In addition to the pharmaceuticals: amitriptyline (anti-depressant that's supposed to help with nervous peeing incidents) & buprenorphine (the narcotic pain killer - which we've reduced the dose to just over half of what he was getting) as well as the curcumin & omega 3 supplements that I wrote about before, we've been trying out a few other herbal/natural remedies that seem to be helping him.
Before I go into the details, I just wanted to offer my general thoughts & mixed feelings on the whole topic of holistic medicine.
The basic concept of holistic medicine, as I understand it, is that rather than simply trying to "fix the problem" directly as traditional medicine does, you try to get the body to heal itself. So the idea is to support and encourage the body's natural healing abilities. This part I'm totally on board with.
Holistic practitioners use a variety of different therapies to achieve this goal. One is herbal and natural supplements. This idea makes complete sense to me since most pharmaceutics are actually derived from natural substances anyhow.
The problem is that since naturally occurring substances cannot be patented, there is very little rigorous research done to assess their effectiveness, side effects, etc. Nevertheless, I do believe these are avenues worth pursuing.
But then there's the whole concept of homeopathic medicine.
Homeopathy takes the stance that "disease symptoms" are really signs of health because they are the visible side effects of the body's own healing process. I can sorta see that.
So, in an attempt to help the body along in terms of healing, homeopathy seeks natural substances that, when administered will mimic the "disease symptom" and thereby increase the body's natural healing tendencies.
OK... this part starts to sound a bit iffy to me. I mean in certain circumstances I can see that working - like a fever is the body's natural way of raising the temperature to a point where many viruses and bacteria cannot live, so it might make sense to assist the body in raising its temperature.
But in general, this whole concept sort of seems to violate a very basic scientific precept: correlation is not causation. In other words, just because two phenomenon are seen simultaneously, does not mean that one caused the other. So I think it's a pretty big leap to assume that mimicking the symptom will somehow increase the body's healing mechanism.
But... we're not done yet - here's where it starts to go a bit off the deep end.
Once a substance has been found that is able to mimic the body's naturally occurring symptoms, this substance is taken and watered down to the point where it is no longer scientifically detectable.
Then this solution that been watered down to the point that it has so little of the "active ingredient" that it cannot be shown to be there, is what is actually administered to the patient. They say it is the "memory" or "essence" of the the substance that does the work.
OK, at this point, you totally lose me. Seriously, it seems to me that all you're really doing at that point is giving a placebo - and the whole idea that the "essence" of the substance somehow remains makes all sorts of warning bells go off in my head.
Anyhoo... suffice it to say that when it comes to holistic medicine, herbal cures make complete sense to me but homeopathy strikes me as a bit, um... unlikely to have any effect. So, after that lengthy introduction, here are the things we're currently using.
The first is a product called Tinkle Tonic.
It's made from a variety of herbs including couchgrass, and it's supposed to help cats with urinary problems. Many people who have cats suffering from cystitis have reported almost miraculous results with this stuff.
In addition to just generally having to pee more frequently than normal, Sputnik's been suffering from these little "episodes" where his urethra gets irritated and he just goes into frantic peeing mode. So while I wouldn't expect it to have any effect on the tumor, but we tried it out in hopes that it might ease some of the irritation he experiences.
I wasn't expecting miracles, but I have to say that this stuff has really helped him. It has all but eliminated those frantic peeing episodes, so I'm very pleased. A few of its ingredients do have a bit of a diuretic quality, so it's made him have to pee a bit more frequently, but all in all, I think it's a good trade-off.
The other product we're trying is something called Essiac tea.
OK, I've gotta admit that my first reaction to hearing about this stuff was that it was a bunch of hooey. I mean really, an herbal tea that can cure cancer? Sounds like hype to me.
But, the interwebs are full of accounts of people using this tea with great success to treat both malignant and benign tumors, and my former vet swears by it.
And while the vast majority of the studies on this stuff are aimed at disproving claims that Essiac cures cancer, but I did manage to find a few studies indicating that it might slow tumor growth or even shrink tumors in size.
Since the worst side effect I could find was that several of Essiac's ingredients can have a laxative effect (which would be a good thing for Sputty since he's suffering from constipation and is on a stool softener anyhow) I figured we didn't have much to lose, and we decided to give it a try. Plus, oddly enough, he sorta seems to like taking it.
Without subjecting him to another ultrasound (which I'm not gonna do) it's a bit hard to say if it's having any effect, but he does seem to be feeling better in general. He's been more active and playful since we started the Essiac - even climbing up on the table when he smells his favorite treat! He's also been spending more time in my lap or cuddling in bed with me rather than just sleeping in his bed or in the linen closet (his favorite spot) all the time.
Sooo... I guess time will tell, but at the moment he seems to be doing well and feeling better, and I think that's all that really matters! Anyhow, that's the Sputter Report for the moment!
So tell me, what do you think about the whole concept of using unproven methods for medical treatment? Do you think I'm crazy with the Essiac tea, or do you think it's worthwhile?