Herbal Remedies For Pets: What are They and How Do They Work? Pet Care Tips 4 min read
It’s an exciting time for pets. Concerned and empowered animal guardians are seeking out a variety of health options to help their beloved animal companions. No longer do pet parents feel “stuck” with one or two pharmaceutical options, but instead they are actively seeking out and researching a variety of therapies. Pet parents and veterinarians alike are seeing the benefit of whole body healing that comes with integrative medicine, where western medication is combined with alternative healing therapies like herbalism, diet, acupuncture and other therapies. To further this empowerment of pet parents and promote our mission of improving the quality of pet care, we at NHV want to give you a deeper understanding of herbalism and how it can benefit your pet.
The Basics. What is Herbalism?
In its most basic definition, herbalism is using plants and other natural substances to improve health, encourage healing, and prevent illness.
There are 3 popular forms of herbalism: Ayurvedic, Traditional Chinese, and Western.
Western Herbalism originates from the ancient uses of medicinal plants in Europe. In conventional western herbalism, herbalists incorporate many philosophies including scientific validation of photochemical compounds, historical or traditional uses, and consider the whole body (holistic healing) when using herbs to help stimulate the body’s own healing power.
Ayurvedic Medicine, which began in India and the Middle East over 5000 years ago focuses on doshas (the metabolic body type of an individual). Using this understanding of an individual’s body type, Ayurvedic medicine seeks to heal not just the symptoms of a disease, but the entire body using a mix of herbs, diet, meditation and other mechanisms.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) employs many of the same principles of Ayurvedic medicine, but instead of seeing the body in terms of doshas, TCM sees the body in terms of channels. The TCM practioners looks for energetic blockages or disruptions that interrupt the flow of qi (the life source, pronounced “chee”).
NHV herbal remedies for pets falls into the “Western Herbalism” category.
Separating the Good from the Bad in Herbal Pet Remedies
There are many aspects of what separates a good formulation from one that does not work. Here are a few important qualities of a good herbal remedy.
- Quality of ingredients: Where are the herbs sourced? We all know the difference that quality ingredients can make in cooking, the same is true for herbalism. Also, have the herbs been tested for purity?
- The herbs in NHV formulations are organic or ethically wild crafted, and are sourced from North America, Europe, and in some instances from India. Each herb has a certificate of analysis and is re-tested by our facility for purity.
- The extraction process. Herbs must be prepared in a way that is complimentary to its medicinal properties. One cannot simply put dried herbs in cold water and have the formulation work. Traditionally, some methods of extraction are hot water, alcohol or glycerin. The method of extraction depends upon the herb and the formulation (for example, some herbs have their medicinal constituents infuse in hot water easily, some are poorly water soluble, some need alcohol to break down the plant material and release the active compounds, while some may be extracted using vegetable glycerin).
- Through years of research and dedication, NHV has developed its own proprietary method of extraction to ensure that the medicinal constituents of the herbs are best extracted.
- Are there additives or preservatives? Unfortunately, some manufacturers choose to add unnecessary additives or chemicals to their formulas for palatability and storage reasons. These additives may be things like natural bacon flavoring or preservatives, which increase shelf life or make refrigeration unnecessary. Not only can the distinction of artificial and natural flavoring get a bit blurred1, but the synergetic quality and purity of the herbs may be compromised and the effect of the formulation reduced.
- NHV does not use any preservatives or additives and our products must therefore be refrigerated upon opening. The vegetable glycerin in our formulations helps increase the palatability while keeping the integrity of the formulation.
- Synergy and balance. We will dive into a bit more detail on this one below.
Understanding the Importance of Balance
When using herbs to help heal your pet, it is important to look for balanced formulas. Herbal formulations that are balanced will take into consideration each herb’s synergistic properties, the variance of its medicinal properties, and will also take into consideration if the herb brings an overall balance to the formula.
Let’s break this down a bit.
What do “synergistic” and “variance” mean in herbalism?
Synergistic is defined as working together to create an enhanced effect. Let’s take the herb, Parsley Piert, for example—if we combine Parsley Piert with the herb Marshmallow, the medicinal properties of Marshmallow, which are anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and immunostimulant will be enhanced.
When herbalists speak about variance, they often refer to the fact that herbs have many different medicinal properties. A single herb, may be useful for a wide variety of issues. For instance, the herb Parsley Piert helps breakdown urinary and kidney stones, is astringent, helps with pain and irritation, and is also classified as a diuretic. A knowledgeable herbalist will understand Parsley Piert’s value for the kidneys and will also understand how and when it’s diuretic properties will be enhanced (e.g. a high quantity of Parsley Piert needs to be consumed and it also needs to be combined with other stronger diuretic herbs like Juniper berries for the diuretic affects to apply).
At NHV Natural Pet Products it is our mission to empower pet parents to help heal their pets, and to provide you with only the best in quality. All the herbs in NHV formulas are safe, well validated and have been used in a variety of veterinary applications. Our pet remedies are formulated by a holistic veterinarian and master herbalist with decades of experience developing plant based remedies.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this brief overview of herbalism. To be concise we have not covered all aspects of herbalism, but if you have any questions let us know and we will be happy to send you additional information.
Published: January 13, 2017