A three-year-old Angus cow was presented at Western Grove Veterinary Clinic on August 30th, 2013. Though the cow appeared alert and maintained a healthy appetite, she was plagued with chronic diarrhea and severe, rapid weight loss. The owner had de-wormed her with Ivomec® (Ivermectin) three times within a three-month period to no avail.
Upon presentation, the emaciated cow was weak and unstable, weighing only 558 pounds. She had a profuse, watery diarrhea that was not fetid or foul smelling (there was actually very little smell), a normal temperature and an elevated pulse. Post-admittance examination showed her temperature to be 100.2°F, and pulse at 98 BPM. Fecal flotation was negative for parasite eggs. Serum chemistry showed hypoalbumemia, hypocalcaemia, hyperglobulinemia. CBC showed slight monocytosis, low eosinophils and below normal MCV. Urinalysis showed trace protein, pH 8.0, urine specific gravity of 1.026.
TCVM Examination and Diagnoses
The TCVM examination showed the cow to have muscle weakness, diarrhea, weak and rapid pulse, yet a good Shen. Her tongue color was black, but because she is an Angus cow, it was of no diagnostic value. Clinical signs began at a very young age: she had a good appetite and, although very nervous, was not very aggressive. This cow appeared to have a Water Constitution.
Since she showed clinical signs early on in her life, my TCVM pattern diagnosis for this cow was Kidney Jing Deficiency. Because of the chronicity of the problem, the odorless diarrhea, and her muscle atrophy and weakness, I also diagnosed her with Spleen Qi Deficiency. A fecal sample was sent to Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission, Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory and was diagnosed with Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP) by PCR.
Mycobacterium paratuberculosis (commonly referred to as Johne’s Disease) is a fatal gastrointestinal disease caused by a small (0.5-1.0 micron diameter) rod-shaped bacterium that infects the M cells and macrophage system within the lymphatic nodules of the ileum. The infection occurs in the first few months of an animal’s life, many times allowing the animal to maintain health for a limited time while acting as a chronic carrier. Symptoms of this disease may not show up for months, even years later. This infection is contagious and irreversible.
There are only two clinical signs of Johne’s Disease: rapid weight loss and diarrhea. Despite eating well, the victims become emaciated and weak. Laboratory tests are essential in confirming the diagnosis as the signs of Johne’s Disease are similar to several other diseases, such as gastrointestinal parasitism, peritonitis, renal amyloidosis, lymphosarcoma, kidney failure, chronic salmonellosis, copper deficiency and starvation. With Johne’s Disease, the animal’s immune system responds to the MAP organisms with glaucomatous inflammation. The inflammation thickens the intestinal wall, preventing it from functioning normally, therefore the animal cannot absorb the necessary nutrition, while at the same time suffers from diarrhea. Thus begins the deterioration of body condition. In effect, an animal with Johne’s Disease is starving in spite of a healthy appetite and diet.
This disease is invariably fatal, and there is no effective treatment in Western veterinary medicine. It would be valuable to explore whether TCVM is able to help this cow and provide alternative therapy options.
Day 1 (August 30th, 2013): Aqua Acupuncture (AA) was performed at the following points as shown in the table below, each with 5 mL of Vitamin B12.
She was fed Bermuda/Dallis grass hay and 10 pounds of 12% protein grain daily and her appetite remained excellent. At the re-check (24 hours post-treatment), she had firm, fairly normal stool.
Day 5 (September 3rd, 2013): In addition to the previous Aqua Acupuncture treatment, Electro-acupuncture Therapy (EAP) was performed as shown in the table below.
Day 32 (September 30th, 2013): On this day she weighed 589 pounds, a gain of 31 pounds. Only acupunctured GV-1, and a small metal ball was implanted at this point using a microchip gun.
Day 39 (October 7th, 2013): She weighed 576 pounds on this day. She still had a healthy appetite and her energy increased noticeably. Her feces firmed up in the days immediately after the Day 5 treatment, but had become runny in the last few days. Dry needled GV-1, BL-20 bilaterally, BL-21 bilaterally, BL-23, BL-24 and BL-25. The newly added point BL-24 is the “Sea of Qi”, used for Qi Deficiency, diarrhea and abdominal pain. BL-25 is the back Shu Association point for the Large Intestine, used for diarrhea and abdominal pain.
Day 58(October 25th, 2013): She weighed 574 pounds on this day. Dry needled GV-1, BL-20 bilaterally, BL-21 bilaterally, BL-23 and BL-25.
Day 61 (October 28th, 2013): I began feeding the cow Epimedium Formula for her Kidney Jing Deficiency and Four Gentlemen to tonify her Qi and strengthen her Spleen.
Day 68 (November 4th, 2013): She weighed 610 lb (35 pound gain) on this day and her feces were firm. Dry needled GV-1, BL-20 bilaterally, BL-21 bilaterally, BL-25 and BL-54. The point BL-54 is added to prevent muscle atrophy.
Day 83 (November 19th, 2013): The cow weighed in at 614 lb (4 pound gain) on this day. She continued to eat well and had well-formed stools. Her Shen was excellent and she had a large amount of energy. Dry needled GV-1. Electro-acupunctured BL-20 bilaterally and BL-21 bilaterally.
TCVM definitely helped this cow with her fight against the Johne’s Disease. She seemed more energetic after every treatment and with the addition of herbals. While this integrative therapy might not be a complete cure for Johne’s Disease, she started to have a more comfortable life with a strengthening immune system and boosted Spleen Qi. I will continue to treat her with TCVM.
I feel that the practical use of TCVM in the food animal industry has been grossly under-recognized. The increased desire for less drug residues and more humane treatment of livestock invites more open-minded exploration and TCVM has a great potential in this area.