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Health and Healing with Herbs
Millions of years before the first human walked the earth, creatures large and small were using plants as their primary source of healing. In fact, much of our modern medicine originates from what early humans learned through observation of wild animals and their instinctive uses of plants. For instance, we know that Indian tribes of the western United States learned of the powerful antimicrobial properties of Ligusticum porteri by observing bears ingest and roll in the plants to heal themselves. Even today, the plant is still known by many as bear medicine.” (Tilford et al. 2009)

Can we give our pets Herbs without having seen a professional herbalist?
There are some great texts available for pet owners that give excellent advise on which herbs to use for which health problem. The texts we stock at Raw Nature are the ones I have used over and over for the last 10 years with excellent results on my own cats and dogs. Whilst getting advice from a professional in the form of a book is not exactly a personal appointment with a real life herbalist, its still, (in my opinion and experience) incredibly rewarding and certainly worth the effort. Fortunately I had a great Vet who supported my efforts in more natural healing methods. Working together with veterinary diagnosis, a raw food diet, whole food supplements, herbal remedies and the occasional acupuncture session, Oliver has done well for a 20 year old Persian cat!

Are all herbs safe to use on animals?
There are many herbs that if used incorrectly can be harmful. Although adverse reactions are rare, when used outside of professional advice, common sense and moderation is a must. Any plant can be toxic in high doses.

Why are herbal remedies worth giving a try?
Somewhere in the history of our species we have chosen a relationship of consumption and control rather than of coexistence with our planet, and it seems that our goal has been to defeat or defy nature at all costs. We defy nature’s mechanisms of resisting disease by suppressing or bypassing the immune system with corticosteroid drugs, antibiotics, and vaccines. We ignore the natural requirements of good nutrition by supplementing an unhealthy diet with vitamin tablets……”
Herbal remedies are made from what nature has provided us with. They do not resist disease, they do not suppress disease, they do not directly fight disease. Rather, herbs are used to regulate, stimulate and adjust body functions back to health. Therefore, any herbal therapy is directed not at treating the disease but to support the body as a whole being, giving it the ability to correct itself.

Are herbal remedies of use if the pets diet is of poor quality?
NO. If your pet is not on a high quality, healthy diet, herbal remedies can be a waste of time and money. A sick animal that has been existing on a highly processed diet will not benefit in the way they should. Before starting herbal remedies, you would need to improve the diet and add some whole food supplements. Then you can start herbal healing. Unfortunately if your pet is already too sick to make the changes, a trip to the Vets is your best option.
Most herbal supportive functions require a healthy diet that provides an adequate store of energy and building materials with which the body can work to heal itself.

What dosage do I give my pet?
Herbal remedies specifically blended for cats and dogs have the appropriate dosage on the labeling. However herbs bought from a health food shop or from the selection we stock at the shop, are labeled with the human dosage only. Therefore, as advised by a range of professional herbalists you need to calculate dosage based on the weight of your pet. For example if we take the weight of an adult human to be 50kg and the dosage is 500mg, a 5kg cat would receive one tenth of that dose 50mg.
When you are feeling more confident about using herbs and are seeing great results from your choice of remedies you may decide to alter dosage to suit your pet. Some Vets do actually practice alternative healing methods such as herbal medicine, it’s certainly worth asking about on your next visit.

How long are herbal remedies given for?
Some herbs can be given in the food on a regular basis such as Dandelion, Nettles and Alfalfa. These herbs are a rich source of vitamins and minerals and are excellent for preventing deficiencies.
Herbs such as Echinacea and Astragalus (used to stimulate and support the immune system) are used at the onset of sickness for several days. This is then followed by a break for two days. This is not a hard and fast rule, rather a general guideline.
To get the best results, be sure to get some professional guidance.

Can several herbs be used at the same time?
This depends how experienced you are and where your guidance is coming from. Initially when you start using herbs it’s best to use only one or two herbs at the same time whilst observing your pet. It’s always advisable to check literature for contraindications and signs of toxicity too. Complications are highly unlikely, but it will make you more comfortable to know you have been very thorough.

Some of my own experiences with herbal remedies
Firstly, I’d like to say in 10 years I have not had a single bad experience using herbs with a multitude of cats and dogs. Yes I’ve taken several course in herbal medicine and had lots of advise from professional herbalists but I have confidently experimented with the guidance of a great texts such as ‘Herbs for Pets’ and I am totally sold by how beneficial and useful herbs are.
Fresh herbs I use on a regular basis are alfalfa and parsley. When I prepare raw vegetables in my food processor I throw in a handful of these plants. They are loaded with nutrition and have a wide array of vitamins and minerals.
Powdered herbs I use on a regular basis in the food are dandelion leaf and nettle.
Less frequently in the food for cleansing the liver, the digestive tract and the kidneys I add powdered milk thistle, dandelion root, aloe vera and chlorella.
I have successfully used herbal remedies for health problems including:
Asthma, sinusitis, worms, kidney disease, respiratory infections, arthritis, vomiting, constipation, eye washes, high blood pressure, urinary tract infections, gingivitis, hot spots, anxiety, the elderly body, inflammation, ear infections, immune system support, minor skin wounds and hyperthyroidism.
Important Note: Using herbs must be at the pet owners discretion and own responsibility. Veterinary diagnosis and advice is always a great place to start though. Know what you are dealing with and discuss your choices with your Vet.

Happy holistic healing!
Marie



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