Chronic respiratory infection in Hahns macaw
5/28/00 I just subscribed to your list a few minutes ago.
I have a Hahn’s macaw chick, about six week old, hand-feeding, who has started up with an upper respiratory infection. The last two chicks we had from this pair DIED of upper respiratory in spite of all that “convential medicine” could do.
Since it is the same pair, I have to assume the afflicting organism is the same, and that I will lose these chicks also unless I do something different. (The clutchmate is not showing symptoms yet, but it’s probably just a matter of time.)
On advice from other sources (one of them my avian vet, amazingly) I have acquired Nutribiotic GSE CapsulesPlus and Echinacea Herb. Both are in the form of gelatin capsules with powder inside; the GSE are 125mg capsules and the Echinacea are 380mg capsules.
Can anyone please help me figure the correct dosage/amount to administer to my 150mg macaw chick? The vet just said “open the capsule and sprinkle a little bit of it into the hand-feeding formula.” Ok, sure, but what’s a “little bit?” A pinch? Half the capsule? I prefer to be more exact, especially when I feel that my chick’s life is on the line.
I truly apologize for jumping in here like this and immediately “demanding” help/answers, but I haven’t been able to find the information anywhere else. I will really appreciate any info (and so will my poor little macaw chicks).
Hi Heike, Thanks for sharing a bit more of the history of your birds. I’m a firm believer that the body strives to remain healthy and to heal itself. When it is unable to do so, it lacks the tools. Most tools should be supplied by the diet. When the body needs extra tools, they can be supplied by the nutrients and chemical components found in herbs.
Here is a list of nutritional tools that your bird can use for its sinus condition.
Vitamin A in the form of plant pigments/carotenes. The plant form is water soluable so you can give large amounts without fearing toxicity. Respiratory problems especially benefit from vitamin A. Normally I suggest feeding vegetables and fruits high in beta carotene, but in this case the bird would benefit from higher concentrations found in natural supplements. Add any or a combination of the following green food supplements: spirulina, chlorell, wheat grass, barley grass. You might be able to find a good combination of these at the health food store. I think one is called Green Magma. (I call it green gag-ma because I hate the taste.)
Probiotics – Why probiotics? What does a health intestinal tract have to do with a sinus infection? Healthy gut flora enhances nutrient absorption from food and increase the production of nutrients.
Quercetin/bromelain – protects against allergens and boosts the immune system.
Bee pollen- boosts the immune system
Echinacea – boost the immune system. antibiotic, antiviral. synergistic with garlic.
flax seed oil – from refrigerated section and keep refrigerated…or any good oil blend that contains flax, borage, primrose, etc
Vitamin C – yes, normal health birds produce their own. This isn’t a normal healthy bird so it needs more.
Garlic – antibiotic, antifungal. Let it stink. synergistic with echinacea.
How to give: green foods: mix with all the dry formula you will use for the next two weeks. Add enough to the dry formula so when formula is prepared, it will turn a light green color. If you use spirulina, it will turn darker…pea soup green. Spirulina has more blue/gree pigments than the grasses. Don’t be afraid to feed this to healthy birds either. All my babies get this in every feeding.
Most of the ingredients are available in powdered capsules so all you have to do is open the capsules….some things come in tablet form. For this, I use a mortar and pestle to grind the tablets into powder. If using a liquid, add it by drops to the formula. Don’t nuke herbs for healing.
Doses: you will have to extrapolate down from the human doses on the labels. My standard dose is one capsule per 50cc formula.
Vitamin C is different depending on how many milligrams per capsule or tablet. Normally the body tells you how much vitamin C it needs because of the bowel tolerance phenomenon. When the body needs a lot of vitamin C, it will take a lot before the body produces diarrhea, indicating that the dose is too high. Then you back off the dose until there is no more diarrhea. When a body doesn’t need as much vitamin C, diarrhea is produced at a lower dose. Start with 100 mg twice a day.
My standard ‘dose’ for most herbs is one capsule of each herb per 50cc prepared handfeeding formula. I trust that dose with the herbs that I’ve used. I haven’t used GSE medicinally.
There are several herbs you can use to aid the respiratory system. They have different functions, so you need to know what kind of effect you are looking for.
