Chinese Herbal Medicine for Pets?

by | Apr 7, 2024

Dr. Sperlich Attends a Conference in Ireland

This little spring interlude has me attending a classical Chinese Medicine lecture halfway around the world in Ireland! One of my favorite teachers, Master Jeffrey Yuen, is speaking on the topic of herbs as used for wellness, restoration, and therapeutics. I have attended many of his acupuncture lectures on human acupuncture topics and of course, these have applications in my patients, as we are all animals!

Herbs have been used as medicine for thousands of years, and in the Chinese medicine tradition, a big part of how to use herbal medicine is finding out how the patient is doing, how they are living their lives, how they are eating, sleeping, as well as symptoms of illness. As a veterinarian, I rely on my clients to be good observers, to help me help the animals. With the teaching being offered this weekend, I need to consider whether the herbs being discussed are appropriate or safe for the animal companions I see. Can we even get the kitty to eat that?

Most of the ancient Chinese medical texts regarding animals address treating horses, as they were an important part of society. The earliest doctors were Shamans, a profession open to women, and they would consume herbs as part of their rituals. One such practice involved enhancing communication with plants and animals. Sounds like fun to me!

A big message from my teacher this weekend is to think about using food as therapy and using herbs as well to maintain health and prevent disease. I think we would all like to keep on track for graceful aging and staying as active as we can, and I sure want that for all my patients.

What a treat to attend a conference in Ireland! It was nice to return home to the Northwest, though.