Month Herbs (January, March, May, July, September, November)
root - Milk Thistle Seed - Pumpkin seed - Burdock
Month Herbs (February, April, June, August, October, December)
Clover - Nettles - Sheep Sorrel - Celery seed
Feed This Herbs
By Linda L. Prout
Milk Thistle Seed
Although a prickly weed for gardeners, milk thistle is a powerful medicine for people and pets. It is used to treat everything from cancer to milk-challenged nursing mothers. Milk thistle is best known however, for its benefits to the liver, an organ often taxed by every-day toxins. Exposure to pesticides (Raid, Round-Up or sprays in your neighborhood….), heavy metals (some vaccines), plastics, medications (drugs for worms or Heartworm, anesthesia….) and radiation can damage the liver. Silymarin, a medicinal constituent of milk thistle, not only helps protect liver cells from such toxins, it can help a damaged liver regenerate healthy new cells. Milk thistle aids the liver in recovery from hepatitis, leptospirosis and parvovirus. Silymarin can even antidote amanita (deathcap) mushroom poisoning. Digestive problems resulting from liver damage also often resolve with this herb.
Pumpkin seeds are a tasty and healthy snack for you and your pet. A good source of protein, fiber, essential fats and zinc, pumpkin seeds are also medicinal. They contain cucurbitin, a compound that helps expel parasites, especially worms including the much-detested tapeworm. In humans, pumpkin seed oil has long been known to help prostate issues, including swelling or difficulty urinating. Pumpkin seeds are particularly rich in tryptophan, an amino acid that promotes the depression-fighting brain chemical serotonin during the longer days of summer and spring. Serotonin helps soothe anxiety. During fall and winter, tryptophan promotes melatonin, a hormone that, appropriately, promotes sleep. This fall food is perfect to prepare your pet for the colder season. In addition to tryptophan, pumpkin seeds are rich in omega 6 fatty acids, which also promote sleepiness, plus healthy winter fat gain. Studies show the higher omega 6 fat content of nut and seed-rich fall diets play a role in triggering the body to prepare for hibernation, including slowing down and gaining weight. Although you and your pet are not likely to sleep through winter with daily pumpkin seeds, you will enjoy the season-appropriate mellowing effects of this food.
This culinary root is not only delicious and healing cooked into our own food; it is a valuable nutritional herb for pets. Well known as a gentle, nourishing liver tonic, burdock also cleanses the blood and other organs. It can remove pesticides and airborne toxins before they do their damage. Burdock helps relieve oily and flakey skin eruptions and digestive problems when the cause lies with a toxic liver, which is more common than you think. Burdock helps in all areas of waste elimination, including reducing excess fluids and inflammation of the kidneys and bladder and assisting the liver in detoxification. Burdock also helps with fat digestion by stimulating bile. These benefits enable burdock to prevent not only skin problems, but also rheumatism, arthritis, gout, cystitis and cancer.
This nutrient-dense leafy green, known for its biting sting when lightly touched, is also a therapeutic and delicious food. All leafy greens, but especially nettles are rich in chlorophyll (a super-healer), protein and trace minerals, including calcium and iron. They are perhaps best known in western nutrition for providing relief form seasonal allergies, due to their anti-histamine effects. In other parts of the world, nettles are the go-to remedy for prevention and treatment of cancer. The rich iron and mineral content of nettles are perfect for treating anemia, especially in animals sensitive to vitamin and minerals supplements. Nettles are a tonic to the reproductive system and helpful for cystitis and kidney stones. They promote excretion of excess fluids and uric acid, providing relief from arthritis.
Red clover, a nutrient-rich and therapeutic flowering feed crop for livestock, has long been used as a medicine in both humans and animals. Herb formulations for cancer prevention or treatment often include red clover along with burdock and other blood purifiers. A poultice of red clover can help clear cancerous skin lesions. Red clover is also effective in treating coughs and bronchitis. As a blood cleanser, this flower is especially useful for treating toxin-linked itchy skin conditions. The liver and gallbladder are gently stimulated and cleansed by red clover, which goes a long way in helping digestion. Phytoestrogens in red clover help maintain estrogen levels and thus prevent bone loss and heart disease in older animals.
