As our Pets age, they naturally lose the ability to properly maintain joint health, the ability to produce compounds like Glucosamine and Chondroitin that are essential for healthy joints is lessened and with a reduction in metabolism and exercise tolerance, muscle mass decreases and in turn, circulation to those muscles decreases too. All of these factors together make it important to supplement older Dogs diets with something to combat the degradation of the muscle and synovial (joint) tissues. This is where the final Proflax product I am writing about comes into play. Proflax’s Bone and Joint supplement is a 100% natural alternative to the more common synthetic supplement options. The blend contains a 20% preparation that contains 6 Powerful Herbs, 3 of which are Adaptogenic (more on adaptogens here), all working in synergy to promote healthy cardiovascular function, reduce inflammation, protect cellular function and reduce oxidative damage. A must-have addition to the diet of an older, very active or recovering Dog!
The Herbs used in this formula are:
- Centella Asiatica
Commonly known as Ashwagandha or Rennet, Withania Root has antibacterial properties and is an Adaptogen. Withania has been used as a staple herb in Ayurvedic preparations for centuries. It has been shown to reduce Cortisol levels associated with Stress and Anxiety in humans and has had its anti-stress adaptogenic properties elucidated using modern study methods. It has also been shown to have Anti-tumor, Anti-inflammatory, Anti-Convulsive, Immunosuppressive, Antioxidant and Cardioprotective properties. It has been shown to have a protective effect against Collagen deterioration in cases of Arthritis due to its inhibition of inflammatory compounds that would otherwise begin the Catabolic breakdown of Collagen, Cartilage and other synovial tissues.
Ginger has been used in culinary and herbal preparations for centuries. Most commonly used as an Anti-Emetic for Morning Sickness, Travel Sickness and Post-operative Vomiting, it also contains Polyphenols, Tannins and Flavonoids – all shown to have Antioxidant and Anti-inflammatory properties. Ginger contains high levels of B-Carotene (a Precursor to Vitamin A), Vitamin C, Iron, Copper, Zinc, Chromium, Calcium and Manganese. Ginger has been shown to inhibit the production of inflammatory Eicosanoids produced via the COX inflammatory pathways, these Eicosanoids are generally created from Arachidonic Acid (an Omega-6 fatty acid), by inhibiting the conversion of these fatty acids, Ginger indirectly increases the availability of Fatty acids in the bloodstream, allowing them to be used to maintain healthy joint and cardiovascular function.
Another Adaptogenic Spice, taken from the roots of Curcuma Longa – a herbaceous perennial plant belonging to the Ginger Family, has been used for over 3000 years in Ayurvedic medicine as an anti-inflammatory compound, in the last 25 years scientists have tried to elucidate the different compounds that convey medicinal benefits, at that time, as many as 133 different species of Curcuma have been identified across the globe. During those studies, 3000 or so of which have made it to published literature, over 100 compounds have been identified, of those, Curcuminoids give Turmeric its distinct colour and have been shown to possess Antioxidant properties. Turmeric is traditionally used as a medicine for Rheumatoid Arthritis, Chronic Anterior Uveitis, Conjunctivitis, Skin Cancer, Smallpox, Chicken Pox, Wound Healing, UTI’s, Liver Ailments, Digestive Disorders, Reducing Flatulence, Jaundice, Menstrual Difficulties, Colic, Abdominal Pain and Distension. Overall, Turmeric has Anti-inflammatory, AntiCancer, Antimutagenic, Choleretic, Antimicrobial and Carminative properties.
In a recent study, Curcuminoids have been shown to prevent Bone loss associated with Osteoporosis. Females are at higher risk than Males for developing Osteoporosis due to the Hormone changes that occur after the menopause or after a Hysterectomy. Vitamin D and Calcium deficiencies can also lead to Osteoporosis. As both Estrogen and Testosterone are directly linked to Bone density maintenance, any Herb or Spice that has an adaptogenic effect on the Endocrine system is likely to inhibit the development of Osteoporosis. Curcuminoids protective effect on Bone density does not utilize Hormone-based pathways and as such may be more effective at protecting Bone density than many pharmaceutical alternatives that do. Curcumin, in particular, has been found to have many protective effects against multiple kinds of Bone degradation associated with Cancers, Tumors, Osteoporosis and Osteoarthritis.
