Natural Remedies

by Dr. Deva Khalsa on November 3, 2011

Natural Remedies are easy and fun to use at home.

Garlic

Garlic is one of the few herbs that have worldwide recognition and use. The good news is that dogs love the taste of garlic. The garlic plant is a member of the lily family. It is one of the oldest cultivated plants. For ages, garlic has been renowned for its ability to ward off disease.

Modern research has shown that garlic has antifungal, antibiotic, anti-viral, anti-parasitic and anti-cancer effects. An interesting fact is that, in 1858, Louis Pasteur proved that garlic was able to kill fungi and bacteria.

Daily usage of garlic supports the body in ways that no other herb does. It supports the digestive tract, helping support and revive those good bacteria in the gut and wards off worms. It can also be useful for the treatment of ringworm. Garlic also helps regulate blood sugar levels.

The odor of garlic is due to the sulfur containing compounds that account for most of its medicinal properties. The essence of the garlic will mix in with the oil produced by your dog’s oil glands, and helps to prevent flea infestation. When humans perspire profusely, it is all too easy to tell who recently ate a lot of garlic. It comes out in our perspiration. Dogs do not perspire, except on their feet, but the garlic comes out in their coats’ natural oil.

Your dog will enjoy fresh garlic in his food. Garlic is best used fresh. One-half to one clove taken once or twice a day. You can give them to your dog whole, or you may dice or macerate them and mix them in the food. If you home cook for your dog, add garlic to the recipes you cook and it will still be of benefit to his health.

One or more cloves of garlic can be used per day, depending on the size of your dog. Garlic is also available in health food stores in tablets or capsules. Supermarkets carry powdered garlic, but this form has lost most of its oomph. Garlic can be used as a flavoring in many of the recipes listed in this book.

Sidebar: Did you know that the price of a slave in ancient Egypt was about 15 lbs. of garlic

Sidebar: Garlic for wart removal: Mash garlic and tape on to warts for a few hours. In some cases, the warts will decrease in size or disappear.

Aloe Vera – the incredible burn cure

This plant has been used for centuries in many cultures for treating burns and healing wounds. The Aloe originated in tropical Africa, where it was used as an antidote for poison arrow wounds. Historically, it was used by the Greeks, Romans, Chinese, and in India.

Each leaf contains a jellylike substance which works toward rapid regeneration of tissue on wounds and burns. This gel appears to increase the rate of healing in the cellular matrix and decrease inflammation. It also has antibiotic and coagulating agents in it. It is useful for treating fungal infections of the skin. Aloe can also stop the itch of insect bites and relieve them. Taking one to two tablespoons orally three times a day acts as a tonic for the intestinal tract.

Aloe plants can be easily found in the nursery, and require little care to maintain in a home. Place a terra cotta pot with an Aloe Vera plant on your window ledge and watch it grow! The gel from the plant is much more effective than the jars of the gel that are available at stores. The active ingredients remain active after cutting off a leaf for less than three days.

Fresh gel can be obtained by splitting the leaf. Apply the green tinged clear jelly like inside of the split leaf to burns, wounds, fungal infections and insect bites. If you cut a leaf and use part of it the remaining parts of the leaf needs to be stored in the refrigerator.

Sidebar: Aloe gel can be used topically on itchy areas of your dog skin. It is excellent to use on allergic dogs with hot spots.

Dandelion- Taraxacum Officinale

Rather than being troubled about all those dandelions on your lawn, you can use them to make a healthy tea infusion and detoxify your dog’s liver. Dandelion is one plant almost everyone can recognize. Yet it is a somewhat recent addition to the field of herbal medicine, first appearing in Europe in the mid-fifteenth century. It was first mentioned in Chinese medicine in the 7th century. The Chinese use the entire plant, and Western herbal medicine tends to use either the root or leaf.

Dandelion is a very powerful diuretic and is one of the best sources of potassium. Dandelion is a wonderful example of how a complete herb works. Pharmaceutical diuretics drain potassium out of the body and deplete potassium reserves. The dandelion root works as a very powerful diuretic, removing excess fluid from the body, but also replaces potassium that is lost in the process. The roots are the part of the plant you would use to formulate a very effective diuretic. The plant is rich in potassium, which is generally lost with very frequent urination. Dandelion can be used for fluid retention, especially with heart problems.

