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A Gift from Mother Nature (GSE)

These articles originally appeared in the Your Parrot Place Newsletter 04-24-2002.
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by Carolyn Swicegood
Eclectus Land of Vos web site
Join the world's largest Eclectus Email list here:

Mother Nature has provided an extraordinary substance from a surprising source to benefit her feathered creatures. An extract of a simple food item has proved to be effective in combating hundreds of pathogens that affect birds, including parasites, bacteria, virus, and fungi. This food-derived substance is used by a growing number of aviculturists, pet bird owners, and veterinarians. It is a natural, safe and non-toxic disinfectant and cleaner as well as a preventive against disease-causing pathogens. It is used to disinfect food and water, to prevent mold growth on home-grown sprouts, to clean cages, aviaries and homes as well as to treat a variety of illnesses -- all without harming birds or the environment. Surprisingly, this powerful product is made from the lowly grapefruit seed! The antimicrobial properties of the extract of grapefruit seeds and pulp were discovered in 1972 by Jacob Harish, a physicist and immunologist, as a result of his curiosity about the bitterness of grapefruit seeds.

At the University of Georgia, tests were conducted to evaluate Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE) as a disinfectant in tests against E. Coli, Salmonella sps., and Staph aureus. According to Roger Wyatt, Ph.D., and Microbiologist for the university, "Our studies indicate excellent potential for these products (GSE). ...The toxicological that I have reviewed indicated that this product and the active ingredient poses very low toxicity. As you know this is important because most disinfectants that are currently used in either animal or human environments have moderate to high toxicity and extreme care must be exercised when these products are used... In view of the reports that we have discussed, the wide spectrum of activity that GSE offers (antiviral, antibacterial; Gram positive and Gram negative, antimycotic, and antiprotozoan) will undoubtedly aid in its acceptability."

Dr. Wyatt's findings have been confirmed by a variety of clinics and labs, as well as universities from around the world. GSE is non-toxic, environmentally safe, and quickly bio-degradable. It causes no side effects and is often dramatically less expensive than existing treatments or chemicals for similar applications.

Some physicians have found that GSE is as effective against candida, a yeast infection, as Nystatin or other antifungal preparations. It is also effective against protozoans such as giardia or entamoeba histolytica. Researcher Dr. Leo Galland says that it is more effective than prescription medicines such as metronidazole against these protozoal parasites. There is considerable research to support the claims of GSE's efficacy as a natural antibiotic, anti-fungal, anti-protozoan, anti-viral and antiseptic disinfectant. As a germicide, GSE has multiple uses and it is non-toxic and non-irritating when diluted as directed.

Bio Research Laboratories of Redmond, Washington, USA, tested GSE, a commercial chlorine bleach, and colloidal silver against Candida albicans, Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella typhi, Streptococcus faecium, and E. coli. GSE proved superior and the test report concluded:

"All microorganisms tested were inhibited with moderate levels of GSE liquid disinfectant. High levels of chlorine bleach inhibited the test organisms, but moderate levels were not effective. Because the GSE liquid was inhibitory at much lower levels, it may be assumed that it is ten to one hundred times more effective than chlorine against the organisms used in this study. On average, GSE proved to be ten times more effective than the colloidal silver."

GSE is compatible with most antibiotics. It does not produce the negative side effects associated with antibiotic use. Proponents of GSE claim that it does not attack normal gastrointestinal bacteria as antibiotics do. To ensure that this is not a problem, I would use a probiotic after treating with therapeutic dosages of GSE. Even if it is unnecessary, it will do no harm. GSE rarely causes allergic or toxic reactions. Aspirin is said to be 25 times more toxic than GSE.

Grapefruit seed extract is available in health food stores. GSE has been proven in laboratory tests to be 10 to 100 times more effective as a disinfectant than chlorine, colloidal silver, and iodine.

According to The Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine, Volume 5, No. 3, USA, 1990, an international research team examined the effect of GSE on 770 strains of bacteria and 93 strains of fungus and compared this with 30 effective antibiotics and 18 proven fungicides. GSE was found to perform as well as any and all of the tested agents.


To disinfect surfaces in the aviary and nursery such as brooders, incubators, cages, perches, and carriers, make an all purpose cleaner by adding 30 to 60 drops of GSE to a 32-ounce pump spray bottle filled with water. Mix well and spray.

To disinfect wood surfaces, apply a few drops of GSE to the cleaned wood while still wet. Let stand for half an hour.

To clean formula from baby parrots' faces and feathers after syringe feedings, add a few drops of GSE to a bowl of warm water to wet the cleaning cloth. It kills bacteria and gets the skin and feathers squeaky clean.

To sterilize syringes, pipettes, spoons, and other handfeeding utensils, make a solution of 15 to 30 drops of GSE per pint of water. Soak between feedings.

To make your own antibacterial soap for the nursery and kitchen, add ten to fifteen drops of GSE to an eight-ounce pump dispenser of handsoap.

To make a disinfectant soak for produce, add 10 to15 drops of GSE per gallon of water and submerge the fruits and vegetables for 15 to 30 seconds.

To make a disinfectant spray for produce, add 20 or more drops to a quart spray bottle and spray on fruits and vegetables.

To prevent the growth of algae and mold in incubators and humidifiers, add three or four drops of GSE per gallon to the water reservoir.

To clean and disinfect cutting boards, apply 10 to 20 drops of GSE to the cutting board. Rub it into the board with a wet sponge or cloth. Leave the GSE on for at least 30 minutes and rinse.

To purify water, add 10 drops of GSE per gallon of water and stir vigorously. It is more effective than iodine.

To treat skin fungi, parasites, or bacterial diseases of the skin of birds and other pets, mix 30 to 50 drops of GSE per quart of water and spray on the infected area.

To prevent the growth of pathogens and to kill existing parasites, (such as giardia from well water), use one drop of Nutribiotic GSE in an eight-ounce water cup. There are claims that GSE has cured a number of parrots with stubborn cases of giardia. Daily use is safe but a probiotic can be used if you are concerned about maintaining healthy intestinal flora.

To boost the cleaning power of dishwasher detergent for bird dishes, add 15 to 30 drops of GSE to the dishwasher along with detergent.

To disinfect towels and cloths used for baby parrots, add 30 to 50 drops to the wash cycle, or add 10 to 15 drops of GSE to the final rinse to ensure that the laundry is fungi and bacteria free.

To disinfect carpet in bird rooms, add 10 to 15 drops of GSE per gallon of water to the reservoir of the carpet cleaning machine.

Birds cannot tell us their symptoms and since GSE is a broad-spectrum treatment, it is quickly becoming the first line of defense for many pet owners, breeders, and veterinarians. Birds can safely be given GSE every day as a preventive or remedy. There has never been a report from any source stating that GSE has ever harmed any living thing. I do not sell Grapefruit Seed Extract but as you have read, I definitely am sold on GSE for birdkeeping.

Citricidal® liquid concentrate is triple the potency of NutriBiotic® GSE liquid. For online information about GSE or Citricidal, visit www.nutriteam.com.

Aloe Vera (1)

by Gudrun Maybaum, Avian Nutrition and Herb Consultant
www.totallyorganics.com E-mail: gudrun@totallyorganics.com

I think everybody should have this plant in the house. A real first aid plant for a lot of occasions, it helped my birds and I in so many ways it would take hours to describe all of them. It has the ability to regenerate and stimulate the growth of damaged tissue and heal wounds, bruises and irritations faster.

Aloe not only prevents and draws out infections, but relieves pain quickly. It is reputed to heal internal tissue that has been damaged by X-rays or radiation and contains antibiotic properties. Taken internally, it is a very detoxifying remedy. Whenever I, or any of my birds have a wound, the first thing I do is pour some Aloe Vera Gel over it. I prefer the gel over the juice. The inner leaf latex contains a violent purgative, which the birds avoid eating when offered the whole plant. But the juice is made from the whole plant and contains this purgative.

I think due to our environment (and our birds) we are exposed to enough radiation that we can use a dosage of aloe vera gel or a bite of the plant every once a while and don’t forget, it’s not just for the birds!

Aloe Vera (2)
by Gudrun Maybaum
www.totallyorganics.com E-mail: gudrun@totallyorganics.com

Common name: Aloe vera
Biological name: Aloe barbadensis L.
Family: Aloaceae

Aloe vera is one of the oldest known therapeutic herbs and is renowned worldwide as a healing plant. It originated in the Cape Verde islands off the West African Coast. First mentioned in the Egyptian "Papyrus Ebers" in 1550 B.C. for its medical and embalming value, aloe vera was supposedly used to embalm the body of Christ.

Both the Greek historian Dioscorides and the Roman naturalist Pliny recommended aloe vera about 2,000 years ago as an effective remedy for constipation, burns, wounds, bruises, skin irritations, kidney problems and more.

It is referred to in many scriptures all over the world and down through the ages. Hindus call it the "silent healer," Chinese the "harmony remedy" and even Christopher Columbus mentioned its importance.

Aloe vera leaves have a bitter yellow latex right below the outer skin. This latex contains an anthraquinone called barbaloin, which is activated by the intestinal flora and acts as a laxative. In its raw form, it can cause uncontrollable bowel spasms. Aloe vera juice is usually extracted from the whole plant and is used for chronic constipation. The juice should not be used regularly because it depletes electrolytes from the body and can cause muscle weakness.

In the '70s, American scientists found a way to separate the gel from the leaf and stabilize it. This inner mucilaginous part of the plant, the gel, is sterile, contains most of the plant's nutrients and is the part most used in treatment of various ills. So far, 200 nutrients have been found in the gel of the leaf, just a few of which are: 8 essential amino acids, 12 non-essential amino acids, 12 anthraquinones, 10 enzymes and many minerals and vitamins.

Medicinal Value
The list of ailments aloe vera is used for in holistic medicine is even longer than the list of nutrients. It has been successfully used in the healing process of burns, wounds, gastric ulcers, and as a treatment for diabetes and diabetic wounds. A polysaccharide in aloe vera, called glucomannan, works as an anti-inflammatory. Another one, Aloctin A, has immune system stimulating and anti-tumor properties. Other parts have shown antiviral properties.

Among its other healing ingredients, aloe vera contains salicylic acid, which is the main content of aspirin. The salicylic acid and magnesium in aloe are thought to work together for an analgesic effect on burns. It was used in 1935 to treat third-degree x-ray burns, and more modern medicine uses it to treat atomic radiation burns. Applied to wounds, the gel not only reduces pain and infection, it stimulates cell regeneration and therefore the growth of new tissue and skin. Scarring can be reduced significantly by using aloe vera.

Because of its ability to balance the pH of the blood and increase digestion and absorption, aloe vera gel strengthens the immune system. Taken regularly over a period of several months, it helps to regulate the function of the liver.

Not only holistic medicine practitioners use aloe vera. In treating HIV-infected patients, Dr. Reg McDanial stated, "It appears that acemannon neutralizes the [AIDS] virus by transforming its protein envelope, thus preventing it from attaching itself to the T4 cells." Dr. Robert H. Davis, a physiologist at the University of Pennsylvania College of Podiatric Medicine, has conducted research on aloe vera since the early '70s. Results of laboratory tests on animals indicate that aloe vera can prevent and arrest arthritis, improve wound healing, inhibit pain, block inflammation, restore bone growth, and act as a vehicle for the delivery of nutrients to the body. Dr. Davis stated, "Aloe vera contains the greatest number of active substances of any plant I've looked at."

Plants grown outside in the bright sun contain higher amounts of nutrients than aloe vera grown indoors. But it grows very easily indoors and, though it has less nutritional power, can be of invaluable help in many cases.

Case Study
Jeremy is a 19-year-old female blue and gold macaw. The story begins when we realized that she was eating and drinking ferociously, had an absolutely liquid stool and was losing weight at a very rapid pace. The first veterinarian I went to told me she was hypothyroid. She appeared everything but hypo to me. Her glucose was 1080 and her weight down to 820 grams. But the vet said a high glucose level is normal when a bird is stressed by such things as a trip to the vet. After a five-month odyssey in which I stabilized her a little, we got her to Dr. Barno at Rock Creek Veterinary Hospital. By then Jeremy's glucose was down 200 points and her weight up 100 grams, but she was very weak. Dr. Barno suggested two insulin shots per day. Because of the trauma for Jeremy of getting a shot twice a day and knowing about the damage insulin does to the body, I

During all this time, I was reading whatever I could find about diabetes. One of the most important things was a diet high in fiber and I kept running into aloe vera over and over again.

Slowly but surely, I developed the following recipe for her:
2 oz of fresh organic finely chopped vegetables
1 teaspoon of psyllium husk powder
½ teaspoon of slippery elm bark powder
1 teaspoon of organic peanut butter
1 teaspoon of aloe vera gel

Her glucose level dropped, she gained weight and, as long as she gets this food, she is relatively stable. She is still diabetic (glucose level 350/400) and her feathers are becoming greener, but her old spirit and strength are back.

Prescription for Nutritional Healing by James F. Balch, M.D. &
Phyllis A. Balch, C.N.C
Little Herb Encyclopedia by Jack Ritchardson, N.D.
Health Handbook & Today's Herbal Health both by Louise Tenney, M.H.
Herbal Medicine by Sharol Tilgner, N.D.
Holistic Bird Care by David McCluggage, D.V.M. and Pamela Leis Higdon
The Way of Herbs by Michael Tierra, L.Ac., O.M.D.

