Herbal medicine or phytotherapy is the use of plants or plant extracts to assist in the healing of man and animals. It has been practiced by man for thousands of years Many of our modern drugs are derived from plants such as aspirin. Herbalists prefer the more complex compounds found in plants as they interact together to produce a gentler, deeper healing response than do in individual components as drugs. Herbs are frequently combined in carefully calculated blends to give the correct combination of affects for a particular illness. e.g. Hops, Skullcap and Valerian is a combination used to relieve anxiety and stress in animals, each component on its own would not work as well. Hops and Skullcap have tranquillising properties Valerian also acts as a tonic to aid repair of stress nervous tissue. Herbs are useful to aid detoxification of the results of illness for example they can act as diuretics to stimulate urine flow. They can also serve as tonics to aid healing of particular parts of the body. There are a number of systems of herbal medicine: The Western tradition, the Chinese medicines and the Indian Ayurvedic tradition are the best known. All are holistic systems when used by expert herbalists in that they take the individual's symptoms into account not just the disease. Herbs can be given or prepared in a number of ways:
Fresh herbs. Chop and mix with food. Perhaps the ideal way to give herbs when they are available.
Dried herbs to add to food or to make into infusions or decoctions by adding hot water for internal or external use
Alcoholic tinctures to give directly or diluted in water add given orally using a syringe or dropper
Oil infusions or lotions are given externally for example rubbing into sore joints.
Commercially prepared tablets or powders are the most commonly seen form of herbal remedy
Animals can be difficult to give herbs to especially cats. This is perhaps the main drawback of this branch of medicine. Tablets can be forced down but as most treatments are long term this may not be practical. Tinctures can be useful in cats if diluted as they hate alcohol. However many dogs will readily take fresh or dried herbs in food. Infusions or diluted tinctures can be given using a dropper giving 1 teaspoon twice daily for a cat and 1-4 tsp. twice daily for dogs. Horses of course are easier to dose, they are generally given the dried herb in with the concentrate feed. Infusions can be used to aid eye problems e.g. Euphrasia or to aid the healing of ear infections or wounds: Calendula for example or Aloe vera. There are proprietary creams and ointments available for pains, wounds etc. If you use herbs long term for a chronic problem it is can be best to 'pulse' them on and off for safety. i.e. Give daily for 2-3 weeks the stop for 2-3 weeks then repeat. Some examples of useful herbs are outlined below. Many more are mentioned in the Ailment Pages under the specific diseases.
Veterinary Herbal Medicine Some commonly used herbs briefly outlined: Agrimony ( Agrimonia cupatoria): This is a good remedy for the digestive system; It can help with colitis and diarrhoea and aids digestion. It is a bitter tonic and will improve appetite. It can be found in Denes Probiotic powder in the shop Buchu : This herb is used to help urinary conditions such as cystitis Cranberry Used for bladder inflammation and cystitis. Available as 'Cranbiotic' in the shop Garlic (Allium sativum) Has antiviral and antibacterial properties which make it usefull in skin and respiratory conditions. it has been found to promote normal levels of friendly gut bacteria Aids circulation and of course repells fleas and vampires! Found in Denes and Dorwest garlic tablets and liquid garlic. Musk Mallow (Malva sylvestris) Has anti inflammatory, analgesic and pain reducing properties. Found in Denes Hot Itch Hawthorn (Cretaceous) This herb is a heart support herb and is often prescribed for older pets with heart conditions. Devils Claw An anti-inflammatory herb used in chronic arthritis and back pains mainly for older dogs and horses. Nettles (Urtica dioica) Nettles are a tonic for the skin and coat and a rich source of iron and essential vitamins and minerals. The herb has a diuretic affect and is useful for cleansing the body, arthritis and rheumatism. Echinacea A stimulant of the immune system, helps prevent and treat chronic skin and other infections Peppermint (Mentha piperita) This is useful in the treatment of indigestion, farting, colic and nausea because of its carminative and antispasmodic affects. It also stimulates the appetite. Milk Thistle (Silymarin): Useful as a liver tonic. It aids recovery of a damaged liver Cranberry Used for bladder inflammation and cystitis. Available as 'Cranbiotic' in the shop Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi) Acts on the urinary tract, tonin and smoothing the lining of the bladder. It has antiseptic properties as well as being a mild diuretic so can help in the treatment of cystitis, bladder stones and gravel and other kidney problems. Dandelion (Taraxcum off.) This herb is valuble in treating jaundice and other conditions of the liver. It promotes the flow of bile and can be useful treating constipation following liver disease. Found in Denes Denex tablets Garlic (Allium sativum) Has antiviral and antibacterial properties which make it usefull in skin and respiratory conditions. it has been found to promote normal levels of friendly gut bacteria Aids circulation and of course repells fleas and vampires! Found in Denes and Dorwest garlic tablets and liquid garlic. Aloe Vera Apply the gel to burns, dry or itchy skin and infected wounds to aid healing. It can also be taken internally as a general tonic. Chamomile (Anthemis noblis) An essential oil which has strong anti-inflammatory properties. It helps sooth sore skin and relieve irritation. Tea Tree (Metalenca alternafolia) Has antiseptic properties: antiviral,fungal and bacterial and so is usefull exturanally to treat skin condtions. It is found in Denes Ear cleaner and their Skin Balm and Hot Itch lotion Musk Mallow (Malva sylvestris) Has anti inflammatory, analgesic and pain reducing properties. Found in Denes Hot Itch Hawthorn (Cretaceous) This herb is a heart support herb and is often prescribed for older pets with heart conditions. Tumeric Anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer - use for arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and much more. Golden Paste is one excellent way to give this.Click here to see how to make it Devils Claw An anti-inflammatory herb used in chronic arthritis and back pains mainly for older dogs and horses. Raspberry Leaf (Rubus indaeus) Assists welping and kittening by strengthening the pelvic muscles and encourageing contractions. It can also help with false pregnancy.