February 13, 2019 8 min read
If your pet is down with a medical condition but the regular types of medication aren’t working as well as you’d expected them to, there are other avenues that you can try. One of these options is Chinese herbal medicine, which provides a more holistic approach to healing.
With components like acupuncture, Chinese medicine is made up of a system of diagnosis and systemic treatment that is more commonly known as traditional Chinese medicine or TCM.
First, let’s learn a little more about what this type of medicine is, what it is used for and how can it be administered to your pet.
According to traditional Chinese medicine, an illness is seen as disharmony between the person and their environment, and this form of healing looks to restore that harmony for better health.
The treatment system is full of complex formulas of herbs that complement each other and have specific uses. Chinese medicinal herbs are used in both dogs and cats to treat a number of conditions, starting from kidney disease, liver problems, behavioral problems, asthma, bronchitis and gastrointestinal conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease, constipation or bladder issues. It can also be used in support of cancer treatments.
Such herbal medication is usually prescribed in the form of teas, dried herbs, small round hard tea pills, powdered herbs or powdered dry granules. It is easier to administer powdered dried herbs or granules to pets as they can be mixed with wet food.
Here are some of the ways in which Chinese medicine can help your pet live a healthier life.
Dog immunity supplements are becoming more and more popular these days. With a large number of products in the market, a vast number of ingredients named on the packaging are medicinal herbs. These are not regular herbs used in cooking recipes that are found in your local stores, but herbs used strictly for medicinal purposes. These can do wonders for your dog’s immunity and increase their capability to fight ailments.
Ginseng (or Ren Shen) is a very popular herb that may be relatively unknown in the West but is commonly used in Asia. It’s not just beneficial for humans but also for dogs. It is one of the best immunity boosts for pets as it has a variety of healing properties when given as a dog immunity supplement to your pets. It can be given to canines raw or in a capsule form. This herb contains truckloads of minerals, vitamins, antioxidants that will keep your pet from getting sick and keeping them active and young.
Other Chinese herbs that are extremely beneficial for boosting your pet’s immunity are Huang Qin (Scutilleria), Yin Chen Hao (sweet wormwood), Jiang Huang (medicinal grade), Curcumin (turmeric) and Pu Gong Ying (dandelion).
According to the theory propagated by traditional Chinese veterinary medicine, cancer is a disease of excess, where cells divide rapidly in the body, and yang, that is a masculine, uplifting energy, creates heat or inflammation in the body, stemming from an internal source. This source is the abnormal cellular genetic material in the body.
Experts in the field believe that food energies can be used to calm down the heat and inflammation created by the spread of cancer and its rapid cellular division. They believe that you should focus on feeding your pets protein, vegetables and grain sources that are known to have a yin — a cooling effect on the body — or those that are neutral in their energies.
Cooling food sources are proteins like turkey, duck, goose, quail, rabbit, fish, yogurt and others. Vegetables like spinach, broccoli, mushroom, cucumber, celery and others are also considered cooling sources. Grains and fruits are also considered cooling.
Acupuncture has been shown to be safe for use on cancer patients and can help to reduce treatment-associated nausea, improve your pet’s appetite and increase their energy.
Yunnan Baiyao is a class-1 protected traditional medicine with its origin in China. It is also commonly known as Yunnan Paiyao, Yunnan Bai Yao or – by the exact translation – ‘Yunnan White Drug’. It has blood clotting abilities and was famous for its use by Vietcong to stop bleeding during the Vietnam War.
While the exact formula has been a closely guarded secret, Yunnan Baiyao was developed and produced by a state-owned enterprise in the Chinese province of Yunnan.
Yunnan Baiyao is commonly used orally to stop internal bleeding and works to increase the speed of healing. Most importantly, it has shown promise in controlling internal bleeding associated with cancers like hemangiosarcoma of the liver, spleen and heart in dogs, or bleeding bladder tumors in dogs and cats.
While Yunnan Baiyao has been helpful in the functioning of the immune system, nervous system and relieving muscle pain in humans, these haven’t been consistent in pets.
It can be bought without prescriptions but make sure it’s administered under the supervision of a veterinarian. While the Food and Drug Administration hasn’t approved it for use in animals, it can be prescribed legally by veterinarians as an extra-label drug.
There will be times when you see your dogs sitting around and scratching themselves furiously. This can be because of a condition called atopic dermatitis that is pretty common in dogs. Similar to eczema in humans, this condition is usually treated with biomedications but they do not always work as well in both humans and pets for symptom relief. Even when there is a temporary relief, it may decrease over time and not really get rid of eczema.
At a time like this, you can consider elements of Chinese medication like acupuncture or herbal medicines to treat skin problems.
According to people who use this for their dogs regularly, most dogs start scratching much lesser in as few as two to four treatments. In about six treatments, most dogs are able to get complete relief from the condition! The quick symptom relief is not the main benefit of using Chinese medicine. It’s the fact that it is capable of healing atopic dermatitis. Most dogs will only need to come in on a few occasions each year for follow-up treatments to maintain their itch-free skin, even after their symptoms have been taken care of.
