Philosophy of Herbal versus Pharmacological Treatment
Many of the medicines we use today are derived from herbs (aspirin, for instance, was discovered thanks to the anti-inflammatory properties of willow bark—and even before that, raspberry jam, which exhibits similar properties, had been used as a remedy for high temperatures). Despite this connection between herbs and pharmaceuticals, lay people and medical professionals alike continue to debate the superiority of one over the other. These debates miss the point: medical treatment is not a zero sum game—not only can pharmaceuticals and herbal remedies coexist, but one can assist the other in producing more effective results.
A clear advantage of pharmaceuticals over herbal remedies is that they enable us to administer specific doses of purified, active chemical ingredients. However, we cannot overlook the holistic benefits offered by the naturally evolved multi-compound complexes of active ingredients present in herbal treatments.
And, when it comes to medicine, a holistic approach can go a long way. For instance, both common sense and laboratory experiments have shown us the importance of taking an organism’s evolutionary history into account when resolving health problems. Thus, when considering the health of our canine and feline friends, it is important to consider not only each animal’s personal history, but also its evolutionary path.
Domesticated cats and dogs are a fairly recent phenomenon (dogs were domesticated about 15 thousand years ago and it’s been less than 7 thousand years for cats). The split was so recent that their wild ancestors continue to roam free, allowing us the unique opportunity to study the conditions domesticated species used to face in the wild.
One way we can make existing veterinary treatments more effective is by determining how wild canines and felines heal themselves without access to pharmacies and veterinarians, and applying these methods as a supplement to traditional medicine.
Numerous studies have shown us that when a wild animal is sick, it seeks out certain herbs, even if—like a cat or dog—it is carnivorous by nature. Moreover, there is concrete evidence that animals will vary their plant consumption to match their specific conditions. For example, wolves eat pumpkin seeds to fight intestinal parasite infestation and grass to fight food poisoning; bears, on the other hand, eat grass to prepare their intestines for hibernation; and felines eat strong-smelling herbs such as catnip and valerian to enhance the chances of finding a mate. Plant selection is based on olfactory and gustatory experience, as well as on observation of family and pack members, and varies according to season, and even the animal’s age and gender. In most cases the ingestion of herbs is correlated with a restoration of health. And the consumption of plants goes beyond just finding a cure—sometimes animals consume plants in order to maintain health and prevent disease.
But, evolution, and by extension domestication, is an ongoing process.
When considering veterinary treatment, it is important to account for the more recent evolutionary acquisitions of a species genome. Companion dogs, for instance, have modified the specter of their enzyme activities—permanently changing their genome to double the work of those enzymes needed to digest vegetarian food—from that of their wild predecessors and the more primitive breeds still in existence today. These recent additions have particular significance because they have resulted in meaningful changes to the environment, ecological niche, and diet of a species.
In the last several thousand years, the evolution of domesticated cats and dogs has sped up dramatically (keep in mind that because of longer lifespans and slower maturation rates only 4 to 6 generations of humans can emerge within a single century; the same amount of time it takes to produce 80 to 90 generations of canines and felines! Thus, our pets have more opportunities for the accumulation of new mutations and the losses of old traits). And changes to the species are often directed by artificial, as opposed to natural, selection. Instead of being driven by “survival of the fittest” in the wilderness, canine and feline evolution is now driven largely by breeders responding to human demand: that of the shepherd, the hunter, the soldier, the guard, the farmer, the sled owner, etc.
When natural selection was usurped by humans, they changed the parameters in which animals survived and multiplied. In the wild, an animal’s longevity was important only as long as the animal could reproduce. For domesticated pets, on the other hand, fertility is insignificant (unless the animal is in the hands of a breeder), while lifespan means everything.
VetVittles’s approach focuses on the recognition of the animals’ instinctual ability to seek out herbal remedies, applying it to the changes in the animals’ paleo lifestyle and their current situations. Based on our observation of animals both at home and in the wild, we have created chemical-free multi-component herb formulas that have been proven to positively impact animals with certain health issues. Take our EZ Flow formula, for instance, which integrates various herbal formulas to stimulate urine flow, flush and kill bacteria from the urinary tract, reduce irritation, and normalize urine PH levels. This formula provides relief without the negative side effects of aggressive antibiotics traditionally used for treatments of UTI infections, and, in more severe cases, can be used in conjunction with shortened antibiotic treatment. VetVittles addresses various conditions, including allergies and weakened immune systems, to help domesticated pets overcome specific deviations from their evolved physiological functionality.
Unlike most herbal supplements on the market, which tend to include a limited selection of herbs, VetVittles’ herbal “bouquets” are specifically formulated to combine herbs that complement one another by increasing their positive potency through synergistic health impacts. And, because we never use too much of any one “active ingredient,” there are fewer chances of unwanted side effects.
Our products are scientifically calculated combinations of herbs that aid to improve the health of your pet according to his or her specific needs. And you can choose whichever delivery method works best for your family—gel, capsule, food, treats, or drops.
For now, the VetVittles arsenal of holistic supplements targets up to 20 of the most common canine and feline health issues. They are a great step toward the prevention and correction of the problems your pet may face. And they are meant as a supplement, not a replacement, of traditional veterinary medicine!
E. Gurman, PhD, Dr.Sci. (Physiology of Digestion)