Muscle Wasting Controlled with TCVM

Muscle Wasting Controlled with TCVM

By Patricia Madsen Bigwood, DVM, CVA, CVH

Author: Chi Institute/Saturday, August 1, 2009/Categories: Student Case Reports, TCVM Newsletter, 2009 Summer Issue

“Wizzer” is a five year old, male neutered, German Short Hair Pointer.  He was found as a stray in 2004.  He was healthy until July 2007 when he started a downward spiral of vomiting, weight loss, muscle atrophy, diarrhea, and intermittent anorexia.

Wizzer was first presented to our clinic in June 2008 to see a board certified internist on staff.    Previous diagnostics included a CBC, chemistry profile, TLI, Cobalamine, Folate, fecal, urinalysis, tick titers, and toxoplasmosis titers.  All test were negative, except for a urinary tract infection.  Western medication included bland diet, antibiotics, and NSAIDS.  Wizzer’s weight had dropped from 66 to 55 lbs. at this time.  His main clinical signs were diarrhea, poor appetite, muscle atrophy, and weakness.  The dog was started on Prednisone and Metronidazole.  Endoscopy was planned.  The dog’s appetite improved on the above medications, but the diarrhea persisted and the weakness worsened.  The endoscopy was cancelled due to the dog’s poor condition.  By September 2008, Wizzer had gained weight (61 lbs.), but he was getting progressively weaker.  Masticatory Muscle Myositis and Myesthenia Gravis titers were run - both were negative.  The dog was scheduled for muscle biopsies.  It was at this time that I first saw Wizzer.  Although I was not the primary clinician on the case, I observed a friendly, weak dog with severe muscle atrophy as he sat in the cage waiting for his muscle biopsies.  In passing I mentioned to my colleague that this dog would probably benefit from TCVM.  

Muscle biopsies were performed and the internist and owner agreed to try herbs.  Wizzer was started on Wei Qi Booster (0.5 gm/20# BID)  - mainly as a Qi tonic but also because I thought there may be an immune-mediated basis to the disease.  The muscle biopsies came back Muscle Fiber Atrophy consistent with marked denervation – possibly chronic peripheral neuropathy or motor neuron degeneration.  The internist gave a very guarded prognosis.  Wizzer was sent home on Prednisone and Wei Qi Booster.  In October 2008 a recheck exam revealed no weight gain, but appetite was improved, the stool was normal most of the time, and Wizzer was much stronger.  Prednisone and Wei Qi booster were continued.

In December 2008 a proper TCVM exam was performed. The tongue was pale and wet and the pulses were deep with the right side weaker than the left.  A diagnosis of Spleen Qi deficiency was made and the herb was changed to Four Gentlemen (0.5 gm/20# BID).  The prednisone was decreased.  Wizzer was gaining weight and muscling was improving.

Wizzer was not seen again until April 2009.  His weight was up to 62 lbs., his activity was back to normal and muscle mass was much improved.  Appetite and stool were normal.  The owner had discontinued the Prednisone and was only giving the Four Gentlemen.  Our plan is to slowly wean down the Four Gentlemen to a maintenance dose.  The owner is very happy and feels that the “herbs” saved Wizzer’s life.

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