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To examine the recently published medicinal plant research that matches unpublished data on ethnoveterinary medicines (EVM) used for pets in Canada (British Columbia) to see if the EVM data can provide a lead to the development of necessary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. 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
Medicinal plants are used to treat a range of conditions. The injuries treated in pets in British Columbia included abscesses (resulting from an initial injury), 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 Usnea longissima Ach. Arctium lappa, Hydrangea arborescens and Lactuca muralis were used for rheumatoid arthritis and joint pain in pets.
Asthma was treated with: Linum usitatissimum L., Borago officinalis L., Verbascum thapsus L., Cucurbita pepo L., Lobelia inflata L., and Zingiber officinale Roscoe. Pets with heart problems were treated with Crataegus oxyacantha L., Cedronella canariensis (L.) Willd. ex Webb & Berth, Equisetum palustre L., Cypripedium calceolus L., Pinus ponderosa Douglas ex Lawson, Humulus lupulus L., Valeriana officinalis L., Lobelia inflata L., Stachys officinalis (L.) Trev., and Viscum album L. The following plants were used for epilepsy, motion sickness and anxiety- Avena sativa L., Valeriana officinalis, Lactuca muralis (L.) Fresen., Scutellaria lateriflora L., Satureja hortensis L., and Passiflora incarnata L.
Plants used for cancer treatment included Phytolacca decandra, Ganoderma lucidum, Lentinula edodes, Rumex acetosella, Arctium lappa, Ulmus fulva, Rheum palmatum, Frangula purshiana, Zingiber officinale, Glycyrrhiza glabra, Ulmus fulva, Althea officinalis, Rheum palmatum, Rumex crispus and Plantago psyllium. Trifolium pratense was used for tumours in the prostate gland. Also used were Artemisia annua, Taraxacum officinale and Rumex crispus.
This review of plants used in EVM was possible because phytotherapy research of the plants described in this paper has continued because few new pharmaceutical drugs have been developed for chronic pain and because treatments like glucocorticoid therapy do not heal. Phytotherapuetic products are also being investigated to address the overuse of antibiotics. There have also been recent studies conducted on plant-based functional foods and health supplements for pets, however there are still gaps in the knowledge base for the plants Stillingia sylvatica, Verbascum thapsus, Yucca schidigera and Iris versicolor and these need further investigation.