Dandelion reduces congestion in the liver and can even help with jaundice. Both the roots and the leaves can be used for medicinal purposes. The leaves work as a digestive and liver tonic. The root is used as a cleansing tonic for gallstones, jaundice and constipation.

Dandelion leaves are also specific medicine for the kidneys, while the root is a remedy for liver detoxifications. Dandelion increases gastric secretions to aid in digestion.

The nice thing about these herbs is that they can be used preventatively. Some chopped dandelion in a meal works to clean a relatively healthy liver and simply make it even healthier.

I would recommend that you do not use dandelions from lawns that have been sprayed with herbicides. That would counter our purpose to heal the body. Unsprayed leaves can be harvested at any time during the growing season.

The fresh leaves are often sold in supermarkets in the produce department. Commercially available dandelion is less bitter than what grows on your lawn.

Dandelion capsules and extracts can be found in health food stores.

A few fresh leaves can be chopped and added to a tasty meal for your dog. They can taste bitter, so begin to add them sparingly at first. Dandelion leaf juice can be made in a juicer and one quarter teaspoon can be given 3x a day for a medium sized dog. The fresh juice is a more powerful diuretic than an infusion, which is prepared from dried leaves. A tincture can be purchased in liquid form in health food stores. A few drops given a few times a day can aid in removing fluid in dogs with heart conditions.

IN box: Two to three tablespoons of the leaves can be placed into one cup of water and brought to a boil. Simmer gently for 15 minutes and let cool. Give one tablespoon of the liquid 3x a day for a medium sized dog. An infusion or tea can also be made by pouring hot water over the leaves and allowing the mixture to steep for five to 30 minutes.

Cranberries

Cranberries are much more than a traditional food served during the holiday season. Recent studies prove cranberries efficacy in treating urinary tract infections. It has been known for long time that cranberries acidify the urine. Bacteria cannot survive when the pH changes. But there is another way cranberry fights that urinary tract infection. It contains a polysaccharide called mannose which decreases the ability of the bacteria to adhere to the cells lining the urinary tract. The bacteria will adhere to the mannose from the cranberry rather than the surface of the cells. These bacteria then get flushed out with the urine.

Sidebar: Cranberries and Blueberries, which are in the same genus prevent bacteria from adhering to the cells on the bladder wall.

Additionally, cranberries are excellent as a general health tonic, balancing the acid-base balance in the body. Many dogs eat far too much protein and grain, causing an increase in the acidity in the body. Cranberry makes the body a healthy alkaline and the urine a healthier acid. Adding some stewed cranberries to a meal helps to promote a healthier, more alkaline state. Fresh and frozen cranberries are four times as potent as cranberry juice cocktail while cranberry juice concentrate is 27 times as potent.

The herbal garden

In the Middle Ages almost every Monastery had a physic garden which contained the herbs they needed for cooking and healing. At that time, the definition of physic meant medicine or healing as an art or a profession. Nowadays it means something that lifts the spirits or energizes. A healing herb (physic) garden can now do both for you and your dogs

I love working in my herb garden. When I run my hands gently along the plants and rejoice in their fragrance. It’s a truly healthy feeling. Fresh herbs have a much higher concentration of phytochemicals than dried up herbs sitting in a jar on a supermarket shelf. When freshly picked, they are a joy to use in cooking.

Sidebar: Phytochemicals are compounds found in plants that are used by our bodies for nourishment when we eat the plant.

The plant kingdom is abundant in rich resources that can be added to your dog’s diet to aid in preventing disease. Herbs can be used to support your dog’s health and wellness, helping them to stay at their peak of vitality. Routine use of herbs in the diet will help keep your dog’s body detoxified and keep the immune system in its healthiest state.

It is also fun to dry garden herbs at the end of the season. With herbs to spare you can make potpourri, rinses, and enjoy your bounty in a variety of ways. Using plants as medicine brings us back toward an understanding of how we fit in the cycle of nature. Working in your herb garden is a good excuse to get back in touch with nature while getting a nice tan. Your dog will love the outside time too. Read on as we take a walk through your garden of herbs

Coming full circle

Learning about the herbs that are used in botanical medicine reveals a bright new world. We are surrounded by plants that have the ability to increase both our own and our pets’ health. Once again, we can marvel at all the gifts this planet has bestowed upon us. It is time to remember again, the true wealth that is available to us all.

It may surprise you to learn that some of the plants you may typically purchase for your perennial garden are medical plants.