Some herbs are expectorants, which stimulate the nerves and muscles of the respiratory system. I haven’t used any of these on birds, so I won’t mention them.
Some herbs are respiratory relaxants, which allow mucus to flow, so expectorants can help to expel respiratory toxins. Herbs in this category that I consider to be safe for birds are: aniseed, coltsfoot, flax seed, plantain, and thyme.
Some herbs act as respiratory ‘normalizers’, which means they adapt their action according to what is needed by the body. Two of these herbs are mullein and lobelia. Lobelia, however is a dangerous herb to work with, so I would opt for mullein.
Some herbs are considered soothing to mucus membranes, protecting them and allowing healing to take place. These herbs include: Comfrey, coltsfoot, flax seed, marshmallow, and mullein.
Mucus formation by the body is good in some ways because it allows the body to rid itself of toxins. Excess mucus, on the other hand, will allow the build up of waste that the body can’t get rid of. One way to reduce excess mucus production is to limit mucus producing foods in the diet. These foods are: dairy, eggs, gluten-rich grains(wheat, oats, rye, barley), sugar, and starchy vegetables. Some very sick babies have done well by eliminating hand feeding formula for a few feedings and using slippery elm as the carrier for the herbs. Slippery elm is very nutritions and has been a traditional respiratory healer in native american medicine.
Herbs that reduce the buildup of upper respiratory mucus are elder flower, golden seal, and eyebright. Peppermint is also useful for this.
If I was suspecting a virus, I would combine echinacea, golden seal (or oregon grape), along with garlic and marshmallow to handfeeding formula twice a day. I’d make the first two doses strong, see how the babies are handling it and responding. If they are handling it well but not responding I would continue with one more strong dose, then cut subsequent doses back to half a capsule of each per 50cc handfeeding formula.
It’s hard to make recommendations for someone else because you really have to be there to monitor what is happening and make adjustments as necessary. If babies are acting chilly, then I substitute astragalus for echinacea. Echinacea is a cooling herb and astragaglus is a warming herb. Both are anti-viral. Echinacea is a western herb and astragalus is an eastern herb.
Under certain circumstances, I might even carefully increase the dosage over what I normally use…figuring that that desperate measures might be necessary. Again, that’s a judgement call that I can’t make without seeing, feeling, hearing, touching, holding, smelling…You know..
You’ll have to be the judge. I have always had very good results with garlic, but not all people have had the same. There are variables involved and you don’t get the whole story by email.
good luck, keep us posted. gloria
Hi Gloria, Thanks for the reply. That is less than I am using, so if you haven’t experienced any toxicity or side effects with Echinacea I’ll up it as you recommend.
Actually, Sherlock (that’s his name, he’s already sold) looks and acts just fine. My panic is all about the ones that died before – if I cleaned up his nostrils and let you examine him, you wouldn’t suspect a thing wrong. He’s eating good, active, playing with the weaning foods offered in the brooder (cheerios and puffed millet), crop emptying normally, not fluffed, gaining weight, etc. Healthy hand-feeding baby … except for that stuff coming out of his nostrils!!
Necropsies on the last two chicks (from nearly two years ago, the parents are infrequent breeders) showed an assortment of bacteria (pseudomonas among others) and aspergillus growth all over the air sac membranes. However, I personally think that the long term of treatment with harsh drugs such as Itranconazole and Amikacin had nearly as much to do with their deaths as the organisms that were blamed (just my opinion).
I suppose there are people who seek out holistic healing and herbal remedies by choice, but surely there are others like me who turn to holistic means in desperation when conventional medicine fails them.
