We can apply the energetics of Ayurveda specifically to our companion animals.
Many of the familiar herbs that we can use for our own health can also be shared with the four-legged animals who share our homes. The following herbs are recommended specifically for pets:
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)
Ashwagandha has been used since ancient times to promote health and longevity. Its active principles (alkaloids and withanoloides) are similar to those of ginseng. Like ginseng, ashwagandha is revered for its anti-aging properties. Specifically, it is used to enhance the immune system and treat anemia, inflammation, bacterial infection, and diarrhea. It is also thought to improve the quality of bodily tissues. Clinical research shows that ashwagandha helps relieve general aches and pains. Ashwagandha is an excellent hematinic and contains high levels of iron and free amino acids such as glycine, valine, tyrosine, proline, and alanine. Moreover, this herb has been shown to be safe for long-term use. Research shows that ashwagandha has anti-inflammatory, diuretic, sedative, antibacterial, and anti-fungal activity. It also has anti-tumorigenic uses in animals.
Dosage: 500 mg- 1500 mg twice daily for dogs and 200 – 500 mg twice daily for cats.
Amla (Emblica officinalis)
Amla fruit (Emblica officinalis), also known as Indian gooseberry, is one of the richest sources of bioflavonoids and Vitamin C. Native to India, this plum-sized fruit is revered for its anti-aging and immune system-enhancing properties. Each amla fruit contains up to 700 mg of Vitamin C. This natural ascorbate is synergistically enhanced by the bioflavonoids and polyphenols contained in each fruit. In fact, research has shown that the potency of the 8.7 mg of natural Vitamin C complex in amla is equivalent to 100 mg of the most commonly used synthetic Vitamin C. It is interesting to note that the natural ellagic and gallic acids in amla protect the Vitamin C from oxidation and increase its potency. Amla has traditionally been combined with several other herbs and spices. In traditional Ayurvedic medicine, it has been particularly indicated for anemia, asthma, bleeding gums, diabetes, colds, chronic lung disease, hyperlipidemia, hypertension, yeast infections, and cancer. It also increases lean body mass, accelerates the repair and regeneration of connective tissue, and enhances interferon and corticosteroid production. Amla also acts as an antacid and anti-tumorigenic agent. In addition, it increases protein synthesis and is thus useful in cases of hypoglycemia. Amla is more beneficial than was previously imagined.
Dosage: 500 – 1000 mg every 12 hours for dogs and 100 – 250 mg for every 12 hours for cats.
The gummy extract of Boswellia serrata, a centuries-old botanical remedy, has recently been hailed by modern scientific research for its powerful anti-inflammatory effects. Boswellia shrinks inflamed tissue by improving the blood supply to the affected area and enhances the repair of damaged blood vessels. Boswellic acid, an active ingredient in boswellia, blocks synthesis of proinflammatory 5-lipoxygenase products including 5-HETE and LTB4, thereby reducing fever and pain, and inhibiting various inflammatory diseases. Both clinical and experimental trials of Boswellia serrata indicate that it produces none of the side effects (gastric irritation, ulcers, and the negative effect on the heart rate and blood pressure) associated with most anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic drugs, or even minor irritations.
Dosage: 500 – 1000 every 12 hours for dogs and 75 – 150 mg liquid every 12 hours for cats.
Bacopa monniera (also known as brahmi which, in Sanskrit, means Creator) is a small creeping herb commonly growing in marshy areas throughout India up to 2,000 feet above sea level. In Ayurvedic medicine, it is considered astringent, bitter, cooling, and is well-known as a brain tonic that improves the intellect. It has also been used for the treatment of respiratory diseases such as asthma as well as other diseases such as epilepsy, seizure disorders, anxiety, and cognitive dysfunction.
Dosage: Should be given with food. For dogs, give up to 250 mg a day, for cats give 100 mg a day.
Turmeric (Curcuma longa)
Turmeric can be used as a fresh green rhizome or a powdered dry rhizome. Curcuma longa has been believed to possess great healing powers. It is a common practice to give Curcuma longa in any case of trauma or accident to the person even before seeking any medical help. It works on all tissues of the body, but has its great activity on digestive, circulatory, and respiratory systems. It is a very strong anti-inflammatory (even more potent than phenylbutazone and other NSAIDS) in cases of bruises and arthritis. It provides excellent hepatoprotection against liver stagnation and cholestasis. Turmeric purifies blood, relieves stagnation, and is believed to be a free radical scavenger and a potent anti-neoplastic agent. It has good anti-microbial activity without any side effects. Turmeric has been known to reduce the side effects of chemotherapy. It is believed to inhibit inflammation by inhibiting cyclooxygenase and lipoxygenase pathways. Hence it can be beneficial in IBD, liver problems, arthritis, respiratory problems, and inflammatory conditions.
Dosage: Curcumin can be given mixed with soft food, or can be added to home cooking. It has no taste but it colors the food. Whole turmeric can be given at a dosage of ½ to 1 tsp to dogs, and ¼ of a tsp twice daily to cats. Turmeric has the active alkaloid curcumin. This active principle can be given to dogs in the dosage of 250 mg every 12 hours and 100 mg every 12 hours in cats.
Before instituting any diet or herbal supplementation, seek professional help from your veterinarian.
In your pets’ diets, avoid chocolate, onions, grapes and raisins, since they are toxic to cats and dogs.