Herbs for Dogs Health
Summary of Beneficial Properties and Useful Information Links
Alfalfa ... detox the liver, purify the blood, aids digestion
Aloe ... colon cleanser, wound care
Arnica ... wound care, pain reduction
Astragalus ... lowers blood pressure, kennel cough
Black Walnut ... expels interal parasites and tapeworms
Borage ... calms nerves, adrenal glands
Boswella ... conquers arthritis, ringworm, hip dysplasia
Burdock ... cleans and rebuilds the blood
Calendula ... minor first aid situations
Cascara Sagrada ... nature's answer for a laxative
Catnip ... soothes nerves, fever
Cat's Claw ... helps tumors, arthritis, allergies, respiratory infections
Cayenne ... blood stimulant, insect repellent
Chamomile ... anti-spasmodic and sedative
Chickweed ... sooth upper digestive tract
Cleavers ... tonic for lymphatic system
Coltsfoot ... use for respiratory ailments
Comfrey ... aids in healing of burns, skin ulcers, cuts
Corn Silk ... heals chronic urinary problems
Couchgrass ... leaves are eaten by dogs to induce vomiting, laxative
Dandelion ... cleans blood and liver
Devil's Claw ... use for arthritis, liver and gallbladder complaints
Dill ... improves appetite, digestion and flatulence
Echinacea ... nature's antibiotic
Elderberry ... briuses and sprains
Eucalyptus ... respiratory conditions
Fennel ... calm stomach cramps
Feverfew ... help joint pain
Flax ... soothes the digestive tract, repress tumors
Garlic ... supreme immune antioxidant
Ginger ... stimulant, eases stomach and bowel pains
Ginkgo ...helps to have better blood flow to the brain
Ginseng ... eliminate exhaustion and weakness
Goldenseal ... antibiotic, ringworm
Gotu Kola ... skin problems, arthritic inflammation, antioxidant
Gravelroot ... expels small kidney and bladder stones from the urinary tract
Hawthorn ... treats heart and circulation, heartworm prevention
Hops ... good for separation anxiety, hyperexcitability
Horsetail ... helps scar tissue, skin, coat, teeth and nails
Kava Kava ... helps nervous disorders, muscle spasms
Kelp ... helps with thyroid
Lavender ... nervous system, joints, tick repellent
Licorice ... use for expectorant, coughs
Marigold ... anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties
Marshmallow ...treat bacterial infections
Milk Thistle ... work with liver problems
Mullein ... helps relieve congestion
Neem ... protects pets from fleas, ticks and mites
Nettle ... helps with rhematism, arthritis and skin disorders
Oatstraw ... good for aging or debilitated animals, nervousness and mental lethargy
Parsley ... blood strengthener
Peppermint ... gas and indigestion
Plantain ... stops bleeding, relieves diarrhoea
Raspberry ... strengthens uterus, laxative
Red Clover ... blood cleansing, anti-tumor
Rose ... excellent for muscular pains, burns, minor wounds, insect bites
Rosemary ... relieves flatulent, antioxidant, digestive problems
Sage ... treat and prevent gingivitis, gastric cramping
Saint John's Wort ... helps depression, ear infections
Sheep Sorrel ... cleans blood
Shepherd's Purse ... minor urinary system bleeding
Skullcap ... use for epilepsy, nervous tension, anxiety
Slippery Elm ... helps GI tract or urinary inflammation for young, old and weak dogs
Thyme ... raspy coughs, asthma
Turkish Rhubarb ... cleans blood
Turmeric ... fix excess cholesterol in the blood, candida
Uva Ursi ... improves urinary tract, skin
Valerian ... calms nervousness and exciteness
Wormwood ... expels worms, skin rinse for bacterial or fungal infections
Yarrow ... stops internal bleeding
Yew ... helps joint problems, arthritis, skin problems
Yellow Dock ... stimulates liver function, anemia
Yucca ... use as a laxative, diruretic and antiseptic, ulcers, pain reliever
FENNEL (Foeniculum vulgare)
Fennel is added to Meatsnax for its vitamin, mineral and beneficial digestive properties.
