Uva Ursi is a berry-producing, evergreen bush. Only its leaves are used for medicinal purposes.
Uva ursi contains tannins and hydroquinones that are astringent and antibacterial. Until the development of sulfa antibiotics, its principal active component, arbutin, was frequently prescribed as a urinary antiseptic. It appears that the arbutin contained in uva ursi leaves is broken down in the intestine to another chemical, hydroquinone. This chemical is altered by the liver and then sent to the kidneys for excretion. In the bladder, it acts as an antiseptic.
Uva ursi is therefore recommended for pets with urinary infections. Note: the urine must be alkaline for the antibacterial activity to occur; if the urine is acid, uva won¡¦t act as an antibacterial and should be combined with another antibacterial herb using uva ursi for its astringent activity. Since uva ursi is most effective in an alkaline urine, taking vitamin C or cranberry extract with it, which would acidify the urine, is not advised.
Since the tannins in the herb can irritate the kidneys, it should only be used for no more than five to seven days at a time.
Safety issues show hydroquinone is a liver toxin, carcinogen, and irritant. Uva ursi is not recommended for young children, pregnant or nursing women, or those with severe liver or kidney disease. Similar precautions are probably warranted in pets. Significant problems are rare among individuals using prepared uva ursi products in appropriate doses for short periods of time. Gastrointestinal distress (ranging from mild nausea, diarrhea, to vomiting) can occur, especially with prolonged use.
If your pet is taking medications or supplements that acidify the urine, as listed above, uva ursi may not work well.
Plantain is an herb used for its ability to lubricate and soothe internal mucous membranes. As such, it is often recommended for pets with disorders of the digestive system and genitourinary tracts.
It is used for pets with urinary tract inflammation and infection. Plantain can be used as a substitute for slippery elm, being useful to reduce inflammation and as an antibacterial. Irritations of the digestive and respiratory tracts can be treated with plantain. And it can be used as a mild laxative.
Plantain is safe for pets, unless the pet shows signs of being allergic to it.
There are a number of species of goldenrod, and all seem to possess similar medicinal properties. The various species are used interchangeably.
It is used as a supportive treatment for bladder infections, irritation of the urinary tract, and bladder/kidney stones. Goldenrod increases the flow of urine, helping to wash out bacteria and kidney stones, and may also directly soothe inflamed tissues and calm muscle spasms in the urinary tract. It isn¡¦t used as a cure in itself, but rather as a support to other more definitive treatments such as antibiotics.
In pets, goldenrod has also been suggested for pets with respiratory disorders as it seems to decrease the amount of mucus and inflammation in the bronchial passages.
The safety of goldenrod hasn¡¦t been fully evaluated. However, no significant reactions or side effects have been reported. Safety in young children, pregnant and nursing women, or those with severe liver or kidney disease has not been established. Similar precautions are probably warranted in your pets.
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Shawn Messonnier, DVM
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Shawn Messonnier DVM Past Supporting Member, Oncology Association of Naturopathic Physicians Author, the award-winning The Natural Health Bible for Dogs & Cats, The Natural Vet’s Guide to Preventing and Treating Cancer in Dogs, and Breast Choices for the Best Chances: Your Breasts, Your Life, and How YOU Can Win The Battle!
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