Confusion and mythology, supplements and Chinese medicine are just a few of the words that come to mind when I hear the word “Herbs.” Western, conventional medicine warns us of the dangers of using herbs given the lack of our modern FDA style published research.
First and foremost, we must ask ourselves what is really a dangerous threat. Here’s an interesting quote regarding a study that was recently published in Natural News which stated that “Over the past 30 years, approved drugs have caused an epidemic of harmful side effects, even when properly prescribed.” This was explained as a preface to the Harvard report by Professor Donald W. Light, who stated that “Every week, about 53,000 excess hospitalizations and about 2,400 excess deaths occur in the United States among people taking properly prescribed drugs to be healthier.”
We as pet advocates also wonder how many excessive hospitalizations or deaths occur in the Veterinary world as well. Unfortunately our furry little friends have no voice in this matter.
So upon this, let us take a look at the less offensive alternatives. Let’s address the mystery surrounding herbs? These natural sources are simply nothing more than edible plants that we have designated to have numerous benefits. In other words, herbs are nothing more than food.
Similar to all foods, each herb has different nutrients, enzymes, vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and fiber. When in a natural and raw form, the benefits are in a bioavailable form for the body to readily use. After centuries of use, we have recognized distinct benefits of all kinds of different foods. For instance, meats and fish help build strong muscle as the proteins, enzymes and amino acids are utilized by the body for this function. Fresh fruits and vegetables bring electrolytes and key vitamins such as Vitamin C in that same bioavailable form. Other foods like Echinacea, Cilantro, and Meadowsweet bring nutrients that help the body cleanse, re-build and heal.
The body is dynamic, having very specific needs at different times of the day, season and lifetime. Carnivores such as dogs and cats, have a digestive system that can only efficiently utilize animal-based food sources into metabolic energy. That is the energy that the body actually uses. However, as complete as meats are in the diet of a carnivore, additional nutrients are sometimes necessary.
Carnivores will get these extra nutrients such as minerals, enzymes, and others from their drinking water. They are known to drink out of puddles, ponds, and streams, all of which in natural form are actually various blends of herbal teas. As plants are sitting in this water, nutrients are being infused into it. If there is a patch of valerian in a puddle, then that water will have a natural soothing effect in the body.
It is only when we start to change these foods into other forms such as tablets and capsules, add dosage information, and process them to extract only certain compounds is when these natural foods become problematic and can create health issues. This is when it gets treated as a so-called medicine. This is also true when these changes are applied to all foods.
Let’s stop and think… if we take a fish fillet, add seasoning and cook it, have we changed the nutritional profile? What did these changes do in our body? What components have been altered or destroyed? What about the use of chemicals to break down corn into sugars or soy into oils and mystery foods?
Herbs, like all other natural foods, can be eaten by all and are never to be constant and limited. The term “supplement” means “add to.” It should never be a replacement for the natural source of you or your pets’ nutrition. We rotate different foods in our diet so the body can pick and choose what it needs today… now! By adding this family of foods to the diet, our pets’ bodies will be healthier, stronger, and balanced.
And as always, if we open our eyes, we see that life itself has given us the natural solutions in the foods and bounty all around us.