Complementary Medicine


Mange (Demodectic / Sarcoptic)

Definition and cause

Demodex is a localized or generalized parasitic disease caused by Demodex spp. mites. The underlying cause is believed to be genetic or related to immune deficiency or imbalance. In cats it is most often associated with other systemic disease such as FIV. Sarcoptic mange is a highly pruritic parasitic disease caused by the mite Sarcoptes scabiei.

Medical therapy rationale, drug(s) of choice, and nutritional recommendations

For demodex the medical therapies of choice are Amitraz, Ivermectin, or Milbemycin, all of which have potential side effects and are potentially toxic. Amitraz is particularly toxic to humans, and proper precautions should be taken to protect humans from exposure to its active ingredient. None of these treatments address the underlying immune imbalance. Therapy for sarcoptic mange involves mitocidal shampoos or dips along with the medications used in demodex, and / or the use of Selamectin. In addition, antipruritic medications such as antihistamines and corticosteroids are often recommended.

Anticipated prognosis

Localized demodectic mange usually carries a good prognosis. Generalized demodecosis in immune-compromised animals often has a more guarded prognosis. Sarcoptic mange has a good prognosis.

Integrative veterinary therapies

Mange is a nondescript term meaning infestation with one of several mite ectoparasites. These ectoparasites cause irritation through their waste products and physical injury to the host (burrowing), and by their physical presence on the host, which triggers various responses directed at elimination of the mites (pruritus, grooming, self destructive behavior). Damage directly from the mite’s activities and or from the host response leads to a worsening condition.

The integrative approach expands the medical therapy to include the immune system. The integrative approach is cellular protective for the potential toxic effects of medication and mitacidal dips, and helps improve immune function and its ability to rid the body or prevent re-infestation of the mites and lessens inflammation, pruritus, and discomfort.


General considerations / rationale

While medical therapy is focused locally upon destruction of the mite and the skin (inflammation and / or pruritus), the nutritional approach adds gland support for the organs of the immune system as well as nutrients to help decrease local inflammation and improve waste elimination. Because mange, especially demodex, can range in severity from local to generalized and can affect other organs, it is recommended that blood be analyzed both medically and physiologically to determine associated organ involvement and disease. This gives clinicians the ability to formulate therapeutic nutritional protocols to address the skin and organ involvement such as liver inflammation secondary to medication or chemical dips (see site, Nutritional Blood Testing, for more information).

Appropriate nutrients

Nutritional / gland therapy: Glandular adrenal, thymus and lymph provide intrinsic nutrients and help neutralize cellular immune organ damage and protect organs from ongoing inflammation and eventual degeneration (See site, Gland Therapy, for more information).

Sterols: Plant-derived sterols such as betasitosterol show antiinflammatory properties, which appear to be similar to corticosteriods. A cortisone-like effect without the associated immune suppressing effects is beneficial in inflammatory skin conditions. Bouic (1996) reports on the immune-enhancing and balancing effect that plant sterols have on the body.

Quercetin: Quercetin functions like an antihistamine and an antioxidant, and is beneficial for the skin. In its antihistamine role, quercetin has been shown to inhibit cells from releasing histamines, which makes it helpful in treating inflammatory dermatitis.

Lecithin / phosphatidyl choline: Phosphatidyl choline is a phospholipid that is integral for cellular membranes. It is an essential nutrient required by the skin, which is the body’s largest cellular organ.

Essential fatty acids: Much research has been conducted on the importance of essential fatty acids on the clinical management of allergic dermatitis. In addition, the importance of the ratio between omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids has been substantiated. Research on the use of poly-unsaturated fatty acids has shown their beneficial and antipruritic effects on skin.

Vitamin C: De la Fuente (1998) and Penn (1991) showed that vitamin C in combination with other vitamins significantly improved immune function as compared with a placebo.

Chinese herbal medicine / acupuncture

General considerations / rationale

Mange is a result of parasites in both Western and traditional Chinese medicine theory. Both modalities have the same treatment objectives: kill the parasite, decrease discomfort, and prevent secondary infections. It may also be prudent in some patients to improve immune function to allow the patient to clear the parasite.

Appropriate Chinese herbs

For topical application:

Alumen (Ming fan): Has been shown to inhibit bacterial growth, which may help to prevent secondary bacterial infections in lesions caused by scratching.

Cnidium (She chuang zi): Has antibiotic properties. It also decreases itching. In a study involving 607 patients with severe pruritis, it stopped itching in 84% of the participants.

