THE ROOTS OF VETERINARY HERBAL MEDICINE
The first use of medicinal herbs dates back to prehistoric times, with herbs found in graves older than 60,000 years. There is a rich history of plant medicine in many cultures with some of the best preserved traditions being Traditional Chinese Medicine. The world health organisation estimate that 70% of the world’s population use botanical medicine (Einsberg, 1998). It is no surprise that people have used the same plant medicine for animals under their care as long as human animal relationships have existed.
In the late eighteenth century advances in science led to purification and isolation of many plant constituents with around a quarter of today’s pharmaceutical drugs having originally been derived from plants. Medical researchers believe it is safer and more effective to deliver doses of pure active chemicals. However, advocates of herbal medicine believe in a holistic approach and that the whole herb or its extract is more effective with fewer side effects.
Holistic medicine means treating the patient as a whole; mind body and spirit.
By taking a truly holistic approach we must look both inwards and outwards. Looking outwards your holistic veterinarian may consider many things such as diet, exercise, environment, and life history as well as your interactions with your animal.
When looking inwards a holistic vet may consider the body as a whole with interactions and connections between all body systems. This is a different approach to modern medicine which is moving in a direction of specialisation such as cardiologists- this is a reductionist approach. Reductionism simply means looking at a piece of a system rather than the whole.
Holistic vets believe that the patient functions as a whole and each part is interrelated and inseparable from the rest.
Looking at the bigger picture will help your holistic vet to understand the root of the problem or disease rather than just the presenting symptoms.
What happens during a consultation with a Herbal Vet?
During your pets first consultation with a herbal vet, the vet will build up a picture of you and your pets health by:
- Taking your pet’s full case history
- Discussing your pet’s diet and lifestyle
- Finding out about any medication or supplements you already use
This allows your vet to assess the underlying causes of your pet’s illness and formulate a mixture of herbs tailored to your individual needs. It may also be necessary to arrange for other tests to be done.
Your pets individual treatment plan will include herbal remedies and, where appropriate, dietary changes or nutritional supplements. Most herbal medicines are given in the form of a liquid tincture that is taken in doses of two or three times daily. Your Pet may also be prescribed a herbal tea, tablets, ointment, cream or lotion.