Many of us have turned to alternative medicine for our own health so it is not surprising that more and more of us are seeking its use for our pets. One form of alternative medicine that is gaining in popularity is the use of TCVM or Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine. TCVM includes Acupuncture, massage, food therapy and the use of Chinese Herbs, and although it has been used successfully for many years, its use in Veterinary Medicine in North America is relatively new.
A perhaps simplistic way to view TCVM is to look at each individual as requiring a balance of Yin (cool and heavy) and Yang (hot and light), and the interaction of the two to create Qi or "life force". Qi is necessary to sustain life.
The use of herbs in TCVM as with many foods, is directed at maintaining the balance of Yin and Yang and feeding that Qi! Because of their potentially profound effect they can not only help to treat disease but also to maintain general health in an effort to prevent disease.
Chinese Herbs when administered appropriately can benefit many of the common conditions that we see with our pets including skin and ear infections, allergies, digestive and behavioural disorders as well as geriatric support. They can also be beneficial for more serious conditions such as diabetes, Cushing's and even cancer.
Most of the herbs are well tolerated and there are generally few side effects however there are always exceptions and it is not unusual to see some minor digestive upsets during treatment. Fortunately these are usually short-lived and resolve quickly once the herb is discontinued or changed.
Palatability always comes in to question and rightly so. It is no trouble to mix a possibly bitter tasting powder into the dinner of a hungry lab but not so easy to slip it past the more discerning taste buds of your average cat or finicky poodle! Luckily many herbs are also available as tablets or liquids that can be placed into gel caps or made into tasty treats that may fool even the most picky eater.
When properly prescribed Chinese Herbs can enhance our pets lives immensely. Although they are not meant to replace regular medicine they can, in many cases, aid its positive effects and suppress undesirable side effects to keep our furry loved ones happier and healthier.