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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.

  • 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).

  • 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.

  • Platelet rich plasma or PRP is a form of regenerative medicine where the platelet and protein fraction of blood is retrieved from a patient and then injected back into the patient at the site of inflammation. PRP contains growth factors that appear to promote tissue regeneration and reduce inflammation. It is a promising field of research and may help with wound healing and osteoarthritis. The procedure is not yet widely available and should only be performed by a veterinarian with special training in this area.

  • Probiotics are dietary supplements that contain normal, potentially beneficial bacteria and yeasts. The currently adopted definition of a probiotic by the FAO/WHO (the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization and the World Health Organization) is: "Live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host".

  • Stem cells are unspecialized cells that are capable of renewing themselves though cell division. Under certain conditions, they can become a specific tissue or organ cell. Stem cell therapy commonly refers to the process of placing stem cells from the body into diseased or damaged tissues, such as a torn ligament in the knee or perhaps an arthritic joint. This process is often referred to as regenerative medicine. Adult stem cells are capable of repair and regeneration of various tissues because they have the potential to differentiate into specialized cells of an organ. The most common use of stem cell therapies has been in the treatment of osteoarthritis in dogs and cats. Currently, there are no current guidelines with respect to stem cell therapy. Stem therapy should only be performed by a veterinarian with special training, who understands the benefits and limits of this therapy. It is important to have realistic expectations as positive outcomes cannot be guaranteed.