Aloe for Birdkeepers

by Carolyn Swicegood
Eclectus Land of Vos web site
Join the world's largest Eclectus Email list here:
Originally appeared in Watchbird Issue III 2001
Reprinted with permission

Allopathic medicine is barely a century old, but the practice of using plant remedies such as Aloe vera can be traced back to ancient civilizations. Aloe vera, a succulent member of the lily and onion family, was used to treat a variety of health problems. There is a valuable lesson in this ancient wisdom for aviculturists who prefer using natural preventive remedies and treatments for their birds whenever feasible. Aloe vera, also known as the burn plant, possesses powerful healing properties that are beneficial to both birds and their caregivers.

There are hundreds of species of Aloe vera but the Aloe Barbadenis variety is the plant most frequently used for healing. It contains a wound hormone that accelerates healing of injured surfaces such as skin, nails, and feathers. Aloe vera has proven to be beneficial as a topical treatment for minor wounds and burns. When taken internally, it improves immune function, detoxifies, and promotes general healing. Scientists have found that Aloe vera gel is useful as an astringent, an anti-inflammatory agent, a natural antibiotic, a coagulating agent, and a pain inhibitor. No other plant can claim as many healing properties as Aloe vera, which truly is a "pharmacy in a leaf."

Aloe vera can be useful to birdkeepers in the following ways:

* It promotes the healing of wounds and prevents infection.

* It is a safe and natural analgesic.

* Aloe spray discourages feather destruction.

* It stimulates the immune system making it an effective preventive remedy.

* It can be used as a coagulating agent for the treatment of broken nails and blood feathers.

* Aloe detoxifying formula can save lives when conventional treatments fail.

ALOE FOR HEALING WOUNDS -- The prevention of infections that sometimes result from skin wounds is important to a bird's health. Aviculturists should consider the natural medicinal benefits that Aloe vera provides as a remedy for such abrasions. Aloe penetrates all the skin layers, which helps to account for its healing properties when treating burns, cuts, scrapes, abrasions and other skin problems. It draws infection out of wounds as it helps to regenerate healthy tissue. Aloe contains fatty acids that have
anti-inflammatory properties, as well as the wound healing hormones, Auxins and Gibberellins. Aloe vera also has antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties that are effective defenses against a broad range of microbes. The Aloe vera plant produces at least six antiseptic agents: lupeol, salicylic acid, urea nitrogen, cinnamonic acid, phenols, and sulphur. All of these are recognized as antiseptics because they kill or control molds and other fungi, as well as bacteria and viruses.

Extensive research since the 1930's has shown that Aloe vera gel has the ability not only to heal wounds, but also to treat ulcers and burns by putting a protective coating on the affected areas and speeding up the rate of healing.

ALOE AS AN ANALGESIC -- It seems to be a well-kept secret that Aloe vera is an effective pain killer. The lupeol, salicylic acid and magnesium in aloe have strong analgesic properties with no known side effects, making it helpful to both birds and their caregivers. Aloe spray is an excellent analgesic for birds because it does not require hands-on application. Tame birds might allow the owner to apply aloe gel or other medications directly to their wounds, but birds that are not so tame or birds that are upset can be treated more easily with aloe spray. Consequently, Aloe is one of the most valuable items in the Avian first aid kit. George's Aloe Spray by Warren Laboratories is available in many health food stores in a reusable eight-ounce spray pump bottle for about $5.00. You can easily make your own spray by purchasing additive-free, steam-distilled aloe juice (not gel) and an inexpensive spray bottle. Steam-distilled aloe does not require dilution or refrigeration and will stay fresh for months.

All birds bite and all birdkeepers eventually are bitten. The only effective painkiller for a crushing bite is Aloe vera gel. To treat a bird bite on a finger, fill a rubber finger cot with aloe gel and wear it on the finger for as long as the pain-killing benefits are needed. Five minutes usually is sufficient to stop the pain, but it can be used for as long as needed. Aloe also helps to coagulate blood in injured tissue and minimize swelling and bruising. If you have older Aloe vera plants with large leaves, you also can cut open a leaf and wrap it around an injured finger. To treat bite wounds on other parts of the body, spread a generous amount of Aloe vera gel on the wound as often as needed to control pain. Aloe preparations are sold in pharmacies, supermarkets, and department stores. Read labels and look for the highest aloe content with the fewest additives.

ALOE FOR FEATHER DESTRUCTION -- A popular use of Aloe vera is a topical spray to soothe the irritated skin of birds that engage in feather plucking. Dramatic results can be obtained with this protocol when used on parrots that destroy their feathers due to itchy skin. Even in cases of psychological plucking, aloe spray can slow down feather destruction because damp feathers seem to discourage plucking. Feeding our birds Aloe vera also can help to prevent feather destruction. Its effectiveness is due mainly to magnesium lactate, a chemical known to inhibit the release of histamines responsible for skin irritation and itching. I use George's Aloe Spray but one can use a clean, new pump spray bottle filled with steam-distilled aloe. Distilled aloe contains no additives. Research indicates that steam distillation destroys the mucopolysaccharides which are considered to be the main active ingredient of Aloe vera, useful when it is taken internally. However, when used as a spray,the steam-distilled Aloe vera seems to be just as effective.

ALOE AS AN IMMUNOSTIMULANT -- Aloe's beneficial effects on the Avian immune system makes it a great preventive remedy. Aloe contains at least twenty amino acids, nine enzymes, many polysaccharides, small amounts of vitamins and minerals, trace elements, growth stimulators, and naturally occurring electrolytes. Extensive Russian research has shown that Aloe vera successfully removes toxins from the body and acts as a boost to the immune system. Aloe vera contains an immune-stimulating complex, galactomannan, a class of polysaccharides that acts as an anti-inflammatory and increases cellular membrane fluidity and permeability. Galactomannan apparently binds to a receptor site and activates macrophages, which are the cells that control the immune system. The macrophages secrete infection-fighting agents. With at least 23 polypeptides (immune stimulators), Aloe helps to control a broad spectrum of immune system disorders.

If you grow the Aloe Barbadensis plant, your birds will enjoy several thin slices of the largest stalks of the aloe plant as a treat when they appear lethargic and in need of an energy boost. Pure aloe juice added to dry food or to drinking water in the ratio of one part aloe juice to three parts pure water also can make a positive difference in the energy level of birds.

ALOE STOPS THE BLEEDING OF BROKEN NAILS AND BLOOD FEATHERS -- For many years, styptic powder -- known to birdkeepers by several brand names -- was considered the treatment of choice for birds' broken toenails or blood feathers. However, some deaths have occurred when blood feather follicles or open wounds were treated with styptic powder. In less severe cases, it has caused tissue death at the site of application. Cornstarch, flour and powdered sugar are natural products that are just as effective for stopping bleeding. Unlike styptic powder, they are non-toxic. Of all these natural substances, cornstarch is my top choice. When the dry substance is combined with Aloe vera gel, it is even more effective. Aloe not only helps to stop bleeding, it helps the dry medium (such as corn starch) to adhere to the bleeding nail or feather follicle. It also has anti-bacterial properties that can prevent infection, and best of all from a bird's point of view, it stops pain quickly. One can make a paste of Aloe vera gel and cornstarch to apply to a broken nail or feather follicle, or aloe gel can be applied directly to the nail or feather follicle before applying the cornstarch.

Besides the danger of styptic powder causing tissue burn or toxicity, there is an additional danger of birds and their owners inhaling the powder which is a toxic irritant to the respiratory system. I no longer keep styptic powder in my Avian first aid kit. Cornstarch and aloe are much safer and are just as effective as styptic powder. Why keep something around that a birdsitter might mistakenly use on your birds' skin and cause a painful burn when aloe combined with cornstarch works just as well? If you do not feel secure without a styptic product for your birds, remember that it is strictly for broken nails, and not broken blood feathers or skin wounds.

ALOE DETOXIFYING FORMULA CAN SAVE BIRDS' LIVES -- Any time that a bird appears to be seriously ill, a veterinarian should be consulted. Sometimes bird illnesses defy diagnosis and do not respond to traditional treatments. In the event that professionals give up and send a bird home to await the inevitable, there is an Aloe vera remedy that has saved the lives of numerous birds that did not respond to professional help.

In my years of birdkeeping, my small flock of Eclectus parrots has been amazingly healthy except for one Eclectus hen who became severely ill several years ago. She was treated by two excellent veterinarians who tried everything in their power to restore her to health. They finally gave up due to a lack of response to traditional treatments, which included tissue biopsies, exploratory surgery, and a host of medications. Once she was sent home without hope of recovery, there was nothing to lose by trying alternative remedies.

I turned to health food stores in search of help. One of the veterinarians told me that the sick hen had liver damage so I chose a natural remedy for this condition. It was a product called "Aloe Detoxifying Formula", a concentrate of Aloe vera and liver-cleansing herbs including milk thistle which often is prescribed for liver problems. This was several years ago and the formula at that time was: double-strength Aloe vera gel (200:1) with Aloe vera pulp, milk thistle, burdock, dandelion, echinacea, green tea, red clover and blue cohosh. Because all of the ingredients were non-toxic and since there was no protocol
for treating birds with it, I simply gave the ailing hen all the formula that I could get into her. I added it to her drinking water and she drank more than she had in weeks. I added it to her bird bread and other dry foods and she also ate more than she had eaten since the beginning of her illness.

The hen's general demeanor and her energy level changed quickly and dramatically, which was more than I had dared to hope for. She started to perch again and to notice her surroundings. She quickly recovered so completely that when one of her vets did a recheck of her blood two weeks later, he said that if he had not drawn the blood himself, he would not have believed the results. Her liver values had returned to 100% normal! This beautiful hen has produced many healthy chicks since then, and she has never
again been ill. Although the cause of her illness was never identified, I have no doubt that the Aloe Detoxifying formula was responsible for her recovery.

Since I did not really expect a successful outcome from the treatment, I did not record the details, such as the amount of the detox formula that she was given. Since then, several vets and breeders have used this formula to save newly hatched chicks that failed to thrive. The brand name of the product that I used is Naturade and they still make this product, although the formula now also contains 100 mg. of Arabinogalactan, a naturally occurring polysaccharide (sugar) derived from the Larch tree. It has been shown to promote beneficial bacteria while reducing pathogenic bacteria in the digestive tract of animals. The formula still contains all of the original ingredients. Many birdkeepers consider Aloe Detoxifying formula an important part of their first aid kit, and many veterinarians now use the product for their Avian patients.

If I were stranded on that proverbial desert island with my birds and could have only one first aid item, the choice would be easy. Aloe vera is the next best thing to a magic potion for birdkeepers.

Additional Aloe vera information:

On "poisonous plant lists" on the Internet and elsewhere, you might find that Aloe vera is listed among the poisonous plants on several lists. Authors of such lists attempt to be thorough and accurate by including every plant that has any part with any toxic properties, no matter how mild.

In the case of Aloe vera, the toxic component of the plant is not what most of us would consider "poisonous". It is actually an irritant that can cause skin rashes and upset stomachs. The yellow sap just under the skin of the Aloe vera stalk is the problem. It is this yellow-green sap or "Aloe bitters" that is used as a purgative. It should be avoided for all other purposes. Since it is actually marketed as a remedy, it can hardly be considered a true poison.

If you use the fresh Aloe vera stalk, peel away the tough outer skin and remove all remaining yellow-green sap with a paper towel, running water or both. Many prefer to used prepared Aloe which is widely available in health food stores, pharmacies, department stores, and other places to avoid the problem of the Aloin or Aloe "bitters". Typical comments from poisonous plant lists are:

"Ingestion of the latex just under the skin of the Aloe stalk can cause a cathartic (purging) reaction by irritating the large intestine."

"Aloe is a popular house plant due to its reputation as a healing plant for burns, cuts and other skin problems but contact dermatitis can occur in sensitive individuals."

"If you use fresh Aloe, cut away the skin and inner layer of yellow juice leaving only the actual gel. The yellow juice, especially prominent in older plants, is the primary irritant
in the cases of contact dermatitis."

By purchasing prepared Aloe gel or juice, you can avoid the "mildly toxic" properties. Since the bitters are actually sold as a remedy or purgative, I don't think it can be considered a true toxin. Many vets, including Avian vets, recommend Aloe vera for their feathered patients but since parrots are exquisitely sensitive to toxins, (mainly to inhalants rather than ingested toxins) it is understandable that anyone who is
unfamiliar with the "low degree" of toxicity of Aloe vera, and perhaps unaware of how widely it is currently used in the treatment of parrots, would hesitate to recommend it.

I have used both fresh and prepared Aloe products for well over ten years with my birds and have never had one Avian case of even an upset stomach, in spite of the fact that I also feed them fresh slices of Aloe leaves without peeling away the skin. Parrots would "peel water" if they could and they instinctively peel away the problematic yellow sap just under the skin before eating it. I also have never experienced the contact dermatitis which is included in the warnings, nor have any of my parrots.


This article originally appeared in the Your Parrot Place Newsletter 04-24-2002.

by Gudrun Maybaum, Avian Nutrition and Herb Consultant
www.totallyorganics.com E-mail: gudrun@totallyorganics.com

About 30 years ago, I thought I was very odd because I had an inherited nickel allergy. It was not a big deal; I just did not wear jewelry and avoided Band Aids™, and I was fine.

Twenty years ago, I met my first friend with food allergies. Ten years ago, I knew a bunch of people who had pollen allergies. Today, I know more people with allergies than

Now, how does one get a food or pollen allergy, after living 10, 20, 30 or more years on this beautiful planet? There are many different ways. Perhaps the body does not get enough nourishment, is too weak to ward off chemicals or gets overloaded with them. A very common allergy is too much food of one kind.

