Herbal Medicine

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

Insect control

Controlling fleas with herbs: washes, sprays, aroma therpay reduces the effect of chemicals on other insects and plants, and the soil, air and water.

Herbs provide a cheap, ever present source of insect control.

Flea Tick and Insect  facts

1. Only 10% of a pet's flea or mite burden is present at one time on the pet

2.  Fleas and immature lice and mites live in the pet's environment. The pet is dinner, not home, to the flea. Once the louse attaches, the pet is its home. Mites also hop on and off.  Depleted soils e.g. of sulphur, are attractive to fleas and mites. Old hay and mulch is loved by mites. Immature ticks can be carried on blankets, they also hop on and off.

3.. Fleas cannot live and breed as easily in the home if it is carpet free, a vaccuum cleaner is a flea's greatest enemy...put anti flea herbs into the vacuum bag, and empty straight away. The vibration of a vaccuum cleaner may cause flea egg hatching, repeat repeat repeat vacuuming. Remember the car.

4. Ticks carry other diseases.

Read more about Herbs for Insect Control.

Ticks and Herbal Medicine

Dr Charissa talks about Ticks, and suppoting tick treatment with holistic medicines..These medicines do not replace the adminstration of anti-tick serum and hospitalization,  but can make improvement in the animal's health and assist recovery. ( read more).

There has been little research in animals as to the efficacy of these medicines in the treatment of ixodes holocyclus poisoning. Their use is based on experience, the research which has been done into the effects of the medicines,  and communication with other veterinarians

Mosquito repellant:

Take a litre spray bottle and put in a dessertpoon of witch hazel or vodka. Fill the rest of the bottle with water. The alcohol dissolves the oil, and causes an evaporative cooling of the skin. If there are liver problems in the animal, or you are using this near a cat or small or very old animal, you may replace the alcohol or herb tincture with a dessertpoon of cider or white vinegar. White vinegar is better for cats.

Add the following organic essential oils: 14 drops Patchouli, 14 drops of cedar wood, 10 drops of citronella, 8 drops of geranium and 5 drops of catnip. Reduce the oil concentration by half for small young or very old animals, and cars. Use as a wipe or a spray as needed. This can also be made up in bulk using vinegar, and used for cattle as buffalo fliy preventative. As it washes off with rain, for cattle it is best to put some vegetable oil, about 1/3,  in it as well  for cattle. It can be used to soak felt treated rubbing posts or hanging rolls.

Thyroid disease in dogs and cats

Both hyerthyroidism (hyperactivity), and hypothryoidism (underactivity), are commn in dogs and cats.


1. All animals are not the same: ( ref Jean Dodds)


  • young have higher thyroid levels
  • old have lower levels
  • small and toy dog breeds gave higher levels
  • large and giant dog breeds have lower levels
  • sighthound breeds have lower levels



2.. Thyroid hormone is given apart from foods containing calcium or soy, to ensure absorption


3. Half-life of thyroxine in dogs is short; give total daily dose divided morning and night


4. T4 alone not accurate for thyroid assessment; minimum needs are T4 and free T4


5. Even those 2 assays fail to detect heritable thyroiditis; thyroid antibody (TgAA) needed 


6. cTSH poor predictor of thyroid dysfunction in dogs with 30% discordancy


7. cTSH helpful in diagnosis and follow up monitoring of hyperthyroid cats


8..  Thyroid glandular and other support insufficient to correct true thyroid dysfunction: herba lmedicines and nutriceuticals can assist in thyroid dysfunction.They rarely are sufficient to  totally control the disease.which may have many complicaions, and which should also be addressed.

9. In immune mediated inheriatable thryoiditis, thyroid supplementaiton with thyroid hormaone is necessary,

10. In hyperthyroid particulay in old cats, radioactive iodine has been shown to cause remission with minimal side effects, which can be treated herbally.

in this clinic blood is sent to Jean Dodds, www.hemopet.org, in California, for thyroid function analysis,



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 such as Shu Jing 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. She is an International Advisor to 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 Austral Herbs at Uralla, Country Park Herbs at Nerang, or Hilton Herbs. A wide range of food additive herbs can be bought on-line from Paradise nutrients of Lake Clarendon near Gatton https://www.paradisenutrients.com.au.

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. 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. For example Star flower has wonderful liver de fatting, antioxidant and antibacterial properties. It is also toxic to pets with kidney problems as it contains oxalates.

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.

Herbs may increase the effectiveness of standard medications, so disclosure should be given to a vet using these drugs.

Composition of Herbs

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.

Mucilages 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 form a foam when dissolved in water. This makes the other herbs more soluble. They can cause red blood cell breakdown by dissolving cell 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 the membranes become less permeable. This is called an astringent action. Tannins 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. Oils are extracted, and concentrated and called Essential Oils. They can be highly toxic when taken internally in the concentrated form, but be beneficial used in very small doses, or as mists externally.

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