Herbs for Animals

When I first set up practice in mid-Devon, quite a few of my patients came from a farming background. The older ones remembered being given herbs as children, and without exception, they all used herbs for their pets and livestock. They still do.
The fact that veterinary medicine is not free has a lot to do with it, of course. The NHS is a great blessing in many ways, but it dealt a great blow to the self-help culture. When I tell people what’s in their prescription, they often say, ‘But I give that to my horses!’ or ‘My cows love that.’ We’ve forgotten how to treat ourselves, but a lot of traditional remedies are alive and well in the world of animal husbandry. And you only have to look along the shelves in the local farm co-op to see that there’s a sophisticated industry supplying herbal products to farmers.
Farmers are a self-sufficient lot, on the whole, but when they do ask for help, they make excellent patients, because they do exactly what they’re told, and they expect it to work. They often ask for advice about their animals, too, but the irony is that while people can consult whoever takes their fancy, only a vet can treat animals. There are only a few herbal vets in the UK, which means that self-help will continue to flourish. On balance, it’s a good thing; though what the patients themselves think, we have no way of knowing.


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