Herbal Medicine

Charissa Smith holistic veterinarian supplies both European herbs and Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine when treating animals.

Read more about Herbs for Insect Control.

Charissa gave an interesting presentation to the Veterinary Conference in Melbourne in 2002. She discribed the supportive treatment of tick disease using nutriceuticals, herbal medicines, homeopathy and acupuncture. These medicines do not replace the adminstration of anti-tick serum and hospitalization,  but can make improvement in the animal's health. There has been no research in animals as to the efficacy of these medicines in the treatment of ixodes holocyclus poisoning. Their use is based on experience, research which has been done into the effects of the medicines,  and communication with other veterinarians. ( read more).

Herbs can be used to treat a wide range of conditions,

The Acacia Tree for which Acacia country and Acacia Animal Care have been named  is an example of a tree which includes a wide range of species providing different herbal therapies.

There are over 1000 species of Acacia.  Around 800 of these grow in Australia.

Acacias are usually short lived, 10-20 years, and grow to 5-10 metres in height They naturally  move in to re populate cleared land with trees, and as the are leguminous prepare the way for the growth of larger trees.

Acacias generally contain many tannins in their leaves and bark.

Among these is the Black Wattle, common in South East Queensland -- This is similar to Acacia catechu of southern Asia ,although it does not have the spike at the base of the leaf. The bark can be made into a tea with mulberry leaves, and the tea used on swollen gums and infected sores. The tea can also be drunk and used for stomach ulcers and lung infections where there is heat and blood stained discharge. It should not be used without veterinary supervision. Black wattle tannins placed in the drinking water have also been shown to reduce intestinal worm egg counts in sheep.

 

Cancer

All cancer is treated by a detoxification programm and a diet designed specifically for the animal.

Charissa has treated many animals with cancer curing some, and extending life with good quality for others.The herb Coriolis versicola, a mushrrom,  is partuclarty useful when treating hemangiosarcoma (.http://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2012/384301/).  Hemangiosarcomas are a nasty tumors which particluarly seem to occur on German Shepherds and their crosses, These cancers often occur in the spleen where they cannot be felt even by an experienced vet on palpation,  and don't become apparent until they rupture causing internal hemmorrage. Such growths are a good reason to have an abdominal ultrasound for the dog if there is any strange abdominal pain or when there is abdominal enlargement without extra food or decreased exercise..

Chinese Herbs

Those registered for use in humans, are classified by the meridian they treat.  For example, an arthritis formula may have 8 different herbs.  The primary herbs Clematis, Stephania and Achyranthis take away wind and damp from the pancreatic and kidney meridians.

Those registered for use are available to veterinarians only and are given only by prescription.

Veterinarians should check the newsletter of the AHV for supplier addresses and phone numbers. ie join the AVA and the SIG., Steve Marsden and Bruce Ferguson, international experts teach veterinarians in Australia.

European Herbal Medicine

Barbara Fougere has written an excellent text book called Veterinary Herbal Medicine. In 2012 she is the International Advisor of the Veterinary Botanical Medical Association and has founded the College of Inegrative Veterinary Therapies. In this form of medicine traditional plants are used and actions are classified more simply.

Human formulas tend to have an immune booster, a cleanser and a digestive aid depending on the condition. A typical formula is available over the counter for humans is cranberry and buchu where the cranberry is a urinary antiseptic and the buchu is a kidney cleanser.

Animal formulas which are registered are available only through consultation with veterinarians.

Bulk dried pasture herbs can be obtained from Country Park Herbs at Nerang, or Hilton Herbs.

Side Effects

Most problems occur with herbs where doses are too large and the herb is given for too long. All herbs have side effects. Within species and breeds there are variations in dose rates and time of application.

Herbs are not meant to be permanent additions to rations. Some can be used preventatively if there are risk situations. With reference to the health ,it is better to correct the genetic or management situation involved in a disease, rather than relying long term on any medication. Herbs are generally more environmentally friendly than antibiotics, chemical cleaners and insecticides.

Herb Quality

Home grown herbs are not reliable in quality as chemical content can vary with location and season and storage. As growers continue to grow and use their own herbs, they will come to know seasonal and soil effects.

When purchasing, use a good quality supplier. A company with a quality control program in place will usually charge a higher price.

High quality suppliers of growing herbs and seeds is All Rare Herbs of Mapleton Qld, Medicine Garden of Lismore NSW and Austral Herbs of Uralla NSW.

Composition of Herbs

Unlike drugs, herbs are complexes of organic chemicals. Plants have different chemicals in their roots, flowers and leaves and seeds. Most herbs provide their beneficial effects due to the presence of one or more of the following components:

Alkaloids are common to many plants and form the basis of many modern drugs such as morphine, atropine and codeine. They contain nitrogen and are usually alkaline. They are made by the plant from its amino acids or protein building blocks. They can cross the blood brain barrier and in excess can be toxic. In excess they cause liver damage. Some alkaloids such as those in comphrey cause instant liver damage. The younger leaves tend to have more alkaloids. Bans have been place on the commercial sale of comfrey because of this, although it once was used as a general tonic. The herbs itself can still be grown. Animals rarely eat it large quantities, poultry have been observed to take an occasional mouthful without any visible unpleasant effects.

Bitters tend to stimulate the secretion of gastric juices. They do this by stimulating bitter receptors of the human tongue. They increase gastric secretion of digestive aids and prime the pancreas to produce more enzymes. The result is often an improvement in resistance to gut infections and death of bacteria.

Flavenoids and bioflavenoids are antioxidants. They improve the potency of Vitamin C, prevent tumor formation, and reduce coronary heart disease. Estrogenic flavenoids occur in legumes and linseed. These are called phyto estrogens.

Glycosides - some herbs contain extremely powerful glycosides. For example, Digoxin, a component of the very powerful heart drug digitalis, is extracted from foxglove. Milder ones are present in Lily of the Valley.

Mucilage trap water when is added to them. They cannot be broken down by digestive enzymes but are worked on by gut bacteria to make short chain fatty acids. This means they soothe the gut lining and reduce inflammation, while sealing and soothing ulceration. They are bulk laxatives without causing diarrhea. They can also be used to draw fluid out of wounds and reducing infection, They have a reverse emetic effect. These herbs are water soluble only.

Saponins are a form a foam when dissolved in water. This makes the herbs more soluble. They can cause red blood cell breakdown by dissolving their membranes. They lower plasma cholesterol and may affect bowel flora. They have various interactions with hormones such as aldosterone and follicle stimulating hormone.

Tannins are large phenolic compounds which bind proteins on mucous surfaces so that they become less permeable. This is called an astringent action. They are poorly absorbed. They produce a protective layer of coagulated protein, which stops diarrhea, reduces gut motility and numbs nerve endings.

Oils are different in each plant. There are 7 major groups. They are extracted, and concentrated and called Essential Oils. They can be highly toxic when taken internally in the concentrated form, and are used in very small doses, or as mists externally.

(Ref: "Herbal medicine", Mills and Bone et al 2000, Veterinary Herbal Medicine ( Wynn and Fougere  2007)