After working as a conventional Veterinary Surgeon for a decade, I was lucky enough to work alongside a herbal Veterinary Surgeon. I was amazed at the subtle changes that could be achieved with herbs, things that simply cannot be achieved with conventional drugs. One reason I was attracted to working with herbs was the importance placed on holism. In order to fully treat and or support our patients we need to consider all of the factors that play a role in their lives. The information which I look at includes diet, general stress levels, accommodation and personality of the patient as well as their clinical history and a physical examination. If any animal is suffering from chronic emotional stress, for example, this will have a detrimental impact on their generalised health and vitality.
Vitality is the inherent ability held within our bodies to maintain and restore healthy functioning. By viewing my patients holistically I can assess their vitality and work with them to restore them to their best balance.
I started to study Western Veterinary Herbalism because I wanted to be able to have a more preventative approach for my patients and one that took a more holistic view. I use herbs to reduce the potential negative side effects of some medicines as well as to work in positive synergy with some drugs and reduce the doses needed. For example, with a nasty bacterial infection antibiotics would be a vital treatment but as a herbalist I would also focus on convalescent support and boosting the patient’s immune system. It is in this way that these two methods of treatment can work hand-in-hand and not against each other. I continue to work in conventional veterinary medicine and always will as I believe this provides the best method for integration of both techniques.
By providing truly individual prescriptions to my patients it is possible to take into consideration any drugs the patient is taking. Many herb/drug interactions are already known and the mechanisms are understood and are taken into consideration when herbs are chosen. By starting any new tonic at a low dose and gradually building up the dose it is possible to spot any side effects early and alter the herbs as needed.
I am based in Bristol and work in the South West and South Wales.
Clara Greenwood BVetMed iBSc MSc CWVHM MRCVS
Photocredit – Kate Kirkby Photography and my gorgeous dog Betty.