I am continuing my review of adaptogenic herbs that can be used to help your pet's body find balance. Adaptogenic herbs are those that offer some balance to our immune system, our hormones and promote optimal function of our organs even in the face of stress. The use of this kind of herbs is getting to be more popular in the newer dog supplements for anxiety, arthritis, and to boost immunity. One of the most commonly used adaptogenic herbs include Ashagandha (Withania Somnifera) also known as Indian ginseng. This herb has been used for thousands of years for enhancing brain functions like memory and improving longevity. Similar to Ginseng, it also helps immune system function and stamina in humans. In pets, it is being marketed as an antiaging and specifically to help cognitive decline aka doggie dementia although I see many supplements for arthritis including Ashagandha in their blends.
Ashagandha contains high levels of iron, amino acids, like tyrosine and alanine. This is important because phenylalanine and tyrosine constitute the two initial steps in the biosynthesis of dopamine, which, in its turn, is the metabolic precursor of noradrenaline and adrenaline. This sort of explains how this herb can promote a feeling of wellness and increase your pet's energy. There is some research that indicates this herb also has antiinflammatory properties which will benefit all dogs and cats with arthritis and could help with pain control. In the holistic community Ashagandha also is used to fight cancer since some studies revealed anti-tumorigenic activity. There is also lots of anecdotal evidence among integrative practitioners of antibacterial and antifungal activity. In my opinion, more research is needed to determine the extent of Ashagandha's properties.
In my practice I use it as a single herb in cases of extreme separation anxiety or noise phobias because one of the key constituents of Ashwagandha, withanoloids, plan an important role in mental health and stress. The dose is empirical but I recommend a daily supplement of 250 mg for up to 25 lbs, 500 mg for above 25 lbs. I also recommend the Myos muscle formula which contains their proprietary blend with Ashagandha. Another benefit of this herb is that it boosts DHEA levels which balance out cortisol and cortisol is known as the stress hormone.
Along with Ashagandha, Lemon balm is used in many anti anxiety dog supplements. Lemon balm is another adaptogenic herb that contains volatile oils, tannins, and flavonoids. These constituents give the herb a myriad of therapeutic effects, including calming and soothing, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, muscle-relaxing and pain-relieving effects. Some Holistic veterinarians like to diffuse lemon balm essential oils in their offices to soothe their patients.
In dogs, lemon balm can be used for health issues other than stress and anxiety including as an adjuvant anti-inflammatory in arthritis supplements and as a topical disinfectant of minor skin wounds. In geriatric dogs, lemon balm can also be used to address insomnia and reduce agitation caused by canine dementia.
Adaptogenic herbs are a great way to help your senior or sick pet regain energetic balance and wellness.