Saturday, May 15, 2010

Recipe: Supportive Cancer Care Tea

This post is a bit of repeat because I'm entering this recipe in the Mountain Rose Herbs Recipe Contest in the Medicinal category.
The need arose because my dog underwent radiation treatment for cancer - an all-too-common disease in dog's today. Sometimes we really need the mainstream treatment, but we can integrate supportive holistic care with that treatment to ensure the best outcome for our beloved animals.
My recipes are adaptable.You will notice there are no hard amounts given. In fact, this recipe was adjusted for different stages of care on my own dog (this blog post in particular discusses that). Please understand that it's important to pay attention to your dog when using this and adjust as needed. This is especially true if your dog has debilitated organ functions on top of the cancer. I will point out any ingredients that you should take extra care with.You'll notice that I use some fresh ingredients and some dry; this was just because I had some items fresh in my yard, but you can adjust the recipe to use dried.
This tea recipe is designed to support the animal through treatment as a Qi booster and digestive soother, counteracting the heat and stagnation that results from treatments like radiation, and the medications that go along with it. This particular tea also provides some support for the mucous membranes of the mouth (where my dog's radiation was directed).
You'll also notice that this recipe includes a bone! This is primarily for flavor, but if your dog's digestion (especially pancreas and liver) is in good condition you can give them an extra treat by scooping out the marrow for them (my dog loved that, and would drink a whole bowl of freshly made tea). Do not feed the marrow to dogs with any digestive weakness ("sensitive stomach", etc).
  • 1.5 liters of water
  • One 4" bison or beef bone
  • 1/3+ cup dried Astragalus Root
  • 1/4 cup dried Slippery Elm Bark (or 2 T Slippery Elm + 2 T. Marshmallow Root if there is a lot of heat in the system)
  • Handful of dried Calendula Flowers
  • 3 small fresh Comfrey Leaves (may substitute 1/4 cup dried Nettles if concerned about liver function - or just for a change)
  • Handful of fresh Plantain Leaves

Chop any fresh ingredients. Simmer the bone in the water with a tight lid for awhile - 30 minutes to 1.5 hours. Add the astragalus root and slippery elm/marshmallow and simmer, tightly covered, for another 30-45 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients and turn off the heat. Let sit, covered, at least 30 minutes, or until it's cooled down enough to handle. Store refrigerated for up to six days.
Be careful feeding your dog warm tea. Their sense of what's safe heat-wise is much more sensitive than ours. What feels pleasantly warm to us seems dangerously hot to to them, so be sure it's cooled to room temperature before serving.

Use this tea as the base for all their meals, whether you're cooking, feeding raw, or feeding kibble. For example, I lightly cooked my dog's food during treatment and used the tea as the liquid for poaching the meat. If using dehydrated food use the tea instead of water to rehydrate it.

My 40 pound dog went through 1.5 liters in 3-4 days. Most dogs won't drink it on it's own, so expect to be adding some amount of meat-based foods to it (sometimes just a spoonful of meat stirred in is all it takes). An average amount for my dog to take at one time would be about 1/2-3/4 of a cup, and she would get this at least 3 times a day.

If your dog is experiencing inappetence due to treatments or meds, be sure that this is included in whatever you do manage to get your dog to eat. Even a spoonful will help calm their digestive system and improve appetite.
The core of this remedy is the astragalus root. This is completely safe to use and provides the deepest support in the recipe. The slippery elm and plantain are extremely helpful for soothing their digestive tract, and are both very safe. Slippery Elm powder can be added directly to their meals in addition to this tea.

Depending on how long your dog's treatment lasts you may make adjustments to this recipe according to their current needs. Just be sure to always include the astragalus.

My dog also gets medicinal mushroom tea, and was on detoxifying herbs too, so please remember the stated goal of this tea: support. The most effective care and long term immune help does require more than this recipe can provide.

You can see the progress my dog (Vida, posed here in front of some of her medicine) made through her radiation treatments by reading the blog posts of April and May 2010. These posts contain more of my commentary on the herbal choices I made during the process, as well as information about all the other goodies I'm giving her for her healing. I enjoy feedback, so please don't hesitate to leave comments on any of my posts, and please "follow" La Vida Fresca.
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