For A Naturally Healthy Pet
Herbs for Health and Healing
More and more dog owners desire to use natural foods and supplements for their dogs attainment of optimum health. Natural medicine may now be considered as an adjunct to conventional therapy or in place of conventional therapy for their dog when it is suffering from an illness or disease. Certain whole foods or whole food supplements can be added to the daily diet of your dog. These foods and supplements would be used as a preventive measure and for their nutritional values.
For illness and disease there are many herbal formulas or remedies that can aid in the healing of many common canine ailments. The following list contains a handful of the herbs that can be used for optimum canine health and/or in some cases as medicine. However, I recommend that you seek the assistance and guidance of an individual experienced with herbs and dogs when using most herbs, especially if they are to be used to ameliorate infection or disease.
Knowing the proper dosage of herbs for medicinal purposes takes education and knowledge not only of the herbs themselves, but also of the canine anatomy and physiology and the pathology and nature of disease. If the herbal dosage isnt enough, often there will be no results. When this occurs, the user of the herb may believe the herb doesnt work or wont have an affect on the ailment. Not necessarily true. If the dosage is too high your dog may experience a toxic reaction.
When using herbs it is essential that not only the weight of the dog is taken into account, but also the type of illness or disease the dog is experiencing along with how long the dog has been ill and the stage of the illness. All of these factors help lead to the right remedy and right dose.
Parsley This frilly green herb is most commonly known for its use as a garnish, but it would be a wonderful addition to your dogs diet. Parsley is rich in beta-carotene, B-complex, vitamin C, iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, sulfur and folate. Parsley also supplies chlorophyll, which aids tissue repair, purifies the blood and liver and assists in red blood cell formation. This herb may be helpful in the amelioration of kidney disease, diabetes, and blood disorders (infections). It is a well-known remedy for water retention and indigestion. Parsley may be used as a daily ingredient in your dogs diet.
Garlic This herb is one of the most useful available. Garlic acts as an antimicrobial with the potential to ameliorate many types of infections. It is rich in sulfur, phosphorus, zinc, bioflavonoids, and vitamin C. I use garlic powder as a preventive medicine in my dogs diets.
Comfrey Comfrey has been used as a healing herb since at least the Roman times. Comfreys constituents are: mucilage, allantoin, (up to 0.8 %), pyrrolizidine alkaloids, tannins, resin, essential oils, carotene, glycosides, beta-sitosterol, and steroidal saponins, triterpenoids, vitamin B12, C, E, protein (up to 33 %), potassium, iron, silica, zinc and other mineral salts.
Comfrey has been successfully used in treating wounds, aiding in digestive irritation (passing through if there is nothing to heal), and while it contains a fair amount of silica, is useful in the stimulation of bone, connective tissue and cartilage repair. It is also valued as a demulcent herb rich in complex mucilage materials, which can soothe inflamed mucous membranes, and improve respiratory disorders. I grow fresh comfrey and use it in my dogs diets during the summer/fall months, alternating with mustard greens and dandelion greens.
Ginger root This herb is used for intestinal upsets and motion sickness. Ginger root is available in many forms and can used for dogs who are experiencing carsickness and indigestion. The most common forms used are the capsule powder, cookie, candied, fresh grated, and as a liquid extract or tea. Ginger is also used as a natural antibiotic, anti-inflammatory and is a powerful antioxidant. Its main beneficial compounds are gingerols, zingerone and shogaols. When I make a ginger root tea, I add just a touch of cinnamon for palatability. Ginger is rich in potassium, silicon, and manganese with moderate amounts of vitamins A, C, B complex, magnesium and phosphorus.
Chamomile This is an especially valuable calming herb. In addition, it aids in digestion and because of its ability to relax the nervous system it promotes a restful sleep. Chamomile, a member of the daisy family, is a gentle medicinal herb and can be used safely and effectively for intestinal inflammation, constipation, diarrhea and mild infection. There are two common species of chamomile German chamomile and Roman chamomile. German chamomile contains several valuable constituents flavonoids and coumarins that aid in reducing intestinal irritation and relax the muscles. While both plants have similar medicinal properties, it is thought that the German species is more valuable as an anti-bacterial medicine. For the best results when making a tea for your dogs, use fresh flowers and be sure to steep them for 5 minutes. Chamomile is high in calcium and magnesium and also contains moderate amounts of potassium, manganese and phosphorus.
Cranberry Cranberries are a fruit, but are used as an herb in herbal medicines materia medica. The berry, its juice or a cranberry herbal extract is used for kidney or urinary tract infection caused by bacteria, usually E. coli. Cranberrys beneficial action on the urinary system is the result of its vitamin C and flavonoids content. Be sure that if you use the juice form that you choose one that is naturally sweetened or purchase a brand that is sugar-free. You can add a couple of grains of Sucanat, a natural granulated cane juice.
Dandelion The dandelion plant is often thought of as a pesky weed, but it has many beneficial qualities. Fresh young leaves, used before flowering has developed, possess the most valuable medicinal components. The most valuable attribute of dandelion leaves is its ability to reduce poisons in the body. Therefore, it aids as a blood-detoxifying agent. This herb contains nutrients that increase the nutritional value of your dogs diet. It is rich in calcium, potassium and sodium. It is also high in vitamin A, B1, B2, B6, B12, C, E, and iron. Fresh dandelion greens are fed to my dogs during the summer/fall months and are always greatly appreciated.
