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THE MOO NEWS

Newsletter of Penn Dutch Cow Care                         June 2003

  Hi Folks,

            This month I’d like to talk about different medical approaches because of my strong interest in trying to treat conditions with other than relying only on antibiotics, hormones and steroids.

            But before I do, I need to make a correction from a previous newsletter. It was pointed out by the management at Horizon that they allow their certified organic farmers to use whatever is approved and on the national List. This means that Horizon producers are allowed to use oxytocin in emergency situations.

            Also, there was a bit of misunderstanding from last month’s nutritional tips. I do not promote feeding 20 lbs of grain a day - that was from Penn State . Most of you feed about 10-14 lbs at most, which seems very reasonable.

            Another item I wanted to bring to your attention is that Pinkeye season is upon us. Usually it hits youngstock that are out on pasture, but it can hit lactating cows as well. Last year many lactating cows in one particular herd came down with severe pinkeye. Even after antibiotic-steroid injections into individual eyes (only to be done by a vet!), the response was poor. However, after some e-mail communication on my dairy vet listserv (AABP-L), I was informed of a pinkeye vaccine that acts to prevent infection and control actual cases. So we used MAXI-GUARD in that herd and it stopped the pinkeye dead in its tracks. I would recommend this particular brand to anyone as the results were ‘eye-opening’J. Prevention is always best, but having a non-antibiotic cure to an infectious process is always welcome in my thinking.

            Since the vast majority of my clients enjoy using natural treatments (either to avoid withholding milk or because they are certified organic), I would like to talk about the backgrounds of some different medical approaches to illness. Imagine for a moment what doctors used prior to the discovery of antibiotics, steroids and hormones. I don’t mean hundreds of years ago; I’m talking back to even just before World War II (60 years ago). People and animals—primarily livestock—were definitely being treated with various substances, mainly natural but some based on ‘coal-tar’ (petroleum) products. Up until about 1860, methods were very crude—lots of blood-letting, use of mercury (quicksilver) and the like, and no sound reasoning for a lot of treatments. In the mid-1800’s, there was a lot of rebellion against the very crude and cruel practices that the “Old School” had long promoted. A newer class of doctor emerged, one who had more compassion for the patient and much dislike for the Old School (allopathic) doctors still entrenched in the barbaric methods. There actually co-existed various medical schools across this country, each with its own philosophy or doctrine, but all took the same exams to become professionally licensed during the later 1800’s. There was the Old School (or “Regular” School as it called itself) which used strong purgatives, induced sweats, and cathartics; there was the Eclectic school which used anything available to help cure patients but based itself strongly in plant tinctures and fluid extracts; there was the Homeopathic school which used highly diluted and energized remedies to help stimulate the patient to cure itself; there were the Osteopathic and Chiropractic schools which based much of their therapies on the correct alignment of the skeletal anatomy. In all schools - even the “Regular”/conventional school - antibiotics, hormones and steroids were unknown. So what was being used on such things as pneumonia, fever, sepsis, mastitis and other infections? Basically, plant and mineral medicines, antitoxins, and vaccines were used. The main differences between the schools were how they were used. In addition, the “Regular”/conventional school tended to prescribe at a named disease (i.e. pneumonia, mastitis) whereas the Eclectic and Homeopathic schools prescribed for specific symptoms (inflammation in udder with fever and not eating) with not much care as to the actual name of the disease. While the Eclectics and Homeopaths both aimed to identify a specific remedy which would exactly work upon the specific symptoms, the Homeopathic school believed in highly diluted remedies that would give the similar symptom picture if used in actual material amounts while the Eclectics believed in directly opposing the symptoms with remedies used in small but real material amounts. The Regular school used plant medicines in full strength and relied on the official USP standards to know how much of an active ingredient a crude plant drug would deliver. This was in contrast to the Eclectics which desired to use a crude plant drug as is (fluidextract or tincture), in order to keep together all the plant’s ingredients for a more complete approach  - the term ‘holistic’ did not exist yet. Dosimetric medications were halfway between the Regular and Eclectic approach—active ingredients from plants were purified but used in small yet quantifiable amounts and frequently administered.

            My own methods used to treat cows are eclectic—whatever it takes—I.V. fluids, obstetric manipulations, homeopathic remedies for fertility, surgery for twisted stomach, and increasingly the use of plant tinctures/fluidextracts for internal medicine needs. As I read more in the Eclectic medical literature of 1890 -1940, I find it reflects my own approaches and long-held thoughts very closely. The Eclectic school mainly used tinctures/fluidextracts and Specific Medication but also used homeopathic remedies in low potency and even mercury at times. Finding an effective, happy medium is what I’m striving for- addressing disease on the functional/organ level as well as the energetic level. And as there is more and more regulation regarding withholding times of standard drugs (for example, flunixin/Banamine is 72 hour milk withholding now for conventional dairies), the need for effective alternatives to relieve fever and inflammation continues to grow. It is truly fascinating seeing the universe of medicines that were formerly used. They were discarded only because cheap synthetics were developed, not because they themselves didn’t have value. Indeed, many synthetics were developed from the active compounds found in plants. If used wisely, we can draw upon the medicines which God originally granted to us in plants. Nowadays, most practitioners unfortunately use only but a handful of synthetically prepared pharmaceutical drugs. And these are relied on heavily—especially the hormones used for fertility synchronization programs.

            As I delve more and more into the Eclectic approach, I will probably keep asking how various treatments worked. It is critical to sort out when a treatment has truly caused a cure from that of an animal self-curing from “tincture of time”. As long as an animal is alive, self-cure is always possible (except when the vitality is too low or when an irreversible change has occurred). I believe sorting out a true cure from wishful thinking to be extremely important in being able to justify future or continued use of certain treatments. Obviously, mixing current scientific knowledge of illness with all available medical approaches to potential cure - whether plant-based, homeopathic, acupuncture or synthetic pharmaceuticals - seems the wisest approach to give the best care for individual cows.

 

For Bovinity Health, information on functional alternatives to antibiotics see:
www.bovinityhealth.com

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