Hyperthyroidism in Cats

QUESTION: Your article in the latest issue of Spirit Seeker could not be more timely! My sweet Alex Cat has been diagnosed with hyperthyroidism. I am seeing Dr. Schaefer — who does provide chiropractic and acupuncture treatments, but the “disease” is causing an extremely high heart rate. He has put him on Tupazok (drug) and Emperors Tea (Chinese herb) and is leaning toward removing the thyroid — not my preference for a number of reasons, especially his age (14). Do you have any recommendations or success stories from clients with similar challenges?

ANSWER: I cannot find anything in my books specifically about hyperthyroidism for cats (or any animal) but quite often herbs used for human conditions are successfully used for animals. I really cannot advise you about the following herbal suggestions because you need to evaluate if the drug and herb you are already using is helping and to what degree is it helping. I do not know what Emperors Tea is and I don’t know what action it provides. You will need to decide if adding to or changing this treatment is wise. After reading the following information I would certainly be willing to discuss more of the details with you.

Bugleweed is suggested for mild hyperthyroidism in the German Commission E Monographs. I like the information from this source because it is all scientifically documented. They do warn against using this herb for hypofunction and enlargement of the thyroid without functional disorders. I rare cases, extended therapy and high dosages of bugleweed have resulted in an enlargement of the thyroid. Sudden discontinuation of Bugleweed preparations can cause increased symptoms of the disease complex. It can also interfere with diagnostic procedures using radioactive isotopes. The most important consideration for you is that Bugleweed is contraindicated with simultaneous administration of thyroid preparations (drugs).

Authors Diane Stein and Juliette de Bairacli Levy recommend the herbsHawthorn Berry and Rosemary Leaf for regulating the heart. Stein says thatHawthorne is the traditional herb for strengthening the heart and reducing blood pressure. Levy recommends Rosemary Leaf tea with honey as her main herbal for heart dis-ease and heart weakness in dogs and cats. She uses one level teaspoon of honey to every tablespoon of infused tea. I’m not sure that descriptions like strengthening the heart and reducing blood pressure exactly fit your cat’s condition but I do know that tonic type herbs, which these both are, have general regulating effects. Herbs generally balance the system. One herb can have several actions and much of the time a particular action of an herb that is not needed, is disregarded by the body. This is an example of the infinite wisdom and synergy between the plant world and the human body.

Nelly Grosjean, naturopathic doctor and internationally respected aromatherapist, uses Neroli or Petitgrain essential oils as a tranquilizer and cardiotonic. For cats she advises to never apply essential oils to their coat or skin for this use but you could place one drop on their tongue or diffuse into the air. For an intense treatment she recommends to place a diffuser in a large box for 5 minutes, remove the diffuser and place the cat in the box for 5 minutes.

Diane Stein also recommends vitamins and minerals for aiding normal heart function. She mentions calcium, magnesium, potassium and vitamin E. Specific dosages and forms would apply to small creatures such as cats and she gives quite a lot of detail about this in her book. Interestingly she writes that manganese is necessary for normal function of the pituitary gland which regulates all the other glands.

It is believed that natural treatment affecting a gland or the entire glandular system will have far reaching benefits to a particular gland in distress. Herbal treatments even to other organs such as kidney and liver, have had beneficial effects on particular glands.

Sometimes a very broad herbal approach directed toward strengthening the whole system, can either reduce or stimulate glandular activity. David Hoffmann suggests the use of bitter, alterative and blood and liver cleansing herbs for glandular problems. He reminds us to remember to view everything within the context of the whole. I really like his advice!

The books by the authors I have mentioned are:

Hoffmann, David. The Complete Illustrated Holistic Herbal. Shaftsbury, Dorsett: Element Books. 1996.

Stein, Diane. Natural Healing for Dogs & Cats. Freedom, CA: The Crossing Press. 1993.

Grosjean, Nelly. Aromatherapy, Essential Oils for your Health. Graveson en Provence: Vie’ Arôme. 1992 

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