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  • Writer's pictureKnollwood Hospital for Pets

YOU prescribe STEROIDS, Dr. M?

At Knollwood, we prefer to give serious thought before treating... so we don’t knee-jerk rule out (or in!) any medication, preferring instead to treat our patients as the individuals they are. We seldom prescribe steroids. That’s because currently, integrative veterinary medicine has many good alternatives to steroid use, including immune modulators such as sterols and sterolins.

What are sterols and sterolins? Sterol is a plant fat found in all plant-based foods. Sterolin is its glucoside, a molecular structure joined to the sterol. Sterolin is easily destroyed, and without it, the sterol does not have the same immune-enhancing benefits. We use only medications that preserve the ideal combination of sterols and sterolins.

Are sterols the same as steroids? Sterols, including cholesterol, are in the same large classification family of steroids but they do not have the negative effects that can be associated with steroids. Every member of the steroid family has a different activity and only a few have potential negative effects.

Is there any research behind sterols and sterolins? Research on sterols has been underway since the 1920s, and the use of sterols and sterolins in combination has been in us for over a decade. There has been extensive testing and clinical trials, including placebo-controlled, double-blind studies. The results has been published in peer-reviewed international journals.

Why is the "sterolin" important? In nature, plants never contain sterols only. The sterols are always associated with their glucoside "sterolin" (a glucose molecule attached to the sterol molecule). Research has shown quite clearly that the blend of sterols/sterolins in a 100:1 ratio exhibits the best immunomodulatory activity.

Are sterol-sterolins immune "boosters" like echinacea, or are they immune suppressors like prednisolone and prednisone?

Echinacea only stimulates the immune system, while sterols-sterolins balance it. Echinacea is not recommended for prolonged use, or for people with autoimmune conditions. Pred-type drugs suppress the immune system (which is why they are sometimes used for auto-immune issues) but can cause a host of other serious side effects such as diabetes, liver and adrenal disease, and rapid joint breakdown when not used properly. Prescription-grade sterol-sterolin medications allow the immune system to regulate itself: "upregulating" or boosting an underactive response and "downregulating" an overactive one.

If my pet eats a healthy diet, can she obtain enough sterols and sterolins to help her immune system? A HEALTHY pet, eating a good, home-prepared and balanced diet suitable to the being they are, probably needs minimal supplementation. Herbivore pets have it made in the shade, when they are supplied a healthy fresh-food diet! But a carnivore pet’s intake of animal fats far exceeds their plant fat intake. Further, plant fats are reduced or even destroyed by cooking methods used in commercial pet food processing. Even frozen vegetables, once thawed, release enzymes which destroy the important sterolin component.

Are there any side effects? Toxicology studies, pre-clinical testing and clinical observations have found no adverse effects.

Are there any contraindications? Sterols and sterolins are NOT recommended for transplant patients. Diabetics need to monitor blood sugar closely as many have experienced a reduction in insulin requirements.

What about allergic reactions? An allergic reaction is extremely unlikely, as prescription grade sterol-sterolin medications typically contain no artificial colors, preservatives, sweeteners, salicylates, soy, sugar, acacia, barley, wheat, corn, millet, dairy, lactose, yeast, gluten or other common allergens.

How long does my pet need to take such a medication? How do I administer it?Typically, these are considered a daily supplement and should be taken as long as the immune system to be balanced. Sterol-sterolins do not "fix" the immune system but give it the nutrients it needs to be balanced. How long, how much, and how often are functions of your pet's individual health status and would be determined after Dr. Mitchell has had am opportunity to examine your pet.

How to give it to a carnivore? Prescription grade sterol-sterolins come in capsules. If your pet is unable to swallow the capsule, you can open it and mix the powder with any fruit or vegetable e.g. applesauce, a piece of banana, or pumpkin. Remember, we now know that these meds should be given AWAY from meals since pet foods usually contain cholesterol. You could give it one half hour before or two hours after the meal.

Questions? Think your pet might benefit from a medication like this? Don’t hesitate to contact our office to schedule an appointment with Dr. Mitchell. You can reach us at 847-891-8944, or at

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