Western Veterinary Herbal Medicine – What is it?
WHM has its roots in Indian Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine. In WVHM herb use is based on traditional knowledge and scientific evidence. In conventional medicine a single active constituent is isolated from a plant and used as a single pharmacological agent. Herbal medicine uses the whole plant. This contains not just the active ingredient but many other compounds that can complement the effects of the main active constituent. It also contains nutrients which can enhance the patient response. Hence the clinical effects of herbal medicine may have a broader spectrum than a single drug.
Holism and Vitality
WVHM uses a holistic approach. Each animal is assessed not just on an isolated system but on the functioning of the body as a whole. It also considers nutrition, environment, behaviour and stessors. Vitality reflects the energetics of the patient and how this interrelates with the physical state and emotions. Vitality helps determine which herbal formula to use. An elderly or debilitated patient for example will have a more gentle formula than an active, robust one.
How WVHM fits within Conventional Veterinary Practice
Herbs can be used in isolation or alongside conventional treatments. Herbs may be selected to have a synergistic effect with the drugs used or used to abate potential drug side effects. Herbs are particularly useful for chronic conditions where no suitable drugs are available or when conventional drugs cannot be tolerated.
Herbs contain many pharmacologically active constituents that can interact with one another either to enhance or suppress a clinical effect.
Potential Herb-Drug Interactions
Before giving herbal medicines to a patient receiving conventional drugs any potential interactions are researched on the ncbi data base and herbal monographs. If no contraindications are apparent then herbs can be started at low doses and the response carefully monitored. Dose rates of medicines may also need to be changed. The herbs that are used come from reliable and researched suppliers that follow good manufacturing practice, good quality control and hence good standardisation. They are also ethically sourced and with least impact on the carbon footprint.
How are Herbs Administered?
Most herbal formulas are given as tinctures. Pets generally accept these well but if not the taste can be disguised with honey, peanut butter or fish stock. Herbs can also be given as powders and teas. They can also be used topically where appropriate.