Natural Therapies for sebaceous adenomas
One of the most common skin issues we see in dogs these days are sebaceous adenomas, tumors of the sebaceous glands that present themselves as elevated, nodular masses that typically range in size between that of a pea and a large marble. These tumors are most prevalent in dogs that are over 7 years of age and often present little or no discomfort to the dog. However, in some cases they can be be itchy and inflamed, and all warrant careful examination by a veterinarian to confirm diagnosis and to rule out more serious malignancies such as sarcoma or mast cell tumors.
The causes of sebaceous adenoma remain largely a mystery, but hormonal influences and environmental toxins are at the top of the list of possibilities. From the perspective of a holistic herbalist, this means the primary course of action is to critically assess the diet for anything that might not be well tolerated or poorly eliminated by the dog’s body— such as excessive grain ingredients (and their metabolic byproducts), the presence of artificial preservatives or other chemicals, or low quality food components such as meat byproducts or soy— things that might be creating an excess of post digestive waste in the body. When the body is unable to eliminate waste by normal means (defecation, urination, etc.) it will push the toxins away from vital organs to outer surfaces of the body, causing any variety of skin eruptions— including sebaceous adenomas.
Once improvements to the diet have been made a good detoxification program is in order. On the herbal side of things this will include lymphatic tonics, such as cleavers herb (Galium aparine) , Red clover (Trifolium pratense) or red root (Ceanothus spp), all of which used to stimulate lymphatic drainage in affected tissues. Cleavers herb stands as perhaps the most common single-herb choice for long term use, and is sometimes combined with homeopathic remedies such as bee venom to help reduce the tumors, as described in Dr. Richard Palmquist’s article, “Veterinary Care: Advances in Integrative Medicine To Consider for Your Pet” which has just been published in The Huffington Post. While I have personally seen good results from everything Dr. Palmquist recommends in his article, including cleavers herb, my personal favorite herbal detoxification formula for this issue is my Constitutional Blend, an alcohol-free liquid formula containing extracts of certified organic burdock root, dandelion, yellow dock, Turkey rhubarb and slippery elm bark. These herbs serve to stimulate lymphatic drainage and support the liver in its job of removing toxins from the body more quickly than cleavers and with a good margin of safety. Remember though: before launching your own efforts against your dog’s nasty looking bumps, consult your veterinarian first. If the tumors turn out to be malignant, you may need a take a more aggressive approach, such as surgical removal.