For Your Pet: Herbs for the Gastrointestinal System

| November/December 2000

  • Try herbs to help soothe your pet’s gastrointestinal problems.
    Photo courtesy of S. Clotfelter
  • Try herbs to help soothe your pet’s gastrointestinal problems.

Louis Pasteur, the author of the germ theory of disease, once said, “It’s not the germ, it’s the soil.” Pasteur meant that the microorganism isn’t the major disease-causing problem; we need to look for the problem in the environment where the “bugs” grow. Nowhere is this more important than in the gastrointestinal (GI) system. I’ve found that nearly all of the acute and chronic diseases of a pet’s stomach and gut can be corrected by paying attention to the GI environment.

Slippery elm is my favorite herb for soothing the gut. 

We know that the billions of microorganisms living in the normal gut are actually necessary to maintain a functionally healthy intestinal environment. Alter this normal flora of the gut, and you create problems. You can alter your pet’s intestinal environment by suddenly changing his food—by giving him foods he’s not accustomed to or foods too rich in proteins, fats, carbohydrates, or sugars. These sudden changes may cause transient diarrhea or even temporary vomiting.

Chronic problems of the gut are basically the same song sung in a slightly different key, so to speak. Chronic GI diseases are still due to an alteration in the normal intestinal environment; the difference is that the key to many of the gut changes comes from causes not directly related to a change in a pet’s diet.

Herbs for chronic GI problems

I am seeing so many cases of chronic GI disease (referred to as chronic bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, or “leaky gut” syndrome) that I think it will become the “designer disease” of this decade. What would we expect, after all, when we use so many antibiotics and steroids in traditional veterinary practices? My holistic program for chronic GI problems includes several steps, detailed below.

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