This is a guest post by Paula Cook.
Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration Syndrome (SARDS) has become a present day threat to many dogs, occurring due to poor genetics or acquired through exposure to environmental toxins and aging of the endocrine glands that regulate the immune system.
I have spent hours on the internet attempting to educate myself about SARDS and trying to find the best method of treatment for my dog.
I've read many thoughts and theories and came to the conclusion that some of these protocols didn't seem to work well for a dog with SARDS. I also checked with several veterinarians and was told there is no treatment for SARDS. I was advised to go home and learn how to live with a blind dog!
I experienced many negative reports from other veterinarians about Dr. Plechner’s findings and his protocol. So I went to the SARDS section at drplechner.com and read about his research and protocol. I was undecided until I saw videos on the internet by pet owners about their blind SARDS dogs regaining their eyesight.
Because of this, I made the decision to have Dr. Plechner identify and treat Butter P for her SARDS. I felt compelled to ask Dr. Plechner about some of the recommendations that have been posted on the internet by SARDS researchers, SARDS groups and the veterinary profession.
He has tried to answer my questions in a simple way, as he says SARDS is simple to identify and simple to treat, if only the proper treatment is begun immediately.
I'm happy to say that on Dr. Plechner's proper protocol, Butter P’s eyesight and attitude returned in only 22 days.
Dr. Plechner credits this quick response to the fact that I started Butter P on proper therapy immediately after her endocrine immune imbalance was identified. I actually had my veterinarian, based upon Dr. Plechner’s suggestions, begin the therapy even before Butter P’s blood test results had been returned. Dr. Plechner had assured me that all the test results were similar and the only difference that he has seen, which makes no difference to his therapy, is that the cortisol will either be deficient or high and defective!
Following are questions I asked Dr. Plechner to help me clear up some of the misinformation posted on the internet about SARDS. I wanted to share his answers with you, to hopefully help others make sense of all the different recommendations including, “There is no treatment for SARDS. Please go home and learn how to live with a blind dog”. The experts don't seem to realize other autoimmune diseases and cancer will occur and soon end the dog's life!
Q. Is SARDS thought to be an autoimmune disease?
A. Paula, the general veterinary consensus is that SARDS is an autoimmune disease, based upon other autoimmune diseases that a SARDS patient can develop.
Q. Is there an urgency in correcting SARDS for a patient?
A. In my experience, there is an acute need to correct this autoimmune issue, because left uncorrected, other autoimmune diseases and cancer can develop. Most SARDS owners are finally realizing this and that being told to go home and learn to live with a blind dog might actually turn into an early death. Being blind will be the least of the pet’s problems.
Q. I can understand a cortisol deficiency causing an elevated adrenal estrogen, but most SARDS researchers believe that an elevated cortisol and an elevated adrenal estrogen at the same time is confusing and does not make sense. Have you found a reason why this might happen?
A. Yes Paula, unfortunately, this type of cortisol has been recognized but rarely understood.
Normal cortisol production is a daily function that all mammals must produce to stay healthy. Humans, dogs and cats produce 30 to 35 units of daily, normal cortisol. After the natural cortisol carries out its hormone functions and its regulation of the immune system, the liver breaks down the cortisol and the kidneys excrete the breakdown products. When this happens, the pituitary gland responds by producing its hormone ACTH, which causes the middle layer adrenal cortex to produce more normal cortisol.
When the cortisol is bound, damaged or defective, the pituitary gland cannot recognize this altered cortisol, so the pituitary gland continues to produce ACTH and the middle layer keeps being stimulated by the ACTH and keeps producing this abnormal cortisol which can be elevated due to this over stimulation by the pituitary gland. Because of this full time production of ACTH, the inner layer adrenal cortex will respond to the continuous production of ACTH as a direct feedback and produce excess amounts of adrenal estrogen.
This is quite evident when my endocrine immune blood panel is done with some SARDS patients. This is why both cortisol and total estrogen can be elevated at the same time because the cortisol is not active and it's definitely not Cushing Syndrome.
Q. What does the elevated adrenal estrogen really do?
A. Paula, it creates a number of damaging factors. It will cause a deregulation of the immune system so that the B and T lymphocytes will no longer function to protect the patient from bacteria, viruses, mold and fungi. At the same time, the elevated estrogen causes these immune cells to lose recognition of self-tissue and can cause autoimmunity like with SARDS. The elevated estrogen can bind the receptor sites for both thyroid hormones T3 and T4 and cause a metabolic hypothyroidism even when both the T3 and T4 are normal. The elevated adrenal estrogen will cause the B lymphocyte to reduce its production of its protective antibody.
When the mucous membrane antibody in the gut called IgA falls below 58, oral replacement steroids and many other medications and supplements will not be absorbed and never reach the blood stream. This may be why a lot of the recommended supplements used to treat the effects of SARDS seem not to work in certain patients.
Q. I did send Butter P’s blood sample to National Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratories in Texas. Why can't I send her blood sample to a local veterinary laboratory?
A. Good question Paula. Unfortunately I have not found another laboratory that can perform a total estrogen test. I also worry that if the sample is not kept and run in a cooled state, all the values will be erroneous. Most laboratory kits do have a temperature scale that shows the different values for specific hormones. As the temperature increases for the sample, so does the lab value. The values will definitely increase if they are run at room temperature and this is why values for the same hormone from different laboratories often vary so much.
Q. Butter P only had a slight increase of estrogen with her SARDS imbalance. She had an elevation of 35.17. Is that significant?
A. Paula, if you consider what this small amount of elevated adrenal estrogen has done to her B-lymphocyte, you can see how low all of her antibodies have become. Normally this total estrogen needs to be at 30 to 35 in female dogs and 20 to 25 in male dogs, otherwise there will remain less protection and will still lack recognition of self-tissue. The destruction of the retinal tissue will continue.
What much of the medical profession does not realize is that the endocrine system regulates the immune system and the amount of hormone replacement required by the patient will be determined by normalizing the B lymphocyte and its antibody production. It is very simple but not believed YET!
Q. Dr. Plechner, are there any foods and supplements that might add to the SARDS problem?
A. Yes. Foods that contain a form of natural estrogen called phytoestrogens should be avoided because they seem to add to more estrogen to the already elevated total estrogen. I do have a list of these foods in an article under FOODS and SUPPLEMENTS on my website. The main offenders are sweet potato, carrots, apples and soy products which should be strongly avoided for a SARDS patient. White potato seems to be fine. Supplements that contain sulfa should be avoided, because a patient with an autoimmune disease like SARDS may coat the surface of the red blood cells and make them appear foreign to the immune system. This will destroy them, causing a serious autoimmune hemolytic anemia. Melatonin has not been recommended for use in patients with autoimmune diseases either.
Q. Dr. Plechner, have you found any insect repellents that might possibly play a factor in causing SARDS?
A. I have found that several different chemicals that are used on pets can cause major problems, including SARDS. I believe these chemicals either suppress the production of natural cortisol or act as estrogen mimickers, which can all lead to autoimmune diseases. If you go to Plechner’s Corner on my website, there is an article called Chemical Insect Repellants, which will list the chemicals to avoid, along with some natural suggestions to use instead.
Last minute common sense note: No matter how safe the manufacturer tells you their product is to use on your pet, and there are warnings saying, “If you come in contact with this product, please call your poison center immediately”, just my simple thinking says to me, if it's not safe for me, why would it be safe for my pet?