A few weeks ago one of my dachshunds injured his neck. Rusty has a history of cervical spine problems and he’ll do something, play too hard, get swatted by a large Akita paw, or something else that will trigger severe muscle spasms and pain. Historically this pain/spasm ordeal has lasted weeks, and I’ve had to resort to using a prescription muscle relaxer, Methocarbamol, and a strong anti-inflammatory, Deramaxx (COX-II), along with chiropractic adjustments to resolve the discomfort. When Rusty was badly injured by one of my Akitas several years ago and developed gangrene he lost much of the muscle in one shoulder, and on the opposite side of his neck. This makes his musculature unbalanced at best, and when his neck problem flares up it’s even worse.
I immediately put him on the usual drugs and called my vet for an appointment for chiropractic adjustments. Then I started thinking; Rusty hates Dr Iain now. When he had gangrene it was Iain who saved his life, several times. Dr Iain did multiple surgeries and had to go in daily to debride dead tissue. Rusty was in a great deal of pain despite drugs for pain management and as a result Dr Iain became “the bad guy”. I was pretty sure Rusty would not relax for chiropractic adjustments, so that Dr Iain wouldn’t be able to help him. I called and cancelled the appointment.
What to do? Rusty was on the highest dose of Methocarbamol and Deramaxx and it wasn’t enough. My little buddy was still having severe spasms in his neck and shoulder that radiated down one leg. I could see his muscles spasm from across the room. He would awaken in the middle of the night and scream sometimes. I had to do something.
I posted a query on Facebook to my network of herbal friends and got a reply from Karen Vaughn suggesting Lobelia. I had plenty of the tincture, having made a batch last year. Also, I’d noticed on walks through my yard and along trails that Lobelia was everywhere this year, far more than in years before. My instincts tell me that when an herb starts to grow profusely around me it’s telling me to “look at me, study me, use me!”
I was hesitant. I’d only used this powerful herb in tiny doses before, for migraines a friend suffers. Michael Moore had recommended it to me last summer as an ally for the terrible pain of passing kidney stones, but I didn’t use it as I managed to pass my stones remarkably easy without having to use pain meds or strong herbs at all. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to calculate a dose for a fifteen pound dog without causing him harm or at least some vomiting, which would only make his problem worse.
But I had to do something. My little friend was suffering, and the drugs weren’t helping. We had nowhere else to go. So I dosed him with one drop of tincture in a bit of water and watched. I thought I saw a small improvement. I dosed him again, this time three drops, and sure enough, could see it was working. I made a formula for him using one part Lobelia, two parts Solomon’s Seal (for helping to realign muscles and connective tissues), and four parts Skullcap (nervine) tinctures and gave it to him every three hours. By nightfall I had him completely off the Methocarbamol and the next day I discontinued the Deramaxx.
Rusty’s spasms stopped. He’d come to me and ask for his herbs if I was late. He typically does this, has always been very aware and involved with his treatments, and so is one of my best teachers. I kept him on the formula for a week, gradually decreasing the frequency, always making sure he got it first thing in the morning and at bedtime, with other doses when he asked for it.
Within a week he was completely back to normal. I was amazed, and thankful. Once again Rusty forced me to take a chance and learn something. He now has a new ally, and won’t have to have drugs for his chronic problem.