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Nutritive Herbs…Not Just for People!

March 18, 2015

When I think of nutrition within our pets, I of course go immediately to the whole food diet and the necessary balance of the diet. But my next thought is the importance of the absorption of the nutrients within the diet which is where” Nutritive Herbs” come into play; an important part of good and balanced nutrition. These herbs are a classification to the nutritive value they can provide to enhance the diet.

Nutritive Herbs are:

• foods that can give our pets some medicinal effects like fiber, mucilage, diuretic, adaptogenic and play a key role in the absorption of vital nutrients

• considered to be both food and medicine as they have the elements of both

• herbs that provide carbohydrates, fats and proteins along with the vitamins and minerals necessary for good nutrition

• boosting to the immune system

• cleansing and alkalizing (detoxifying) of the body

• nourishing to our pets on the deepest level: brain, bones, muscles, skin, coat, heart, lungs, liver and kidneys

• not a substitute for animal protein but wonderful supplementation

It is becoming increasingly clear that to achieve the best health ever in our pets, they need to consume a balanced diet rich in good quality animal protein, and supplemented with absorbable vitamins, minerals and trace minerals which can be provided with nutritive herbs with a concentrated, nutrient rich balance.

Nutritive herbs can provide an abundance of synergistic elements in their dried or extracted preparation. They are readily available, affordable as well as palatable, making it easy to add to our pets daily meals to provide the balance needed for optimal health.

The list of “Nutritive Herbs” is seemingly endless so I have listed a small handful that are what I consider to be some of the most effective with pets and easily obtainable organically grown or ethically wild harvested, some may be in your own yard. Feel free to experiment with one herb or make a compound blend of several with your pet’s individual nutritive needs in mind.

1. Nettle Leaf

Known as “stinging nettle” by its common name. Once dried or extracted, there is no sting left to the leaf and has a diminished chance of allergic reaction. In fact, fresh extractions of nettle leaf are used to combat seasonal allergies by treating imbalances of the mucous membranes. Nettle is a blood purifier, can be a diuretic where there is excess fluid, increases kidney and liver function, is a digestive. It is high in calcium, chromium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, silicon, thiamine, and Vitamin A. Nettle is a catalyst for absorption of many vitamins, minerals and trace minerals as well as several other herbs.

2. Alfalfa herb

Commonly used worldwide as an animal feed, known as “The King of Herbs” and has been cultivated for thousands of years. Known for a cure of all inflammations including arthritis, also thought to be hypocholesterolemic (lowering cholesterol) and hypoglycemic as well as a blood purifier and bitter tonic making it a digestive aid as it contains the digestive enzyme betaine. Alfalfa contains natural chlorophyll, the green color in plants but oxidizes quickly when cut so is best to extract or quick dry to maintain the nutritive properties. Alfalfa has 21% crude fiber, is 20% protein, high in Vitamin A, Vitamin C, copper and niacin amongst many other minerals making it a rich source of nutrients.

3. Ginseng

For the nutritive reason of listing Ginseng, as our pets age it can be that their intestines ability to absorb nutrients declines resulting in undernourishment which reduces energy and alertness and increases risk of illness. Ginseng is known as an appetite stimulant and studies have shown it can increase the ability of the intestine to absorb nutrients. It contains strong antioxidant components that help the body to recover from stress, fatigue and illness, and saponins that are anti-inflammatory and help to regulate cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Another component in ginseng root is geranium that has a powerful hydrogenating effect on the body, especially the liver.

4. Burdock Root

This is as common as any weed and grows in almost any uncultivated space. Medicine from the root is viable only from first year plants. Burdock is most valuable for skin conditions and should be used over a long period of time to remove systemic imbalance causing skin problems. Part of the action of this herb is through the bitter stimulation of digestive juices and bile secretion, to aid digestion and appetite, and absorbs toxins from the bowel. As a food, the root is delicious and cooks up a lot like a potato in a stew but with a mild, sweet, mucilaginous flavor. Pets consume this with great ease in a powdered state or cooked fresh. It is high in carbohydrates and inulin, very high in iron, magnesium, silicon, thiamine, sodium, potassium, phosphorus and chromium. Burdock is also a cleansing herb with a balanced mineral content.

5. Turmeric Root

Turmeric is the major spice found in most curry powders and is easily identified by its stark yellow/orange color. It is known for the anti-inflammatory properties and is antiarthritic, used to treat bruises, inflammatory bowel disease, ulcers and is antiseptic. The nutritive effects are many including cleansing the colon of parasites , helping to rid the body of yeast infections, treats inflammation in the digestive system, helps eliminate flatulence, and increases the production of enzymes in the liver that metabolize toxins. It is high in calories, fat, magnesium, manganese, niacin, potassium, selenium, silicon and sodium and has many other minerals and vitamins. Turmeric can be used as a fresh root grated in food, cooked in broths and added to the food, powdered or in an extract. Use in small amounts with dogs to prevent digestive upset.

Herbs for Life, Inc. is a small batch, handcrafted manufacturer in York, Maine USA since 2008. They produce pure, organic herbal pet supplements with no fillers or bulk agents. Their formulas are uniquely developed by an Herbalist/Formulator and Holistic Veterinarians. Joyce Belcher is an Herbalist-Formulator specializing in organic medicinal formulations for animals, herbal consultant in veterinary herbalism. Visit for more information.

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