Canary with inflamed feather follicles

From: “Carole Bryant”

Cherane told me she used Uno en Gato (Cat’s Claw) herb on her hyacinth
macaw. This is an immune strengthening herb which would be appropriate as polyfolliculitis is believed to be an auto-immune problem. It’s not a herb I normally use though, so I will have to do some research into it’s various properties to see if will be appropriate for Jaufre.

What would cause feather follicles to become inflamed? The vets may not know why, but I’m sure it doesn’t just happen without a cause. Have you considered:

food allergies (even natural foods can cause allergies)
external parasites
environmental allergies (does it happen more at one time of year)
sun sensitivity
deficiency of a particular nutrient
Excess Vitamin A (animal form not plant form) can cause some skin

You are absolutely right – there is always a cause (we just may not know what it is!). To run through your suggestions:

food allergies are always a possibility (he eats such a wide variety of foods, that this will be a hard one to track down though); he has been treated for internal and external parasites “just in case”; it has been gradually getting worse, so time of year doesn’t seem to be a factor;
LACK of sufficient sunlight could be a contributing factor, so I’m trying to get him outdoors whenever possible; I think the nutritional deficiency idea is a possibility, which is why I tried to optimize his diet (see below); I think it would be more likely to be a
Vitamin A deficiency (which has similar symptoms to excess). From an holistic point of view, the symptoms are consistent with lowered vitality (congestion, inflammation, tissue weakness). All we are trying to achieve with natural healing is to give the body what it needs to heal itself. My plan is basically to improve the overall function of his body by supporting his system in as many ways as possible. A copy of a post detailing what I have done and what I plan to do follows:

“Jaufre was already eating seed plus a wide range of greens, fresh seed heads, vegetables and fruit (I consider his diet was much better than the average canary’s!).

A month or so ago, I made some changes to his diet, adding dolomite, kelp, vitamin E, sunflower oil, cod liver oil, and whole linseed to his seed mixture. This was to provide a better range of minerals and trace elements and to give a better balance of essential fatty acids. I added a few drops of apple cider vinegar to his water and started feeding him sprouted seed and mashed cooked whole egg (including shell) daily. Because Jaufre is a
good eater, he is enjoying these changes (he especially loves the sprouted seed).

Now that I have a definite diagnosis, I am giving him (in his water) Celloid minerals – these are similar to tissue salts but in material doses rather than homoeopathic doses. These are to balance up his body chemistry. I use the Celloid minerals a lot in my practise, they are very effective and very safe (Celloids are an Australian product made by Blackmores and aren’t available in America). I am also going to give him a mixture of immune strengthening herbs (probably echinacea, astragalus, andrographis) and a lymphatic system cleansing herb (either galium or baptisia) and a very high dose of vitamin A (for a few weeks only – I have yet to sit down and calculate an appropriate dosage for his size!). I will also add vitamin C to his seed mix.

This probably sounds an enormous amount of stuff to be giving him, but as his diet was already good and Gloucester canaries are apparently susceptible to polyfolliculitis, I figure I will need to take drastic action to achieve changes. Some of the dosages will be only an educated guess – as these supplements will be put in his food and water and I will have to estimate how much he will get each day.

I will report Jaufre’s progress to the list.”

>You are really the most knowledgeable about using homeopathics, what >known thing would induce the symptoms your bird is experiencing? >Obviously it is painful (labored breathing)

Yes, I’m currently combing the Homoeopathic Materia Medica for an appropriate constitutional remedy!

Have you tried an herbal anti-inflammatory while you are trying to problem-solve the cause? Sounds as though he needs it.

The Celloid minerals will do this, and the Andrographis is anti-inflammatory as well as immune enhancing and a powerful liver detoxifier.

Of course, if I can turn this around I’ll never know which supplement/s did the job, but at this stage the important thing is to get him well and worry about the how and why later!

Carole Bryant, Rosie, Jaufre & Morgan

UPDATE 10/31/00

I thought you might all like an update on my canary Jaufre. One of the reasons I joined this list over 12 months ago, was to find help for Jaufre, my Gloucester canary who has extensive polyfolliculitis (feather cysts). This was diagnosed by my vet, who also told me that there was no known cause and no known treatment, but that it was believed to be an auto-immune problem. As after much searching, reading and asking questions I was unable to find any cases of feather cysts being cured and in fact was unable to find out very much about feather cysts at all (but I did learn that this is a common problem of Gloucester canaries).

Initially I treated Jaufre with Blackmore’s Celloid minerals (basically a material dose version of the Schuessler tissue salts). These are very effective for lots of problems as they have a balancing effect on the body (for those who don’t know me, I’m a naturopath). After several months on this treatment, with no visible improvement I stopped these and made the following changes in March this year:

To each kilo (2.2 pounds) of Jaufre’s seed mix (he also eats a wide variety of other foods) I added the following:

4 teaspoons powder mix (2 parts dolomite, 1 part kelp, 1 part sulphur)
½ teaspoon Vitamin E (250 i.u.)
½ teaspoon ascorbic acid
½ cup linseed
2 teaspoons brewers yeast
1 teaspoon cod liver oil

plus 1/2 cup rape seed (and more recently also Niger seed)

I also made up a herbal mixture of: cleavers (to cleanse the lymphatic system), hawthorn berries (to improve circulation), grape seed complex (as an anti-oxidant), andrographis (a powerful liver tonic, anti-inflammatory and immunostimulant), dandelion (liver, bowel and kidney cleanser), fringe tree (liver cleanser), echinacea and astragalus (to strengthen the immune system). The concentration of liver herbs were given as I felt Jaufre’s skin was more yellow than I thought to be normal. I gave Jaufre 2/10 of a drop of this mixture daily, on a 2 weeks on followed by 2 weeks off regime.

Every few weeks I check his feathers and remove any impacted feathers. At first I thought I may be imagining things, but there is a definite improvement, with fewer and smaller cysts. One patch on his back now has no cysts. However, his feathers are still not normal (his right wing in particular has quite distorted feathers) and because of this he is still
unable to fly (he is able to move around his cage via a complex system of perches and sloping perches). Particularly encouraging is that my husband heard Jaufre sing a couple of days ago – which we haven’t heard for over 18 months.

So not front page news BUT Jaufre is now 8 years old and I believe he has noticeably improved over the past 12 months. He continues to eat well and enjoy his baths and I believe he is still able to have good quality of life.

The only thing I haven’t done (and which I would like to do) is install full spectrum lighting over his cage. I have found it ABSOLUTELY IMPOSSIBLE to obtain full spectrum lighting for birds in Australia.

Anyway, I thought some of you may be interested in our little bit of progress. As my husband said when he heard Jaufre sing the other day “not bad for a bird we thought was going to die several times!”

Carole Bryant, Rosie, Jaufre & Morgan

I am glad you canary is improving. I have never had one as badly affected as yours seems to be, but with those we have had I find that about 25% of the time a cyst is cleaned out, the next feather grows back normally (if it grows back at all). The other 75% of the time it
re-develops. One old canary breeder I knew said that he used to fix it with iodine, one drop to 20ml of water was his recipe, but I have never tried it out as a cure. I do know that many breeders believe that it is passed on genetically to offspring and will never breed with a canary that has feather cysts, however a vet told me that he thought it was a virus that was being passed on by parents to offspring, and not genetic.


Mike Owen