Where Did You Come From?
I began my journey in research working in a microbiology lab at East Tennessee State University that was tailored for undergraduate research students. I was assigned to a project studying the efficacy of a novel, all-natural, potentially anti-microbial compound formulated to reduce pain and stimulate tissue regeneration. This compound would later be known as Lavengel.
I’ll be honest; I had no idea what I was doing for the first two weeks. At that time, I had worked as a veterinary assistant for about 4 years, and I was so excited to check out an all-natural product focused on our canine friends.
As a senior, I completed a preliminary research project testing the ability of Lavengel to inhibit biofilm development (much more on those in this biofilm post) and to penetrate and eradicate pre-established mature biofilms – and the results were phenomenal.
Where Did You Go?
After completing that project, I was bitten by the research bug. I decided that I wanted to take this thing a step further and complete a master’s degree in Biology, concentrating on Microbiology so I could further investigate Lavengel’s capabilities.
I focused my thesis research on quantitating the gel against a panel of microbes that are known to have anti-microbial resistance in their lineage (i.e., tougher to kill).
Microbes like Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (you’ve heard of MRSA, right?) are becoming increasingly common in both human and veterinary medicine.
In the veterinary population, Staphylococcus pseudintermedius is a highly prevalent strain along with its Methicillin-resistant counterpart, MRSP. I also investigated the genetic pathway that Lavengel might use to stop bacterial growth and its ability to clear infection from an artificial wound model that simulates the properties of real skin.
Where Did You Come From, Cotton-Eye - Wait, No
Lavengel is made up of a few common natural ingredients that work together in tandem to accomplish these ultimate goals:
- Reduce pain and inflammation
- Stimulate collagen and new tissue formation
- Reduce microbial burden (get rid of microbes that slow the healing)
- Control itching and discomfort
- Be non-toxic in canines and humans
Creating a product that is safe and effective is difficult enough. Creating a topical product that is safe for our furry four-legged friends, maintains effectiveness even when removed, and can hang with the big boys in the antibiotic world is almost unheard of. So, let’s talk about what exactly allows Lavengel to accomplish this feat.
Dive Deeper - What is Lavengel?
Lavengel is a nutrition-based, antioxidant-packed gel comprised of Vitamin E TPGS, zinc aspartate, ascorbyl palmitate (Vitamin C), and lavender oil.
Vitamin E TPGS is a form of the common Vitamin E that can distribute water across the surface of tissue evenly, increasing the absorption of ingredients. This makes both Vitamin E, ascorbyl palmitate, and zinc available to help with things like tissue healing and regeneration.
Additionally, these ingredients help to reduce free radicals within the cell that can slow the wound healing process over time.
Lavender oil is a well-known essential oil isolated from the lavender flower. Its healing properties have been well-noted throughout history, and it has been used for anxiety, depression, insomnia, and more.
In this case, lavender’s anti-inflammatory effects and its antioxidant properties work to reduce pain and swelling in the area using a key component called beta-caryophyllene—not to mention the fact that this product smells amazing.
I’m not totally convinced that it’s not made from angel dust, but that’s for another blog.
Off the Bench
I’ve worked in several areas of veterinary medicine, including small animal general practice, homeopathic medicine, critical care, and emergency medicine. It is sometimes difficult to use topical products on patients, especially if the patient can reach the area to lick or chew.
One of the great benefits to both clinicians and owners is that Lavengel remains effective even if the patient licks the area. It is suggested that you try to keep your pet busy for a few minutes, so the gel has time to work. In some cases, your pet may need to wear an E-collar to discourage them from causing more damage.
Hotspots, Microbes, and Biofilms
Acute moist dermatitis, or “hot spot,” is a common complaint in veterinary offices, especially during warmer months when allergies are high. They often present with the patient chewing and licking an area relentlessly.
The more the patient disrupts the area, the more painful and uncomfortable it becomes (think of that itch that you just can't scratch enough!). As the area remains moist, common, typically harmless microbes that live on the skin can take root in the area.
Many of those strains secrete extra-cellular products that build a protective layer over the population. This layer, called a biofilm, protects the microbes from the patient’s immune response as well as antibiotics that may be applied topically to the wound (See my Biofilms post for more on those).
Pathogens have all sorts of tricks to evade detection from the host’s immune response. You can think of bacterial biofilms as their own little towns. They have inflows for nutrients, outflows for waste disposal, and a sticky wall to protect them from dreaded leukocytes (the cleanup crew of the immune system).
If Lavengel is applied at the beginning of the wound process, it prevents those microbes from populating and setting up shop in the area. It is effective against many common pathogens related to skin infections.