In some cases, things we should have done in the first place can help, like eating a wider variety of fresh and possibly organically-grown foods. For a while, we maybe even have to use supplements to restore the immune system's strength.

It is very interesting that the food to which people react allergically is the food they eat most. In Scandinavia, an allergy to cod fish is the most common; in Japan, rice allergies; in the U.S., wheat is one of the foods that causes the most allergies.

Allergic food reactions are a response from the immune system when it believes a food is harmful to the body. It creates antibodies to this food and, when the food is eaten the next time, releases chemicals to protect the body. This process can take place within minutes to hours after the food is eaten, and the symptoms are so different that, more often than not, they are not recognized as an allergy. When the allergens reach the blood, they trigger a cascade of symptoms that can affect the respiratory system, gastrointestinal tract, skin, or cardiovascular system.

Allergens can cause blood pressure to drop or, when reaching the lungs, can cause asthma or, when reaching the skin, can cause eczema or hives. Usually, the weakest point in the body is affected first.

And there is no cure. The only way to prevent an allergic reaction is to find out which food or chemical is causing it and avoid it. While there are many food allergies, the most common are: milk, eggs, peanuts, walnuts, cashews, soy, wheat and shellfish.

Synthetic vitamins, extracts, and concentrates often create allergic reactions in humans, especially in children. If it is bad for kids, couldn't it also create problems for parrots? In addition, recent research indicates that feather-plucking and self-mutilation is often caused by food allergies. There is evidence that even some behavior like biting and screaming is caused by the reaction of certain foods with the body. It makes sense. When does a bird bite or scream? When it is irritated maybe?

Allergies that are not recognized and treated often turn into serious problems. There are probably many birds whose allergies go unrecognized who go through all kinds of treatment yet whose conditions worsen, because the medications cause an additional burden for their system instead of relieving it.

Often in trying to help our feather-plucking birds, we try one supplement after another. It might be a better idea to eliminate one thing for a time from the birds' diet and see if something changes. Although this is a long and tedious process, it may be shorter and safer than trying one treatment after another without knowing the problem that causes the plucking.

When we take a look at research that indicates people become allergic to the foods they eat the most, we can start right there with our birds. If I look at the most common foods that cause allergic reactions in humans, 5 out of 8 are fed on a regular basis to most birds: soy, wheat, peanuts, walnuts and cashews. Would one of them not be a good place to start? That is easy with walnuts and cashews, but what about peanuts, soy and wheat?

Birds on a pellet diet get their share of them easily, because most pellets contain a relatively large quantity of each. And when the rest of a bird's food is not composed of a great variety, an allergy can easily develop.

If a bird already has an allergy, it is the best to examine the ingredients of its food. Then, pick one of the most common ingredients and start feeding in a way that it avoids that element. If nothing changes after one week, pick the next one. Like I already said, this is a tedious process but, with an allergy, it is the only way to get the bird well again.


A Carrot for your Parrot

by Gudrun Maybaum
www.totallyorganics.com E-mail: gudrun@totallyorganics.com
Botanical Name: Daucus carota ssp.sativus
Family Name: Umbellifeae, alt:Apiaceae

Carrots belong to the same family as parsley, celery, caraway, fennel, dill and chervil.

Carrots have been known for about 3,000 years. They originated in the area of Afghanistan. From Afghanistan, carrots spread over the near east to the Mediterranean area, where they still can be found growing wild. The Greeks and Romans used the carrots mainly for medical purposes. Greek physicians prescribed carrot root and juice to treat indigestion, skin ulcers, cancer and snake bites. Pliny, a Roman naturalist and writer, reported that carrots had aphrodisiac properties. Carrots were then white, purple or yellow in color.

The orange carrots as we know them today, began to be developed in the 1600's by the Dutch. The British developed them further during World War II into the high beta-carotene ones we have now. Carotenoids actually got their name from the carrots, because they were first identified in that vegetable. These pigments are potent antioxidants, protecting the plants from destruction by free radicals.

Today, carrots are a common vegetable found all over the globe. With up to 13 million tons of carrots harvested every year, they are one of the most economical and important of vegetables.

The USDA rates carrots among the top 25 vegetables. Carrots provide protein, calcium, iron, and the vitamins A, C, and B. They are also a top rated source of the phytochemicals alpha carotene, p-coumaric and clorogenic acids.

Just one large carrot per day provides about six times the Recommended Dietary Allowance of Vitamin A for humans. Cooking or grating carrots increases the nutritional value because it breaks down the tough cellular walls that encase the beta-carotene. To convert beta-carotene into Vitamin A the body needs a little amount of fat, because Vitamin A is one of the vitamins that is fat-soluble. Vitamin A is not only essential for healthy skin, eyes, bones, mucous membranes and hair (feathers), but can also help prevent infection.

Carrots are the fifth (after collard greens, kale, spinach, butter squash) best source of the carotene complex. One of them is beta- carotene, which is a vitamin A precursor and one of the several hundred plant pigments called Carotenoids. Young or "baby" carrots have more sugar, but less beta-carotene. Older and bigger carrots have more beta-carotene, though they may be a bit tougher.

According to the Nutritional Research Center, the Vitamin C, in combination with the folate contained in carrots, makes them a potent nutritional defense against respiratory illness and common colds. The best carrots are the ones that still have the green top attached. The phosphorus in the green tops is a good source of energy for the nerves.

Research has shown that even small amounts of raw carrots can kill some food poisoning organisms such as Listeria bacteria. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, carrots effectively block the progressive cellular damage of cancers of the larynx, esophagus, prostate, bladder, cervix and liver. In the Netherlands, a five year study was done, concluding that the cancer fighting flavonoids and antioxidants also protect the human heart by reducing the formation of oxidized LDL's, an important factor in hardening of the arteries.

The fiber in carrots is known to lower cholesterol levels in the blood. Carrots can also be used as poultice for ulcers, abscesses, cancerous sores and bad wounds. Regular consumption of raw or simmered carrots can improve the appearance of the skin and help the body to improve the absorption of calcium.

Some veterinarians say that about 70% of all pet parrots have a vitamin A deficiency. Here is a vegetable that can help us overcome this problem.

Depending on the location, carrots can grow almost the whole year but are usually available year-round in stores. They prefer sandy soil to in which to grow, but will grow almost anywhere. The ideal way to store them would be in a box with sand in a dark place (like a cellar) where the temperatures don't fluctuate. But, they can be kept for quite some time in crisper in the refrigerator.

Super Healing Foods by Frances Sheridan Goulart
Good Food Book by Jane Brody
Nutrients A to Z by Dr, Michael Sharon
Healing Foods by Miriam Polunin
The Wellness Encyclopedia of Food and Nutrition by Sheldon Margen, M.D.

by Gudrun Maybaum
www.totallyorganics.com E-mail: gudrun@totallyorganics.com

Common name: Basil
Botanical Name: Ocimum Basilicum
Family: Labiate (mint)

Spring is here in the NorthWest and with it the West Nile virus, so I did some research how to protect myself and my pets from it.

A major issue seems to be to keep away mosquitoes, and basil is an herb that mosquitoes dislike.

Basil originates from India and is still regarded as holy by the Hindus. It is planted around Krishna’s temples and a bouquet of basil is laid on the deceased's chest for protection.

Basil found its way to Egypt about 4,000 years ago, and there it was burned together with myrrh to appease the gods. Remnants of basil wreaths have been found in Egyptian tombs.

Around the 12th century, basil made its way to middle Europe and finally, in 1600, to England. For a long time, basil had both a beneficial and an evil reputation.

One side associated it with the basilisk, whose breath and look could kill, and that is where the name supposedly came from. Some believed that just smelling basil would allow a scorpion to nest in the brain. Others believed that it gave courage and strength, and drew poisons from the body.

The argument seemed to be mainly between the Greeks, who did not like it, and the Romans, who loved it. The Roman naturalist Pliny claimed that it relieves flatulence, which is supported by modern pharmacology.

For hundreds of years, basil oil was added to wash water to give it a sweet fragrance, and it is still used in some of today’s perfumes.

Sweet basil is reputed to be the sweetest in flavor among basil varieties, and it is the most commonly cultivated for today’s culinary market. In the US, most sweet basil is grown in California, but it is also grown commercially in Europe, Africa, and Asia.

There is a reason that sweet basil is one of American’s favorite herbs. It can be added to innumerable raw and cooked dishes, like salads, soups, vegetables, chicken and beef, but tomato-based dishes especially benefit from a few leaves of sweet basil.

Basil not only enhances the flavor of a dish, at the same time it supports the digestive tract in stimulating the production of bile and gastric acid juices. Basil calms an upset stomach, is a good remedy for nausea and is said to prevent peptic ulcers and other stress-related conditions like hypertension.

Basil is a cooling herb, which means it can be used to prevent or reduce fever. The oil can be rubbed at the temples for headaches.

Basil is also known for its anti-microbial, anti-bacterial and fungicidal properties. Its leaves can be applied to itchy skin, insect bites and skin problems. Medicinally, it is mostly useful for its ability to reduce blood sugar levels. Several sources even mention basil for food poisoning and a decongested liver.

Basil is best seeded indoors. Because it is susceptible to cold weather, it should not be transplanted outdoors before night-time temperatures stay above 50 degrees. Basil loves warmth and a rich moist soil to grow well. So a place in the sun, a soil with lots of compost or well-aged manure for good nutrients and regular watering will make it grow in plentitude. It is a good companion plant for tomatoes and peppers. It helps tomatoes ward off several insects and disease, and it needs about the same conditions as peppers. Tomatoes are also plants that repel mosquitoes.

The best time to harvest basil is in the morning, when the dew is gone from the leaves but the heat of the day has not yet reached the plant. Regular harvesting increases its growth.

Das grosse BLV Buch der Kraeuter & Gewuerze by Sarah Garland
Magic and Medicine of Plants
Carrots love Tomatoes by Louise Riotte
The Way of Herbs by Michael Tierra
Earl Mindell’s Herb Bible

The Importance of being Bathed
by Bill Kiesselbach, Avian Enthusiast
E-mail: bill@incentiveman.com Reprinted with permission.

Sweetum Baaaaaaaath!? Sweetum is my 4 year old African Grey male and he always says what he wants. His needs are identical to those of all birds, whether they are in our care, or not. In the middle of winter with snow on the ground and the ponds frozen I observe cardinals, jays and finches taking their regular bath in the creek behind our house. They do that because they NEED it and they have a choice. Our parrots do not have a choice. They have a drinking dish or a water bottle, hardly a place to take a bath. Some bird care givers relate that their birds hate to bathe and consequently they give up trying. The bird's continued aversion to water shows how poorly he/she has been taught. Bathing with birds, as with our very own kids often does not come naturally--as with human children, we must always be the benevolent teachers.

Taking a bath is physiologically and psychologically important for our birds, as vital to their emotional and physical health as their "daily bread," their socializing sessions with us, their 10 hour uninterrupted sleep time and their selection of toys in a clean cage. Bathing cleans the dander or feather dust, moisturizes the skin and just makes them "feel good." Dirt, as with humans is an invitation to skin problems, disease and misery. Taking a bath is a must and it is our responsibility to provide opportunity and means.

While they all need to bathe, the frequency and intensity may vary and be based on individual preferences, ambient humidity in the house as well as species requirements. We know that Eclectus parrots, for instance, due to the construction of their feathers need to be bathed more often than other parrots. Eclectus are known for their love of bathing and have been observed under lawn sprinklers, in bathtubs and trying to get into their drinking dishes. They should be soaked to the skin. Cockatoos, for instance, who produce copious amounts of dander must be bathed frequently and intensely--most of them love the experience. The cardinal rule: everyone needs to bathe--at least twice a week!

It seems that many birds must learn to take a bath and although some display a reaction to certain sounds like vacuum cleaners, which often triggers an instinctive bathing behavior reflex--the actual bath is another matter altogether. I have a male Eclectus rescue who goes absolutely nuts when he hears the vacuum cleaner but if I grab the spray bottle he wants nothing to do with it. While there may be other reasons for it from his "previous" life, the appearance of the bottle is very stressful to him. Inca, my blue headed Pionus absolutely loves the Vaporetto but he hates the bottle! I suggest that we always respect the preferences of our birds--there is usually an easy way, its up to us to find it.

There are a number of ways to initiate them into the art of bathing. I take mine into the shower with me. I have a couple of shower perches on the wall with suction cups--the kind that swing out. Even when they were babies, I put them on the perch out of the reach of the water, exposed them to the humidity and light mist and just let them watch me while I bathed my "wings." At best it was an introduction and at worst it gave us time to interact. Eventually I would just take them off the perch and hold them under the shower low down at bath tub floor level so they won't get hurt should they fall off. None of my birds likes the spray bottle and runs when they see one. It has always fascinated me how docile they get under the shower. When I get a rescue, usually a bird I have never seen before and who might be anxious, the shower works for all of them. I have never been bitten in the shower and everybody always gets satisfyingly wet. So for me the shower works best. Sweetum now just loves to join me in the shower. He babbles and whistles and stares and we have long conversations. After a while his eyes begin to close and he takes a nap!

One can also fill the sink with about an inch of water and initiate them that way--or, if the bird is not too large, use a shallow bowl and fill that with about an inch of water... and for some the old spray bottle works quite well--as long as they don't get sprayed in the face but rather like rain--from above.