I’ll belatedly tell you a little about myself so you have an idea at what level to respond to me. I’ve been breeding cockatiels, budgies, and assorted parrots for about nine years and am a veterinary technician. Although I now work for the Tulsa SPCA clinic where we only see dogs and cats, I started out as an avian vet tech and am competent to do just about anything short of surgery on birds. My avian vet is very comfortable with me and my level of expertise; she routinely allows me to stock medications and administer them myself based on telephone consultations or just my own experience when it’s something I’m very familiar with – such as a candida infection in a baby cockatiel’s crop. I’ve pulled birds through a couple of the scarier diseases (psittacosis and polyoma) and normally cope with minor injuries, broken legs, bacterial and fungal infections, etc. on my own. I also rescue and rehabilitate parrots and deal with their medical and behavioral problems, including malnutrition, fatty liver, plucking, self-mutilation, etc. I also write for the QPS (Quaker Parakeet Society) newsletter and serve as a consultant on several avian mailing lists. I am generally more comfortable giving advice than asking for it! <G>
However, except for the occasional use of Naturade’s Aloe Detox formula to help cleanse a chick’s system during and after illness, particularly involving sour or slow crop problems, I’m brand new to holistic/herbal remedies. I’m used to worrying about the side effects and toxicity of the medicines I’ve used for years, and although I have a better track record than many, I’m not happy with my failures. I’ve finally gotten around to thinking “there has to be a better way” and I’m hoping that this is it. The good news is, if you teach me to use holistic and herbal remedies successfully, you will also be reaching hundreds of other pet bird owners and breeders who routinely look to me for advice and help. (I apologize if that sounds arrogant – I don’t mean it that way – it’s just true.)
We presently have two pet quakers, Bear and Beaker, a pet LSC cockatoo named Coco who is a rescue, an exceptionally mellow and well-behaved dog named Merlin, and are breeding cockatiels, English budgies, quakers (blue and green), parrotlets, and the one pair of Hahn’s macaws. The cockatiels and English budgies we show, but we haven’t made it out of novice level with either.
Anyway, I’m glad to be here and look forward to learning ways to help birds that don’t sometimes do almost as much harm as good.
> Thanks for the reply. That is less than I am using, so if you > haven’t experienced any toxicity or side effects with > Echinacea I’ll up it as you recommend. You’ve confused me. <g> If what I recommended is ‘less’ than you are using, then how would you ‘up’ it? I haven’t seen any side effects with echinacea, but that doesn’t mean an allergic reaction can’t occur. I know people who have reacted badly to echinacea. Allergies, as you know, are an individual thing, so always watch closely when treating with anything..even allopathic drugs. > > Actually, Sherlock (that’s his name, he’s already sold) looks > and acts just fine. My panic is all about the ones that died > before – if I cleaned up his nostrils and let you examine him, > you wouldn’t suspect a thing wrong. He’s eating good, active, > playing with the weaning foods offered in the brooder > (cheerios and puffed millet), crop emptying normally, not > fluffed, gaining weight, etc. Healthy hand-feeding baby … > except for that stuff coming out of his nostrils!! > > Necropsies on the last two chicks (from nearly two years > ago, the parents are infrequent breeders) showed an > assortment of bacteria (pseudomonas among others) and > aspergillus growth all over the air sac membranes. However, > I personally think that the long term of treatment with > harsh drugs such as Itranconazole and Amikacin had nearly > as much to do with their deaths as the organisms that were > blamed (just my opinion).
The asper is a concern. I thought of it last night but didn’t get around to asking you. Definitely, then, use garlic which deals with fungus and is carried to all parts of the body.
Echinacea doesn’t address fungus. GSE is supposed to, but keep in mind that GSE will wipe out all normal flora as drug-type antibiotics can. If you use GSE, you must also use probiotics to replace normal internal flora. Also, I don’t know if GSE goes systemic. I know it will wipe out the digestive tract, but is it carried in the blood stream to other parts of the body? I don’t know. GSE’s main claim to fame is as a disinfectant and people use it in water to help prevent yeast. > > I suppose there are people who seek out holistic healing > and herbal remedies by choice, but surely there are others > like me who turn to holistic means in desperation when > conventional medicine fails them.