The Coneflower, for example, is a common plant in perennial gardens. It is also called Purple Coneflower, or Echinacea. This plant gives a powerful boost to the immune system and is commonly taken when a cold or flu is coming on. Another example of a common healing plant is Hypericum, or St. John’s Wart; a pale green plant that produces delicate yellow flowers. This plant can help with depression and it also has an antiviral property.

Your own physic garden…. rather your dog’s garden!

In this next section, we will make it easy for you to plant a healing garden that will provide you with healing herbs throughout the growing season in a 4 foot by 4 foot space. What could be more fun, on a balmy spring day, than working in this garden with your dogs playing or laying nearby? Perhaps you would want to gather the herbs and dry them at the end of the season as you prepare for winter. It’s a group effort to run this garden, for you maintain it and your dogs eat the herbs

Why these herbs?

These herbs have been used for centuries as natural cures and to help maintain good health. They are safe and easy to use and they were often used in the diet as spices. As well as making the food taste better, they have healing powers. Fresh herbs are always the best to use, but use them sparingly in the food because they do provide a strong presence.

Be sure to harvest these herbs before they begin to fade at the season’s end, and dry them in bunches hanging upside down. You will have these lovely home-grown products to add to your dog’s meals during the dreary winter months.

Many of these herbs return year after year. In the very cold climates, a covering of hay or burlap may protect the more fragile ones. Some, such as chamomile, spread quickly, but they can usually be easily controlled.

Sidebar: Perennials are plants that have a lifespan of more than two years and, if the climate is right, will return year after year.

Herbs applying for a job in your garden.

Chamomile

German and French varieties are often available at Garden stores. Chamomile has a sedating and calming effect. It also calms and helps the pain of teething when prepared as a tea. This herb is also good to add to your dog’s diet when he is at that nervous adolescent stage.

Chamomile also supports the digestive functions and the liver. It will help to ease flatulence and dyspepsia. It can help dogs with irritable bowel problems. It can also be taken to boost the appetite. This herb helps to cleanse the blood and supports pancreatic function. It has been used to settle the stomach. Chamomile is a very gentle herb. It can be of assistance to allergic, itchy dogs. In this case, it can be added to the diet and also used externally on the skin. It increases speed of wound healing and acts to reduce inflammation and swelling. A strong tea can help to heal skin rashes and soothe irritated skin. Chamomile can also be helpful promoting sleep with elderly animals who pace around at night. The older animal would take it just before bedtime.

Sidebar: Fresh chamomile is an excellent insect repellent.

Chopped bits of chamomile may be added to home-cooked meals. One to three teaspoons is plenty. The flowers and leaves are the best parts of the plants to use. To make a tea, put 2 cups of boiling water onto 2 teaspoons of the dried or fresh leaves and flowers and let steep for 10 minutes. For digestive problems this tea can be given with or after meals.

One home dried flower can give more flavor than a commercial tea bag of the herb. It can be harvested throughout the summer. Pick the flowers and leaves when they are free of dew. Dry the herb quickly so the flowers retain their rich pungent scent, but do not dry them at too high a temperature.

In box: . Of course, you can always join in and have a cup yourself. Relax!

Calendula

The vivid colors of its flowers are reason enough to plant calendula. This herb also earns a spot in the garden for its medicine properties, which were recognized as far back as ancient Roman times. The Romans dubbed what we call the common Pot Marigold Calendula Officinalis.

Sidebar: The Romans coined the name Calendula to reflect the herb’s blooming schedule, for it would flower on the calends, or new moon, of every month. Officinalis refers to its ‘official’ medicinal value.

This herb is a favorite among herbalists, and for good reason. It has an almost magical effect in healing wounds. Calendula has a more powerful ability to hinder bacteria than many antibiotics, but it also has the benefit of having an anti-inflammatory effect while it promotes new healthy cell growth. It also works against fungal infections. It is ideal for first aid treatment and works almost miraculously as an antiseptic lotion.

A friend brought her dog in to see me many years ago. The dog’s left front leg had been run over by a gravel truck. All of the skin, muscle and tendon on the lower, front part of the leg had been sheared off. To make matters worse, the gravel had been ground into the wound. It looked like the best possible scenario would involve skin grafting. She did not have the financial wherewithal to do much at all. We decided that I would remove the gravel and clean it up. Every day, under my direction, she placed bandages well moistened with calendula on the wound. A fresh bandage was applied every day. By the end of the month the entire wound had healed and the leg appeared normal. No grafting was necessary and all the fur grew back.

