Cushing’s syndrome can be caused by different things. They can be either ACTH-dependent or ACTH-independent causes. The major cause in about 70% to 85% of cases is due to adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) dependent clauses. ACTH is a hormone that increases the levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the body. Hence, not surprising that our four-legged creatures get afflicted by this condition.
Cushing’s disease is due to an excess production of hormone from the outer part of the adrenal gland (ACTH). It is usually caused by a tumour in the adrenal gland or, more commonly, by a benign tumour located on the pituitary gland (which stimulates the adrenals).
The pituitary gland is the “boss”, so to speak, of the endocrine system. Its main responsibility is for producing hormones which control the various other endocrine glands in the body.
The growth of a tumour in either gland (pituitary or adrenal) causes an over-production of corticosteroid hormones which, when released into the system, produce symptoms such as hair loss. (Have in mind that the over-use of steroid drugs can have the same effect.) 80% of ACTH-dependent Cushing’s syndrome is caused by a tumour in the pituitary gland in the brain (pituitary adenomas) and about 20% are caused by tumours which secrete ACTH on other parts of the brain, or abnormally enlarged pituitary glands. These tumours will cause over-production of ACTH which will then stimulate the adrenal glands to produce too much cortisol which is responsible for much of what you see in Cushing’s syndrome.
The minor causes are ACTH-independent cause which makes about 15-20% of the cases. These are caused by tumours of the adrenal glands which can be adenomas (benign tumours) or carcinomas (malignant cancerous tumours). This will cause direct over-production of cortisol by the adrenal glands.
Cushing’s disease is a quite serious condition found in middle aged and elderly dogs and horses. The most obvious sign is usually hair loss where patches of skin are eventually exposed. However, Cushing’s can be misleading and is also commonly over-diagnosed. Typically, a combination of symptoms will be seen, some of which, also occur naturally with aging.
All suspected Cushing’s, whether in a horse or a dog, should be thoroughly investigated by a veterinarian. Thyroid problems and other skin conditions (if that is the most obvious sign) should be explored as well. Thyroid supplementation may be indicated as well. In fact, thyroid problems are often mistaken for Cushing’s.
Other symptoms (in both dogs and horses) can include sweating, weight loss (in spite of increased appetite), listlessness, increased intake of water, and anaemia. However, still the most recognizable symptom is hair loss.
One thing that is usually unique in Cushing’s disease is that there is usually an abnormally high level of the stress hormone cortisol which usually shows as unexplained obesity, fatty deposits on the shoulders which looks like buffalo humps and at times easy bruising on the skin.
Conventional medicines usually given to halt the disease aims to reduce the level of cortisol in the body and to reduce any gland tumour that may be there. Some of these medicines include the commonly known antifungal, ketoconazole, and others like metyrapone, aminoglutethimide, mitotane, etomidate, as well as anticancer medications to suppress tumours and so on. They all have their side effects; the side effects of anticancer meds are very terrible and ketoconazole can have terrible effects on the liver so much so that it is no longer recommended as an antifungal but still used majorly for Cushing’s because of the seriousness of the illness.
Homeopathic remedies have been effective especially when this condition is diagnosed in its early stages…
If your animal is suffering from this condition and is on cortisone, and you wish to take it off of this drug and pursue an alternative treatment, you should consider a full homeopathic consultation.
Other alternatives include a variety of herbs such as kelp, nettle, rosehips, wormwood, burdock, milk thistle, garlic, clivers, clover, and apple cider vinegar. Herbs should be given in tincture and monitored closely.
Herbs To Avoid
Tilford and Wulff recommend avoiding these herbs because they stimulate adrenal activity:
- Borage leaf
About the Author
PRACTICING CLASSICAL HOMEOPATH AND DOCTOR OF MICROBIOLOGY
ALEXANDRA CARNEIRO DE MELO, PhD MSc, PhD (London), DIHom (Pract), FBIH, RSHom
Education Personal Accreditations:
• BSc – Food Engineering, 1989 – Porto University, Portugal (High Class Honors)
• MSc – Food Microbiology, 1991 – University of Reading in the UK
• PhD – Applied Microbiology, 1997 – King’s College, London
• DIHom(Pract) – Diploma in Homeopathic Medicine, Practitioner Level British Institute of Homeopathy
• FBIH – Fellowship for life, British Institute of Homeopathy
• RSHom – Member of The Society of Homeopaths
As a homeopath, my ultimate goal is to help you to make you or your animal live to the fullest capacity, where the entire spiritual, mental, emotional, social and physical being is restored to the natural state it was created in. Please do get in touch if you are ready to begin your healing journey