A practical guide for nutritional and traditional health care.
Herbal Medications For Dogs
Despite the fact that the aromatic plants are the basis of most medicinal drugs, it is important to note that herbal medication is at variance with the traditional remedies. Unlike in the instance of the traditional medications, herbal remedies utilize different parts of a complete plant rather than segregating the solitary dynamic elements contained in the herbs. It may be mentioned here that in the instance of the conventional study of herbs or herbalism, the selection of the herbs vary according to the dog's traits as well as the canine's health situation. On the contrary, in the case of contemporary herbalism, medical practitioners give more importance to the chemical ingredients contained in the herbs.
It is interesting to note that since the earliest days of evolution of life, animals were quick to realize the fact that consuming some specific kind of plants had a positive impact on them. They also became aware that ingestion of these specific vegetations made them experience better health. For instance, the dogs devour grass with a view to bring on vomiting and get rid of any noxious substance that they might have consumed.
Although the conventional study of herbs came into view and progressed in all pre-historic human civilizations, classical herbalism was documented most effectively in the primeval Hindu scriptures, especially the Vedas, approximately 5,000 years in the past. In fact, Ayurveda or the natural system of medicine practiced in the Indian sub-continent for over 5,000 years, considers all factors while treating an ailment. This system of herbal therapy also utilizes the herbs used in the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and informs us through fables the manner in which the animals initially helped the humans to find out the therapeutic significance of different herbs. History says that the conventional study of herbs thrived in ancient Europe too and the Persian and Islamic medical doctors supplemented the subject.
Later, when people from different European nations disembarked in North and South America, Africa as well as Australia, their knowledge of herbs or herbal medicine was enhanced when they learnt about the therapeutic value of the medicinal plants used by the local inhabitants. In fact, when the epidemic of flu first broke out in the European settlements in America, the patients were frequently administered sage or Salvia officinalis and boneset or Eupatorium perfoliatum. Although pharmaceutical companies have engulfed much of the medicinal market now, even now herbs continue to be a crucial element of most conventional medications for treatment of all humans as well as animals throughout the globe.
It is worth mentioning here that the aromatic plants or herbs are extremely adaptable and multipurpose and various preparations can be made with them. Herbs may be used fresh or dehydrated and administered in several methods such as tea or tincture, infusions or ointments, poultices or compresses. The different herbal preparations have their specific benefits and shortcomings and one needs to do some exploration on the subject to determine the preparation that would suit your dog's medicinal requirements best.
It is advisable only to administer such herbal products to dogs that have been specifically prepared for them. For instance, compared to tablets, it is always better to use tinctures for curing dogs as the canine's petite digestive tract can readily soak in this form of herbal preparation. At the same time, it must be borne in mind that the majority of animals have an aversion to tinctures prepared with alcohol and hence it is better to administer tinctures with vegetable glycerin base. Tinctures based on vegetable glycerin are sweet to taste and have a flavor similar to that of corn syrup.
Looking at the world of herbs, one would be surprised to know that there are hundreds and thousands of herbs used by people belonging to different cultures or civilizations across the globe and it is virtually impossible to chronicle all of them. Hence, as an alternative to endeavoring to prepare a list of the different herbs found and used worldwide, here is a shorter listing of some basic and helpful aromatic plants that are comparatively simple to trace as well as utilize.
Here are a few tips that may help you in procuring the right herb that best suits your dog's medicinal requirements. It is important to know the source or place of origin of the herb while purchasing any of these aromatic plants. Moreover, it is also imperative that the buyer ascertains that the herb is original and not blended synthetically. At the same time, as far as possible, make sure that the herb has been cultivated organically and harvested naturally. And while administering the herb to your dog, first find out the prescribed dosage of the herb for the particular condition in a full grown adult and give much less than that to the canine.
Always remember that if your dog is suffering from a serious condition that may prove to be hazard to the animal's life, consult a veterinarian before administering any herbal medication to the canine. It is essential to consult a veterinarian or an herbal medicine practitioner before using any herb on your dog. This is all the more imperative if an herb is known to have adverse effects following its use. It is important to note that herbs cannot and should not replace the conventional medicines, but may used effectively as a supplement and support to the traditional form of medication. Normally, herbs are not administered to patients in any urgent situation. On the contrary, herbs are generally used to treat chronic or incessant conditions where there is no binding on the time for curing a patient.
How traditional forms of medicine function
Unlike in the modern-day allopathic treatment where same medicines are prescribed for the same disorder among all people, the conventional forms of medication, such as the herbal healing, lays emphasis on the characteristics of an individual suffering from an ailment. For instance, the Ayurvedic form of medication insists on the equilibrium of the ‘energies' or forces both contained by as well as exclusive of the body. Ayurveda depends on the five basic elements - ether, air, fire, water and the earth. This form of traditional medication states that these five basic elements are present in three ‘doshas' or energies and they are present in all persons, animals, food and environment in different measures. Ayurveda further stresses on the fact that as all animals have a distinctive composition of these ‘doshas' or energies, it is essential to keep in mind their arrangement of ‘doshas', age and the time of the day while healing their ailments by the use of herbals. As a result, this form of traditional medication offers different treatments for the same ailment in different animals.
