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Alternative Therapies

  • An antioxidant is any compound, whether vitamin, mineral, nutraceutical, or herb that protects against cellular damage from reactive oxygen species, including free radicals, single oxygen atoms and hydrogen peroxide. Some of the more well-known antioxidants include ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), alpha-tocopherol (Vitamin E), beta-carotene, and enzymes such as catalase, superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase.

  • Chondroitin sulfate is the major glycosaminoglycan (GAGS - see separate article found in this series) found in cartilage. It promotes water retention and elasticity in the cartilage, helping to ensure adequate shock absorption and adequate nourishment of the tissues that line the joint.

  • Coenzyme Q-10 (CoQ-10, CoQ10 or ubiquinone) exists in abundance in every human and animal body. It is an essential component of the mitochondria, which are the parts of the cell that produce energy from oxygen.

  • Colostrum is the antibody-rich fluid produced from the mother's mammary glands during the first day or two after birth. It contains a number of antibodies and growth factors, which young animals and humans can absorb intact for the first couple of days following birth.

  • Most omega fatty acid supplements are made primarily from fish oil or flax seed oil (see the separate handouts on these products in this series), although some products may include other oils such as evening primrose oil, hemp oil, or borage oil.

  • Most commercially available fish oils are derived from coldwater fish, primarily menhaden, but also salmon and trout. These oils are rich in the Omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

  • Also called linseed oil, flax seed oil is derived from the seeds of the flax plant and has been proposed as a more aesthetically pleasing alternative to fish oil supplements (which may impart a fishy smell to the breath or skin). Flax Seed oil contains higher levels of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) than fish oil, and also contains omega-6 fatty acids.

  • Glucosamine is arguably the most commonly used nutraceutical in the world. Medical and veterinary practitioners who avoid alternative medicine in general will still frequently prescribe glucosamine, usually as treatment for osteoarthritis and degenerative joint disease.

  • Glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) are complex molecules composed of proteins and sugars, and are found in a variety of bodily tissues, including the blood plasma, joints, and the mucosal (mucous membrane) lining of a variety of organs, including the gastrointestinal tract and the bladder. Various compounds exist. Heparan and dermatan coat the urinary tract of cats while glucosamine and chondroitin constitute the major GAGs in the joint.

  • MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) is a natural anti-inflammatory and analgesic (pain killing) product. It is produced when DMSO (dimethylsulfoxide) is oxidized, but is also found in small quantities in horsetail (Equisetum sp.), milk, fruits, vegetables, and grains.