Fennel is calmative to expel gas, stomach cramping and intestinal colic. It is also mildly calming to coughs and colds causing amenorrhea. It will increase lactation in nursing mothers. While the root is eaten as a vegetable, it is the seeds which are used medicinally. Fennel has anti-inflammatory and diuretic effects.
Fennel seed is among the first herbs to reach for in cases of flatulence or colic. Fennel is high in vitamin C, A, calcium, iron, and potassium, and varying amounts of linoleic acid. Its activity in the digestive system is very similar to that of catnip, however, fennel tastes very different from any mint, its flavour is often preferred by dogs who dislike minty flavours, it serves as a gentle anti-gas and antispasmodic agent that can be added directly to the animal’s food, to bring symptomatic relief while care is taken to investigate the deeper cause of the problem. It is an especially good nutritional assistant for dogs with chronic indigestion which cannot be attributed to a specific disease entity. Fennel also helps increase appetite, while freshens the breath by minimizing belching and through its antibacterial activity in the mouth. The leaf tea is said to be an effective skin and coat rinse, for repelling fleas. Traditionally, fennel is fed to increase milk flow in nursing mothers.
Fennel herb is carminative by nature, which simply means that it works to prevent the creation of gases. For this reason, it is a well-respected digestive health remedy used in many recipes created to help those with regular intestinal ailments. It is a common ingredient in gripe water, which is given to infants to help ease problems with flatulence. Fennel tea is known to suppress appetite. It also acts as an intestinal relaxant, to ease bloating in adults. Studies done on animals with glaucoma (a disease where damage is done to the optic nerve of the eye) have shown that fennel can help treat this disease. It has been proven that it can help prevent clouded eyesight when used in the eye-wash form.
Around the home fennel can be used to deter fleas which find fennel to be quite revolting by nature and will not live in places where fennel does. Fennel can be sprinkled around pet beds and homes where pets reside to help prevent fleas from staking a foothold within the house.
Fennel like most plants that derive their medicinal activities from volatile oil constituents, fennel should be used with caution in pregnant or lactating animals. The volatile oils in fennel may also cause a photosensitive dermatitis in some animals, but such occurrences are rare. In general, fennel is very safe.
The plant species is native to the Mediterranean shores but can be found growing wild and cultivated in numerous areas of the world now. Most commonly it can be found on river banks and near the sea coast.
Fennel is a popular herb for gardeners who grow herbs for food preparation and medicinal purposes, but is also popular with those who grow butterfly gardens. The herb is said to be like a “siren’s call” to the beautiful swallowtail butterfly and attracts colourful butterflies of all sorts with is a sweet smell and bright yellow colour.
The Romans and Greeks were extensive users of fennel. Fennel has an important and interesting history within Roman and Greek mythology and has been used throughout the ages for a large variety of purposes by these groups of people. The Ancient Greek people called the fennel plant “marathon”. Folklore tells the story of how Prometheus stole fire from the Gods and gave it as a gift to mankind. According to Greek mythology, it was the stalk of a fennel plant that Prometheus used to steal fire from the Gods. Such a colourful history befits this small herb; it would seem that it has had as many uses throughout mythology as it still does today!
Milk thistle / Silymarin
Milk thistle is added to Meatsnax due to its powerful antioxidant effects that could help reduce symptoms of liver disease, diabetes and inflammatory bowel syndrome.
Milk thistle is of European origin, it is a flowering plant from the Aster family, which also includes daisies. Milk thistle was prized as liver tonic by Roman emperors. It is one of the few herbs used in conjunction with conventional Western medicine for humans. The active ingredient is silymarin, which makes up about 80 percent of milk thistle extracts and powders.
The uses for dogs are similar to those for humans. Milk thistle has demonstrated effectiveness in protecting the liver against toxins and stimulating growth of cells to replace those that are killed or damaged. Milk thistle is also a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.
In humans, milk thistle is used primarily for treating liver diseases, such as cirrosis of the liver, but in dogs, it is also being successfully used in the treatment of diabetes and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). It reduces inflammation of the liver and bile ducts that occur during IBD, and stabilizes red blood cells affected by diabetes.
