Friday, 15 February 2019

Do recent research studies validate the medicinal plants used in British Columbia, Canada for immune-mediated and other problems in pets?

Journal of Ethnopharmacology

Available online 15 February 2019


Ethnopharmacological relevance

There are insufficient safe and effective treatments for chronic pain in pets. In cases such as osteoarthritis there is no commercially available cure and veterinarians use NSAIDs to manage pain. Pet owners may have to plan for a lifetime of plant-based treatment for the conditions that lead to chronic pain in pets. Phytopharmacotherapies have the advantage of being less toxic, cheap or free, readily available, are more likely to be safe for long-term use and have the potential to reset the immune system to normal functioning.

Aim of the study

To examine the recently published medicinal plant research that matches unpublished data on ethnoveterinary medicines (EVM) used for pets in Canada (British Columbia) to see if the EVM data can provide a lead to the development of necessary drugs.

Materials and methods

In 2003 semi-structured interviews were conducted with 60 participants who were organic farmers or holisitic medicinal/veterinary practitioners obtained using a purposive sample. Medicinal plants are used to treat a range of conditions. A draft manual prepared from the data was then evaluated by participants at a participatory workshop that discussed the plant-based treatments. A copy of the final version of the manual was given to all research participants.
In 2018, the recently published research matching the EVM data was reviewed to see if the EVM practices could serve as a lead for further research.

Results and Conclusion

The injuries treated in pets in British Columbia included abscesses, sprains and abrasions. Dogs were also treated with medicinal plants for rheumatoid arthritis, joint pain and articular cartilage injuries. More than 40 plants were used. Anal gland problems were treated with Allium sativum L., Aloe vera L., Calendula officinalis L., Plantago major L., Ulmus fulva Michx., Urtica dioica L. and the lichen Usnea longissima Ach. Antioxidants in plants, such as diarctigenin from Arctium lappa, used in ethnoveterinary medicine for rheumatoid arthritis and joint pain in pets are said to be of use in treating pathological conditions such as inflammation and rheumatoid arthritis that are linked to excess production of reactive oxygen species. Understudied plants used for arthritis and joint pain include Hydrangea arborescens and Lactuca muralis.
Asthma in pets was treated with: flaxseed oil (Linum usitatissimum L., Linaceae), borage (Borago officinalis L., Boraginaceae), mullein (Verbascum thapsus L., Scrophulariaceae), pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo L., Cucurbitaceae), lobelia (Lobelia inflata L., Lobeliaceae and ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe, Zingiberaceae). Pets with heart problems were treated with hawthorn (Crataegus oxyacantha L., Rosaceae), balm of Gilead (Cedronella canariensis (L.) Willd. ex Webb & Berth, Labiatae), horsetail (Equisetum palustre L., Equisetaceae), lady slipper (Cypripedium calceolus L., Orchidaceae), pine (Pinus ponderosa Douglas ex Lawson, Pinaceae), hops (Humulus lupulus L., Cannabinaceae), valerian (Valeriana officinalis L., Valerianaceae), lobelia (Lobelia inflata L., Campanulaceae), wood betony (Stachys officinalis (L.) Trev., Lamiaceae), and mistletoe (Viscum album L., Loranthaceae). Pets were treated with the following plants for epilepsy, motion sickness and anxiety- oatstraw (Avena sativa L., Poaceae), Valeriana officinalis, wild lettuce Lactuca muralis (L.) Fresen., Asteraceae), skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora l., Lamiaceae), summer savoury (Satureja hortensis L., Lamiaceae) and passion flower (Passiflora incarnata L. (Passifloraceae).
Plants used for cancer treatment included Phytolacca decandra, Ganoderma lucidum, Lentinula edodes, Rumex acetosella leaf, Arctium lappa root, Ulmus fulva bark and Rheum palmatum root, Frangula purshiana bark, Zingiber officinale root, Glycyrrhiza glabra root, Ulmus fulva bark, Althea officinalis root, Rheum palmatum stem, Rumex crispus root and Plantago psyllium seeds. Trifolium pratense was used for tumours in the prostate. The following plants were also used to treat cancer: Artemisia annua, Taraxacum officinale and Rumex crispus. These treatments were said to prolong the lives of the dogs treated. Stillingia sylvatica, Verbascum thapsus, Yucca schidigera and Iris versicolor are insufficiently studied, however the use of the other plants in the treatment of cancer is supported by the literature.


anxiety, asthma, heart problems, injuries
British Columbia
medicinal plants
ethnoveterinary medicine