There are lots of ways to teach our psittacines to take a bath--as long as we remember that in all cases we need patience and tenderness. Some will take to bathing like "ducks to water," others need special consideration. It is up to us to figure out what works best for them.

IMPORTANT: as a general rule we should always use only fresh water--it may be warm or cold. There is one exception: when giving a feather picker a bath, aloe may be added. Aloe helps with itching skin and its taste inhibits the picking. We should also avoid letting them go "nighty-night" while still wet--especially if their environment is at human temperature levels. In their "home" which in almost all cases is quite warm and humid and where it frequently rains in the evening and at night, being wet when it gets dark is pretty much the rule and no big deal--but it is a lot warmer there.

So, please, give them frequent baths, your feathered companions will thank you for it.

Bee Pollen - A Complete Food
by Gudrun Maybaum, Avian Nutrition and Herb Consultant
www.totallyorganics.com E-mail: gudrun@totallyorganics.com

Recently, I spoke with Dr. Harvey Cohen about bee pollen. He has been adding it to his high quality bird, dog, cat, and horse food he produces for the last 22 years. I have compiled this short summary gathered from information written by Dr. John Christopher, Dr. Bernhard Jensen, Dr. Maurice Hansen, Dr. Naum J.Loirich, Dr. Alicia McWatters and many more.

Bee pollen is a complete food. Its benefits to humans has been known since ancient times. Studies have shown that it meets all nutritional needs of humans and most animals. More and more bird owners and breeders recognize its value. Bee pollen is the male reproductive part of every plant. It contains the DNA and RNA of the plant. According to some researchers eating food rich in genetic material, like DNA and RNA, speeds up the process of healing.

Bee pollen is a whole food supplement that contains (found by French, British and American researchers) at least 130 substances of nutritional significance. The high quality protein exceeds the amount in beef or chicken. Bee pollen is composed of about 50% carbohydrates, rich in fatty acids, almost all known minerals, amino acids, enzymes, trace elements, vitamins like B complex, A,C,D,E, beta carotene, an antibiotic potent against E.coli.

Bee Pollen Contains:
Vitamins: Vitamin A, B1 Thiamin, B2 Riboflavin, B3 Niacin, B6 Group, Vitamin B complex, Pantothenic Acid, Biotin, B12, Folic Acid, Choline, Inositol, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, and Rutin.

Minerals: Calcium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Sulphur, Sodium, Chlorine, Iron, Manganese, Copper, Iodine, Zinc, Silicon, Molybdenum, Boron, Titanium, Magnesium.

Enzymes: Amylase, Diastase, Saccarase, Pectase, Phosphatase, Catalase, Disphorase, Cozymase, Cytochrome, Lactic, Dehydrogenase, Succiniohydrogenase, 24 Oxido-Reductases, 21 Transferases, 33 Hydrolases, 11 Lyases, 5 Isomerases, Pepsin, Trypsin.

Amino Acids: Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, Methionine, Thereonine, Alanine, Valine, Histidine, Arginine, Cystine, Aspartic Acid, Phenylalanine, Proline, Glutamic Acid, Glycine, Serine, Tryptophan, Tyrosine.

Others: Nucleic Acids, Flavinoids, Phenolic Acids, Tarpenes, Nucleosides, Fructose, Fructose, Gibberellins, Resins, Lecityin, Xanthophyllis, Guanine, and Xanthine

The main components are: Protein 21.2 %; Carbohydrates 48.5%; Fatty Acids 9.9%; Ash 2.7%; Fiber 3.5 %; Water 14.2%

Feeding bee pollen prevents nutritional imbalance, deficiencies, accumulation of toxins in the body and helps strengthen the immune system and prevent disease. The important thing with bee pollen, like with every other herb, supplement, and food, etc., is to make sure to buy a fresh high quality product. Bee pollen is considered a complete food with its nutritional balance in protein, carbohydrates, fats and all the other nutrients it contains. It is the richest food in nature.

Calcium- The Basics

by Marilu Anderson, Bird Nutrition and Behavior Counselor
Phone: (503) 771-BIRD

Calcium, one of the "macro" minerals - in other words, something the body needs in major amounts. African Greys and Eclectus are prone to calcium deficiencies, females laying eggs need more calcium and an insufficient supply can lead to egg binding.

Proper feather growth depends on calcium as well. So it's much more than just the "strong bones" nutrient! It works in conjunction with phosphorus, magnesium and Vitamin D. Besides egg productivity and bone development, calcium also helps maintain the acid/base balance and regulate the balance of body fluids as well as maintaining cell membranes and muscle function. Minerals definitely work in conjunction with each other, as well as other substances in the diet.

Seed only diets are notoriously lacking in calcium, and the Vitamin D needed to absorb it. I've seen birds who were only fed seed for years gorge themselves on cuttle bone when it's first offered - their bodies are trying hard to tell them something! It's one thing to actually consume adequate calcium, and then another to absorb what's eaten. Plant foods are notoriously low in calcium, animal products offer much more. In addition, some plants contain oxalic acid which binds calcium, making it much less available.

Calcium carbonate is supplied by things like cuttle bone (from the cuttle fish), egg shells, oyster shell - other good sources of calcium include tofu, cheese, and yogurt - cottage cheese is not a good source , however. In the plant family, almonds are an excellent source, as is spinach, broccoli, charo, and kale. These veggies do contain oxalic acid, but far more calcium is supplied than what is made unavailable by the oxalic acids. Rhubarb leaves, however, contain huge amounts of oxalic acid and should not be fed to birds. If additional calcium is needed, I like "Os-Cal," a liquid available at the health food store.

The balance between calcium and the other minerals and Vitamin D3 is a delicate one, and it can be difficult to try to achieve on one's own. This is one area where I like formulated (pelleted) diets, as the minerals are generally supplied in the proper ratios. Additional feeding of the above mentioned calcium sources should ensure an adequate calcium intake for your bird. Crush eggshells into Birdie Bread and feed lots of leafy greens (also good Vitamin A sources) in addition to a pellet, seed, whole grain, and legume base. Again, variety is the spice of life and the best way to cover all the nutritional bases!

by Gudrun Maybaum
www.totallyorganics.com E-mail: gudrun@totallyorganics.com

Common name: Cayenne - Capsicum
Botanical name: Capsicum frutescens
Family: Solanaceae or Nightshade

The first references to cayenne have been found on plaques in Egyptian tombs.

It has been cultivated for culinary and medical uses for centuries in the American tropics. The physician Diego Alvarez Chanca described cayenne first in 1494. He discovered cayenne when he accompanied Christopher Columbus on his second journey to the West Indies.

Cayenne is native to tropical America, but is now cultivated in tropical locations all over the world. In Mexico, Italy, China and Southeast Asia it is a common part of the cuisine.

Although hot to the taste, cayenne actually lowers body temperature by stimulating the cooling center of the hypothalamus. So, it helps the body deal with high temperatures in the summer or the humid tropics.

Cayenne supports the increase of the levels of liver enzymes, which are responsible for fat metabolism, and can help to reduce the deposits of fat caused by a high fat diet.

Cayenne is rich in the vitamins A, C, iron, potassium and calcium. It also contains vitamin G, some B complex, magnesium, phosphorus and sulfur.

Prized for thousand of years for its healing powers, recent clinical studies have been conducted on many of these old-time health applications and have validated cayenne's medical value.

Health practitioners consider cayenne one of the most important herbs and a wonderful healer. Because of its stabilizing effect for bleeding, shock and heart attack it is the number one herb for first aid.

The number of cases that cayenne can be used for is quite extensive. It has effective properties as an antioxidant, is effective on the cardiovascular system, is useful for high and low blood pressure, and is beneficial to the gastrointestinal function.

Cayenne is known to stop a heart attack, lower blood sugar in diabetics, normalize blood pressure, stop bleeding in seconds, improve circulation, and even halt the common cold.

Scientific evidence also indicates that cayenne pepper can be effective in treating allergies, indigestion, abscesses, tonsillitis, kidney problems, sore muscles, nose bleeds, psoriasis, shingles, night blindness, some kinds of cancer and in stimulating the body to rebuild stomach tissue.

Cayenne is a great stimulant and increases the efficiency of other herbs. Medical science does not know of another stimulant which is so natural, certain and has less side effects when regularly used.

Capsaicin is an ingredient in cayenne that was isolated by chemists more than hundred years ago. It is comprised of about 12% cayenne which is a compound that causes the sensory neurons to release P, a substance which works as a pain messenger to the nervous system to relief pain. The name capsaicin is found in many drugstore ointments for arthritis and muscle pain. It can also activate the antioxidant enzyme systems and stabilize lung membrane lipids.

All the above applies for the dried raw fruit or powder. In the cooked or un-dried form, cayenne can be a serious irritation to the digestive tract and can contribute to an ulcerous condition.

Case studies:
Guy is a Red Fronted Amazon that was badly beaten by one of his cage mates. He had lots of bite wounds on his wings and neck, but the worst was his on head, which had a big open wound. And, he had gone blind. Typically, this happened late in the evening when no vet was available until the morning.

We brought him into the house, put him into a warm environment and I started to give him water with cayenne powder. Several vets had told me that most animals in such cases die of shock and not of the actual injury. My main concern was to stabilize him. That is why I kept giving him the "cayenne water". During the night I occasionally checked on him and he seemed to be stabilized. In the morning he had his eyesight back. According to the vet, the loss of the eyesight was a side effect of the shock.

The vet had to do a major surgery and Guy got several stitches on his head to close the wound. He is fully recuperated, but very shy with other birds.

A former roommate of mine had a pair of canaries. One day we found the female laying on her back with seizures. We gave her water with cayenne powder and she was back to normal within half an hour. After that, she was given the cayenne powder sprinkled over her food daily. She was doing fine, until my friend forgot and stopped giving her the cayenne. She does not remember how long after she stopped that she came home and found the canary had died.


10 Essential Herbs by Lalitha Thomas
Today's Herbal Health by Louise Tenney, M.H.
Herbal Medicine by Sharol Tilgner, N.D.
The Healing Power of Cayenne Pepper by Patrick Quillin, Dr
Back to Eden by Jethro Kloss

Diet Conversion Techniques
by Marilu Anderson, Bird Nutrition and Behavior Counselor
Phone: (503) 771-BIRD

I love meeting birds who are stubborn eaters (and a huge number are), because I’m even MORE stubborn. Especially when it comes to nutritional health. Over the past 25 years, working with wild caught birds, rescue birds, and hand fed babies, I’ve gotten the chance to develop some powerful techniques and tricks to get birds to eat better. When someone in one of my nutrition classes says “I’ve tried everything, but she’ll only eat seed, so I’ve given up!!” My standard response is “If I were your pediatrician, and your child would only eat french fries and Big Macs, would you tell me that was all the child wants so “Oh, well?” Probably not! Well, you have an equal responsibility to your feathered children to provide nutritious food and not give in to their finicky tastes. Birds do NOT know what’s best for them, so they need your wisdom and guidance. If you’re too busy to find the time to improve your bird’s diet, then you probably shouldn’t have a bird – it’s that simple! I’ve said before that diet is the #1 factor in your bird’s longevity, and you have direct control of what goes in his food dish, so NO EXCUSES!!

First, you must limit your bird’s food choices. We’re not talking about trying to starve a bird into eating something, but rather offering different things at different times. If you give your 3 year old child a plate containing broccoli, brown rice, chicken, potato chips, and chocolate cake – guess what order he’ll eat them in? That’s right, he’ll start with the cake and chips and probably never get to the broccoli or rice. Birds are the same, so as long as seeds are in his bowl, he’ll never get to the veggies, cooked grains, legumes, or pellets. So I do what I call “staging” that food. Most birds are hungriest in the morning, so that’s usually when I recommend introducing the new foods. If you schedule absolutely doesn’t allow for that, you can reverse the order. First thing in the A.M., I remove the seed/pellet bowl and only offer cooked foods and fresh veggies and fruit. They like it warm, so if you can’t cook fresh daily, cook 3-4 days worth, then microwave the day’s portion for a few seconds before serving. Watch for “hot spots” though and stir well.

Leave it in no more than 3-4 hours, as the food will “sour” and become a breeding ground for bacteria. After removing the morning meal, serve pellets for the day. About mid-afternoon (or when you get home from work) add the seed portion to the pellets. Mix it or put the seed under the pellets so he has to encounter the pellets to get to the seed. A lot of getting a bird to eat a new food has to do with familiarity, so the more the bird sees something, the more receptive he becomes.

Do not serve such a huge seed portion that the bird can gorge on seed alone, or he’ll wait all day, knowing he can pig-out on seed later. Also, toss seeds/pellets leftover daily. (Yes, you’ll waste a lot initially). If he didn’t eat his pellets today, why would he want them tomorrow when they’re stale?

Try different ways of serving veggies – raw or cooked; (sweet potatoes and winter squash should always be cooked, though, to make the carotene more available to the body), chopped, diced, bars, etc. Whatever way you’re trying, give it a week or two before trying something else. I know it feels like a waste of time doing all this cooking and chopping, only to throw 95% away each day, but if you continue long enough and don’t give up, eventually he will try it. Budgies, Cockatiels, and Amazons are notoriously stubborn and can often take a month or two to start even nibbling new food.