Uses of Milk Thistle
Currently, veterinarians are prescribing milk thistle to combat liver disease, diabetes and IBD, but many others believe that there are other beneficial uses.
Milk thistle could also promote faster recovery from adverse reactions to vaccinations and illnesses such as parvovirus, which can do serious damage to your dog's body. Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of milk thistle could help dogs recover more quickly.
Research at Case Western University even suggests that milk thistle might assist in the treatment of cancer. Their research showed that the effects of milk thistle protected the body from tumor promotion. This research provides hope that milk thistle could be used along with chemotherapy and radiation to treat cancer and help the body recover more quickly from such treatment.
The results of numerous studies suggest that silymarin not only protects liver cells by preventing the actions of toxic substances but that it also stimulates protein synthesis to accelerate the regeneration and production of liver cells. Silymarin also has antioxident properties that prevent free radical damage and the formation of damaging leukotrienes (a group of biologically active compounds).
No toxic effects from milk thistle have been reported, but it can produce a looser stool as a result of increased bile flow and secretion. Milk thistle can also have an effect on the absorption of some medications, because the liver is processing the substances more efficiently.
One well known controlled study involved the use of the Amanita phalloides mushroom, which contains two of the most toxic liver poisons, (phalloidin and amanitin). Ingestion of this mushroom leads to death in up to 40% of cases and severe liver damage in the balance. Silymarin given before ingestion of this mushroom is effective in 100% of cases in preventing death and liver damage. As an antidote given within 24 to 36 hours silymarin has been found to reduce liver damage and prevent death.
Calendula / Marigold
Marigold is added to Meatsnax Dental+, JointAid+ and AntiWormer+; due to its anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Marigold (Calendula Officinalis) or Pot Marigold is a commonly used herbal medicine which has anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties. Marigold has high amounts of flavonoids, plant-based antioxidants (which give the plant its bright colour) that protect cells from being damaged by unstable molecules called free radicals. Marigold appears to fight inflammation, viruses, and bacteria. Its soothing effect is due to an ability to scavenge free radicals which are by-products of inflammation, inhibiting them from causing further inflammation, and to an ability to inhibit lymphocyte proliferation (a white blood cell associated with the immune system). Flavonoids and possibly terpenoids are believed to contribute to these effects. Marigold is, however, a potent molluscicide, proving lethal to snails, slugs and flukes. Marigold also contains large amounts of lutein which is found in the retina of the eye. Lutein protects the eye from the development of cataracts and macular degeneration. A less commonly known effect of Marigold is its ability to heal and prevent gastric ulcers, due to its content of saponins, traditionally, marigold extracts have been used to treat stomach upset and ulcers. Marigold also delays gastric emptying and lowers blood sugar, effects that are of potential importance as veterinary and human medicine become increasingly concerned about insulin resistance and its multiple adverse effects. Marigold is used topically for its anti-inflammatory and weak antimicrobial (antiseptic) properties. Clinical experience with Marigold suggests it can accelerate wound healing. Diluted Marigold is used as an ear and eye wash.
How much experience is there with the use of Marigold in pets? Marigold has been used topically for many years in pets. Dogs and cats are the pets normally treated with Marigold. How much research has been conducted on this supplement? No controlled clinical trials have been conducted with Calendula. A large uncontrolled study in 1981 showed an apparent ability to promote the rapid healing of gastric ulcers. Most of our knowledge regarding Calendula comes from laboratory research, clinical experience, and herbal lore.
How safe is Marigold? Marigold is considered a non-toxic plant, but it should not be used in pregnancy since some of its constituents may cause or promote uterine contractions. Marigold is generally considered safe. It can cause drowsiness, so caution is advised if your dog is on medication that might also cause drowsiness. Check with your vet.
Allergic reactions are common to plants of the Aster family, of which Calendula is a member. There is thus a remote risk of mild irritation when Marigold is applied topically. It is estimated that perhaps only one percent of people may experience such a reaction, and perhaps even fewer animals. If redness or itch occurs in response to Marigold, discontinue its use.