Prickly ash (Hua jiao): Possesses antibacterial and antidermatophyte properties. This may help prevent secondary infections.

Realgar (Xiong huang): Has traditionally been used to kill internal and external parasites by traditional Chinese medicine practitioners. It has been shown to treat pinworms and malaria, which are internal parasites. The efficacy shown against internal parasites suggests that it would also be effective topically against external parasites.

Sulfur (Liu huang): Is commonly used topically in Western medicine for mange, often as a lime sulfur dip. It has been used as a component for the treatment of psoriasis. For immunosuppression:

Angelica root (Dang gui): Increases the phagocytic activity of macrophages.

Astragalus (Huang qi): Stimulates the cellular and humoral immune systems. It contains astragalan, which enhances phagocytic activity of macrophages and antibody synthesis.

Codonopsis (Dang shen): Enhances the immune system by increasing the weight of the spleen and thymus and the total number of white blood cells and lymphocytes.

Dioscorea (Shan yao): Enhances both the cellular and humoral immune systems.

Fleece flower root (He shou wu): Increases the total white cell count, especially the T-cells, and increases the phagocytic activity of macrophages.

Licorice (Gan cao): Can enhance the phagocytic activity of macrophages.

Lotus seed (Lian zi): Was shown to increase the number of T cells in the thymuses in mice, which implies that it may be useful in treating immunosuppression.

Poria (Fu ling): Contains pachman, which increases the phagocytic function of macrophage.

Psoralea (Bu gu zhi): Stimulates the phagocytic actions of macrophages.

Rehmannia (Shu di huang): Increases the phagocytic activity of macrophages.

Schizandra (Wu wei zi): Can prevent cyclophosphamide-induced decrease in the white blood count.

White atractylodes (Bai zhu): Increases the TH cell count and the TH / TS ratio. It increases the phagocytic function of macrophages.

Wolfberry (Gou qi zi): Increases the phagocytic activity of macrophage phagocytic and raises the total T cell count.

Zizyphus (Suan zao ren): Enhances cellular and humoral immunity.


General considerations / rationale

A genetic predisposition (Degeneration Phase) is involved with demodectic mange, and affected individuals should not be used for breeding.

Palmquist relies on conventional therapy to treat most of these (lyme dip and Ivermectin in breeds which can tolerate the drug), but in certain cases it may prove helpful to support immune function, detoxification, and repair of tissues injured by homotoxins. Antihomotoxic agents may have a place in therapy in such cases. The authors are unaware of any work reporting single use of homo-toxicology in the management of veterinary mange cases.

Appropriate homotoxicology formulas

BHI-Hair and -Skin: May help repair skin and hair in recovery phase and detoxification, provide support in cases of damage from vaccines, and promote vicariation of chronic diseases.

BHI-Skin: Treats eczema on elbows, scaly scratchy dermatitis, ulcerations, and urticarial reactions.

Coenzytne compositum: Contains cis-Aconitum acidum for pruritus, skin diseases, and psoriasis. Several of the active skin catalysts in Coenzytne compositum are common to Cutis compositum.

Cutis compositum: Provides support of all skin conditions. This is a critical skin remedy, named primarily for Cutis suis, and indicated in allergic reactions, dermatoses, eczema, seborrheic conditions, pemphigus, psoriasis, dermatomycoses, neurodermatitis, and other skin conditions, as well as disturbances of renal excretion. Contains Ichthyolum, which has pustular acne and violent pruritus (facial) as its main indications. Ichthyol ointment serves to soften and clear out abscesses and is a stimulative treatment in inflammations. Sulphur is also a critical component (See Sulphur-Heel). The remedy contains Cortisone in homeopathic dilution, which is indicated for diseases manifested in the connective tissue, such as disorders of the skin, blood, and vascular systems. Fumaricum acidum, Alpha ketoglutaricum, and Natrum oxalaceticum included are for pruritus, skin diseases, and psoriasis. These catalysts are also found in Coenzytne compositum. Funiculus umbicalis suis is indicated for rehabilitation of tissue. This is a connective tissue remedy indicated in almost all chronic diseases. It repairs damage to connective tissue, and is used for psoriasis, skin eruptions, and dermatitis.

Echinacea compositum: Used for secondary infections. Arsenicum is indicated for skin eruptions and other symptoms of a stubborn nature that may border on the phase of Degeneration. It also contains Sulphur (see Sulphur Heel) and Cortisonum acidum (see Cutis compositum).