If you know a favorite food your bird likes, (for example, peas) then use that liberally to entice him to try the new foods. In other words, stir peas into the grated carrots so he has to encounter them to get to his peas. Flavorings can help. Virtually every bird likes the taste of cinnamon or peanut butter. Small guys like anise. So cook with lots of cinnamon or anise, and stir peanut butter into the mix after cooking.

Find a food mentor. Birds are flock animals, so they look to the flock, especially the flock leader, to learn that to eat. If you have a bird that’s receptive to new foods, put him in the middle of the bird room so everyone else can see him eat. My own birds are great mentors for some of my boarders who don’t eat as well. No mentor bird? Then you show him! Eat the food (or pretend to) in front of him. Make yummy sounds and really gush about how great it is. Offer him some by hand or give him a dish at the dinner table or on a playstand close to it. Here’s a good technique for couples – sit at opposite ends of the dining table and put the bird on a T-stand in between you. You and your spouse offer each other food and feed each other in front of the bird. Again, make yummy sounds. Initially, ignore the bird and just focus on each other (also helpful for troubled marriages!) Pretty soon, the bird will be begging to be included so go for it!

If you truly have tried EVERYTHING for a long time and still can’t get anywhere, be sneaky! Puree veggies and put them in something he will eat, such as mixing pureed veggies with a dollop of peanut butter and serving on whole grain bread. Or mix pureed veggies, carrot juice, and ground up pellets into a recipe for Birdie Bread and give him some daily. Virtually all birds love Birdie Bread and there’s lots of good recipes out there.

The ultimate goal that I strive for is 50% cooked whole grains/legumes and veggies/fruit, 30% natural pellets, and 20% quality seed mix and nuts. It can seem like an impossible task, but keep trying—don’t give up 5 minutes before the miracle!

by Gudrun Maybaum
www.totallyorganics.com E-mail: gudrun@totallyorganics.com

Common Name: Purple Coneflower
Botanical Name: Echinacea purpurea, angustifolia and pallida
Family: Asteraceae or Aster

Echinacea has a long tradition of use by the Native Americans. They knew of the power of this plant in treating or preventing many different ailments and used it medically more than any other plant.

A group of doctors, called the Eclectics, who practiced mainly botanical medicine and were prominent from the 1830s to the 1930s were a major force in bringing Echinacea to the forefront of herbal medicine.

American medicine recognized its value and has used it since the beginning of the 20th century. The Europeans discovered it in the 1930s and have used it ever since extensively for strengthening the immune system against the flu, colds and different infections.

The active ingredients in Echinacea are alkylamides, chicoric acid and polysaccharides, which all act as immunomodulators. It contains vitamin A, E, and C, plus iron, iodine, copper, sulphur and potassium. The roots of the Echinacea Angustifolia and the flowers of the Echinacea Purpurea are supposed to have the most potent healing power. A combination of these two would be ideal.

Today, thousands of Europeans and Americans use echinacea preparations against colds and flu, minor infections, and a host of other major and minor ailments.

Echinacea is the best known and researched herb for stimulating the immune system. That Echinacea is well worth its century old reputation was shown in over 500 scientific studies. There are several constituents in Echinacea that cause an increase in the production and activity of white blood cells, lymphocytes, and macrophages. Due to its antibacterial and antiviral action, is it one of the best remedies for helping the body rid itself of microbial infections.

Echinacea also stimulates the lymphatic vascular system and has been shown to improve the body's resistance to infections such as colds and influenza, laryngitis, tonsillitis, and catarrhal conditions of the nose and sinus.

Echinacea facilitates the healing of infected wounds, boils, abscesses, carbuncles and other such infections. There has been also success with in the treatment of glandular fever and post-viral fatigue syndrome. Evidently whole plant preparations are helpful in allergies.

In short, Echinacea has some antibiotic properties. But its main action is in stimulating and enhancing the activities of the immune system, increasing the body's ability to resist infections, and giving it the strength to overcome the invasion of virus and bacteria. While doing that, it eliminates toxins and cellular debris and helps to purify the blood.

There are many different qualities of Echinacea on the market and we often don't know if we have a product that really has the properties to help us when we need it. Here is a little test: if you put some of your Echinacea on your tongue, it should cause a tingling, numbing sensation in your mouth and increase the saliva. If that is not the case, the product you have was not prepared with enough herbs, with old ingredients, or it has been produced in another way that it lost its healing properties.

Case Study
The first time I used the Echinacea/garlic combination on a bird was about seven years ago with Janis, then a one year old green wing macaw. I thought that she did not look quite right. Her eyes were dull and she was not her bold little self. After hours and hours at the vet, she (the vet) finally said that the lab tests show, that the numbers of the kidneys and liver are way out of line. She assumed that it was caused by too many pellets in Janis' diet. So she suggested I give Janis an antibiotic. I was to give this antibiotic for two weeks and then come back for more blood tests to see if it helped. If it did not help, we had to try another antibiotic. I said "no, thanks" took my little girl home, and started her on a diet with lots of fresh food, garlic and Echinacea. After three day's Janis had her old cocky attitude and her shiny eyes back. I used the garlic-echinacea combination instead antibiotics often since then and have always had success with it.

School of Natural Healing by Dr.John R Christpher
Herbal Medicine by Sharol Tilgner, N.D.
Today's Herbal Health by Louise Tenney, M. H.
www.holisticonline.com/herbal-med/herbs/h50.htm www.forthrt.com/~roland/herbfarm.html

Essential Fatty Acids

by Marilu Anderson, Bird Nutrition and Behavior Consultant
Phone: (503) 771-BIRD

You may be hearing more talk these days about "Essential Fatty Acids" (E.F.A.s) and our birds need for them in the diet. (That word "essential" is the giveaway, right?") So, what are they and how to we supply them?

We all hear a lot about "good" fat and "bad" fat - basically, the bad stuff comes from animal sources, is saturated, and hard on arteries and cholesterol levels, while the good stuff comes from plant sources, is unsaturated, actually GOOD for cardiovascular health and lowers cholesterol. Well, Essential Fatty Acids are the best of the good!

So, let's get technical for a minute - fats (chemically known as lipids) are the most concentrated source of energy found in the diet. I won't go into the classification of fats here, but only cover the Essential Fatty Acids that wd are concerned with our parrots at the moment.

Basically, fatty acids differ in saturation and chain length. "Essential" fatty acids are those not synthesized by the body, so must be supplied, therefore, by the diet. There are three - Linoleic, Linolenic, and Arachidonic (are you board yet?). Because these must be fed, they are "Essential" - for growth, for the health of nerves, arteries, blood, for visual function, and suppleness of the skin and healthy feathers. The "Queen" of these are the Omega 3 Fatty Acids (linolenic) abundant in flax seed oil and fish. Omega 6 acids (linoleic) are important for transportation and processing cholesterol and are found in corn, safflower, and soybeans. Both Omega 3 and 6 should be supplied, of which the best combined source is canola oil. Mixtures of flax seed oil with the other oils helps keep a balance of the Omegas for good health. Arachidonic acid is synthesized by linoleic acid when fed in the diet.

African Greys have been found to have a higher need for E.F.A.s than other species and I always recommend supplementing their diet with flax seed oil 3 or 4 times a week. Molting and feather plucking also increase the need, as does breeding and raising babies. Macaws also have a higher need for fat and I recommend mixed nuts 3 to 4 a day which are high in unsaturated fats and actually lower the saturated fat in the body. Vitamin E is needed for E.F.A.s to be absorbed and nuts provide the proper balance. Additional sources of E.F.A.s are many seeds and legumes (including peanuts).

It is worth noting that oils can become rancid very quickly when exposed to air, heat and light. All oils should be refrigerated after opening. Freezing or refrigerating before opening will also help extend the shelf life.

Always check nuts and seeds for freshness, and examine peanuts for aflatoxins (toss any that look moldy or otherwise suspicious).

Watch the fat intake for Amazons, Budgies, Cockatiels or any overweight birds, but be sure to include some E.F.A.s regularly for ALL birds - just use moderation if need be. Better feathering, immunity, and overall health and vitality will be the payoff for including these vital nutrients in the daily diet.

Food For Thought - What's NOT In My Bird's Food
by Gudrun Maybaum, Avian Nutrition and Herb Consultant
www.totallyorganics.com E-mail: gudrun@totallyorganics.com

With so many different bird foods on the market - how do you choose which is best for your bird? We hear and read a lot about what should be in our birds food. But, we rarely hear what we don't want in it. Some of these potentially harmful things I find in almost every food on the market.

Ethoxyquin, BHA, BHT - Would you give your bird rubber stabilizer or a pesticide to eat? Of course not! But that is exactly what ethoxyquin is. Originally developed by Monsanto Industrial Chemical Company in the 1950s as a stabilizer for things like alfalfa and grasses that were to be fed to livestock. Pet food was not even considered when the permit was issued. Ethoxyquin is also used to anti-degradation agent for rubber.

The FDA has ONLY approved it for use as a food additive for use in the production of paprika, chili powder and ground chili. It is not approved as preservative for human food and proven to cause liver damage and breeding problems in dogs. Is it in your bird's food? If you want to know more about ethoxyquin, go to www.parrothouse.com/ethox.html and read the "Investigative Report on Ethoxyquin" by Alicia McWatters. BHT and BHA fall in the same category.

Menadione - Another additive that stands my hair on end is Menadione, a so called source of vitamin K. The producer has a "safety sheet" on his German site. There it says that the person who handles the menadione needs to wear protective outfit, gloves, mask and glasses. If any contact with skin or the eyes occurs or it is inhaled an immediate consultation of a physician is necessary. If ingested, it could cause skin irritations (feather plucking?). The Merck Manual (www.merck.com/pubs/mmanual/section1/chapter3/3i.htm) says it is toxic, should not be given to babies and should NOT used to treat vitamin K deficiency. I could not find any dog or cat food and only a few brands of bird foods without it. The new thing is to "fortify" the seeds with vitamins and there we have the menadione again.

Artificial Vitamins - Then there are the vitamins added to pellets, seeds and other bird foods. Most of them are not vitamins, but an artificially produced part of the natural vitamin. For example: ascorbic acid is not the whole Vitamin C. It is only a part of it. There is scientific research that show the artificial vitamin parts do not have the same effect than the actual vitamin. But our packages can still show Vitamin C and mean ascorbic acid.

Sucrose - And why is there sucrose, which is refined sugar, in most pellets and a lot of other parrot food? I thought it was well known by now that sugar compromises the immune system, promotes candida, can even cause infections, diabetes and more.

Artificial Colors and Flavors - I don't even look at a products that looks like they could have artificial colors in it. If I see artificial colors or flavors on the label, the product is back in the shelf so fast it would make your head spin.

Choosing food is easy - instead of looking at what I want in my bird food, I first look at what I don't want and the selection shrinks to a small number of products. Is it safe, not safe? There is just no need to worry about such things when there are bird foods available without any of these additives.

Remember, it is up to you to choose what you think is best for your bird and you must do your own research, and form your own opinions. There is a disturbing tendency to jump on the newest band wagon about almost anything, especially in the information age. Ask yourself this, "What would my bird choose?"

Four Food Groups
by Marilu Anderson, Bird Nutrition and Behavior Consultant
Phone: (503) 771-BIRD

Remember grade school classes on food pyramids and the "4 Food Groups" for good (human) health? Well, guess what? It's basically the same for our parrots! As omnivores [just like humans], they eat from a broad range of foods, which we can lump into the same four food groups we see for people:

1. Veggies and Fruit - virtually all, except avocado which is toxic. Good source of many vitamins and minerals. Should be heavy on produce containing Beta Carotene, which the body converts into Vitamin A. Includes dark orange flesh and deep green leafy veggies, such as carrots, yams, pumpkin, winter squash, broccoli, kale, greens, apricots, mangoes, papaya, red peppers, etc. For most birds, feed more veggies than fruit (3 - 4 veggies to 1 - 2 fruits), as fruit is higher in sugar and water and less nutrient dense. Lories in particular, and Eclectus to a lesser degree need more fruit, however. This group should provide a minimum of 30% of daily diet. Raw or cooked - on the side or combined with cooked foods, this is a big and extremely important part of every parrot's
daily intake (finches and canaries benefit as well!)

2. Grains and Seeds - whether served as "seeds", formulated into pellets or cooked meals, this is a group consisting of all the traditional stuff, like millet, sunflower, safflower, hemp, etc., plus whole grains like wheat, barley, oats, corn, buckwheat, rye, quinoa, etc. They tend to be high in fat, low in calcium, vitamins (especially Vitamin A), and protein. However, they do provide other important minerals, and essential fatty acids. Whole grains are also a good source of Vitamin B Complex and Vitamin E. Ground dwelling parrots, like budgies and cockatiels, can eat more seed than other species, like Eclectus or Amazons. Go heavier on cooked whole grains and sprouted seeds (more like a veggie!) than seed, per se. Forms approximately 20 - 25% of daily diet.

3. Meat/Nuts/Legumes - also called the "protein" group. Includes animal protein, like chicken, fish, lean meat, and eggs - as well as live food, like mealworms. Also includes the alternate sources, like soybeans, tofu, nuts [almonds, brazil nuts, pecans, walnuts, etc.], and legumes, such as peas, lentils, beans, and peanuts. Pellets, though they contain many grains, are also a significant protein source. This group tends to be high in fat (especially nuts) and any meats should be lean and well cooked. Only feed animal sources 1 - 2 times per week. Legumes can be included in cooked mixes, and are often a good source of iron. Macaws need more nuts, and should receive a few daily. Nuts are a good source of Vitamin E and EFA's. Protein foods should not exceed 20 - 30% of diet (Eclectus are on the high end). Fats make up 5 - 10% of total (African Greys are on the high end).