Miscellaneous Facts about Marigold
The name calendula is a modern Latin diminutive of calendae, meaning “little calendar”, “little clock”
The flower petals of the calendula plant (Calendula officinalis), or pot marigold, have been used for medicinal purposes since at least the 12th century. Calendula is native to Mediterranean countries but is now grown in Europe, Western Asia, and the United States. It belongs to the same family as daisies, chrysanthemums, and ragweed, Marigold is an annual plant that thrives in almost any soil. Its branching stems grow to a height of 30 - 60 cm, and it blooms from early spring until frost. The orange-yellow petals of the flowers are used for medicine.
Romans and Greeks used the golden calendula in many rituals and ceremonies, sometimes wearing crowns or garlands made from the flowers!
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
Rosemary is added to Meatsnax for its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and cardiovascular benefits.
Rosemary is a Mediterranean native belonging to the Lamiaceae family; it has long been used as an anti-aging and food preserving herb. Rosemary has strong anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties; it has rightly earned its renowned reputation and thus is found in many of our gardens and recipes. It can be utilized for its preventative work in younger as well as older dogs.
Now before I go any further let me clarify some of the misinformation regarding rosemary floating about the internet on this multi beneficial herb. Rosemary in its whole powered form is totally safe and has been used for many years in commercial dog foods, indeed rosemary and many other aromatic spices have been used for millennia to prevent oxidative and microbial induced food spoilage. However rosemary in its purified essential oil form which is much more concentrated is not appropriate for use in any person or animal prone to seizures, and absolutely not in high doses. So using pure essential oils for yourself or your pet is very different from using small amounts of the whole herb. As with any herb, supplement or feed, best practice is to use the appropriate amount in the appropriate form. While any herb or food can cause idiosyncratic reactions in susceptible people or pets, such reactions are rare.
Rosemary is a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory that strengthens capillaries and protects against free radical damage (oxidation) to DNA. Rosmarol, an extract from the leaves, has shown remarkably high antioxidant activity which makes this a wonderful natural preservative.
Why we use rosemary in Meatsnax
Rosemary has many benefits; it has a long association with the heart and is employed by herbalists to improve circulation and blood vessel health. Part of the cardiovascular benefits may stem from the ability of rosemary to improve the function of cells lining the blood vessel walls. Better blood flow explains improved nutrient and oxygen transport and waste removal, in turn improving overall health. Moreover, rosemary seems to strengthen heart function, reducing arrhythmias (irregular or abnormal heart beat rhythm) and helping animals that have been under stress.
In the digestive tract, rosemary reduces spasms and gas, which translates to reduce dog breath, since bad breath often originates from poor digestive function further down the tract rather than just a bacteria filled mouth. Rosemary will also counter infections in the gastrointestinal tract, from the mouth down, as well as in the urinary tract, eyes and on the skin. Rosemary may also have cancer related applications, as it strongly reduces two drivers of cancer progression, oxidative stress and inflammation and may even reverse the resistance of tumor cells to chemotherapy. Rosemary is best not used medicinally during pregnancy, though small amounts found in food would not be expected to pose a problem.
Rosemary is derived from the Latin words "ros" and "marinus", which mean "dew of the sea". It refers to the Mediterranean coastal region where it grows in abundance. In folk medicine rosemary is said to enhance memory, and during the 16th century the burning of rosemary was carried out to disinfect rooms!
Rosemary is a symbol of loyalty and love. In certain parts of the world, the bride, groom and their guests wear branches of rosemary during wedding ceremonies. Rosemary is sometimes used in the funeral rituals; by placing rosemary into the hands of the deceased and scattering rosemary on the grave is seen as a symbol of remembrance.
Rosemary can reproduce either from the seeds or cuttings; rosemary is an easy herb to cultivate not requiring special care, although in colder climates guard against frost by bringing it inside during winter, it can be topiary shaped and been of Mediterranean costal origin withstands salt spray. Rosemary attracts bees and facilitates pollination of other plants in the garden.