Yes there are. This is valid for some health problems because holistic methods have been sucessful where allopathic methods have been unable to help. They each can play a role in healing though. Allopathic methods are most useful for conditions that are acute with rapid onset. Holistic methods typically are slower, gentler, and surer. They are most applicable for chronic conditions and for prevention. > > I’ll belatedly tell you a little about myself so you have an > idea at what level to respond to me. I’ve been breeding > cockatiels, budgies, and assorted parrots for about nine > years and am a veterinary technician. Although I now work > for the Tulsa SPCA clinic where we only see dogs and cats, > I started out as an avian vet tech and am competent to > do just about anything short of surgery on birds. My avian > vet is very comfortable with me and my level of expertise; > she routinely allows me to stock medications and administer > them myself based on telephone consultations or just my > own experience when it’s something I’m very familiar with – > such as a candida infection in a baby cockatiel’s crop. > I’ve pulled birds through a couple of the scarier diseases > (psittacosis and polyoma) and normally cope with minor > injuries, broken legs, bacterial and fungal infections, etc. > on my own. I also rescue and rehabilitate parrots and > deal with their medical and behavioral problems, including > malnutrition, fatty liver, plucking, self-mutilation, etc. I also > write for the QPS (Quaker Parakeet Society) newsletter > and serve as a consultant on several avian mailing lists. > I am generally more comfortable giving advice than asking > for it! <G> > > However, except for the occasional use of Naturade’s > Aloe Detox formula to help cleanse a chick’s system > during and after illness, particularly involving sour or > slow crop problems, I’m brand new to holistic/herbal > remedies. I’m used to worrying about the side effects and > toxicity of the medicines I’ve used for years, and although > I have a better track record than many, I’m not happy > with my failures. I’ve finally gotten around to thinking > “there has to be a better way” and I’m hoping that this > is it. The good news is, if you teach me to use holistic > and herbal remedies successfully, you will also be > reaching hundreds of other pet bird owners and > breeders who routinely look to me for advice and help. > (I apologize if that sounds arrogant – I don’t mean it > that way – it’s just true.)
I’d recommend a couple of good books to get you started. Since you have a tech background, I think you would be more interested in those that cite scientific research. I take it you are more interested in western herbs than the othe modalities like accupuncture, homeopathy, flower remedies, etc? We don’t really ‘teach’ anything on this list, but offer suggestions based on our own experience. Mary Connely is an herbalist that is just now putting together an Herbs for Pets online course. You might be interested in that. I believe her other online herbs course went over quite successfullly.
Has anyone on this list taken Mary’s online herbs course? > > We presently have two pet quakers, Bear and > Beaker, a pet LSC cockatoo named Coco who is a rescue, > an exceptionally mellow and well-behaved dog named > Merlin, and are breeding cockatiels, English budgies, > quakers (blue and green), parrotlets, and the one pair > of Hahn’s macaws. The cockatiels and English budgies > we show, but we haven’t made it out of novice level > with either. > > Anyway, I’m glad to be here and look forward to learning > ways to help birds that don’t sometimes do almost as much > harm as good.
Good to have you, hope we can help.
gloria scholbe wrote: >You’ve confused me. <g> Sorry about that. I meant to say that I’m using less than that now. Does it make sense now? <G>
Is GSE considered a holistic remedy and therefore an appropriate topic for discussion here? If so, I’ll share a little of what I’ve learned about it on another list where people have been using it on birds, and my own bit of personal experience.
On another list I am on, there are several people using GSE for their birds. One puts it in their water to prevent the “slimies,” another doses her baby cockatiels with it when they have yeast infections of the crop, and others have used it to rid their birds of Giardia, bacterial infections, and (so they say) viral infections. No one has reported any adverse effects from giving it to their birds, which at this point is my main concern. If that sounds strange, remember that I have plenty of “stuff” that I know works, but hesitate to use because of the side effects or possible toxicity. Regarding my personal experience, it’s an ongoing experiment. Before my hysterectomy, I used to get urinary tract infections (UTIs) 5 or 6 times a year. Now I get maybe one a year, but they’re still pretty bad when I do get them. I also am extremely susceptible to Candida Albicans, and invariably get a horrible yeast infection that causes me more grief than the original problem if I take the antibiotic that is usually prescribed for the UTI.
It’s a dilemma for me, and it surfaced last Thursday night, just as I was going to bed, when the symptoms of a UTI started up. I got dressed again and ran to the 24-hour Walgreens for phenazopyridine (can I say that here? <G>) and (yuck!) some of that nasty cranberry juice that’s supposed to help. Earlier on Thursday was when Sherlock started being snotty, so I already had a trip to the health food store scheduled to get Echinacea for him. When I got there on Friday, I decided to try some GSE, and use the Echinacea on myself as well. I also found some cranberry tablets (CranActin), and those made my day. I HATE cranberry juice.
