Chinese herbs have been used in people for centuries. They are now more available for use in animals as part of alternative medical treatments. The term herb is actually a misnomer, as not all of the therapies are plant based, some are from animals, and some are minerals. At one time human materials such as teeth, nails, or bodily fluids were utilized; but this is no longer commonly done. Herbal medicine can be used in combination with other alternative treatments such as acupuncture, or used alongside modern Western medicine. Many types of illness and symptoms can be treated with this modality of care including organ disease, cancer, paralysis, seizures, allergies, and others.
Remedies can be purchased in their natural raw forms to brew into a tea, or more commonly in tincture, powdered, capsule, and tablet forms. Most therapies contain more than one item. More commonly a group of specific ingredients are combined to form a decoction. There is a main herb, and ancillary herbs. Some products help to cancel out the unwanted effects of other items. Other components help to make the combination work faster.
In most cases, these therapies are designed to work slowly, and are usually given at a lower dose initially, that may be increased over time. Results may take 4-8 weeks to be fully appreciated. The items are used to balance the energy or “Qi” of the body, as well as rebalance the yin and yang levels in the body. Yin and yang are opposites that work together to help the body function optimally. Yin is associated with the resting of the body, and corresponds to cold and nighttime. Yang relates to the activity of the body and is associated with heat and daytime.
Herbs can be classified in different ways. Therapies can be chosen based on their “temperature” including hot, warm, neutral, and cool or cold. Flavors may be utilized including bitter, sweet, salty, sour, or pungent. Different flavors have different effects on energy flow and the balance of yin and yang. An herb treatment may also be chosen because it is thought to work at a specific meridian or location of the body. Herbs are used to help strengthen certain organs to improve balance and health.
A remedy may be selected based on problems identified during the physical examination, lab work, or a combination of the two. Lab work is important to assess the overall functioning of a dog or cat.
Dr. Biesiadecki has been certified in acupuncture and been practicing Holistic veterinary for many years. She is expanding the level of alternative care at Sierra Veterinary Clinic. In many cases non-traditional treatment can help patients with medical conditions that haven’t resolved with conventional therapy. Perhaps your dog or cat could benefit from holistic treatment.