Online workshop on medicinal plants for dogs and horses
How can you treat orthopedic pain in dogs and horses naturally using medicinal plants? Kräuter Mix held an online workshop discussing this question aimed at customers from the pet food industry and trade journalists. Katja Görts, a practicing veterinarian, spoke at the event. In her lecture, which lasted around one hour, she presented the medicinal plants turmeric, frankincense, meadowsweet and willow, which are regularly used to treat orthopedic pain in dogs and horses. Görts went into detail about the herbal ingredients, mode of action, scientific data, areas of application, dosages and case studies from her practice.
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 a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant 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 locally on the skin of an animal, if the skin is inflamed or a wound is not healing properly, for example.
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, antiviral, anti-arthritic, analgesic, and immune-boosting properties. This means it can be used to mitigate joint inflammation in dogs and horses, as well as to treat both acute arthritis and chronic osteoarthritis.
Meadowsweet contains salicin, the precursor to the active ingredient salicylic acid, which is produced in the body. The dried herb and the flowers are used. Meadowsweet contains flavonoids, tannins, various salicylates, and mucins. It is an antioxidant and boosts the immune system, as well as preventing sore muscles, thinning the blood, and possibly protecting the nerves and stomach. Meadowsweet is used for gastrointestinal disorders, rheumatism, and mild to moderate muscle pain. It can also be used to relieve hard, tense muscles, for example in racehorses or dogs used for sports purposes.
Willow is probably one of the most commonly used herbs for treating horses in Germany. The medicinal properties come from the inner bark of the tree, which also contains salicin and tannins. Willow bark has anti-inflammatory, anti-rheumatic, germicidal, antipyretic, analgesic, and astringent effects. Low doses can be used in the long term to treat pain in the lower back and lumbar spine and, in horses specifically, to combat osteoarthritis in the spine and hock, lameness, and pain that is not associated with the weather. This helps reduce inflammation, improve blood flow to the tissue, and reduce swelling. It will take about one to four weeks for the treatment to take effect, making willow bark unsuitable for acute treatment.
“There are various herbs from different plant families that can be used to treat orthopedic pain, and these work in different ways and target different aspects, which allows you to tailor the treatment to individual patients’ needs,” Katja Görts summarized at the end of her lecture. “There are some promising developments in the science and in clinical trials.”
Afterwards, the workshop participants met for a live online chat with the speaker and the pet food experts from Kräuter Mix. Katja Görts, Peter Neubauer (Quality Management) and Tanja von Zitzewitz (Sales) spent an hour answering questions during the discussion with the participants.
Veterinarian Katja Görts’s talk on YouTube
Profile outlines for turmeric, frankincense, meadowsweet and willow
Product list: Pet food individual ingredients