect mouse liver and
stomach from carcinogenic or toxic agents, and may also have that property
in dogs. A great deal of research is being done with rosemary extract as a
lifelong supplement for the avoidance of various cancers.
extract (Calendula officinalis L.) - The marigold flower contains a carotenoid
(a plant pigment) with no Vitamin A activity but appears to have excellent
antioxidant possibilities. A great deal of research attention has been focused
on this compound, as it appears to ameliorate age related macular degeneration
of the eye. The same plant pigment is found in the green leafy vegetables
like spinach. Marigold extract has been approved in Europe for treatment of
slow-healing wounds, and the extract is also thought to prevent certain cancers.
- Yucca schidigera
extract - Although most commonly known for its ability to ameliorate fecal
aroma in both dogs and cats, the yucca plant appears to have a variety of
health benefits. This plant has a long history of safe food use by Native
Americans in the southwest United States and also in Mexico. Like ginseng,
it seems that yucca maybe improve permeability of intestinal mucosal cells
to improve nutrient absorption, but is itself poorly absorbed. The active
ingredients are a variety of saponins (plant surfactants) that may act as
a prebiotic in the colon where they are fermented by beneficial bacteria.
These plant fibers may effect cholesterol levels by stimulating bile acid
excretion and human studies indicate that both tryclyceride levels and blood
pressure is lowered by its use.
- Grape Seed
extract - The grape seed proanthocyanidins (GSP) are natural antioxidants
with a wide spectrum of pharmacological activity and which also protect cell
membranes from attack by free radicals. Free radicals are highly reactive
molecules in the body which can destroy tissues by oxidizing cell membrane
lipids and damaging DNA, the body's genetic material. Current research is
looking at its ability to inhibit tumor cell growth and inhibit replication
enzymes of HIV viruses. Not only does it inhibit tumor growth, but it seems
to ameliorate the effects of chemotherapy and exposure to cigarette smoke
- Glucosamine is a constituent of cartilage and appears to both stimulate
the synthesis of proteoglycans and inhibits their degredation. Proteoglycans
are a high molecular weight complex of protein and polymers of sugar which
are a component of structural tissues of vertebrates. Oral supplementation
appears to improve bone and joint health.
polynicotinate - This compound is a coordination complex (a metal ion
surrounded by several organic molecules) that seems to mimic the configuration
of a naturally-occurring substance called Glucose Tolerance Factor (GTF).
, Although first characterized in 1929, the significance of this molecule
was initially overlooked until Dr. Walter Mertz 'rediscovered' it in the 1960's
when he isolated a niacin-bound chromium complex from yeast extracts. GTE
facilitates the attachment of insulin to its receptor sites. The binding of
insulinthen leads to the increased uptake of glucose (blood sugar). In other
words, this molecule regulates blood sugar levels. This supplement is especially
useful for diabetics but is very effective in overcoming a condition called
insulin resistance which is often present in obese mammals. Insulin resistance
causes hyperinsulinemia which can increase the risk of heart disease and predisposes
one to diabetes mellitus. This why obesity is such a significant factor for
the onset of this disease.
- Obtained from the fruit rind of the Indian Garcinia cambogia tree, this
compound has been used for centuries by the people of South Asia as a flavor
enhancer, food preservative and to suppress the appetite. It is sometimes
used as a purgative in the treatment of intestinal worms and other parasites,
for tumors, for dysentery and for other digestive upsets. Much of the modern
research about its anti-obesity effects were undertaken by a pharmaceutical
company in an attempt to create a class of patentable synthetic anorectics.
It is not a CNS stimulant. Instead, its mode of action is to inhibit the activity
of an enzyme called ATP-citrate lyase. Without this enzyme, fatty acid cholesterol
synthesis is blocked becausecertain key components cannot be transported through
the cell membrane. Thus, excess calories are directed away from fat production
and towards glycogen (another form of glucose stored in the liver) production
and storage. This in turn produces a feeling of fullness and satiation. Eating
less will help prevent obesity if the dog has a normal metabolism.
- Omega-3 and
Omega-6 Fatty Acids - Commercial dog foods contain polyunsaturated fats
with both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Sources of omega-6 are: linoleic
acid from corn, safflower, sunflower, cottonseed and soy oils. Sources of
omega-3 are: alpha-linolenic acid from cold waterfish oils, whole fat flax.
The use of omega-3 enriched dietary products has become popular in the treatment
of inflammatory skin disorders. Dogs cannot convert one type of fatty acid
to another, so it is essential that certain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids
are available in the diet as they are essential for maintaining normal skin
structure and function. The optimal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 is between
5:1 and 10:1. "Supplementing a dog's regular diet with omega-3 fatty acids
may not be effective in decreasing inflammatory potential because the exact
quantities and ratio of fatty acids in the dog's regular diet are usually
not known. As a result it is very difficult to achieve an effective fatty
acid profile through supplementation." Numerous studies suggest that the omega-6:omega-3
ratio is more important that the quantity of essential fatty acids once basic
nutritional requirements have been met. Let us stress again that it is the
RATIO of these two fatty acids that is the mostimportant component. The proper
ratio diverts the production of inflammatory prostaglandins to the anti-inlammatory
products. If you are having problems with your dog's skin condition, you would
be better advised to try one of the veterinary diets with a controlled omega-6:omega-3
ratio than attempting to adjust the ratio through supplements.
Q 10 - To be accurate this product cannot be considered a food supplement.
Instead you must regard it a component of the dog's energy transduction system
(conversion of food into energy storage). When the body breaks down food,
it stores the inherent chemicalenergy in a high energy chemical bond. It does
this by passing electrons down a chain of proteins that are stored in the
membrane of tiny cells called mitochondria. During aging, the dog's ability
to maintain this process slows down but we are able to preserve this process
by supplementation with co-enzyme Q10. It is also especially effective for
immproving the immune response, an energy intensive process, and for cardiomyopathies.
While sources abound for information on supplements, we caution readers that
not all sources are reliable. The majority of the popular literature is suspect,
with little of it having scientific basis. With that caveat, we recognize most
western medicines have botanical origins and that nutrition is an essential
path to good health. Amongst the chaff, there are many grains of wheat. For
those looking into supplements, especially those in the "health food" category
for their pets, we recommend caution, and urge you to seek out those supplements,
such as listed in this article, which demonstratively have a scientific basis
for their claims. Supplements are not the way to compensate for a poor diet;
change the diet instead.