Lecture on medicinal plants for dogs and horses
How can you treat digestive problems in dogs and horses naturally using medicinal plants? Kräuter Mix explored this question in an online lecture aimed at customers from the pet food industry and parties with an interest in herbal medicine. Katja Görts, a practicing veterinarian, spoke at the event.
In her 40-minute presentation, she presented the medicinal plants turmeric, frankincense, licorice root, yarrow and marshmallow root, which are regularly used to treat digestive issues in dogs and horses. Görts went into detail about the herbal ingredients, mode of action, scientific data, areas of application and dosages.
Turmeric, also known as curcuma, is part of the ginger family. The dried rootstock, the rhizome, is used for therapeutic purposes. This requires a high initial dosage of a top-quality crude drug with a high curcumin content, which is the main active ingredient. Turmeric has an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-coagulant effect. It has many uses, including for gastrointestinal disorders, arthritis, various types of pain and inflammation, respiratory diseases, and colic. Turmeric can also be applied topically on the skin of an animal, if the skin is inflamed or a wound is not healing properly, for example. Individual studies have shown that turmeric has positive effects on the gastrointestinal tract, including that the plant improves digestive enzyme activity, inhibits gastric acid formation and prevents gastrointestinal ulcers.
Frankincense is the resin of the salai tree. The lighter the resin, the higher its quality, and this depends on when it is harvested. Essential oils bring about its therapeutic effect, and its main active ingredient is boswellic acid. Frankincense has anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anti-diarrheal and immune-boosting properties. Its primary use is to treat chronic inflammatory bowel diseases. This means it can be used in dogs and horses to stabilize the intestinal mucosa and abdominal pain as well as to treat cramps and diarrhea.
A member of the legume family, licorice’s main active ingredient is glycyrrhizin. The root is used in herbal medicine in cut form or as a powder, primarily to treat gastrointestinal ulcers. Licorice root has also been known to tackle inflammation, stress and bronchitis and can protect the liver. It is further proven to have analgesic, antispasmodic and laxative effects and is used to enhance flavor. However, long-term use and high dosages may result in side effects including hypertension and water retention. Where this is the case, it is best to use deglycyrrhizinated licorice, where the active ingredient glycyrrhizin has been removed.
Yarrow is a native (to Germany) herb with multiple uses in treating gastrointestinal issues. More specifically, it can be used to treat inflammation, ulcers, bacterial issues and cramps as well as liver and gallbladder problems. Both the herb and flowers can be used as an herbal remedy. Medicinal forms range from raw consumption, decoction and infusion to fresh plant juice. The key components of yarrow are essential oils and flavonoids. The medicinal plant is considered safe and should only be avoided in pregnant animals.
A native (to Germany) mallow plant, marshmallow root is a perennial herb. Only the roots of the biennial plants are used in medicine. They can be peeled or unpeeled and are used in cut form or ground into powder. Studies have shown, however, that marshmallow only retains its healing properties when prepared using cold extraction. The primary component of marshmallow root is mucilage, and the roots should be harvested in late fall to yield the highest possible mucilage content. Mucilage forms a protective layer over mucous membranes to create an anti-irritant, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial effect and protects the body’s cells.
Various herbs from different plant families can be useful in treating gastrointestinal issues in animals, especially dogs and horses. There are some promising developments in the science and in clinical trials.
Before embarking on any treatment, including with medicinal plants, a qualified treatment provider, ideally a veterinarian specializing in phytotherapy, should be consulted to provide a thorough examination and diagnosis. Medicinal plant dosages must be tailored to the specific animal requiring treatment and its individual complaints.
Veterinarian Katja Görts’s lecture on YouTube
Profile outlines for turmeric, frankincense, licorice root, yarrow and marshmallow root
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Product list: Plant-based raw materials (individual ingredients)