It is interesting to note that the conventional study of herbs or herbalism in the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is also similar to that propagated by Ayurveda and both these forms pursue a common prototype. Both Ayurveda as well as the Traditional Chinese Medicine illustrate an illness as a ‘pattern of disharmony' or an imbalance between the energies within and without the body. Going by the Traditional Chinese Medicine, there are various kinds of herbs that are used for perspiring, vomiting, draining downward, thawing, cleansing, lessening, harmonizing and some also with tonic or stimulating actions and each of them are used depending on the combination of yin and yang of the patient as well as that of the herbs with a view to reinstate the harmony in the body. For instance, the herb ginseng is considered to function as a stimulant to the yang inclination of the body that is said to be male and forceful. Hence, according to the Traditional Chinese Medicine, the herbal medication is basically tailor-made depending on the requirement of each individual animal.
In most cases, herbal treatments are usually exercised to rectify the functions of the body and are administered in small sequences. There are many dogs that are averse to ingesting fresh or dehydrated herbs mixed with their diet and in this case they are provided with tablets prepared with herbs. Using herbal medicine for dogs may often be counter-productive. For instance, when certain herbs are applied externally on people, they prove to be useful for the skin, but when they are applied outwardly on dogs, the animal is likely to lick off the medicine thereby contaminating itself. Hence, it is advisable to make your dogs get into Elizabethan collars before applying an herbal medicine on them externally.
Preparation of herbal medicines
There are many plants which are wholly important from the medicinal point of view, while only some parts possess therapeutic value in other plants, shrubs and trees. Again, the parts of plants that are of medicinal value may be prepared in various ways. While infusions, tinctures, decoctions, teas and tablets are prepared with herbs for ingestion, ointments, lotions, creams, poultices, compresses and infused oils are prepared from herbs for external use.
It may be noted that tinctures, infusions and decoctions are best and most reliable herbal preparations for dogs as these are prepared from aromatic plants that are known to be harmless when ingested by the animals. The coarse parts of the plants like the barks, roots and berries are boiled in water to prepare decoctions or herbal drinks. After boiling the herb in water for some time, the liquid is rinsed and drunk either hot or cold. On the other hand, to prepare a tincture, soak the herb either in water or alcohol for some weeks and rinse it before storing the liquid in dark bottles and cool dry places. Normally, a tincture can be preserved for two years and taken whenever the need arises. Herbal infusions are basically prepared like tea by boiling the leaves and flowers of medicinally important plants in water and usually taken hot.
The utilities and benefits of herbs
To protect themselves from the predators as well as other natural hazards, plants produce certain compounds. While these chemicals are essential for the survival of the plants, they are also useful for other living things such as humans and dogs. For instance, the most popular herb worldwide, garlic encloses more than 200 different chemicals and many of these are beneficial for dogs too. As mentioned earlier, garlic has many properties and they include lowering blood pressure, facilitating the disintegration of waste substances from the cells, and also functioning as a moderate repugnant for fleas. On the other hand, leaves of the ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) plant enclose materials known as flavonoids. These flavonoids are very efficient in hunting down as well as neutralizing the free radicals (reactive atoms or molecules) found in the body. Similarly, another herb known as Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus) is useful in controlling the intensity of sugar in the blood and also influences the adrenal glands (secreting cell mass of the kidneys).
Ashwaghanda (Withania somnifera) is a very popular herb in Ayurvedic herbalism and is known for its ability to enhance the hemoglobin as well red blood cell content and thereby counteract anemia. Similarly, the oil of cedar (Cedrus) is effective against disease-bearing micro-organisms as it is said to possess anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and acaridical (eliminating mites) properties. The oil hauled out of neem (Azadirachta indica) seeds is also known to possess anti-bacterial features and scientific studies have established that it also helps in restricting ringworms. As mentioned earlier in this article, researches have demonstrated that aloe vera possesses analgesic, anti-microbial as well as anti-inflammatory properties. Interestingly, when aloe vera was tested on horses, it was found to invigorate the immune system too.
It is interesting to note that several herbal medicinal products have been developed to heal deadly diseases like cancer. For instance, the herb Madagascar periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus) encloses a substance known as vincristine that has been found to be useful in minimize tumor growths in specific categories of cancer. Initially, when vincristine was available only as a concentrated solution extracted from the plant, it was a very costly herb. However, preparation of artificial vincristine in the laboratory has made it cheaper and accessible for treating white blood cell cancers in dogs.
Preparing infusion with herbs
Here is how you can prepare an infusion with peppermint leaf or Roman chamomile flower at home. Infusions prepared with these herbs are antiseptic in nature (helpful in controlling infections) and produces an instant calming effect in conditions such as open wounds and skin contagions. These herbal infusions are also useful in alleviating moderate gastro-enteric disorders.
To prepare an infusion with either peppermint leaf or Roman chamomile flower, first boil some water in a clean and sterilized cup. Pour the boiled water in another vessel and heat one teaspoonful dehydrated or two teaspoonful of fresh herb in the cup. When the herb is heated, fill three-fourth of the cup with the previously boiled water. Cover the cup and allow the herb to permeate in the boiling water for approximately 10 minutes. Next, strain the liquid and store it in a covered cup in a cool dry place for use whenever necessary.
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