Another major benefit that pets can get from traditional Chinese veterinary medicine is relief from arthritis. Chinese medication uses ancient herbs to help fight the pain by focusing on the root of your dog’s arthritis.
While western herbs are usually used singularly, Chinese herbs are always used in a combination so that the many different herbs work in synergy with one another. Every individual herb is not as strong as the total combination but they can work well together to resolve problems without any significant negative side effects.
Some Chinese herbs that are useful for arthritis are Notopterygii (which moves blood and qi, and has pain relieving and anti-inflammatory benefits), Angelica du huo, Gentiana, Mulberry twig, Kadsura stem (which alleviates pain by inhibiting nitric oxide production), Angelica dang gui and Ligusticum which helps move blood and alleviate pain through its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
You may not realize this but kidney disease is a very serious issue that is more common in dogs than we think. After cancer, it is the second biggest killer of dogs in the United States, which means that your dog has a 1 in 10 chance of getting it.
There have been instances where chronic renal failure has been successfully reversed using techniques like acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine, combing with nutritional supplements. Cats are known to respond most favorably to such treatments, but there have been a number of successful cases where the disease has been prevented and even reversed because of Chinese medicine in dogs as well.
There are also certain Chinese herbs that have a long history of documented success. They work by increasing blood flow through the kidneys, which results in more toxins being expelled from the bloodstream. The most commonly used formula is Ba Wei Di Huang Wan, also known as Rehmannia 8. It contains Fu Zi (aconite) and Rou Gui (cinnamon), both warming sources, and increases renal blood flow even at times where the kidney is functioning only up to 60 to 70 percent. The rest of the formula is called Lui Wei Di Huang Wan or Rehmannia 6.
There are tons of toxins and pesticides in the environment that can have a detrimental effect on your pet’s liver. This makes it important for you to minimize pharmaceutical use and decrease the presence of toxins inside your home and outside.
One of the treatments that are recommended for dogs with liver disharmony is acupuncture, which should be administered by a holistic veterinarian. The other technique is acupressure, the application of physical pressure by the hand or elbow to acupuncture points. This can be done by the owner at home.
There will be five commonly used acupressure points on each side of your dog’s body that are related to the liver. This means two points on the back and three on the inner hind leg. It is so effective that if performed correctly, it will relax the dog to such an extent that he will be able to sleep peacefully.
There are also some herbs that help with preventing damage to the liver. One of these is milk thistle, which prevents the entry of those nasty toxins into the liver because of its hepatoprotective properties. Artichokes also enhance the regeneration of damaged liver cells, while dandelion aids the production of bile by the liver.
As a technique that has been used in China for thousands of years, acupuncture involves the insertion of needles into some points of the body where nerve bundles and blood vessels intersect. Its aim is to produce a healing response in the body.
This is done by the placement of needles in these energy channels so that blood circulation is enhanced. It also stimulates a release of hormones so that the body can correct imbalances and it is being used by a large number of pet owners for their dogs and cats.
While pain management is the most common use of acupuncture, it has also been used to address musculoskeletal problems like arthritis, hip dysplasia or nerve injuries. In addition to this, it can also be used to help with skin problems like allergic dermatitis, granulomas or hot spots.
Acupuncture helps in increasing blood flow, which can help with gastrointestinal problems like nausea and diarrhea. It may help normalize digestive activity by stimulating digestive secretions. Even respiratory problems like asthma and allergies may benefit from the anti-inflammatory capabilities of acupuncture.
Chinese medicine considers licorice or Glycyrrhiza glabra L. as a harmonizer that been used by Chinese and Ayurvedic formulators for thousands of years to help patients suffering from allergies.
According to TCM, licorice benefits the qi, moistens the lung, reduces coughing, clears heat and also soothing spasms. Glycyrrhizic acid, one of its constituents, has shown an antitussive effect similar to codeine.
Licorice is also helpful in reducing inflammation in the upper digestive tract, increasing the anti-inflammatory effect of glucocorticoids and also helping to eliminate mucus from the respiratory tract. All of these are great to deal with your pet’s allergies.
Pets can benefit tremendously from an integrated approach to veterinary care. This means that you combine conventional veterinary science with other forms of treatment like herbal medicine, acupuncture, massage and hydrotherapy.
The biggest advantage of herbal medicines is that they are developed especially for pets and can be administered alongside conventional medications. While some pharmaceutical medicines can be the cause of unwanted side effects, herbal medication can help address and reduce those side effects for your pet.
Chinese medicine comes with a wide range of benefits and can be especially helpful if your pet is not responding well to regular treatment, or if you want to try a more natural approach towards the ailment. However, you must keep in mind that your veterinarian is the expert when it comes to issues of your pet’s health and you should consult the vet before you try something new. There is an attempt to reduce possible side effects in Chinese medication, but you should monitor your pet’s behavior closely to ascertain any problems that it may be facing with herbal medicine.
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