The properties of Turmeric, its components and the mechanisms behind their actions are so widespread and well understood due to a large number of studies performed in the last 25 years, the supporting literature is so vast I would need a standalone post to properly explain and go into enough depth detail with suitable referencing. For anybody that would like further reading with supporting published literature, see here!
Dandelion has been known to possess Antioxidant, Diuretic and Hepatoprotective properties since the early 1800’s, it has been used in traditional Chinese, Indian and Russian medicine for centuries as a Liver Tonic and traditional Chinese medicine combines it with other Herbs and Spices to treat Hepatitis, improve the immune response to Respiratory tract infections, Bronchitis and Pneumonia and as poultice to treat Mastitis. Some Herbalists recommend Dandelion to prevent Atherosclerosis (a disease in which Plaque builds up on the walls of Arteries, narrowing the Artery and causing an increase in blood pressure).
Dandelion has been extensively studied for its medicinal uses some of the proven benefits are:
Cholagogue – Cholagogue means to increase bile secretion from the Liver and Gallbladder into the Duodenum, purging it from the system. In a French study, it was shown that a decoction of Dandelion Roots doubled the studied Dogs Bile production.
Antiangiogenic – Antiangiogenic means to prevent the formation of new blood cells, this effect is especially useful in Tumor growth prevention as it inhibits the production of blood cells by the tumour, effectively starving it over time.
Anti-inflammatory – Dandelion extract made using Ethanol inhibits the COX-2 inflammatory pathway and inhibits the production of Nitric Oxide, both are well known and researched as inflammatory mediators and are targets of many Pharmaceutical Anti-inflammatory Drugs.
Anti-oxidant – Dandelion Flowers possess a wide range of Phytochemicals that work in Synergy to scavenge reactive oxygen species (ROS) from the bloodstream, exerting a potent Anti-oxidant effect, protecting cell DNA from Oxidative Damage.
Centella Asiatica, also known as Gotu Kola, is an Adaptogenic Herb. Widely used throughout history in Ayurvedic Medicine as a blood purifier, for treating high blood pressure, memory enhancement, as a CNS and Brain cell revitalizer, Anti-depressant and for treatment of skin conditions such as Leprosy, Eczema, Lupus, Varicose Ulcers, Psoriasis, Fever, Amenorrhea and Diarrhoea, it has also historically been used to treat Anxiety, female Genitourinary tract diseases and improve cognition.
Wound Healing: Centella Asiatica extracts have been shown to increase Cellular proliferation at wound sites, improve Collagen synthesis (in turn increasing Skin tensile strength), Asiaticoside (an active constituent) has been shown to increase Collagen formation and Angiogenesis, it has also been shown to inhibit the inflammatory processes associated with hypertrophy in scars and improve Capillary permeability. In one study the Antioxidant effects of Asiaticoside in the initial stages of wound healing was investigated, concluding that it exhibited different effects at different stages of wound healing.
Venous Insufficiency: One of the effects of Centella Asiatica is to strengthen weakened Veins, in turn leading to an improvement in connective tissue maintenance, it was shown to have a stabilising effect on connective tissue growth by stimulating the formation Hyaluronidase and Chondroitin Sulfate (both extremely important in the maintenance of Joints, Cartilage and Synovial Fluids). It was also reported to act on the Connective tissues in the walls of Veins and Arteries, improving circulation.
Sedative and Anxiolytic: In Eastern cultures, Centella Asiatica has been used as a Central Nervous System depressant, lending to its sedative properties. It’s Anxiolytic (Anti-Anxiety) properties are in part due to modulating the release of several Hormones implicated in Anxiety, Nociception (the sensory nervous systems response to harmful or potentially harmful stimuli), Memory and Hunger.
Anti-depressant: Centella Asiatica has a range of Terpenoid substances (the substances that lend to the smell and taste of plants, fruit and vegetables by activation of various sensory nervous system receptors), these have been shown to Modulate the Amino Acid levels in Brain Tissues, primarily in the Cerebral Cortex, Hippocampus and Thalamus.