4. Dairy - a very small part, but fine as long as it's cultured, like yogurt, cottage cheese, and cheese. Birds lack the digestive enzymes to digest milk, per se, but can tolerate and enjoy the other products, in moderation. This group is also a significant source of protein, as well as calcium. Feed in moderation and only occasionally, especially cheese which can "lump up" in the crop, undigested, and cause problems if too much is fed. All products should be low salt, low fat. Organic nonfat yogurt can be mixed in with cooked mixes for added flavor and nutrition. Feed dairy only 1 - 2 times per week, only making up 5 - 10% of total. Supply additional calcium with cuttlebone, mineral blocks, and crushed egg shells.

As you can see, there is a lot of overlap in the groups, since most foods provide a variety of nutrients. The diet I advocate daily as a general rule of thumb is 50% fresh veggies, fruit, cooked whole grains, legumes, 30% natural pellets, and 20% seeds and nuts. What's important is variety and a balance of all foods, with moderation overall. The base is adjusted according to things like age, species, molting, feather plucking, breeding, or raising young. I prefer "whole foods" and natural supplements to an overly processed, chemical approach [too many pellets, artificial vitamin formulations]. Watch fat if your bird is sedentary or prone to obesity. Supplements include things like alfalfa leaf, kelp, garlic, ginger, psyllium, fennel, dehydrated carrots, flax seed oil or meal, etc., based on individual needs.

by Gudrun Maybaum
www.totallyorganics.com E-mail: gudrun@totallyorganics.com

Common name: Garlic
Botanical name: Allium sativum
Family: Liliaceae or Lily

The first mention of garlic we find in scriptures from the Sumerians of Abraham's time. They were followed by the Egyptians, Hebrews, Greeks and Romans. During the building of the pyramids the Egyptians spent what would be today about 30 million US dollars on garlic to feed it to the workers who build the pyramids to keep them strong and healthy and control the spread of epidemics. It was also the treatment of choice for the nobles of Egypt.

We find it mentioned by such great Greek physicians like Dioscorides and Hippocrates. The Greek poet Homer (830 B.C) mentions garlic just in his 'Iliad' for the treatment of 147 different wounds. Pliny the Roman physician and naturalist mentions 62 diseases, which can be treated with garlic. In the Roman Empire it was given to the soldiers for strength, to the gladiators for endurance, nobilities used it in their wine as antidote against poisoning, physicians used it during surgeries as a disinfectant, it was also given to the animals to prevent gas if they ate to much grain.

The Vikings always took it with them on their lengthy voyages. From the Danish, Irish and Russians, garlic was used for colds and cough's for centuries.

Garlic is mentioned in several Old English vocabularies of plants from the tenth to the fifteenth centuries. During World War II garlic was used by the British and Russian to control infections and speed the healing of wounds.

Garlic is a tremendously nutritious health food and a miraculous healing plant. Incorporated in the daily diet it is one of the most beneficial and natural seasonings and flavor enhancers, there are on this planet. It enriches the diet and improves health, prevent disease and prolongs life. It fulfills, more then any other food, the requirement of Hippocrates' that "Our food should be our medicine and our medicine should be our food." Extensive studies around the world on people over the age of 100 that are in excellent health, conclude that they use garlic extensively in their daily diets.

Garlic research is taking place in almost every developed country. Areas of interest include cancer, diabetes, heart disease and stroke, antibacterial properties, anti-fungal use and much more. These studies have shown that garlic is almost miraculous at preventing a variety of disease. The studies were made with raw garlic, juice and an extract made from aged garlic.

People with low blood pressure should limit the intake of garlic to not more than one clove a day, because of its blood pressure lowering effects.

So far research and clinical observation have identified the following active factors in garlic:

Allicin is believed to be responsible for garlic's antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effect. It is also the factor that causes the typical garlic smell.

Alliin is a sulfur containing amino acid, which according to Russian studies gives garlic its antibiotic effect.

Diallyldisulphide and allylpropyldisulphide are the ingredients that give the cholesterol and lipid lowering effect to garlic.

Anti-hemolytic factor found in Kyolic, an aged garlic juice from Japan, is beneficial in anemia treatments (not found in fresh raw garlic).

Allithiamine is formed by the action of Vitamin B1 on alliin. Garlic is a source of biologically active compounds of Vitamin B1.

Selenium normalizes blood pressure, protects against infection and prevents platelet adhesion and clot formation, which gives garlic the anti-artherosclerotic properties.

There are also anti-arthritic, sugar regulating, antioxidant and anti-coagulant factors found in garlic.

Garlic has altogether 35 sulfur containing compounds, plus ultra violet radiation (Gurwitch rays), which have a rejuvenating effect on all body functions.

Japanese studies have shown that Kyolic, an extract from aged garlic, is effective in protecting the body from the toxic effects of metal poisoning.

The fungus Aspergillus flavus found in such foods as rice, grains, corn, beans and sweet potatoes can cause aflatoxins. This fungus is known to cause cell mutations that eventually lead to cancer. The components ajoene and diallyl sulfide found in raw garlic and Kyolic neutralize the fungus and prevent it from binding to the cell DNA matter.

Some scientific literature testifies that the high amount of sulfur protein found in garlic protects the liver from the damage of poisoning of industrial chemicals.

Garlic is the only antibiotic that can actually kill infecting bacteria and at the same time protect the body from the poisons that are causing the infection. Even the forefather of antibiotic medicine, Louis Pasteur, acknowledged garlic to be as effective as penicillin and late studies showed similar activity to a more modern antibiotic, chloramphenicol.

Another once common, and apparently returning disease, tuberculosis was treated with garlic very successfully as the invading organism Mycobacterium tuberculosis is sensitive to several of the sulfur components found in garlic. The vapor from freshly cut garlic can kill bacteria at a distance of 20 cms!

Garlic likes moist, sandy soil, but can also be grown in sandy, loam or clay. It likes sunny places and should be kept free of weeds. When planted in February or March, the bulbs should be ready for harvest in August. In cold and wet areas it will take about a month longer.

Feeding suggestions for parrots:
Some birds like to chew on the whole clove. For smaller birds it has to be cut in little pieces. It can be puréed and put into cooked food. The powder from capsules can be spread over cooked and fresh food or soaked and spouted seeds. There is also a liquid Kyolic which can be used in water or directly in the birds beak.

The Healing Benefits of Garlic by John Heinerman, PH.D
The Miracle of Garlic by Paavo Airola, PH.D
The Complete Garlic Book by Peter Josling
Herbal Medicine by Sharol Tilgner, N.D.


Healthy Diet for your Parrot
by Marilu Anderson, Bird Nutrition and Behavior Counselor
Phone: (503) 771-BIRD

Is your bird a seed only eater? Did you know in that wild seeds form only a small portion of the natural diet? While seeds are an important part of a pet parrot’s daily diet they should not comprise all of it.

Parrots are opportunistic omnivores, which in plain English means they eat whatever they encounter in their day (“opportunistic”) and, like us, eat from all the food groups – veggies & fruits, grain, and animal protein (“omnivores”). 

The seed based diets that have traditionally been fed to pet birds are not representative of that parrots eat in the wild. Little is actually known about exactly what comprises their daily diet, but their natural diet does include a variety of things like seeds, nuts, fruits, shoots, buds, corms, and invertebrates (insects, worms, and larvae). Wild parrots have even been observed eating dead fish that wash up from lakes and streams. Because some of the plant material they eat also contains toxins, parrots in South America flock to natural mineral beds regularly to feed on the clay and minerals available in order to detoxify their systems.

We do know that a seed only diet generally cuts your pet’s potential lifespan in half, as well as leading to deficiencies in vitamins, especially vitamin A, minerals, especially calcium and protein. They also tend to be too high in fat.

While formulated diets (aka pellets) are now becoming widely used, they also do not comprise a complete diet and can lead to health problems if used exclusively, especially with the kidneys and liver. Formulated diets were originally based on research done in the poultry industry, where the focus is on rapid growth and maximum size, not longevity. While they’ve come a long way, and like seeds, form an important part of a complete diet, they can not do it alone. What’s important for your bird’s health and happiness is variety, balance, and moderation. Veggies, whole grains, and some fruit should form the basis of a well fed bird’s daily diet.

A parrot’s “job” in the wild is to spend the day searching for food, then working to access it. Nuts are a prime example, as getting to the nut meat involves removing not only the hard shell, but the fibrous outer husk as well. It’s important to give your pet a “job” and make her have to work a little for her goodies as well. Having to peel veggies and open nuts helps offset boredom. (Just be sure the veggies are organic and not contaminated with pesticides.)

Patience, creativity and common sense will work wonders in improving your parrot’s diet and overall health. The rewards are well worth the effort, resulting in a well feathered, bright-eyed, playful companion who can share your life for as long as possible.

Healthy Veggies
by Marilu Anderson, Bird Nutrition and Behavior Consultant
Phone: (503) 771-BIRD

Veggies, veggies, veggies - feed your bird lots of veggies!!! You probably keep hearing that everywhere these days! Now that people are becoming more enlightened about diet and nutritional needs, there is a growing awareness of the need to provide adequate veggies daily for our companion birds. Unfortunately, too often people aren't told what veggies to feed, or how to feed them. Although all are good, some are much more nutrient dense than others.

The diet I advocate is 50% whole grains, legumes, veggies and fruit - and at least half of that should be the veggies. Stay away from lettuce - it's mostly water and low in vitamins and minerals. The one exception is Romaine - occasionally feeding dark green Romaine leaves is fine. When evaluating veggies, look for deep color - the darker the green or deeper the orange of the flesh, the more Beta Carotene available. And, of course, Beta Carotene is what the body converts into Vitamin A, which is one of the main nutrients lacking in the average bird's diet. Not only parrots can benefit from daily veggies, but softbills as well. Finches and canaries fed daily greens and other veggies show a remarkable increase in overall health and longevity. The only veggie proven toxic to birds is avocado which should never be fed. Although there's some controversy about onions, due to the N-propyl disulfide they contain, small amounts of raw or cooked onions are fine for birds.

Veggies can be fed raw or lightly steamed, depending basically on your bird's preference. Water soluble vitamins, such as B and C, are reduced by cooking, however. On the other hand, pumpkin, winter squash and sweet potatoes are better served baked, as cooking makes more Vitamin A available. Carrots also benefit from light cooking. Greens are best served raw, while broccoli can be fed raw or lightly steamed.

Here's a partial list of healthy veggies you can include in your bird's daily diet: carrots, broccoli, snow peas, green beans, kale, Swiss chard, cucumbers, asparagus, corn, pumpkin, acorn squash, zucchini, bell peppers, jalapeno peppers, beets, garlic, potatoes, lima beans, spinach, turnips, rutabaga, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, bean sprouts, alfalfa sprouts, tomatoes, celery, peas, parsley - the list goes on and on.

Generally, veggies provide lots of vitamins, such as Vitamin A and C, and minerals like calcium magnesium, and potassium. They provide good "occupational therapy" and help keep parrots entertained. They are easily digested and help reduce stress in birds. Veggies provide some protein as well. Including daily servings of several different veggies in your bird's diet will go a long way in improving his health and building his immune system. Better feathering and more vibrant floors will be your reward, as well as having a happier, more contented companion.

How natural is "Natural?"
by Gudrun Maybaum
www.totallyorganics.com E-mail: gudrun@totallyorganics.com

Within the last 10 years or so, more and more people are looking for natural foods. In the beginning it was easy, because this trend was not a money-maker. As the market has grown, one needs to start looking at how natural some of this natural stuff really is.

As soon as food is no longer in its natural state and has been processed in the lightest way, one can be nearly certain they contain additives I'd rather not have in my food or that of my birds. These additives are used to preserve, thicken, color, sweeten, enhance or modify the flavor. Most of them are synthetic, and more and more people are developing sensitivities to them.

Research studies on animals show that sodium benzoate, sulfites and sulfur dioxide, for example, cause allergies, arrhythmia, itching, migraines and hyperactivity. MSG (monosodium glutamate), artificial food colorings and flavorings can cause allergic reactions, brain and retinal (eye) damage.

BHA and BHT both can provoke skin and respiratory problems, lowering the absorption of vitamin K. I don’t even want to go into the colorings, which can cause, between a battalion of others, allergic reactions, thyroid tumors and hormonal changes. I could go on here for pages.
So we are reading more the labels of what we want to buy and are seeking ‘natural’ ingredients. This is where it becomes confusing, because there are also natural and modified natural and synthesized natural or biotechnological-derived ingredients and additives. I think I know what natural means, but what does "modified, synthesized, biotechological natural additives" mean?

Let's take the added flavors in a lot of foods as an example. Natural flavor more often than not means it is a flavor synthesized in a food science lab. Natural does not mean it is natural, it just means it tastes natural. If you want real vanilla and not synthetic flavor, you have to look for a label that says vanilla extract, instead of natural vanilla flavor.

Ascorbic acid is often declared as vitamin C. Why then is rosehips added to the ascorbic acid? Because it is a synthetically-produced part of vitamin C, so it is not natural and it is not the whole vitamin. Tests have shown that ascorbic acid helps but does not completely heal scurvy, which requires natural vitamin C in the form of oranges, for example.

Soy bean products are considered natural healthy foods, although they are so processed that there is really nothing natural left. In this case, that's good, because soy beans in their natural state contain large quantities of natural toxins or "anti-nutrients". So why do we want to eat something which has to be processed to death before it is safe to be eaten?