In Europe, calendula flowers are a common ingredient in ointments and creams used to treat cuts, mild burns, inflammations, sores and bee stings. Calendula Officialis is the pot marigold! Calendula is a long-blooming easy to grow annual that reaches 2 feet in height. The flowers range from 1 ½ to 4 inches across and range in color from buttery yellow to deep orange.

I have to admit that Calendula is my favorite, for it can do so much. Calendula acts as an antifungal and antibacterial agent. It is excellent to place on the skin of itching dogs and can sometimes stop a hot spot in a jiff. For hot spots, use a strong infusion made from the leaves, and applies this frequently to the area. Calendula is widely available in salve and ointment form in health food stores. A liquid tincture is also available. A pad soaked in the infusion or diluted tincture can be applied to speed up the healing of wounds.

In box: When making your own calendula infusion it is best to use the petals alone, for this makes a better product. You can harvest the petals from early summer through late fall. The petals can also be dryed and used in a tea later in the season. The flowers can be mixed into handmade soap or mixed with olive oil.

Recipe: Pour one cup of boiling water onto 1-2 tablespoons of the petals and steep for 15 minutes. The tea can be taken internally for gastritis or mouth ulcers and gum disease. Externally, as a compress, it acts as an antiseptic and has a healing effect on the skin. It also greatly helps to stop itching.

Purple Coneflower – Echinacea

The Native Americans used this herb to treat fevers, wounds and even snakebites. It was commonly used by the Native Americans of the Great Plains region of North America for its powers of wound healing and immune boosting.

Of course the early settlers caught on and used it for colds and infections. Later a German researcher, Dr. Gerhard Madaus, brought some seeds over to Europe and began scientific research, which proved its immune stimulating properties. Today, Echinacea is the most important over the counter remedy in Germany.

Echinacea is the well- known herbal remedy that many start to take the minute they feel a cold coming on, because it is effective against both bacterial and viral attacks. Many people have it as a decorative plant in their gardens, completely unaware of its healing properties.

Echinacea is made from popular Purple Coneflower that one often sees growing in perennial gardens. You may very well have admired this common long stemmed purple flower in a garden without knowing it was the source of the popular health food store herb.

While some people take it all winter with the intent of warding off the flu, its best use is at the very start of a fever or infection. When my twin boys were babies and a fever or cold came on, I would go to my garden a pick one Coneflower plant, root and all. After simmering both the root and flower for 10-15 minutes, I would cool it a little and add some honey. Each of the boys would drink a cup and go to sleep and when they awoke, the fever would be gone.

Echinacea can also be used topically. Studies with Guinea Pigs demonstrated an increased rate of healing when Echinacea was applied topically. An infusion made with the root can be applied to minor scrapes and cuts.

Some say the fresh plant is much more effective than the dried herb and I would fully agree. That is why it is so nice to have it growing in your garden. Of course, Echinacea comes in all forms in the health food store: liquid tinctures, tablets and capsules.

Sidebar: To boost the immune system place 1-2 teaspoons of the root and one chopped flower in 2 cups of water and bring it slowly to a boil. Let this simmer for 10-15 minutes. Dose: three times a day. A medium sized dog can have one tablespoon per dose. Do not worry about adjusting for size. The root is the most commonly used part of the plant for infections and inflammation. It can be especially helpful for recurring kidney and bladder infections.

Fennel

Fennel is a wonderful digestive aid and was used for this purpose in Australia and Spain for hundreds of years. Fennel seeds, when taken after a meal, assist in digestion. The seeds have also been used for years to expel intestinal parasites. The tea helps rid the body of toxins and cleanse the cells and tissues of the body. The plant itself can be chopped finely and added to a home cooked stew for your dog. The seeds can be made into a tea and added to the meal also.

Sidebar:To make a tea pour 2 cups of boiling water over 2 teaspoons of fennel seeds. Let steep for 15 minutes, add ¼ to ½ of a cup of the cooled mixture to your dogs meal. Refrigerate the leftover tea and use for future meals.

Parsley

This herb is rich in minerals and is an aid to digestion. Its use in meals helps to maintain a good pH level that your dog needs for disease prevention. It also freshens the breath, and we all know one or two dogs who could really use that!

