What is herbal medicine?
Western herbal medicine involves looking at the characteristics of the patient and the disease and the properties of the chemicals of different plants and matching them together. It involves assessing and treating the animal as a whole rather than just treating the disease or the symptoms.
It is complementary to conventional medicine rather than alternative. The idea is to support the patient where conventional drugs are not available to treat certain aspects of the condition or help protect the patient against side effects of certain medications.
Our knowledge of herbs is based on thousands of years of traditional use, combined with new research and discoveries.
Is it the same as homeopathy?
No. Homeopathy uses minute doses of natural substances to treat an ailment that in larger amounts would produce symptoms of that ailment. Herbal medicine uses plants to treat a patient.
What to expect?
Each patient will have a bespoke herbal preparation prescribed on an individual basis. To do this, a consultation is required, where not only a full physical examination is performed but the individuals’ unique characteristics, diet and lifestyle are discussed. Following this, a formulation is prepared, usually involving medical grade herbal tinctures to be taken orally on a daily basis. Herbs may also be prepared as teas or tablets as well as for external use such as ointments, washes, or gels.
What sorts of cases do we prescribe herbs for?
Herbs have characteristics that we recognise in conventional medicine, such as anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties. However, we also recognise other properties, such as adaptogens (which improve the bodies abilities to handle stress by modulating the immune response through their effects on the endocrine system) and alternatives (which improve waste elimination and metabolic processes to help gradually restore the body to optimum functioning) amongst others.
Based on the vast range of herbs available and the range of properties of the herbs, theoretically herbal medicine could be incorporated into treating the majority of the patients we see. However, most commonly they are used for treating chronic musculoskeletal (eg arthritis), respiratory, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, endocrine and dermatological conditions, as well as for patients suffering from anxiety and to support various organ systems when using certain conventional medicines.
What does it cost?
There will be the cost of a consultation and the cost of the herbal tinctures will obviously vary depending on the herbs used, size of patient etc but usually are in the region of £15-30 per month. It is usually advised that the herbs will need to be taken for a minimum of a few weeks and often for several months, especially in chronic cases.
Herbal consultations are performed by our vet, Kate. Please get in touch for more information or for advice on whether herbal medicine is likely to be suitable for your pet.