Although despised when it sprouts in our lawns, the dandelion plant, from its roots to leafy tips, is highly nutritious and healing for you and your pets. The root in particular is known as a powerful liver-cleanser. Dandelion root decongests the gallbladder and promotes the flow of bile, which helps fat digestion. It is used to treat gallstones and other gallbladder problems, as well as jaundice, hepatitis and other liver problems. By cooling the liver, dandelion root soothes red, inflamed eyes. It also serves as a gentle diuretic and laxative. Dandelion’s liver-cleansing actions reduce toxins, including excess estrogen, which can become a problem when your pet is chronically exposed to pesticides, plastics and other toxic estrogen mimics. Dandelion’s toxin-clearing effects also help prevent and treat cancer. The anti-inflammatory effects of dandelion help with arthritis and skin problems.
Dandelion leaves are rich in protein, chlorophyll, vitamin K, magnesium and numerous antioxidants. Their rich iron content helps with anemia. Dandelion leaf’s high magnesium content promotes calm. Their bitter flavor helps digestion of fats.
Celery seeds help with digestion, especially when there’s excess gas involved. Aromatic seeds, such as anise, fennel and caraway are all useful for the occasional bout of gas. Celery seeds are also a natural diuretic and antiseptic for bladder ailments and urinary tract infections. As an anti-inflammatory, celery seed is also helpful for arthritis, rheumatism and gout.
This culinary marvel contains as many as 100 different flavor-packed sulfur compounds. Sulfur is a detoxifying agent and assists the liver in cleansing the body. Sulfur is also important to the skin and coat. Garlic’s aromatic compounds work systemically to reduce flea and tick infestations. The cloves are well known as an excellent cardiovascular tonic. Compounds in garlic stimulate natural killer cells, which help fight cancer. Garlic contains allicin, a powerful antimicrobial that fights parasites, including worms, viruses, bacteria and fungi. Some studies show fresh garlic is more powerful than antibiotics. This antimicrobial effect becomes less effective once garlic is pressed out of its papery skin and exposed to air. For best antimicrobial results, fresh garlic must be used within 3 hours of chopping. Past that, although not a great antimicrobial, garlic continues to be effective as a cardiovascular tonic, immune system booster, blood-thinning agent and cancer-inhibiting antioxidant.
This livestock feed and cover crop is also good for your pets as it is rich in chlorophyll, protein, vitamins and minerals, especially iron and magnesium. Alfalfa is anti-inflammatory and can provide relief for arthritis, rheumatism and gout. It is safe used over long periods. If you’re new to raw food, alfalfa can help your pet adjust to the new plan.
Chia Seeds (the newest addition to the herbs we use)
Chia seeds are perhaps best known for their ability to swell into black “furry” Chia Pets. If you had any idea how nutritious these seeds were you would be eating them yourself, plus feeding them to your own pets rather than using them as art. These tiny black orbs are a crunchy, delicious nutritional powerhouse.
A member of the mint family, chia originated in Southern Mexico and Guatemala. It became an important crop for the Aztecs over 500 years ago with chia serving as an endurance food, a medicine, an offering in religious ceremonies and as animal feed.
Both Aztec and Mayan warriors ate chia seeds for strength and endurance. A small amount provides sustained energy and strength for a day of challenging physical activity.
Chia seed is the richest known plant source of alpha linolenic acid (ALA), an omega 3 fat. Omega 3’s are anti-inflammatory, which means they help to reduce arthritis and other pain. ALA helps nourish skin and fur. A significant constituent of brain, omega 3 fat is known to improve mood, intelligence and recall.
The soluble fiber of chia seeds helps hydrate the colon while binding with toxins and promoting healthy elimination, a particularly helpful function in dogs who tend to scavenge.
The rich black color of chia provides more antioxidants than the famed blueberry, making it particularly helpful at slowing aging, including protecting the eyes and other organs. Chia protein quality is among the highest of plant foods. The teeny seeds are also rich in calcium and other minerals, which are often lacking in today’s foods.
The health-boosting properties of chia can be explained in part by its rich nutrient content, but there may as well be some intangible quality behind chia’s vitalizing powers.