Herbal Medicine

Chinese herbology is a vital component of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM). Herbs can be used alone or to enhance other treatment modalities like acupuncture and food therapy. The majority of Chinese therapies include a combination of all three modalities. Acupuncture will help balance the flow of Qi throughout the body’s meridians, while herbals will help nurture those meridians and promote their function on a maintenance basis. Many clinical studies have indicated that Chinese herbal medicine can be very effective for treating medical disorders involving areas of dermatology, cardiology, respiratory, endocrinology, reproduction, oncology, gastroenterology, behavior and sports medicine. Herbs can be especially useful for patients suffering from chronic conditions that require long-term therapy. In order to determine an appropriate formula to prescribe, a practitioner must be able to pin point a specific pattern diagnosis, based on TCVM theory. This includes considering not only tongue and pulse characteristics but behaviors at home as well, for example temperature preferences and sleep patterns. By appreciating the properties of Chinese herbal formulas, a practitioner can effectively predict their actions and prescribe the appropriate formula based on the condition being treated.

Characteristics used to describe herbal medicines include temperature or energy, taste, direction of energy and meridians targeted. Most herbs can be used in conjunction with western medications or solely if a patient is not responding to conventional medicines. If any side effects are to be encountered, gastrointestinal upset are the most common.

The majority of animals will accept herbal therapy, although some animals do not appreciate the taste of the herbals which can range from sour to pungent, sweet, bitter or salty. Commonly the taste can be masked by mixing with home cooked, raw or canned foods. Some formulas are used for a short time in order to clear excess conditions, while others are used for longer periods of time to tonify chronic deficiencies in the body.