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
Taraxacum, is derived from the Greek taraxos (disorder), and akos (remedy), on account of the healing action of the plant. From the French 'dent de lion', meaning 'lion's tooth'
Dandelion is added to Meatsnax for its vitamins and minerals, for its liver, kidney and digestive benefits.
Dandelion the common weed we find growing in hedgerows, lawns, fields, popping up through cracks in pavements etc., really anywhere the beautiful dandelion seed settles, is so beneficial to human, animal and insect, that we should welcome this perennial and not treat it as a persistent useless weed.
Dandelion is full of vitamins, A, B, C and D, and a provider of minerals such as iron, potassium and zinc. The leaves can be added to salads and infused to make dandelion tea. The roots are a coffee substitute while the flowers can be used to make wines.
To date there has been no in-depth scientific study into dandelion benefits in human; however like so many of the herbs we know and use today, there medicinal assistance goes back into prehistory. In Europe, it was used in remedies for diabetes, fever, diarrhoea and problems associated with the eyes. In Chinese medicine, dandelion has been used to treat appendicitis, inflammation, stomach ailments and problems associated with lack of milk flow in the breast. Dandelion was boiled in water by the Native Americans for, heartburn, upset stomach, kidney disease, swelling and skin problems. Dandelion leaves are used to stimulate the appetite; problems of the liver and gallbladder, the leaves are also used as a diuretic which help the body expel excess fluid.
The dandelion, a hardy perennial, contains hundreds of species, and can be found throughout Europe, North America and Asia it does not appear in the Southern Hemisphere. Dandelion flowers open with the morning sun, closing in the evening twilight or during overcast periods or when threatened with rain, rain is funnelled to the root system via the grooved leaves. The root, stem and leaves contain a white milky substance, which is bitter to taste.
Dandelion leaves act as a diuretic, increasing the volume of urine a body makes; the leaves also encourage appetite and aid digestion. The dandelion flower bears antioxidant properties. Dandelion has the potential to help improve the immune system. Dandelion root has been used by herbalists to detoxify the liver and gallbladder, and its leaves to help with kidney function.
The Dandelion is an important honey-producing plant, as it produces considerable quantities of pollen and nectar in the early spring, when the bees harvest from fruit trees is nearly complete, from the beekeeper's point of view, it flowers most in spring, even during cooler weather, but a small progression of bloom is retained up until late autumn, thus it is a source of honey after the main flowers have ceased to bloom, thereby delaying the need for feeding bee colonies with artificial food. It has been established that no fewer than ninety-three different varieties of insects frequent this important and wonderful weed, a weed that has inspired artists and children alike with its dreamy, parachuting seeds, which can travel five miles from its parent plant.
Nettle (Urtica dioica)
Often considered to be a weed, most people would consider the growth or existence of nettles a nuisance. However nettle is actually one of the most versatile herbs when cut and dried as the constituents that cause allergic reactions are only active when the plant is alive! It’s now one of my favourite weeds which I actively encourage to grow in a waste area of my garden although I must confess in my past to destroying this wonderful herb, its beneficial list is extensive to human, animal, insect and indeed other plants!
Nettle can grow from walls and survives in such situations due to its infinite root structure sucking up and storing all the vitamins and minerals it can when cut and dried releases these to the benefit of those that take it.
The strange fact is that nettle is often used in dogs for skin problems (the very thing it causes when alive). It can be used on scurfy coats and indeed hair loss and has an uncanny knack of encouraging the coat to grow back! Nettle is also used in products to help alleviate the symptoms of arthritis.
It can also be used for Anaemia as it has good iron content and is a good blood herb for the circulation. Nettle is a diuretic so is an aid to flushing the kidneys helping to eliminate the risk of urinary tract infections.
The nettle plant as a whole roots, stem, and leaves, has been examined by some of the world’s leading research institutions and found to have many powerful, positive benefits.
What Compounds Does Nettle Contain?