If Lavengel is applied post-infection, it can penetrate that protective layer to affect the microbes that are reproducing underneath. During that process, it is lowering inflammation levels, lowering pain and itch in the area, and stimulating the area to build new skin tissue to heal the wound.
You Name It, I’ve Probably Put Lavengel on It
I have seen time and time again the effect that Lavengel can have on patient care. We often use it in conjunction with other antibiotics and pain medication when necessity arises.
It is something you can reach for whether you’re treating post-surgical sites, hot spots, bite wounds, burns, ringworm, a broken toenail, a scratch, etc. You name it, I’ve probably put some Lavengel on it.
Lavengel Saves the Day
One of the most rewarding cases that I have witnessed so far was a patient that was presented at our office for a second opinion.
A geriatric Australian Shepherd had a palm sized wound on her lower back, about 5 inches above the base of her tail. This sweet girl had been suffering with extreme pain and discomfort for several months, undergoing multiple rounds of antibiotics.
Her previous veterinarian concluded that she probably had skin cancer that was spreading in that area. The patient was so painful at that time that she would not even allow her owner to pet her or touch her below the head.
Her owner was not willing to accept the possible cancer diagnosis without further testing and confirmation (totally understandable).
We ultimately decided to sedate that patient, take radiographs, sample the lesion, and send the samples off for bacterial cultures. In the meantime, the patient was prescribed Lavengel to put on the lesion as many times a day as her owner could manage.
I don’t think I can fully express the change that we saw in this patient after Lavengel. The pain was drastically reduced, the wound began to slough off and new pink skin was being seen under the scab.
The bacterial culture reported that she had a resistant strain of bacteria that needed a specific antibiotic treatment. We got the patient placed on the correct antibiotic and the lesion healed completely within 3-6 weeks.
I think we all shed a tear for this patient. She was such a sweet girl and to see her duck away from her owner was heartbreaking. Lavengel made all the difference in her life, and she was so grateful.
Lavengel Is Rooted in Nutrition
I not only advocate for this product because I’ve seen it working on the research bench and in clinical practice, but also because it’s rooted in nutrition.
Natural effective medicine that can combat microbial resistant species is an extremely powerful tool. Its ability to reduce pain and reduce healing time is a gigantic bonus.
I consider this product a staple in my own home, and I use it on both of my dogs (and husband) frequently. I’ve witnessed its ability to heal over and over again.
Even when I thought a wound was too deep to be healed, Lavengel surprised me. Even when owner compliance has been an issue, Lavengel surprised me.
Lavengel is a nutritionally-based gel product that is free of chemicals and preservatives.
All of the ingredients that go into Lavengel are sourced from North American vendors and verified for purity under the Current Good Manufacturing Practices.
It was developed by a biochemist and clinical nutritionist (Dr. Andy!) to help a friend suffering from outbreaks of shingles.
After ten years of studying and testing the gel, it’s been proven effective against a variety of skin disorders in both humans and animals.
It is especially effective against Staphylococcus aureus species (including MRSA!)
Veterinary professionals have reported using Lavengel on a variety of canine skin irritations including:
- Acute moist dermatitis (canine hot spot)
- Atopic dermatitis (rash due to allergic reactions)
- Fungal rashes
- Spider Bites
- Staphylococcus pseudintermedius and MRSP infections
Lavender + Cotton
(Watch out - shameless plug ahead)
I began working in a small veterinary practice in East Tennessee after my own pet became critically ill. My experience with him showed me a new world of science and medicine. I saw the impact that veterinary professionals can have on patient lives as well as the lives of their owners.
My dream was and is to make a positive impact in the veterinary profession through science-based research and direct patient care. I must give credit where credit is due.
Cotton showed me the unconditional love that we all get from our pets, and without him I don’t think I could have found my way into veterinary medicine (never mind research), so he really deserves all the credit!
Every animal deserves great medical care that includes safe and effective medical products. That simple fact is what drives veterinary medicine forward and why research like mine and others is so important.
Tasha Nelson Phillips is a veterinary assistant and researcher. She began her work in veterinary medicine in 2014 at a small practice in East Tennessee. She has a B.S. in Biology as well as a Master’s degree in Microbiology from East Tennessee State University. Her undergraduate and graduate research focused on Lavengel®, exploring its efficacy and mechanism of action against common bacterial species.
Tasha’s interests focus on natural antimicrobial options and exploring novel compounds to combat antibiotic resistance. She continues to work in small animal emergency and critical care medicine. She spends her free time with her husband and three furry babies in their East Tennessee home.