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Herbal Medicine

By jim Published: November 5, 2009

There is a strong movement of utilizing herbs and natural products in almost everything we use, from soaps and lotions, to cleansers and detergents, to pet food and grooming products, and naturopathic or holistic medicine is enjoying a big surge. Many people choose not to vaccinate because of potential problems at the vaccination site. Some vaccinations are, of course, required by law, and with good reason: The potential for harm is greater than the possibility of a reaction.

A few of the reasons pet owners turn to herbs are:

  • Herbs can treat a particular organ such as the kidney or a whole system, like the digestive system.

  • Herbs incorporate other benefits, like nutrition.

  • You can use herbs without a medical diagnosis.

  • Many pet owners prefer a natural approach for their own medical needs.

They may be more effective for chronic conditions that are not easily treated by conventional medication. Point in fact: One of our cats has mega colon. Traditional medicine requires that we shove a huge pill down his totally unwilling throat or put medicine on the inside of also unwilling ear. We have substituted for those medicines a tablespoon of raw pumpkin mixed with his dinner. Does it work? Somewhat. It’s not great, but is just as effective as the conventional medications, he likes pumpkin, we don’t get scratched or bitten, and it’s a whole lot cheaper.
    Many people like herbs because they see them as “natural.”

Not all veterinarians—in fact, a very small percentage of them—are supportive of herbs.

  • Herbal medicine is not evidence based. It’s not really known if the herbs work or how. Folk traditions tell us that for humans, vinegar and honey are effective for good health. There’s no reason for it, nor is there evidence, but I know many people who swear by it.

  • Because herbs take longer to work, you don’t see nearly instantaneous results. It takes an extended period of time for clients to see a positive effect in their pets, and time spent with the veterinarian means more fees. On the other hand, herbs don’t cost as much, so high revenues are not generated for the vet.

  • The holistic veterinarian using herbs needs a large space to make his/her therapies, or they may require a partnership with an herbalist.

I like natural whenever possible. What’s more, I prefer organic herbs and vegetables. I grow herbs, and I know they are organic because I control the soil and what is used, if anything, for fertilizer. However, I can grow only enough herbs for personal use, because very large quantities of herbs/ botanicals are required to make an essential oil or a tea or a tisane.

Having said that, I do inoculate my animals, and while I use natural, organic grooming products for their coats and skin and for some small sores and lick wounds, if my beloved cat or dog has a kidney infection or bladder infection or has a raging fever, I want the powerful antibiotics available to very quickly combat those problems.

I have attended lectures given by very well-known and well respected holistic veterinarians, and while they have been able to bring about great relief for very sick animals, I have never heard the stories about the animals whose stories are not as successful.

For me, it makes most sense to use all-natural, organic grooming products and natural foods and treats, but for medicine, I am inclined to the traditional therapies.

Submitted by Gay Fifer, Parsley Hollow, Inc.

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