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What to Know About Herbal Medicine for Pets
- Provides gentle treatment of chronic conditions.
- Exhibits few side effects.
- Is often used instead of, or in conjunction, with Western treatments.
- Enhances the effectiveness of some Western treatments.
But, natural remedies for cats and dogs are more than a safe, gentle and effective replacement for many pharmaceuticals. Herbal medicine has a different composition than pharmaceutical medicine.
Medicinal plants contain a vast array of chemical compounds. Each individual chemical compound has the ability to work separately or together with other compounds when affecting the body.
The varied compounds make herbs versatile therapeutic tools.
Eastern Herbs vs. Western Herbs
Two predominant philosophies exist in the realm of herbal treatment: Eastern herbal medicine (Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine or TCVM) and Western herbal medicine.
The most obvious difference between Eastern (TCVM) and Western herbal medicine is in the approach to the formulations.
Eastern Herbal Medicine
Eastern herbal medicine, also called Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), developed as part of Chinese culture dating back 5,000 years.
By 200 BC, TCM was an established practice. Ancient practitioners published official TCM herbal formulations as early as 100 AD.
Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) originated from its human equivalent Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). In Eastern herbal medicine, veterinarians tailor unique combinations of herbs.
Practitioners use as many as 50 or more herbs together for a synergistic solution to the disease and its underlying imbalance. Eastern holistic approaches to disease often includes several elements of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM).
Food therapy, acupuncture, and tui-na are often combined with herbal formulas to provide a “whole body” approach to healing. In order to understand TCVM at its most basic level, understanding terminology is mandatory.
Below, we have listed Eastern herbal terms and definitions that will help you in understanding the Eastern Herbal Formulations, their functions, and their benefits.
Eastern herbal categories:
- Affected organ channels
Western Herbal Medicine
The use of herbs for treatment of illness dates back to the ancient Greeks and Romans, to the indigenous peoples of the British Isles, and to Native Americans.
In Western herbal medicine, practitioners use only one or two herbs in a treatment. However, experts believe at one time in history, Western herbal medicine included more complex combinations similar to those used in TCVM.
During the last few centuries, Western herbal medicine discarded the use of multi-herb formulations. In Western society, practitioners use herbs in the same manner as pharmaceuticals.
Western herbal medicine focuses on treating the symptoms only, without attention to the underlying causes of disease or illness.
Western herbal categories:
- Medicinal property
Chinese Herbal Medicine Formulations
In Eastern herbalism, more specific Chinese herb categories allow the TCVM practitioner to pinpoint treatment of symptoms as well as underlying imbalances.
The King Herb
The "king" herb is also called the "monarch" herb or "main" herb. The king herb focuses on the main symptoms and underlying causes and dominates the formula.
The "minister" herbs strengthen the effects of the king herb.
The assistant herbs treat less important symptoms. Assistant herbs also reduce irritating properties or toxicity of the king herb.
Messenger herbs coordinate the effects of the other herbs and deliver herbs to a particular site in the body.
Distinguishing Between Eastern and Western Herbal Medicine
The most significant and distinguishing difference between Eastern herbal medicine and Western herbal medicine:
- Western herbal medicine focuses on alleviating symptoms of a disease or illness.
- Eastern herbal medicine treats the body as a whole, treating the underlying cause of disease while alleviating symptoms.
Learn more about herbs for pets by reading our 10 best blog posts on cat and dog herbal remedies:
1. Haliotis Formula: Herbal Remedy Helps Heal Dog Eye Infections
2. Di Gu Pi San: The Holistic Approach to Treating Canine Hip Dysplasia & Joint Pain
3. Ear Damp Heat Formula: Herbal Remedy for Cat Ear Infections and Itchy Ears
4. Damp Heat Skin Formula: Holistic Help for Dog Itching, Scratching & Licking
5. Epimedium Powder: Could Herbs Be the Answer to Dog Infertility?
6. Dok's Formula: Ease Your Dog's Arthritis and Joint Pain Naturally
7. T-relief Treats Joint Pain in Pets Without the Worries
8. Crystal Stone Formula: Herbal Remedy for Your Dog's Kidney Stones
9. Cervical Formula: How to Holistically Relieve Your Dog’s Neck Pain
10. Bone Stasis: An Ancient Remedy for Your Dog's Calcium Deposits and Bone Spurs
Eastern herbal medicine works best when combined with other aspects of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).
Eastern Food Therapy and Eastern herbal medicine are an excellent combination. Eastern Food Therapy uses food as medicine to improve health and wellbeing.
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