There are important similarities and differences between herbal medicine and conventional pharmaceutical-based medicine. Many of our pharmaceutical drugs still come from plant sources such as morphine.
Pharmaceutical drugs however, generally contain a single refined chemical that is either synthesised in a laboratory or extracted from plants whereas herbal remedies contain hundreds of compounds that are found in whole plant parts.
Plant compounds include well known nutrients like vitamins and essential fatty acids, however they also contain beneficial compounds such as antioxidants, antimicrobials or anti-inflammatories. Furthermore some plant compounds have actions for which we have no equivalent in conventional medicine such as tonics or detoxifiers.
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 the patients needs are addressed in a prescription usually involving medical grade herbal tinctures to be taken orally on a daily basis. Herbs may also be prepared as teas or tablets, and also for external use involving ointments, lotions or gels.
A herbal preparation usually will not only be aimed at treating the primary complaint but also at supporting the patients body as a whole including the endocrine and immune systems.
Western herbal medicine can be used to treat many chronic conditions including that involving the musculoskeletal, respiratory, gastrointestinal, endocrine and dermatological systems.
Herbs are commonly used alongside conventional medications and in all cases a referral from the patient’s conventional veterinarian is sought to obtain a full medical history and permission to treat.
It is important to use a veterinarian who is trained in herbal medicine when obtaining herbs for your pet as they alone will be have knowledge of their diagnosis and be able to safely prescribe herbs accurately taking into account the potential contraindications and side effects.
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