Veterinary Herbal Medicine is almost as old as human medicine (ten to twenty thousand years old). Together, they are both almost as old as man.
As soon as man took on domestic animals, ten thousand years ago, they inevitably became ill through this process of confinement, but also through normal wear and tear and old age. Animals were treated with herbs internally and externally to help with their ailments. The herbal tradition continued, in force, until relatively recently. One only has to look at veterinary texts from the first part of the last century to see doctors and vets preparing herbal preparations for itching skin, coughs, sprains, gut problems, nervous disorders and more.
Modern Veterinary Drugs are very effective. Almost too effective, it could be argued. They are very highly targeted at certain enzymes or specific receptors but as the specificity is not 100%, they have side effects.
In the short movie below, Dr Nick Thompson explores the topic of anthelmintic resistance and the problem that all human and animal de-wormers face rapidly developing resistance.
Herbs can, in most cases, mimic the effect of many drugs, but without the side effects. This is because they contain hundreds of drugs that can have a balancing effect on more toxic consequences. For example many diuretics cause loss of potassium. Nettle leaf can be used as a mild diuretic, but as it has high potassium, some loss from the body is compensated for.
I’m not saying herbs are benign and can be used without risk. They can be very effective, but because of the built in balancing effects of the complex phytochemicals, they can have a greater therapeutic/safety margin than pharmaceutical drugs.
If you are interested in the use of herbs for your animal, please contact the practice during call-in times, and we would be pleased to make an appointment for you.
Video below: Nick talks about herbs at the AHDA Conference in Dubai
Listed below are conditions I have personal knowledge of herbs helping in the species I treat:
- Arthritis, Joint pain (neck, back, limbs, feet) in all species I treat
- Colitis, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome, Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth
- Some Liver Disease in all species, including some Ragwort Poisoning in Horses
- Itching skin, Atopy, Pruritus
- Chronic Rhinitis, Chronic Sinusitis, ‘Snotty/Fluey Cats’
- Some coughing conditions, Kennel Cough, Upper Respiratory Disease,COPD
- Recurrent Infections in all species
- Resistant infections in all species
- Idiopathic (of unknown cause) disease of any form
- Spraying indoors or Stress Problems – cats especially
- Some FLUTD cases in cats
- Some Bladder stone problems
- Some Bladder crystaluria or crystals in the urine problems
- Some Liver Disease, including some Ragwort Poisoning in Horses
- Some Kidney Disease including support for Chronic Renal Failure in cats and dogs of all ages
- Some circulatory problems
- Cardiac failure
- Dilated Cardiomyopathy
- Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy
- Idiopathic heart disease.
- Fear issues
- Frustration issues in all species including helping with forced box rest in horses.
- Lick granuloma in dogs
- Thyroid disease in cats and dogs
- Some aggression
- ‘Hormonal’ male and female horses, dogs and cats!
- Endocrine alopecia
Who Needs Herbs? An article by Nick Thompson
We have drugs for most problems in most species; humans, dogs, horses, cats and livestock. We know the entire human genetic structure, we understand bacteria and viruses and we no longer believe in magic potions.
What possible use could there be for herbs in the modern world?
This is a question that strikes a lot of us when confronted, time and time again, with ‘herbs’ and ‘natural medicine’ in the media. As a vet working in practice, seeing large and small animals, I used to think this as well. But I’ve been studying herbs for years now and I’d like to tell you a bit about what I’ve discovered…
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Dr. Nick Thompson
BSc (Vet Sci) Hons, BVM&S, VetMFHom, MRCVS.
Tel: 01225 487778
Fax: 07092 233930