What are Forms of Herbal Remedies for Pets?

What are Forms of Herbal Remedies for Pets?

What are Forms of Herbal Remedies for Pets?

Have you ever wondered what is the best form in which to take an herbal remedy? And since you are here maybe you are wondering if a form makes a difference for your pet?   If you have been to any store that sells supplements, you can find the same herb in a wide variety of forms including tinctures, capsules, powders, liquids and teas. It is easy to assume that it doesn’t matter, or that one is better than another.  The answer isn’t so simple, especially when it comes to pets. It depends on the herb, how it was processed after harvest, and how it is absorbed by the body and whether or not it will be ingested by your pet.   We thought we would try to demystify the forms that herbs come in so that you can make the best decision for yourself.  I have combined some categories as they are somewhat similar:

  1. Tinctures and Herbal Extracts: Tinctures usually come in small bottles with a dropper and dosage is usually counted by drops. Generally, these are liquids that have either been heated or soaked (in such things as water, alcohol, glycerin or vinegar) to extract the healing properties in a concentrated form. They are referred to as a decoction and this is the most common method of preparation in various herbal-medicine systems.  Tinctures are generally absorbed quickly by the body.  Some herbs need to be soaked in alcohol to extract to maximize the benefit.  Others respond better when cooked and decocted in water.  Also, the length of time becomes important.
  1. Capsules and powders: Herbs can be dried, crushed and then placed into capsules for easy ingestion or placed in jars so that they can easily be added to food or swallowed whole.  What is important to keep in mind is the dosage difference between capsules and powders.  In some instances, simply drying and crushing an herb does not provide the same benefit as a tincture decoction (usually in terms of absorption by the body).
  1. Teas and Liquid Extracts: Teas and Liquid Extracts are similar. Teas are dried herbs that are soaked in water and then drank.  You might think of teas in terms of herbs in a bag that you steep in a mug.  In Traditional Chinese Medicine, for example, teas are created from liquid extracts. For example, you may take a variety of herbs and boil them for a period of time, creating a strong liquid that you drink as a tea.
  1. Poultices: Herbs are prepared and placed in a bag or pouch, usually wet, and placed on a particular place on the body.
  1. Salves and Balms: Herbs are processed and then placed into a substance that can be applied to a particular place on the body that needs healed.

In some cases it doesn’t matter whether you or your pet take a tea, capsule, powder or use an extract. However, you can’t always trust the manufacturer to provide the optimum form for you.  As a general guideline, you want the herb to get as close to the body system(s) you want to influence.  For example, for a skin wound, you would likely use a topical herbal remedy.  If you are wanting to stabilize blood sugar, you would likely select a form you can ingest.  The herbal academy provides a great and more detailed overview of types of herbal preparations and uses: https://theherbalacademy.com/choose-best-herbal-preparation/

At Arogya Paws, our formulas are mostly created with a water decoction.  We then add organic glycerin, which prevents bacteria from growing and increases shelf life. Glycerin is also sweet, so it makes it more palatable for an animal, as opposed to alcohol mixes.

Pet MD provides a nice beginner’s resource for herbal pet remedies: https://www.petmd.com/dog/wellness/evr_dg_herbs

While this if for humans, Healthline has a great article that covers a wide variety of considerations with using herbs for healing purposes and it can be applied to our fur friends: Herbal Medicine 101: How You Can Harness the Power of Healing Herbs https://www.healthline.com/health/herbal-medicine-101-harness-the-power-of-healing-herbs#what-to-look-for

If you can weed through the ads on this site, they have a nice overview of the type of preparation and parts of the plant that should be used in the remedy/supplement: https://www.anniesremedy.com/

*Note:  the information in this post is not meant to treat or diagnose a condition.  It is always appropriate to verify information with your animal’s licensed veterinarian.  Please seek immediate attention for your pet if his/her condition does not improve.

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