Thursday, May 20, 2010

Keeping your pet safe in the height of parasite season

Parasites exist inside and on top of every living thing on earth.

From a holistic perspective, parasite related health problems don’t emanate from their presence but from the host’s inability to deal with them effectively. Some animals may test positive for heartworm but might never suffer ill health. Other animals who appear to be healthy cannot tolerate a single fleabite without getting sick.

“Parasites are opportunity seekers that exploit the weaknesses of their host. Their goal is to reproduce and take control of their environment. If the host’s immune system is poorly equipped to rid parasite populations, the parasites will take advantage of the body’s inadequate defenses and begin reproducing, eating, and creating waste faster than the body can clean and replenish itself. If the immune system is dysfunctional and responds too aggressively to the parasites, an “allergic response” occurs.

The most effective and holistic approach to parasite infection is to keep your animal well nourished and healthy. An animal with a strong, properly functioning immune system presents an inhospitable living environment for parasites and is less likely to suffer from parasite related allergies.

But there’s still more to it before we can say the holistic picture is complete.

What happens to this scenario when we give in to our fear of parasites and opt to use preventive drug measures in our pets? Any answer to this question is likely to raise controversy. Antiparasitic drugs represent a multi-million dollar industry in the US, and many veterinarians support manufacturers’ claims that modern dewormers, spot-on or skin absorbed flea products and other internal measures are effective AND safe.

On the other side of the issue, though, holistic practitioners and naturally oriented pet owners are concerned about the serious long-term effects associated with such drugs.

We’re among those on this side of the issue, here’s why:

From a holistic standpoint, anything that bypasses or interferes with natural body functions is likely to create its own state of imbalance in the body. For instance, chemical wormers (aside from being potentially toxic to animals) are not 100% selective in what they kill, meaning that beneficial microbes such as those that play important roles in digestion and nutrient absorption might be compromised. In addition to this possibility, most antiparasitic agents come with their own long lists of potential side effects, including seizures, liver failure, central nervous system disorders, or even death.

The holistic herbalist doesn’t see parasites as a cause of disease but as symptoms of a deeper imbalance. Parasites are tough, adaptable, ancient life forms that will likely be here long after humankind we’re gone. They’re a part of nature. Therefore, Effective natural solutions to parasite related disorders aren’t found through dangerous attempts to destroy them but from learning to coexist WITH them.

In our minds, remember, we’re herbalists, not veterinarians, stopping a symptom with chemicals that can harm the animal doesn’t constitute preventive medicine, it only represents a dangerous, short term intervention that may actually compound the animals health problems. And yes, some forms of parasitic infection can be serious even life threatening. But what are the potential costs to the animal if we use antiparasitic drugs for their convenience when the pet is already suffering? To find answers, check the back label or product info sheet for a list of side effects of the next antiparasitic drug you consider for your companion. It doesn’t stop there either, the treated pet then wipes himself on your furniture, the floor, the walls, what happens to the cat or child or yourself when you come into contact with these chemicals?

You owe your animal the opportunity to stay healthy and naturally free from parasite related problems. This is what holistic animal care is all about.

As I stated before, the most effective treatment and prevention for all problems related to parasites is to make sure you pet gets the nutrition he needs. Without a complete natural diet, your animal’s resistance and ability to adjust to parasites is greatly diminished.

Likewise if he has undergone long term drug therapies, his immune system may be in a depressed state and his defenses may be low. Remember that parasites are opportunity seekers.

Digestive Enzymes and probiotic bacteria supplements can be of help in maintaining a healthy balance between potentially harmful “digestive bugs” and those that lead the preventative fights for good health. A good balance of vitamins and mineral is necessary to keep the blood healthy and the immune system operating at its peak potential. Omega 3 and 6 along with the proper balance of antioxidant vitamins and minerals are necessary for healthy resilient skin making your animal less of an opportunity for fleas, ticks, mites, parasitic fungi. Vitamin c along with other support has been shown to give allergy relief through the antihistamine qualities it has.

The healthier you keep your animal, the less time and money you’ll spend on treating parasite related problems after the fact. As is the case in all preventative medicine, prevention truly is the cure.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Welcome to the Herbs for Life Blog

Hello and welcome! As a certified herbalist focused particularly on the wellness of animals, I spend my life educating people about how they can help their pets achieve optimal health. With years of experience and practice, I have many tips and advice and felt it was finally time to consolidate this knowledge. I hope this blog will serve as a helpful resource for anyone wanting to learn more about a holistic approach to health and wellness.