Herbal Medicine for Pets: A Gentle Alternative Herbal medicine is one of the oldest systems of treating ailments and, in some cultures, originated from our animal friends. Humans observed how wild animals instinctively used plants and copied their choices. We can even observe such behavior today in our pets. Dogs, cats, and even horses seek out such plants as grass, garlic, dandelion, and nettles for relief. Like the Chinese, other cultures used the way a plant tasted, its color, where it grows in nature, or the internal feeling it gave them after consumption to treat disease conditions. Acacia Animal Health Center offers herbal medicine for pets as part of our Integrative and Holistic Medicine Department. Often used in conjunction with other treatments, herbal medicine can be a benefit to a sick or healing animal. A Gentle, Safe Approach to Treatment Also known as phytotherapy, herbal medicine has a foundation in science. Many pharmaceuticals and veterinary medications use plants as a base, but modern drugs are made by either extracting specific ingredients from the plant or creating a synthetic compound that seems biologically similar to the plant. The body may react to these synthetics or have a toxic response to the extracted chemicals, causing uncomfortable or dangerous side effects. Herbal medicine is different in that it uses the actual plant parts, such as leaves, roots, and flowers, for their medicinal effect. The theory behind using a whole plant or part of it instead of extracting an “active” ingredient is that there are possibly up to hundreds of active ingredients in plants that work synergistically to achieve a cure. The active ingredient model is a very recent addition to medical treatments brought to bear by Western medicine and, in particular, pharmaceutical companies. Believe it or not, there are more herbal treatments than there are pharmaceutical treatments for diseases. In contrast to common perception, there are mountains of research pertaining to herbal medicine. There are literally hundreds of research papers on medicinal mushrooms alone. These medicines may offer a gentler and safer approach to treatment than traditional veterinary medications. Uses for Herbal Medicines Veterinary herbal medicine is used to treat a wide range of ailments. These herbal medications are often employed to treat nearly every disease Western medicine treats, including: Infections Disinfecting and healing wounds Strengthening the immune system Reducing inflammation Stimulating and detoxifying organs Relieving fluid retention Endocrine diseases GI diseases Organ diseases, such as liver, kidney, and heart Allergy and skin diseases Cancer Promoting circulation There are many applications for herbal medications, and your Acacia veterinarian will discuss the potential benefits they hold for your animal companion. To discuss herbal treatments for your pet, contact Acacia’s Integrative and Holistic Medicine Department to schedule a consultation.