Engystol N: Is immune supportive in allergic and viral cases, and contains sulfur, which is indicated in chronic issues.

Graphites homaccord: Treats pigmented, greasy lesions without hair.

Hepar compositum: Improves detoxification status by its action on the liver.

Psorinoheel: A phase remedy in Excretion and Impregnation cases. Psorinum is an extract of scabies mange excretions and has been used in classical homeopathy for many years. This also contains Sulfur, which is indicated in chronic conditions (see Sulphur-Heel). May be helpful in so-called constitutional cases.

Schwef-Heel: Works through its higher potency of Sulfur.

Solidago compositum: Used in Deposition phases, this remedy assists the skin by its support of the kidney.

Sulphur-Heel: Primarily named for the contained remedy, Sulphur, known for its use in various skin diseases, especially those of chronic nature, and pruritic eczema and suppurative skin diseases. Sulphur is one of the most important components of tissue in the body. Therefore, Sulphur is the major remedy in practically all cellular phases, particularly in the Impregnation Phase, which still displays a tendency to turn regressive. This also contains Mezereum, which is useful for pruritic skin irritations and skin suppuration, and has several other skin-active remedies as components.

Traumeel S: Treats inflammatory lesions with much inflammation.

Authors’ suggested protocols


Skin and immune support formula: 1 tablet for every 25 pounds of body weight BID.

Lymph support formula: One-half tablet for every 25 pounds of body weight BID.

Betathyme: 1 capsule for every 35 pounds of body weight BID. (maximum 2 capsules BID.)

Lecithin / phosphatidyl choline: One-fourth teaspoon for every 25 pounds of body weight BID.

Eskimo fish oil: One-fourth to 1 teaspoon per meal for cats. 1 teaspoon for every 35 pounds of body weight per meal for dogs.

Oil of evening primrose: 1 capsule for every 25 pounds of body weight SID.

Additional vitamin C: 100 mg for every 25 pounds of body weight BID.

Quercetin: 50 mg for every 10 pounds of body weight SID.

Chinese herbal medicine

To kill the mites, the authors use a combination of sulfur (Liu huang), 30g; realgar (Xiong huang), 15g; Alumen dehydratum (Ming fan), 45g; prickly-ash (Hua jiao), 25g; and Cnidium seed (She chuang zi), 25g. Mix well and apply topically daily for 2 to 3 weeks.

The authors also recommended H7 Immune Stimulator for 6 months in conjunction with Mitaban dips, daily Interceptor, Ivermectin, or herbal parasite dips to counteract immunosuppression. The H7 ImmuneStimulator is dosed at 1 capsule for every 10 to 20 pounds twice daily. In addition to the herbs mentioned above, Immune Stimulator contains euryale (Qian shi), longan fruit (Long yan rou), saussurea (Mu xiang), and white peony (Bai shao). These herbs increase the efficacy of the formula.


(Dose: 10 drops PO for 50-pound dog; 5 drops PO small dog or cat)

Psorinoheel and Schwef-Heel: Mixed and given twice daily orally.

Cutis compositum: Given initially, and then as needed.

Autosanguis Therapy:

1. Traumeel

2. Hepar compositum

3. Galium-Heel

4. Cutis Heel

5. Ubichinon compositum

Oral cocktail: Schwef homaccord, Psorinoheel, and Lymphomyosot, plus the remains of autosanguis in a syringe, taken orally BID to TID.

Echinacea compositum forte tabs: Use if needed.

Ivermectin: Give PO daily in breeds that can tolerate the drug.

Nutraceuticals: AFA Algae, GlutaDMG, vitamin E, fatty acids.

Product sources


Skin, immune and lymph support formula: Animal Nutrition Technologies. Alternatives: Immune System Support — Standard Process Veterinary Formulas; Immuno Support — Rx Vitamins for Pets; Immugen — Thorne Veterinary Products; Canine Dermal System Support — Standard Process Veterinary Formulas; Derma Strength — Vetri Science Laboratories.

Betathyme: Best for Your Pet. Alternative: Moducare — Thorne Veterinary Products.

Oil of evening primrose: Jarrow Formulas.

Eskimo fish oil: Tyler Encapsulations.

Lecithin / phosphatidyl choline: Designs for Health.

Quercetin: Source Naturals; Quercetone — Thorne Veterinary Products.

Chinese herbal medicine

Formula: H7 Immune Stimulator Natural Solutions, Inc.


BHI / Heel Corporation