Why use herbal medicine?
I love using herbal medicine for animals. Animals have this amazing, natural ability to heal, and Their bodies are so responsive and vital. They have no ego, and there is no scepticism, and no expectation. This means they just heal without all of the emotional drama that can comes along with people on a healing journey.
Herbal medicine is the use of plant materials as a therapeutic healing agent. Many modern day drugs are isolated from herbal medicine. A well known example of this comes from Aspirin, originally coming from the Willow tree. There are many many examples.
Herbs used in their whole form are much safer than an isolated extract, with fewer interactions, or side effects. This is not only for the use of isolated constituents that go on to become medications in the form of drugs, but also an isolated essential oil. They are much stronger, and potentially more dangerous.
Herbs have a synergy, they are more than the sum of all of their parts.
They have a balance, and an energy.
Herbs work more slowly than isolated drugs, but on a deeper, more holistic way. They modify body function through improved detoxification, elimination, or tissue regeneration. They act directly on organs and tissues to restore, or to modify function. Some herbs are known to act in the most amazing way of modulating function, where it can bring balance by either increasing function, or decreasing function depending on what the body needs at the time.
Echinacea is one such herb. It can improve, and boost the function of the immune system if there is an infection, or the immune system is not working well. Then when given to someone that has an autoimmune condition, where the immune system is in overdrive, Echinacea can help to reduce immune function to a more normal level. Almost like ‘restore to factory settings’.
The many benefits from herbs are not just through the active constituents, but herbs are also a rich source of vitamins and minerals.
Herbs work beautifully as a single herb, known as a simple. Other times there is indication for a blend of different herbs, to provide a wider window of action, and “cover more bases” so to speak.
The magic healing of herbs shine in so many ways, but I love the way they can be adapted and formulated into an individualised blend, so even if two dog presents with a cough, they often end up with a different formulas based on the slight differences in the presentation or other health factors that are present.
Acute and chronic conditions alike
Herbs can be super effective at fighting off acute complaints, like kennel cough, or urinary tract infections. There are herbs that are antimicrobial, and also those that boost the immune system to help improve the bodies own fighting ability. To work in an acute condition, the dosages are hard and fast. Higher dosages, really frequently, even every 15 minutes!
Herbal medicine is also a very powerful and restorative medicine, helping to nourish, and boost the function of ailing organs and rejuvenate the body. This is perfect for chronic, or long term, ongoing health conditions. Chronic conditions are usually treated in a much longer time frame, and they are treated more slowly, and gently. The dosages are lower, and given 2-3 times a day.
Contraindications, interactions and cautions.
There are Dangers surrounding the use of herbal medicines. Any substance that modify and change the function of the body has risks. There can be interactions with pharmaceutical medications, and if the wrong herb is used, you can exacerbate conditions. Some interactions can improve the function of a drug, so a lower dose is required. Some herbs can increase the clearance of a drug though the detoxification channels, which can be really dangerous!
Herbs in the diet
Fresh herbs can be safely added everyday into the diet. Add in fresh nutritive herbs, like basil, parsley, dandelion. Make sure they are be blended or finely chopped and added to your carnivores meals. Small animals like guinea pigs and rabbits can eat them fresh. Horses will often seek them out in their paddocks- the creation of a herbal garden or laneway can be very beneficial.
Herbal teas are a gentle and safe way to use herbs for your pets. A herbal tea is very dilute, and large amounts must be drunk to offer the full therapeutic effects.
Chamomile is a gentle and safe herb to use for stressed and anxious pets, except for cats, that can metabolise many things quite differently.
Infuse a heaped tsp in a cup of just off the boil water until luke warm. 1/2 cup per 10kgs.
Teas are also an effective way to use herbs as a wash on wounds, or to flush out the eyes. A tea bag or two per cup of water. Infuse for 5-10 minutes, when cool enough, use as a wash for a wound, or for a compress on an inflamed and irritated eye.
I use herbs in animals in a much stronger form- herbal tinctures. An alcohol and water extract, but they can also be in vinegar, or glycerine. This is a really strong herb preparation that requires a much more calculated dosage, and care when mixing of several herbs together. The benefits of using herbal tinctures are much lower dosages required, We are talking mls as opposed to cups. Also some constituents are not soluble in water alone, so they need the alcohol or other solvent to be able to extract these constituents. They are also really shelf stable, so they don’t need to be made up fresh every day.
There are so many reasons to use herbs for pets. Animals just respond so well to them. Have you ever used herbal medicine for your fur-babies? Make sure to comment below to tell us your experiences.
If your pet has a current health condition, I offer individualised Naturopathic consultations for your pets- just check out my working with me page.
Give your dog a pat for me!