The plant is comprised mainly of complex sugars and lectins. Nettle contains prostaglandins which have properties that support resistance to redness and irritation. Nettle leaf also contains high levels of protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, potassium, iron, calcium, thiamine, riboflavin and niacin and beta-carotene and high amounts of the vitamins A, C, D, and B complex. Nettle, is a rich source of beneficial phytonutrients such as chlorophyll, sterols, polyphenols, lignans, and gallic acid. It is also a diuretic, tonic and can also be applied to stop bleeding in open wounds. Nettle has been used for centuries to help treat stiff joints and aches and also helps to purify the blood and cleanse the liver and kidneys.
Nettle is a highly nutritive herb rich in vitamins & minerals with a broad range of actions and benefits to the body including, but not limited to:
The Health Benefits of Nettle Leaf
Nettle has been evaluated for antioxidant activity, its resistance to microorganisms, and other common, as well as serious, health ailments. The Department of Nutritional Sciences & Toxicology, University of California, Berkeley evaluated separate components of the nettle plant (roots, stalk, leaves) and discovered overall potent nutraceutical activity throughout.
Università di Pisa in Italy determined further evidence of the benefits of nettle by concluding that nettle had a relaxing effect that produced a decrease in blood pressure.
Relation to Defense Against Microorganisms
Research conducted at Turkey’s Institute of Transplantation and Gene Sciences of Baskent University performed a study designed to evaluate harmful organism toxicity in several plant extracts, including stinging nettle. Results indicated high activity in the nettle extract and even suggested it to be an extract of importance to the agricultural industry in a plant disease control capacity. This is not much of a surprise; nettle has repeatedly proven effective as a defense against microorganisms. A Netherlands study found significant activity against harmful organisms within nettle extract and noted it may be beneficial for some instances of diarrhoea.
Some Interesting Facts About Nettles
Leaves and steams of the nettle have small fragile hair called capsules, full of several liquid chemicals, including formic acid. While touching the leaf, a hair, sharp like a needle, gets into your skin, then breaks down, and liquid gets injected into your skin. Ouch! The sting of a nettle may be cured by rubbing the part with rosemary, mint, sage or docking leaf.
Nettle stems contain a fibre, which was traditionally used for making ropes, sails and fine linen cloth, suitable even for shirts and beddings. The first known nettle textile find in Europe is from the Bronze Age and there is evidence of nettle cloth production in Scandinavia, Poland, Germany, Russia and Ireland. In some of these countries nettle fibre was used for textiles up to 17th or even 19th century, but finally was replaced by cotton. Recently there is again the interest to fibre of nettle, as it grows very easily and the textile has good characteristics.
Fishermen if you want to preserve your catch on a hot summer’s day until you get home, wrap your catch in stinging nettles, this will greatly reduce bacteria from multiplying and stopping your prized fish from going off!
Modest nettle flowers have genders! The male or barren flowers have stamens only, and the female or fertile flowers have only pistil or seed-producing organs. A plant will bear either male or female flowers throughout, that‘s why the specific name of the plant, dioica, which means 'two houses.'
Leaves of the nettle may be used for producing beautiful and permanent green dye for woollen stuffs and even for food, while roots boiled with alum, produce a yellow colour.
In Dorset (UK) each year Annual stinging Nettle Eating Contest takes place. Held as part of a charity beer festival at the Bottle Inn in the village of Marshwood near Crewkerne, the event attracts participants from around the world.
Contestants are given two foot long stalks of stinging nettles and have one hour to eat as many leaves as possible. The winner is the person with the longest length of empty stalk. Only nettles provided by the organisers can be eaten, competitors are not allowed to bring their own, no mouth numbing substances are permitted - although a swig of beer in between mouthfuls is always encouraged.
Nettle acts as a hair tonic and growth stimulant, restoring colour, and beauty to hair. It improves the health of skin, scalp, and hair; strengthens weakened hair follicles; and removes dandruff. It is composed into some shampoos, but also simple nettle tea can be used as a skin toner and hair rinse.
And finally nettles are a really good food, in spring time collect the young leaves from the top of the nettle plant taking just the most tender top 4 or so leaves which make a delicious soup, you can also add them to salads, pies nettle also makes a wonderful pesto. You can also freeze nettle leaves for storage out of season for enriching winter meals.
The nettle powder used in our products is grown and produced in Poland.
So you see it pays to be Nice to Nettles!