I took my first doses on Friday night, and continued to take the CranActin, GSE, and Echinacea three times a day with meals over the weekend. I’m delighted to report that my symptoms began to abate late Saturday night, and by Sunday afternoon I was able to stop taking the phenazopyridine. Now, I have used cranberry (juice) before, and it did help, but not that quickly. No one has really given me any indication that Echinacea would resolve a UTI that quickly, so I have to credit the GSE for the fast relief. Furthermore, I don’t show any signs of coming down with a yeast infection, and I haven’t had the intestinal or gastric discomforts that usually accompany taking antibiotics (at least for me). I’ll wait out the week – or 10 days – to be sure that I’m “cured” and don’t have a yeast infection before I make a final judgment, but right now I’d have to say I’m very pleased with the way GSE has worked for me.
In spite of your reservations, I’ve decided to keep on with the GSE for Sherlock in addition to the Echinacea – it can hardly be worse for him than the “convential” alternatives, and I’ve gotten the drops and been able to compute a dosage for him. If anyone’s interested, I can share that information, and I will keep you posted on Sherlock’s progress. Right now he’s about the same; he still has clear mucus coming out of his nostrils, but seems to be fine in every other way. His appetite certainly hasn’t suffered! <G>
I’m not sure I understand what all Echinacea is supposed to be able to do for Sherlock, but I do know that GSE is supposed to be antimicrobial in a way that affects bacteria, fungi, and viruses. I know that sounds suspiciously quackish, but remember that many people have the same reaction to the claims made for multi-purpose herbs that you KNOW work as “advertised.” So, if GSE really does what they say it does, I’m covering all the bases for Sherlock, something I can’t do with any other product that I know of.
Hi Heike, Thanks for sharing your exploration into the use of herbal healers. I wish more people would do this. I’m glad you discovered cran-actin. I was going to recommend cranberry in capsule form to you when I first read that you didn’t like drinking the juice. Reading further, though, I see you found it yourself. I like capsules because the cranberry hasn’t been contaminated with sugar to make the juice palatable. (Sugar feeds yeast) There’s a lot of information about Echinacea available. It is one of the best studied herbs and this includes clinical studies. I’m staring at two books sitting next to my computer: “Echinacea” by Daniel B Mowrey, PhD ISBN 0-879-83-610-5 and “The Healing Power of Echinacea and Goldenseal” by Paul Bergner ISBN 0-7615-0809-0. Both of these books discuss the history of the herb’s use, clinical research, and applications for its use in different disease conditions. In addition to these two books that study the herb in-depth, I have at least 15 other herb books written by herbalists or holistic practitioners who all value the healing powers of echinacea.
For those who have wondered, Echinacea is pronounced: eck-i-NAY-see-ah. I’m kind of lazy and pronounce it eck-i-NAY-sha. It is the purple cone flower, of which there are three subspecies preferred for healing – augustfolia, pallida, and purpurea – each having different specialties. Together, these herbs have a variety of uses: wound healing, skin disease, allergies, immune stimulant, antiviral, antifungal, antibiotic, respiratory, arthritis and inflammation, and cancer.
It was first introduced in the late 1800’s and because of it’s almost miraculous healing abilities enjoyed wide popularity by the physicians of the time. Commercial extracts were developed in the early 1900s and it topped the list of medicines used by physicians. Then around 1920 there was a political movement by the AMA to control and direct the nature of Medicine. In 1937 natural healing was officially at an end in the United States. Echinacea went from high visibility to total obscurity almost immediately.
A German firm, however, picked up the interest, purchased some seeds, and over the next 60 years used the plant and did the research and clinical studies throughout Europe. In the 1970’s echinacea was reintroduced into the United States. The irony is that Echinacea is a native North American healer that we lost for years because of political maneuvering by the American Medical Association. All of the scientific validation of this herb was done in Europe.
Wound healing: once bacteria enters the tissue through an injury, it invades deeper by producing an enzyme called hyaluronidase, which breaks down the integrity of connective tissues of the body. Echinacea has anti-hyaluronidase action that also helps to regenerate connective tissue destroyed during infection and injury. It stimulates fibrocytes (some of the body’s defense organisms) arrive quickly at the site of injury and to produce hyaluronic acid. For this purpose echinacea can be taken in capsule form and also used as a poultice directly on the cleaned wound.