Parsley is also excellent for the urinary system: the kidneys and bladder. It works as a diuretic to remove water retention in the body and is a good addition to each meal for dogs with heart conditions and fluid retention. Parsley is easy to add routinely to each meal. A teaspoon or more can be finely chopped and added to home-cooked food.

Parsley works to detoxify the body and a teaspoon or more in every meal adds that chlorophyll that is so healthy.

Rosemary

Rosemary originated in France and the United States. A small amount of fresh Rosemary can go a long way. This herb has an absolutely beautiful aroma and it is lovely to sit near in the summer months. It would be great to place a bench or table setting next to your herb garden because the aroma in itself has a healing effect on the body and soul.

Rosemary, used topically, has an antifungal, antibacterial, and antiseptic effect. Inhaling the steam from a tea of rosemary is good for sinus infections. Adding ¼ teaspoon of rosemary in 2 cups of home cooked food is adequate for flavoring. This herb also helps digestion.

Sidebar: Throw some bits of rosemary and lavender on your floor and vacuum them up as you clean. They will, as they sit in the bag, give off a pleasant scent as you vacuum.

It is excellent to add into an external rinse for your dogs coat because it promotes hair growth and brings out the luster and color tones in the fur. Rosemary rinses are also great for dogs with flaking, dry skin.

Sidebar:To make a tea pour two cups of water over 2 teaspoons of finely chopped rosemary. Let steep for 15 minutes and use as a rinse for the coat.

Sage advice


Sage is another herb that has a wonderful, healing fragrance. It can be used as an addition to the everyday diet by adding ½ teaspoon of chopped fresh sage to a stew or casserole. It can also be used as a tea to rinse the mouth because of its healing effect on gingivitis. You can even add some of the tea to your dog’s water bowl and simply allow him to drink it. (Of course, make sure he likes the water with the sage tea addition. Start out with small amounts in the water, and if he likes it, gradually increase the amount of tea.) This herb works to strengthen the body in general and has the effect of balancing estrogen levels. It would be good to add this to the food of a spayed female who is experiencing urinary leakage when sleeping.

Sidebar:To make a tea pour two cups of water over 2 teaspoons of chopped Sage. Let steep for 15 minutes and refrigerate. Either use in the mouth to rinse for gingivitis, or put a teaspoon or more into the drinking water for a taste test. If your dog likes it, add more, teaspoon by teaspoon.

It’s about Thyme

Myths, legends and rhymes all seem to have been inspired by the humble thyme plant. The ancient Egyptians used it as part of the recipe to embalm their dead. Even today the oil of thyme, thymol, is an ingredient in embalming fluids. Thyme began in the Mediterranean, but it has spread all over the world and is used by many diverse cultures in their cuisine. Thyme comes in an amazing diversity of flavors, ranging through oregano, cinnamon, lemon and caraway. Common thyme or any other cooking thyme is excellent to use to flavor stews and casseroles for your dog.

Thyme has antibacterial effects. Thyme oil or its components have been suggested as a food additive to more naturally extend the life of processed foods. Vapor with the essential oil

has been shown to inhibit

airborne fungus and bacteria. Thyme has proven antispasmodic and respiratory effects and has historically been used for bronchitis, as an expectorant, and for laryngitis.

Dry Thyme by hanging it upside down for a week. The leaves can be saved for seasoning your dogs food. Mix it with dried rose petals for a lovely potpourri.

Lavender

This plant is known for its relaxing and soothing effect on the spirit. An important use for it with dogs is its ability to reduce the buildup of excess sebum, ie., skin oils, on your dog. It works like a charm for some of those lovable yet greasy and smelly dogs. You see, bacteria begin to grow in the excess sebum and the bacterial growth in the greasy coat is responsible for that musty, smelly, old shoe odor that some dogs seem to have.

A lavender rinse after a bath, or placing some of the tea in a spray bottle works to decrease both the sebum and bacteria and keep that odor at bay. Lavender also works as an antibacterial to keep the bacteria down. As an added benefit, it is an anti-inflammatory and analgesic, so it decreases the itchies as well. It is beneficial for bathing skin irritations or wounds because it promotes tissue regeneration and speeds wound healing. As an added benefit, the delicate purple or white flowers are beautiful to look at and smell great!

 

Dr. Deva Khalsa VMD

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