A real natural food is sucrose. We don’t want sugar in our birds' food, right? But there is sucrose, even organic sucrose, in many birds' foods. Oh yes, it is natural. It’s ordinary table sugar, obtained from the "juice" of sugarcane, sugar beet or the sap of the sugar maple.

All of this is sometimes very frustrating. We have a responsibility not to just believe what we read, but to become informed customers. Three years ago, I did not know that vitamin K1 is very good for many things and vitamin K3 is very toxic. Sometimes it is a nuisance, but it is also good to know what we eat and give our beloved birds.

Milk Thistle
by Gudrun Maybaum
www.totallyorganics.com E-mail: gudrun@totallyorganics.com

Common name: Milk Thistle
Botanical name: Silybum marianum
Family name: Asteraceae

Milk thistle originates from the Mediterranean Sea region, basically northern Africa and southern Europe. Dating back more than 2000 years, it was first recorded in AD 23 as a plant that was excellent for healing liver damage. Ancient Greek texts refer to the medicinal uses of milk thistle as a liver protectant, and the Romans used it to restore liver function. Early Christian tradition dedicated milk thistle to Mary, calling it Marian thistle and it is still called by this name in some languages. In the last century, milk thistle was used to treat varicose veins, menstrual problems, liver, spleen and kidney ailments.

Today milk thistle is native and grows wild in the Mediterranean area, throughout Europe, North America and Australia. For medical purposes, seeds from the dried flowers are used.

One of the most active ingredients found in milk thistle is the silymarin complex, which is a composition of the flavonolignans silibinin, silybin, silychristin and silydianin. The silymarin complex puts up an amazing protective "shield" against a variety of liver-damaging substances and effects. Silymarin has been the subject of more than 300 scientific studies, with the results of most published in Europe. The Germans were the first to discover that some of the flavonolignans of the silymarin complex are beneficial in treating liver disease. Studies have shown that milk thistle has positive effects in treating nearly every known form of liver disease, including cirrhosis, hepatitis, necroses,
and liver damage due to drug and alcohol abuse. The effects of environmental toxins, alcohol, drugs and chemotherapy can be countered with milk thistle.

Silymarin is part of the cell membrane that increases resistance against harmful influences by altering the membrane structure and thus blocking the absorption of toxins. It also promotes the growth of new liver cells and helps with the digestion of fats.

Silybin is a proven antidote to poisoning by the Deathcap mushroom (Amanita phalloides). Clinical trials have proven silybin to be effective in treating chronic liver diseases by stimulating some of the RNA to activate the regeneration capacity of liver cells. Its main function is to protect, restore, rejuvenate and rebuild the cells of the liver.

Milk thistle not only prevents and stops liver damage, it can even reverse the effect of alcohol, recreational drugs, pesticides, some poisons, or hepatitis by stimulating the production of new liver cells to replace the old, damaged ones. These days it is very easy to overload the liver, because our environment is filled with harmful chemical and other harmful substances. Supplementing the birds and our food with milk thistle every so often helps the liver to deal with this load. It is also important to use it during and after a course of antibiotics to help the liver restore its function.

From http://health-pages.com/mt/index.html A favorite national pastime in Germany is mushroom collecting, a practice with inherent risks, such as Amanita phalloides - the Death Cap mushroom. Consuming the Death Cap mushroom results in severe, usually deadly, liver damage - in fact, those who survive Death Cap poisoning have been so badly damaged that they most often require liver transplants to survive.

Miraculously, silymarin binds to the liver cells preventing the mushroom poisons from also binding, blocking their poisonous effect. The silymarin is also able to directly neutralize the poison itself, making it effective even though it has been taken after the mushroom poison has been ingested. Milk thistle extract, for this very reason, is kept on hand in German hospitals where it is administered on an emergency basis for treating otherwise fatal Death Cap poisonings.

Case studies:
When I met "Tiger," a two-year-old Senegal, I thought he was a mutant. His back was almost black because the feathers were more black than green. His diet was mostly seeds and table foods. The owners loved their bird, did not eat a very healthy diet themselves and did not know better. I suggested cutting back on seeds, adding fresh vegetables and fruits to his daily diet and giving him table food only when it was steamed vegetables without salt, butter, etc. In addition, I recommended giving him milk thistle daily. The owners did what I suggested and Tiger had more green feathers on his back every time I saw him. After six months, he looked like a Senegal again.

Fancy is a Quaker that had an overgrown beak. It was almost visible how fast the beak was growing. He was given some drops of milk thistle every day. To every bodies surprise his beak looked normal again after only about three weeks.

If you have further questions regarding the use of Milk Thistle,
please e-mail Gudrun at gudrun@totallyorganics.com.

Herbal Medicine from the Heart of the Earth by Sharol Tilgner N.D.
The Way of Herbs by Michael Tierra, L.A., O.M.D.
Today's Herbal Health by Louise Tenney, M.H.

by Gudrun Maybaum, Avian Nutrition and Herb Consultant
www.totallyorganics.com E-mail: gudrun@totallyorganics.com

Giving a fresh taste to salads, peppermint also acts to stimulate the nerves, brings oxygen in the blood stream, helps strengthen the bowel, is a sedative on the stomach, soothing to the system and lots more. It contains vitamin A and C and magnesium, potassium, niacin, copper, iodine, silicon, iron and sulphur.

Most birds love it chopped up in their cooked food or sprinkled over their dried food. Some need some time to develop a taste for it, but so do we!?


by Gudrun Maybaum, Avian Nutrition and Herb Consultant
www.totallyorganics.com E-mail: gudrun@totallyorganics.com

Known as the MOTHER OF HERBS in old Anglo-Saxon. I call it my miracle herb. Plantain was brought to the Americas by the settlers. It should not be confused with the cooking banana called plantain in middle and south America.

When I have a bite from a bird or another serious injury and I put a plantain leaf simmered for 10 min on the wound, the pain disappears within minutes. Plantain contains tannin, which has the ability to draw tissues together (ask me why I don’t have a big scar from a bird bite on my nose).

After finding out more about it, I started using it internally and it proved to be an even more powerful healer for the inside. Besides the fact that it is loaded with trace minerals, it is known to neutralizes stomach acid and poisons, stops hemorrhaging, heals chronic lung problems and lots more. I use it often in combination with other herbs for different problems. For example, the leafs made into a tea with Slippery Elm Bark Powder for all kinds of problems with the crop and the digestive tract.

Plantain grows in almost every yard and can be given freely to your birds as food as long as the area is not sprayed with any chemicals

Sea Buckthorn
by Gudrun Maybaum, Avian Nutrition and Herb Consultant
www.totallyorganics.com E-mail: gudrun@totallyorganics.com

Common name: Sea Buckthorn
Botanical name: Hippophae Rhamnoides
Family name: Elaeagnaceae

When I was researching herb information for this article, I ran into one which has not much recorded history, although it has been used for a minimum of 1,200 years. As usual, the Greeks were the first ones to note its medical use. They fed the leaves to their horses, whose coats turned very shiny, and the horses gained remarkable weight. This is how Sea Buckthorn got its Latin name. 'Hippo' stands for horse and 'phaos' means to shine.

The berries and their usage were also mentioned in China 1,200 years ago, and in Tibetan medical texts around 1,000 years ago. From there, Sea Buckthorn spread over Russia and the Ukraine into Europe, finally reaching the British Isles.

In the Far East, Sea Buckthorn has been used as a popular remedy for skin irritation, sunburn, wounds, inflammation, gastric problems, coughs, and mucous membrane disorders.

What caught my interest was the recent extensive research in many different countries that has been done on it. These modern scientific studies confirm all the claims made for thousands of years and much more.

In the 1940s, Russian scientists began to research the active ingredients of the leaves and berries of Sea Buckthorn. In the many following studies, not only have all the curative properties been confirmed, but it was found that Sea Buckthorn berries are one of the most nutritious foods on earth. Looking at the contents is almost like reading a super food label.

The berries contain 10 different vitamins, 24 trace elements, 18 amino acids, are rich in proteins and many bioactive substances. The vitamin C content is one of the highest, after rosehips, cayenne pepper and red sweet peppers, found on the planet. They are also on the top of the list for vitamin E, beta carotene and flavonoids content.

Because of its nutritional value, China planted in the beginning of the 1980s 300,000 ha of sea buckthorn. Today it has 150 factories which produce about 200 different sea buckthorn products.

Among its many other benefits, medical researchers found the effect of Sea Buckthorn on the skin, restoration of the mucous system and the digestive system the strongest. The high concentration of some rare fatty acids and cartenoids are thought to be the cause of the healing effect Sea Buckthorn has on such skin problems as burns, dermatitis and eczema.

Hospitals in Russia and China are using it for eczema, bed sores, burns and radiation injuries. Sea Buckthorn was used in Chernobyl after the reactor accident in 1986.

A German study concentrated on the vitamin Bs in Sea Buckthorn. Previously, it had been assumed that no plant contains a significant amount of vitamin B12, but this study found that Sea Buckthorn not only contains all the B vitamins, its vitamin B12 content is as high as in liver.

The clinical study shows that a lack of vitamin B12 causes such problems as skin disorders, anemia, digestive disorders, nerve damage and dysfunction of the mucous membranes.

Other researchers found some antibiotic, anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties in Sea Buckthorn.

Sea Buckthorn is a dioecious hardy plant, which means a male and a female shrub is needed to produce fruits. They thrive in moist soils, but grow also in poor soil, can tolerate cold and extreme conditions. The female plants should be pruned to provide sunlight and make picking the berries easier.


Seeds with Vitamins Added Vs Sprouted Seeds

by Gudrun Maybaum, Avian Nutrition and Herb Consultant
www.totallyorganics.com E-mail: gudrun@totallyorganics.com

It is becoming more common to find vitamin-fortified seeds for parrots, and I find it hard to understand why manufacturers do that.

I know that some pellet producers use vitamins E and C as preservatives, but I fail to get the seed connection.

We know that our birds need far more than a few vitamins in their diet, and it is my opinion that adding artificial vitamins does harm rather than good. Some of these vitamins are outlawed for human consumption in a number of countries.

For example, users of menadione are required by the manufacturers to wear protective clothing, glasses and masks when handling it. In case of any contact with skin, eyes or inhaling it, workers are advised to immediately consult a physician. Sounds like menadione is not something I want to give my birds to eat.

Even if artificial vitamins have some health-giving properties, they are but a part of the nutrition scale that is needed for the overall health of birds (and humans).

Birds that eat no fresh, raw food cannot get the necessary nutrients from some artificial vitamins.

But there are ways to incorporate nutrition into a seed eater's diet. An easy way is to soak or sprout your own seeds, which is, by the way, a very good method to find out how dead or alive the seeds you feed to your bird are. If they don't sprout, throw them away. Don't even feed them to your bird dry.

Recently I read about different parrot species, like the African Gray, that follow larger animals. They follow elephants and pick in their droppings. Scientists found that the birds eat the germinated seeds they find in these droppings, which have begun sprouting within the elephants' digestive system.

Sprouted seeds have a high nutritional content. On a sprouted-seed diet, my birds eat much less than on a dry-seed diet. They also waste much less.

Seeds are little miracles. Slumbering within them are all the nutrients necessary for a plant to live. Through sprouting, we awaken this dormant treasure. After about 48 hours of sprouting, most seeds are at the peak of their nutritional value. They are loaded with vitamins, minerals, enzymes, chlorophyll, amino acids, fatty acids and more - all of which is offered in a perfect combination only Mother Nature provides. In this form, they are also easy for the body to utilize.

Soaking and/or sprouting a variety of seeds and legumes give birds nutrition that pellets, dry seeds and supplements just cannot provide. Processing always involves some kind of heating or cooking, and heat not only destroys most vitamins, enzymes and fatty acids but changes minerals in such a way that they are difficult for the bird's body to utilize.

Another advantage to sprouting is that it is easy to add dried green foods to the soaked or sprouted seeds, because it will stick on them and be eaten by the bird.

I know people who are afraid of sprouting because of mold and bacteria. I add apple cider vinegar or citrus seed extract to my soaking water to prevent bacteria and mold. And I often feed the seeds after a night of just soaking to my birds. Some of my birds like them better when they are just soaked, some when they are sprouted.

So instead of cooking grains and legumes for my birds, which kills a lot of nutrients, I recommend sprouting them to provide one of the freshest and healthiest foods life has to offer. It also take much less times than cooking, anyway!

Slippery Elm Bark Powder
by Gudrun Maybaum, Avian Nutrition and Herb Consultant
www.totallyorganics.com E-mail: gudrun@totallyorganics.com

Can reestablish harmony in inflamed intestines within hours to a day. Put in water or juice becomes a mucilage, a slippery and very soothing substance with a high nutritional value.

It coats, protects and rejuvenates the areas that it reaches from irritations such as inflammation and infections. At the same time it absorbs impurities and toxins and helps them to pass harmlessly out of the body, while nourishing the whole body and assisting the activity of the adrenal glands.

I have given Slippery Elm with Aloe Vera for different cases of poisoning, with Plantain tea for crop infections, on open wounds with Plantain and White Willow Tincture. It worked every time very fast.