Both internal and external echinacea has been sucessfully used for all kinds of animal bites including: insects, spiders, snakes, mosquito, fleas etc. From early frontier days there was one case report from a physician who used echinacea on two children who had been bitten by a confirmed rabid dog. He dosed them with echinacea internally and externally for sixty days and they did not contract the disease. However, this report came at a time when all sorts of wild and unsubstantiated claims were being made for echinacea. It may have been true but then again, it might not have been.
The Eclectic Medical Association, a group of physicians who were attempting to categorise and substantiate claims, were squelched by the AMA along with everything else in 1937. Still, there still can be found extensive reports and studies preserved by the Eclectics and other researchers. They simply are not substantiated.
Immunity: Immune function is two pronged. Thre is humoral immunity and cell-mediated immunity. Echinacea affects both forms. Humoral immunity involves antibodies and B-cells. Cell-mediated immunity involves T-cells. Other parts of the immune system are white cells called macrophages, neutrophils, phagocytes and granulocytes (white cells like monocytes, leucocytes, eosinophils, basophils) and ‘killer’ cells. All of these interact with one another to fight off disease and infection.
The polysaccharides contained in Echinacea stimulate the production of white cells and activates them to secrete interleukin-1. It increases T-cell activity by 20-30% over control drugs known to posess strong T-cell stimulating properties.
Allergies: I posted a couple of days ago about how an allergic response works by the body’s production of histamine and other substances in reaction to the presence of an allergen. Echinacea reduces this response by stabilizing the mast sell and increasing its ability to resist breakage in the presence of allergens. However, echinacea can only do this if the whole plant is used. Purified extracts do not contain all the echinacea components.
Antiviral: There are several differing theories about how echinacea works against viruses. Some say it involves T-cell stimulation and the production of interferon. Others say echinacea competes with viruses for receptor sites on cell membraned surface chemistry. Regardless of how it works, the most effective preparation has been found to be fresh whole plant rather than isolated extracts.
Antifungal: Best if use along with standard antifungal agent. Helps to prevent reoccurance
Antibiotic: Fresh whole plant should be used either externally or internally.
Respiratory: One of the most effective treatments for colds, influenza, tonsillitis, otitis media, whooping cough and other bronchial ailments. The injected form of echinacea is faster than the oral form, but both are effective. (Injected form not available in US)
>From my reading, I’ve concluded that the best use of echinacea is as an antiviral and topically as an antibiotic.
I like to use Echinacea and garlic together. My observation is that the actions of each strengthen and enhance one another.
7/22/00 Hi Folks, Sorry for the long delay getting back to you with an end to (this chapter of) our story. I’m changing jobs and working both right now, which makes for a tough schedule.
Anyway, after my Hahn’s macaw chick (formerly called Sherlock but now Shamrock) had had sinus drainage for over a month in spite of everything I tried, including Sinustem and SystemaJuv from Avian Medicine Chest, I had about given up.
Then I read a note on this list about the uses of Goldenseal and thought it might be worth a try. Having already spent over $150 for medicines and remedies for this bird, I admit I went the cheap (and probably not up to this list’s standards) route. I ran across a formula of Echinacea and Goldenseal on sale at my grocery store, and also picked up some Garlic, remembering that I had been told that Echinacea and Garlic are synergistic.
I restarted the sinus flushes with GSE, and began putting the Echinacea, Goldenseal, and Garlic into Shamrock’s hand-feeding formula. After about 4 days I started to see some improvement, and after six days the drainage FINALLY stopped. I stopped the sinus flushes but continued the herbals for another four days. It’s now been almost 2 weeks and there has been no relapse, and Shamrock appears to be perfectly healthy. She’s late weaning, but that’s not surprising considering all she’s been through.
In the meantime, I came down with a respiratory flu that had been going around here, which progressed into bronchial pneumonia, and I”m happy to say that the same mixture, with the addition of GSE liquid orally, cleared me up, too.
Thanks for all the help and advice; I thought you deserved to know the “rest of the story.” I’ll be more active once I’m back to working ONE job!