Why herbal?


Herbal medicines  Herbal medicine

What is herbal medicine?

Herbal medicine is the practice of using the whole plant to treat and prevent disease. It is also called botanical medicine or phytotherapy. Many plants contain pharmacologically active compounds (e.g. aspirin from willow bark, digoxin from foxgloves), and most of our modern refined drugs have come from a plant origin.

Most herbs contain many different active compounds which act together to provide a gentler approach. Scientists are now looking further at plants to provide more treatments where modern methods are not curing diseases (e.g. alzheimers researchers are studying the properties of sage – an herb which has been traditionally used for the mind). Herbs may be used internally as dried or fresh herbs, tinctures, fluid extracts, tablets and teas, or externally in lotions, ointments and gels.

Why do people use herbal?

Herbal medicine has been used for thousands of years with excellent results as knowledge has been passed down through the generations. Herbal remedies can help in many situations to support conventional medicine or where it may not be appropriate.

Do animals self-treat?

There is growing evidence to show that if the right herbs are available, animals will self-treat. This is all down to evolution – the animals that ate particular herbs when they were feeling poorly got better and survived to reproduce.

Sourcing the right herbs

Natural Animals uses preparations which have been manufactured to a recognised standard by reputable companies, and contain known concentrations of the active ingredients. In addition, some herbs are very rare in the wild or are endangered species, and so we only use commercially grown or ethically sourced plants. We also try to use organic and biodynamic herbs wherever possible.

Is it holistic?

Herbal vets generally carry out longer and more in-depth consultations than conventional vets. They like to look at all aspects of the patient’s life and health, so that they can provide a tailored remedy that treats the whole animal and not just a single symptom. In this respect, herbal medicine can be described as holistic.

Alternative, complementary, or integrated?

Herbal medicine is considered by many to be an alternative or complementary form of medicine. However, many herbal vets prefer the term ‘Integrated Medicine’, as this describes how we work with your own vet in providing a full service. For example, if your dog has a broken leg, you will need to see a conventional vet to get the fracture repaired and the veterinary herbalist will be able to provide you with additional care. Integrated medicine also uses other forms of treatment such as acupuncture and physiotherapy.


Homeopathy is different from herbal medicine. I do not currently practice homeopathy – if you need the services of a homeopathic vet, please visit the BAHVS website: www.bahvs.com