Acupuncture, herbal remedies and diet adaptation are my basic tools to treat skin issues while simultaneously addressing the root and branches. But this spring I have had more reason to dabble with topicals than before – all thanks to Tub, my 4-legged trouble-maker extraordinaire, having once again, his annual allergy ordeal when the spring wind and sprinkles awaken the blooming season.
His pattern is that he would start with a yeast infection in his ears (he has very narrow and wrinkly ear canals like the Sharpei), then he starts rubbing his face along side the couch, my bed, a rug, and even the flagstone outside. He would scratch like he had helicopter blades for his hind legs, and he would gnaw and lick until he is hairless on his paws and his underside. It could all happen within a week. We would rush to visit our kind Dr. Kranch, get a bottle of anti-fungal ear drops (and a few liver treats during the visit), an antihistamine, and an antibiotic.
It’s been very tricky restoring a healthy balance of natural flora and fauna on this temporarily semi-hairless creature, who is now exhausted from itching, anxiety and also from processing all the foreign substances (allergens and medications alike) around him and inside of him. After a few years of watching this cycle, I conceded that the drops and the pills were not sufficient or they were not entirely “right.”
I wanted to help him, and I tried Chinese herbal medicine, western herbal medicine, homeopath remedies, and doing acupuncture on him. For Tub, he reacted most positively with homeopathy – it calmed him and stopped the itching, though the duration was short. Observing that his itching is compounded by his anxiety and also from new skin growth (healing), I realized that it is very important to reduce his anxiety level and to speed up the healing of the skin, not only to prevent secondary infection, but as a way to stop the itching.
Inspired by that and finally gaining some insight on “what” was missing in the treatment, I made a topical gel that would stop his itching, heal his lesion and calm his anxiety in a wholesome way. Knowing that despite the comfort cone and the socks that he wears to keep him from opening new skin, this contortion artist can still get to some part of his body, I made the gel from completely edible and organic plant tinctures and aloe vera gel. I strengthened the healing and calming qualities by incorporating two homeopath remedies and a trace amount of essential oils. By applying it to his skin once or twice a day after wiping him down with a warm, moist towel, he got a respite after each “treatment,” and within a week, his underside was covered with soft new fur.
The gel is a good product not only for pets but children and adults who suffer from allergic reaction on the skin, small cuts and/or itchy, hot spots. It’s very effective (anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal, healing and calming), yet gentle, and I’m really proud of how it turned out, and how much it helped him. Now that Tub is much better with the warmer weather and not using the gel much any more (until next year?), I found myself reaching for it whenever I got a mosquito bite more than for the lavender essential oil!
As much as I work with patients on a daily basis, it’s very easy to get caught up by the linear mindset of cause and effect of only the tangibles. Treating the root and alleviating the symptoms is not always obvious. My dog reminded me the importance of alleviating the anxiety in patients in his own way.
[“Tubber Rub” is for sale at the clinic. 1oz jar is $10, sales tax included]