Milk Thistle: May aid in detoxifying a bird's
liver and possibly restore its function. (Advice by Patricia Leiter - former Vet
Marianne Ferris-Whitmore, when confronted
with a 'hopelessly' sick bird (quotes, because her bird seems to be doing fine right now),
consulted with books on alternative medicine, "the guy at the health food
store," and searched a bunch of AIDS sites to find things that are anti-viral and/or
will boost the immune system.
Here is what she did (in her words):
"Since weight loss was such a problem, we started handfeeding him, since then I knew
he was getting at least what we fed him (although he would throw it up fairly frequently),
and the baby parrot food is more easily digested. We gave him macaw handfeeding formula
because it is higher in calories. I just mixed all the stuff I am telling you about
into the handfeeding formula.
My first concern was getting some nutrition into the bird (since that seems to be the main
reason they die - they starve to death even though they eat). [Note: This specifically
refers to the disease her bird was diagnosed with, but also any other disease where a bird
loses weight]. So I gave him Papaya - I just gave him the chewable tablets they sell
in health food stores. The are tasty, and the birds likes them so he ate them (now I
give a tablet to all the birds every night - they all love it.) Papaya is perfectly
safe, and I believe Harrison's has it in their pellets. I gave him about 6 tablets a
I also started giving him aloe - I'd mix some in his water dish, and also put it in his
hand feeding formula. The aloe really seemed to make him more comfortable.
I know it works that way for me a lot of the time - I get a certain stomach ache
that will completely disappear about a minute after I take a swig. Like papaya, aloe is
completely safe for birds, and you really don't have to
be scientific about dosage.
I gave him Echinacea. Echinecea is only effective if you take it 4 days on and
4 days off. There are some variations in the number of days that should be on and
off, others say 21 on and 21 off, and some say 30 on and 30 off, but it is not effective
if you give it every day. This is another thing you
really can't overdose. I gave him about 65 mg a day. (For everything I'm
telling you about, I emptied capsules that I bought at the health food store.)
Echinecea has also been proven safe for birds.
The rest of what I gave him was really experimental - I never knew of anyone giving this
stuff to a bird - so with all of it I started out with an itty bitty bit to see if he had
any bad reactions (he never had a even a trace of a bad reaction to any of it), and just
increased everything gradually until he was getting 65 mg a day of each (divided in 4
handfeedings a day).
Astragalus - a great infection fighter.
Shiitake - it's a mushroom, so I was worried about it, but he had no bad reactions
whatsoever. I eventually replaced the Shitake with...
Maitake(another mushroom) - this is like the hot new remedy. It has quite a track
record as an anti-viral, anti-infective agent. By the time I gave him this, I had
been giving him the other stuff for about 3 or 4 months. So I'm
not sure whether the other stuff had worked on his immune system, or if it was the
Maitake, but a few weeks after I started giving him the Maitake, things really started to
turn around. The proventriculus started to shrink, and he stopped whining all
I wish I had kept better record of my dates, because I am a little fuzzy about the time
frame now, but I do know that Christmas '96 I did not expect that I would still have him
this past Christmas. And the vet called in the early Spring to see how the bird was
doing, and I said, "he's better," and explained that he was really BETTER.
I started decreasing the number of handfeedings, so that by summer we were only
giving him one handfeeding a day. We still handfed him about 3 times a week for
several months, but
that's mostly because being an M2, he's just a big baby - I think we sort of unweaned him.
And he still is on the thin side. But now he is a perfectly normal M2.
And he was really sick - for 4 months, I didn't even need to have him in a cage - I wanted
to quarantine him from the other birds, so I
kept him in my room - on a perch - he didn't move. He is now once again a holy
terror. He also didn't scream once for a solid 6 months. He also stopped
talking for 6 months (he doesn't actually say any people words, but he loves to talk
Oh I should also mention that I give my birds spirulina (which is very digestible and has
a gazillion vitamins and minerals), barley grass and something called Azomite, which is a
mineral rich ground clay (this last thing may sound bizarre, but Harrison's also puts this
in their pellets -
it's listed as something like "montmilliorite clay" - Azomite is a brand name.
I added these to the M2's handfeeding formula.
I didn't do this in place of a vet - the bird was tested for everything, and nothing
showed up. And he occasionally got worse, and on those occasions I'd take him to the
vet and he'd treat him (he had a couple yeast infections and a couple bacterial infections
during this time which I figured happened because his immune system was compromised.)
Once the vet told me that he was as sure as he could be that it was PDD, that
there really was nothing he could do, I decided to take matters into my own hands.
Even though I knew I was trying things that weren't proven safe for birds, it had become
painfully obvious that my bird
was dying - so I didn't have much to lose.
She also recommends -- in case of PDD [or
other terminal diseases] -- adding Olive leaf extract, which she had read and heard
wonderful personal testimonies about. She also likes to add a little Zygest, a
supplement - which she started adding when she found seed in her bird's poop.