Soaking and Sprouting Seeds Made Easy
by Gudrun Maybaum
www.totallyorganics.com E-mail: gudrun@totallyorganics.com

There is this rumor that sprouting is difficult and dangerous. And that is true, if it is not done correctly. Well, actually, a lot of things are dangerous if not done right. I actually was, for a long time, a bit careful about telling and teaching people how to sprout. It is true that if sprouted or soaked seeds are left too long in the water or not rinsed regularly they go bad, can develop fungus, bacteria and such. But which fresh or cooked food, that is not loaded with preservatives, does not do the same? It is just a matter of doing it right and having good clean seeds. Doing it right is actually easy and faster than cooking for our fids.

Dried seeds are like little looked treasure chests. Slumbering within them are all the nutrients necessary for a plant to live. Through sprouting, we awaken this dormant treasure. After about 48 hours of sprouting, most seeds are at the peak of their nutritional value. They are loaded with vitamins, minerals, enzymes, chlorophyll, amino acids, fatty acids and more - all of which is offered in a perfect combination only Mother Nature provides. In this form, they are also easy for the body to utilize. Soaking and/or sprouting a variety of seeds and legumes give birds nutrition that pellets, dry seeds and supplements just cannot provide.

Soaked and sprouted seeds are so loaded with nutrients, that every bird should have them in its diet. So, I was all excited, when the Organic Soak and Sprout Mixes became available. I thought, "Now that is so easy, everybody can do that."

Taylor, my partner in crime at Your Parrot Place, does not cook. The most cooking I have seen Taylor do was to place a pizza from Papa Murphy's in the oven. But she surprised me in researching sprouting devices and finding one that is called EasySprout. She ordered it and I tried it (I thought). I have been sprouting many years and put my "professional" sprouting equipment away because this is so easy to use. But my real surprise came, when I came to Taylor's house and low and behold there was a "EasySprout" with sprouting seeds in it. It was not the overnight seed mix. She had taken the sprouting mix and was doing the real sprouting. She showed me the box of the EasySprout and said, "Look it is explained in pictures on the back of the box, step by step. You just can't do something wrong." Well, there is always somebody who will figure out a way to do it wrong. But she is right, with the Organic Soak and Sprout Mixes and the EasySprout almost everybody can do it.

Considering that most of the seeds our birds would eat in the wild would be germinated, how rich in nutrition the soaked and sprouted seeds are and how easy it is to prepare them, we should at least a few times a week add some of them to their menu.

Tea Tree Oil - Safety Alert
by Marilu Anderson, Bird Nutrition and Behavior Consultant
Phone: (503) 771-BIRD

I'm obviously a big fan of alternative health care, herbal therapies, and natural remedies - for both myself and my birds. I started learning about these things some 25 years ago, living in the San Francisco Bay Area and visiting herbalists, reflexologists, iridologists, and various natural health practitioners. So, when my birds need treatment, I generally look first to alternative treatments. Fortunately, I also check first to ensure the safety for birds of whatever I'm considering using. It's important to remember that just because something is "natural", that doesn't always mean it's 100% safe or appropriate for birds.

Recent case in point - Valentino, my lovebird, had an "owie" on his back, very raw skin spot - and I needed to clean and treat it. Usually I use Aloe Vera and/or Cayenne tincture, but I had just been given a bottle of Tea Tree Oil for a skin ailment of my own, so thought it might be good for 'Tino. THANK GOD I checked out it's safety for birds FIRST before applying it to my little guy.

Upon research, I found that Tea Tree Oil (Melaleuca Oil) is similar in structure and action to turpentine. Often used for its antibacterial and antifungal properties in both humans and animals, it can cause toxicity if ingested. We all know anything put on our bird's skin can, and will, be ingested to some degree during preening. It can also be absorbed through the skin, causing systemic toxicity.

There are reports of deaths in birds from poisoning from Tea Tree Oil, as well as some who were able to be saved by immediate emergency treatment. Although many cases occurred from using overly high dosages, one case involved only one drop of oil applied to a bleeding blood feather. So, I decided NOT to treat my lovebird's skin injury with Tea Tree Oil. Use your own judgment, but keep this toxicity potential in mind before using it on your own birds!


Jeremy's Story-(Diabetic Macaw)
by Gudrun Maybaum, Avian Nutrition and Herb Consultant
www.totallyorganics.com E-mail: gudrun@totallyorganics.com

Jeremy is a 15 year old female blue and gold macaw. The story started when we realized that she was eating and drinking ferociously, had an absolutely liquid stool and was loosing weight at a very rapid pace.

Our adventure began. The first veterinarian told us she is hypothyroid. She appeared everything but hypo to me. So we did not give her what we where told.

After a 5 month odyssey in which I could stabilize her a little we got her to Dr. Barno at Rock Creek Veterinary Hospital. By then Jeremy’s glucose was down 200 points (but she was still about 500 over normal) and her weight up 100 grams, but she was very weak and the feathers on her back where black and green instead of blue. Dr. Barno suggested insulin and a high fiber pellet diet to stabilize her. Insulin was out of question because of the trauma for Jeremy of getting a shot twice a day and knowing about the damage the insulin does to the body.

I did not like the brands of the pellets he suggested either. (I am still amazed about Dr. Barno’s patience with me) He gave me the idea by suggesting high fiber pellets. If she needs lots of fiber, I thought, I can make her a food that is loaded with it. And so I did.

Her glucose dropped, she gained weight and as long as she gets this food she is stable. She is still diabetic and green, but her old spirit and strength are back.

Jeremy’s Diabetic Beak Treats Mix

1 oz of fresh organic finely chopped vegetables
1 teaspoon of psyllium husk powder
½ teaspoon of slippery elm bark powder
1 teaspoon of organic peanut butter
a few drops of aloe vera gel
a few drops of flax seed oil

Mix well and serve!

Variety and Moderation
by Gudrun Maybaum
www.totallyorganics.com E-mail: gudrun@totallyorganics.com

There are a lot of opinions, sometimes fanatic, about what one should eat. With humans, that means macrobiotic, or vegetarian, or fruitism, or our ancestors' diet, etc. With our birds, it is pellets or not, seeds or not. Though most of us agree on one thing: fresh vegetables and fruits are good for humans and birds.

Now let's look into that one. For example, broccoli is a vegetable with one of the highest nutritional contents known. Even cooked, it has more vitamin C than oranges and almost as much beta carotene as carrots. Research shows it kills bacteria, protects against toxins and possesses many more very valuable qualities. This list goes on and on. So, why don't we eat and feed our birds just broccoli every day? Because broccoli, like spinach, kale and some other green vegetables, contains a component that, eaten daily and without balancing with other foods, leads to hypothyroidism.

Or let's take celery. It supports the kidneys and urinary system, and helps with high blood pressure, gout, arthritis and rheumatism. But it is high in plant nitrates, which can be neutralized by adding vitamin C-rich foods, e.g. orange juice, in the same meal. Another example is peas, which have almost the same nutrients as liver. They are rich in protein, iron, zinc, carotenes, folic acid and other B vitamins. But peas, like all legumes, are high in purines, which can exacerbate gout attacks in people and birds with this disease. Spinach and rhubarb contain oxalates, which among other effects inhibit calcium absorption. We can keep going like this for pages.

Almost all vegetables, fruits, herbs and spices have health promoting, even healing, properties when consumed in moderation. But many of them also have built-in properties that are for protective or other purposes, which when consumed too often or in large amounts can make them harmful. Good does not necessarily mean more is better. The key is variety and moderation.

We don't have to offer a great variety on a daily basis, when we have only one or a few birds. We can offer one to two kinds of vegetables and fruits and change them daily or every few days. Some birds are ground feeders (like budgies and cockatiels) and they normally eat more seeds in their natural environment. While it is often hard to convince this kind to eat some fruit or vegetables, patience will get us there. Other birds (like Macaws and Amazons) seldom feed at ground level since they live mostly in the forest canopy and don't have many seeds available. Fruits, bark and greens are their natural diet.

We know that if we offer a variety in one bowl our birds eat the same stuff every day and throw out most of the rest. The best way to make sure they eat a variety is to give them one or two kinds at a time. A good way to do that is to feed them fresh vegetables/fruits in the morning, some soaked or sprouted seeds later on and pellets (depending on the species) in the evening. Like us humans, birds like variety too. Mine even get tired of seeds, so when once or twice a week I bring a dried fruit/vegetable mix or nuts they all go "hmmm" and then I don't hear them for a long time, because they dig into their dishes.

Winter Squash
by Gudrun Maybaum
www.totallyorganics.com E-mail: gudrun@totallyorganics.com

Common name: Winter Squash
Botanical name: Cucurbitae
Family name: Cucurbitaceae

A vegetable that looks beautiful, is rich in flavor, has a high nutrient content, a long storage capability, variety, and versatility.

Squash originated in central America and was already cultivated by native Americans when the first settlers arrived in this country. They used squash roasted on the open fire or dried as food, and dried and wove it into mats.

The Cherokees made a pumpkin seed tea for edema, gout and kidney stones. Squash saved a lot of settlers from starvation in the early days of the new world and was therefore heartily embraced by them. They learned to love the multipurpose fruit and carried it eastward in the mid-1800s. The most famous squash, the pumpkin, became a traditional Thanksgiving food. Early pilgrims sliced of the top of the pumpkin, removed the seeds, filled it with milk, spices and honey and baked it in hot ashes; this was the forefather of today's pumpkin pie.

Though Dr. W.H. Graves wrote in "Medicinal Value of Natural Foods" (published in 1936) that winter squash is "indicated in cases of diarrhea, piles, colitis and stomach and bowel ulcers," it was just recently that we started to discover the nourishing and healing properties of squash.

The Tokyo National Cancer Institute rates winter squash at the top of the vegetable list as a factor in populations with low cancer rates. Deep orange squashes, especially, are cited as a defense against esophageal, stomach, lung, bladder, laryngeal and prostate cancer.

According to the National Cancer Institute, squash is one of the top three foods for prevention and control of lung cancer. In a study, smokers who ate 2½ servings of squash a day reduced the risk of lung cancer greatly. Also, the regular consumption of squash and other orange vegetables provides protection from second-hand smoke.

Winter squash provides not only a high amount of fiber and carbohydrates, it is rich in alpha and beta carotene, vitamins C, E, and B6, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, zinc and magnesium. Besides the high amount of beta carotene as a cancer-fighting ingredient, squash also contains a respectable amount of vitamin C. This combination makes it an effective blocker of free radical scavengers.

Its amounts of potassium and magnesium, combined with the insoluble fiber, make squash a great food to improve cardiovascular health, lower cholesterol and prevent high blood pressure, strokes and heart attacks.

The seeds are not only a great-tasting snack but rich in essential fatty acids and protease trypsin inhibitors, which prevent the activation of viruses in the digestive tract. They also help to expel tape and roundworms, are helpful in controlling urinary and bladder problems and constipation. In some African countries, the seeds are used as a laxative.

To store winter squash, buy firm, not waxed, heavy feeling and unblemished ones with the stem intact, and store in a cool dry place. They can last up to two months. At room temperature, squash lasts about three weeks.

Super Healing Foods by Frances Sheridan Goulart
Food as Medicine by Earl Mindell, R.Ph.Ph.D.
The Healing Foods by Patricia Hausman & Judith Benn Hurley
School of Natural Healing by Dr. John R. Christopher
Medicinal Value of Natural Foods by Dr. W.H. Graves

Winter Squash for the Kitchen Impaired
by Taylor Knight

I've seen them in the store, I know they are good for me and the birds, but what do I do with it when I buy it? Since I had no idea, I went surfing the Internet for answers and a crash course on identifying and cooking winter squash.

For those that are more visual, or like me who do not have a clue - check out The Cook's Thesaurus at http://www.foodsubs.com/Squash.html it has pictures of winter squash for identification.

I am sure there a lot of ways to prepare squash, but being severely kitchen impaired, I like the most common method that I found; baking. To me, cutting the squash, taking out the seeds, putting it in a baking pan with some water and throwing it in the oven for a bit sounded pretty easy. You don't even have to peel them first, however, you do need a good, solid knife to cut the suckers! You can peel it after it is cooked, if you want to. One tip I gathered was that if you, for some reason, cook or microwave a whole squash, be sure to poke holes in it with a fork so it won't explode! The other tidbit I found was that one pound of winter squash will yield about two cups of cooked pieces. Just a guideline for you!

Baking a squash: All types of squash can be baked. Butternut and acorn can be cut in half, seeds removed, and placed cut side down in a baking pan filled with 1 inch of water. All other squashes can be cut into individual serving portions and baked as well. Bake the squashes at 350 degrees for approximately 45 minutes more or less. It's done when it's tender.

Oh - go ahead and try it! Go pick out one of those weird looking things at the store - of course, organic would be nice. If you are unsure how to choose a good one, just ask the produce person. What the heck! I have to say, I have never touched a winter squash, but I am always looking for new and healthy things to feed my birds so I am going to give it shot - join me!

White Willow
by Gudrun Maybaum, Avian Nutrition and Herb Consultant
www.totallyorganics.com E-mail: gudrun@totallyorganics.com

The first one that mentioned White Willow as a fever and pain remedy was the Greek physician Dioscorides in the first century A.D.

Over the centuries the list of its uses expanded. In 1830 researchers isolated salicin and its derivative salicylic acid from the White Willow and that was the prototype of aspirin. But taking White Willow instead is more mild on the stomach and a natural remedy.

It is used for reducing fever, chills, headaches, rheumatism and is a valued nerve sedative. Its strong antiseptic abilities help fight infections in wounds, ulcerations, and eczema. I use it whenever there are injuries for its anti-inflammatory effects.


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