Monday, April 4, 2022

Chinese herbal formulas – The Ledger

I wanted to share an excerpt of my book ”Alt Vet: the revolutionary pet care and longevity solution regarding the use of Chinese herbal formulas in veterinary medicine.” Chinese herbology might have started as folk medicine but the anecdotal experience has been passed down since and written more than 2,000 years ago. Modern science is taking a new look at these folk remedies, trying to find and extract the active compounds that make them medicinal. Unfortunately, the method of preparing these herbs will definitely affect their properties, which means it is hard to reduce all their power into just a pill.

Herbs have different properties and a veterinary herbalist will use them according to the action needed. There are many ways to use herbs, but I use the TCVM Five-element theory that recognizes five different categories of energy: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water. There are special herb properties that can be used to treat disease in any of those elements. Among those properties, the ones I mostly use are temperature (hot, warm, neutral, cool, and cold), taste ( salty, bitter, pungent, sweet, sour), and the meridians (12) they affect.

The theory of herbs is similar to the one I use for food. When I use the temperature of the herbs I am basically trying to reach a balance by using the opposite temperature. If a condition is cold then I try a hot herb and vice versa. If I see a pet with a high fever I will use special acupuncture points to reduce the fever and then prescribe a cold herbal formula to help as well. Simple, right?

Say for example I am treating a case of acute bloody diarrhea. This is a hot condition that needs an herbal formula containing cold herbs like Coptis ( Huang Lian). This herbal is given until diarrhea resolves because if continued, it could cause a cold condition to manifest. A cold condition in the intestines could also be diarrhea but it has quite a different presentation. “Cold” diarrhea would be usually worse in the morning, might be chronic, and would be very watery, without blood or mucus in it. In that case, treating it with Coptis would be a disaster! Instead, treating with an herbal formula containing a hot herb like Cinnamon bark (Rou Gui) will actually help clear the issue.

Herbal therapy can help manage a vast array of diseases, it can also prevent disease and help your pet live healthier and longer. Remember to ask your veterinary herbalist about the side effects and contraindications of the herbs prescribed. Disclose ALL the medications and supplements along with the diet that your pet is taking. Keep your veterinarian informed of all physical, behavior, or routine changes in your pets since starting on the herbs. Keeping a simple journal can help in figuring out the best dosage for your pet. Remember that disease patterns change and adjustments to the dose and frequency of the herbal might be needed. 

Dr. Mitsie Vargas is at Orchid Springs Animal Hospital in Winter Haven. She can be reached at drv@osahvets

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