Antiepileptic: Centella Asiatica has been shown to prevent Cognitive impairment associated with seizures, protect against increases in intra-cranial electric stimulations (commonly associated with Epilepsy) and Chemo-Convulsions. It has also been shown to protect against Convulsions and seizures. the findings of various studies suggest its use as an adjuvant to epilepsy medication can have Neuroprotective effects, further adding to its use as an Antioxidant and CNS depressant.
Cognitive Improvement: Cognitive impairment in humans with Alzheimer's has been linked to an increase in Free Radical compounds within the Brain and Increases in Beta Amyloid Plaques. In Dogs, a disorder called Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD) is closely related to Alzheimer's as they share the same root cause of symptoms – a buildup of Beta Amyloid Plaques in the brain. Centella Asiatica compounds have been shown to increase the levels of important Brain Antioxidants like Glutathione that decrease with age. Some of the Compounds within Centella Asiatica have been shown to inhibit the formation of Beta Amyloid Plaques and inhibit Free radical-induced Cell oxidisation, exhibiting a Neuroprotective effect.
Gastric Ulcer Prevention/Treatment: Centella Asiatica, through the strengthening of the Gastric Mucosal barrier (intestinal Wall mucosa) has a protective effect against Ulcer formation and through the active constituents useful in wound healing, increases the healing rate of Gastric Ulcers.
Antiinflammatory: Centella Asiatica, through an active constituent called Madecassoside, has been shown to reduce inflammation in Collagen-induced Arthritis and have a protective effect against Joint Destruction. It has been shown to prevent the infiltration of Inflammatory Cells into Synovial Fluids. Madecassoside has been implicated as the major active compound responsible for regulating the Abnormal Humoral and Cellular Immunity.
For thousands of years (since Babylonian times) Liquorice has been used to aid in Digestive disorders, provide respiratory relief, treat depression and Chronic Inflammatory conditions such as Rheumatoid Arthritis and to strengthen the Liver and Kidneys. It has Hepatoprotective, Anti-inflammatory, Anti-depressant, Anti-viral and Antioxidant properties. It is also classed as an Adaptogen due to its ability to modulate the stress hormone Cortisol.
Digestive Aid: Liquorice root has a range of Antacid compounds that are known to relieve heartburn, indigestion, stomach and intestinal ulcers, acid reflux and is useful in managing symptoms of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). It essentially coats the Digestive tract with a mucous layer, protecting the walls and decreasing recovery time from damage/injury. Due to also being a potent Diuretic and a mild Laxative in higher doses, it can also help in reducing Bloating, water retention and Constipation.
Respiratory support: Liquorice has been shown to increase the Mucous production throughout the Bronchial System, contrary to logical thought (that an increase of mucus production would be detrimental to respiratory function), the production of fresh, healthy Phlegm actually has a protective effect against contracting viruses that cause respiratory illness and can reduce Lung spasms associated with coughs and colds.
Hepatoprotective: One of the active compounds in Liquorice root – Glycyrrhizin – is a potent free radical scavenger, especially in the Liver and has been found to prevent damage from Alcohol and over the counter painkillers. Liquorice is also effective against the Virus that causes Hepatitis, in turn reducing Hepatitis related inflammation of the Liver.
Antidepressant: Liquorice has been found to have 8 different Antidepressant compounds, known as Monoamine Oxidase. One of the most potent is Glycyrrhizin, responsible for breaking down Cortisol – the stress hormone, some of the others are Isoflavan and Isoflavene – both have been shown to be effective at treating all types of depression.
Anti-inflammatory: Glycyrrhizic Acid is a fraction of Glycyrrhizin and is partially responsible for the multi-faceted Anti-inflammatory actions of Liquorice. It exhibits its effects through inhibition of Pro-inflammatory mediators such as the COX-2 pathway, Interleukin-6, Interleukin-1, Tumor necrosis factor and Nitric Oxide Synthase.
With all of the above in mind, this formulation is bursting with stress relieving, circulation promoting, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and organ protecting compounds. A great supplement for any older, active or convalescing Dog.