Kelp Kelp is a type of seaweed that is known for its rich iodine content. Its high mineral content makes it a popular nutritive herb. It can be beneficial to those dogs that have a thyroid condition such as goiter or hypothyroidism. Symptoms of an underactive thyroid manifest themselves in dry skin and fur, sensitivity to cold, fatigue, constipation, repeated infections and so forth. By supplying a dogs diet with kelp, this may increase its basal metabolic rate, improve the release of energy from foods, and reduce excess body weight. Kelp also assists in the elimination of toxins and may help remove toxic metals from the body. It is rich in the following nutrients iodine, potassium, sodium, calcium, magnesium, sulfur, silicon iron, and B complex vitamins. Another seaweed that is beneficial to health is dulse and can be added to the diet in place of kelp. Kelp comes in either a powder or granulated form. I use kelp as a supplement in my dogs diets.
Pumpkin Seed The seeds of the pumpkin have long been a traditional herbal remedy in China. The pumpkin seed is highly nutritional and is an excellent source of beta carotene, B vitamins, zinc, iron, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. It is used as anti-parasitic agent and may also increase fertility. Pumpkin seeds are an ingredient in my dogs diets.
Rose Hips - Rose hips are rich in vitamin C and contain 60 times more vitamin C than lemons. They are beneficial for the nervous system, infections, and used as a blood-detoxyifier. Rose hips also provide vitamin A, E, rutin (bioflavonoid), iron, selenium, manganese and B complex.
Alfalfa A relative of the pea and is classified as a legume, alfalfa has been used as a food, medicine and a nutritional supplement. The powder form can be used in your dogs diet to increase the diets nutritional value. Alfalfa seeds and sprouts are nutritious and provide beta-carotene and many important nutrients. They are rich in protein, contain eight essential amino acids as well as the vitamins: B complex, D, C, E and K and the minerals: calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron and potassium. The leaves, petals, flowers, and sprouts are commonly used for intestinal disorders and can be used in the liquid form as a blood-cleansing tonic. Alfalfa has anti-inflammatory properties and is a very helpful treatment for those with arthritis. For diabetics, alfalfa has been known to lower blood sugar and may reduce the dosage of insulin needed to regulate blood sugar levels. This herb has been useful in cases of hemorrhaging and as a fungal infection inhibitor. Alfalfa powder is used in my dogs diet as a dietary supplement.
Aloe Vera The Aloe vera plant is a relative of the lily family. The main therapeutic purposes of this plant are that it aids in the amelioration of intestinal tract irritation, indigestion, infection and toxins, reduces inflammation and pain, heals burns and wounds and improves immune system function. Aloe vera comes in a capsule form, liquid form, and directly from the plant as a gel. The overuse of Aloe vera products can cause diarrhea and severe abdominal pain. This herb is rich in vitamin C and the minerals: selenium and germanium.
Bee Pollen Bee pollen is a yellowish dust that is produced by the anthers of male flowers. It is an exceptionally healthy addition to your dogs diet. It is rich in vitamins A, B complex, C, D, E, and K, and numerous minerals, amino acids, fatty acids and enzymes. It has immune-strengthening properties thereby promoting healing and the resistance to disease. Bee pollen has many therapeutic uses because of its antimicrobial effects. From cancer to viral infections, I would suggest the use of bee pollen for any condition thats root cause is a compromised immune system. I offer my dogs bee pollen 3-4 times a week as a preventative medicine.
Capsicum Chili peppers are a member of the Capsicum family and contain a compound called capsaicin. This substance is highly regarded for its ability to lower cholesterol and can alleviate symptoms of sinus congestion, keeping the air passages clear. Capsicum can be used to stop bleeding, aid in digestion, improve circulation, and may neutralize carcinogens and boost the immune system. Ointments that contain capsaicin relieve arthritic and nerve pain. Red chili peppers provide your dog with an excellent source of beta-carotene, vitamin C, zinc, iron, calcium, potassium, and rutin (a bioflavonoid). Green chili peppers provide all of the above nutrients with the exception of beta-carotene.
Chickweed This herb is used for both medicinal and culinary purposes. Both the roots and leaves are edible. An extraction of the roots promotes a hearty appetite and aids in digestion. Chickweed is a very nourishing herb containing vitamin A, C, iron, zinc, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, manganese, and silicon. This herb is therapeutically helpful for reducing lung congestion, helps dissolve fatty tumors and acts as an anti-cancer agent.
Fenugreek While fenugreek is used as a spice in Indian food it also has a wealth of other uses as a medicinal herb. It is known for its ability to lower cholesterol levels, relieve gastrointestinal tract discomfort, and may also help to control blood sugar for diabetics. Fenugreek is also helpful for congested lungs and infections. It is rich in vitamin A, D, and protein.
Papaya Fruit is offered each day to my dogs and papaya is one of their favorites. Papaya contains the enzyme papain (similar to pepsin) that helps to aid in the digestion of protein. It is soothing to the digestive system and can ameliorate diarrhea. Its enzymatic action aids in the removal of worms. Papaya is a rich source of beta-carotene (provitamin A), vitamin B complex and C, folate, magnesium, and potassium.
The properties of herbs are proving to be useful for humans and our pets alike. Our dogs can achieve better health when herbs are incorporated into their diets. However, we must always use them wisely and with skill. With the many herbs we now have available to us, our dogs will not miss out on the exciting and beautiful ways that they maintain health and heal them successfully.
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