This herb helps prolong the life of corticosteroids, making it particularly useful as a supplement to dogs with Addison’s disease. However, there is often confusion about the use of this common herb.
Licorice often comes with a warning about its use because it can elevate blood pressure. This happens because of its corticosteroid like activity or enhancement of the body's own corticosteriods.
Deglycyrrhized licorice (sometimes called DGL) has had the ingredient that causes this, glycyrrhiza, removed so it doesn't have this effect, but still has the other positive effects of licorice. Now, this is a problem when you don't have Addison's, but it is what makes it a particularly great addition to a dog's (or human's) regime that does have Addison's.
Licorice also can reduce the immuno-suppressive activity of steroids such as prednisone. This is undesirable when using prednisone to stop an autoimmune condition such as lupus, immune-mediated hemolytic anemia or rheumatoid arthritis, but not an issue for Adogs on doses designed to replace the hormone cortisol that the body is not producing properly.
This herb is most frequently used for liver issues, particularly when liver enzyme values are elevated in blood tests. Studies have shown that milk thistle can actually regenerate damaged liver tissue. It can save lives when given after accidental ingestion of death cap (amanita) mushrooms.
Some practitioners recommend giving milk thistle periodically for any animal on medication that is processes through the liver, such as the meds required by most ADogs.
The seeds of the plant are used and prepared in an alcohol tincture or a standardized powder extract.
Milk thistle has not been found to be toxic, even at high dosages. However, if used when the liver is not under stress it may elevate liver enzyme levels and may cause liver function to be sluggish.
You may be familiar with this herb from cough and throat soothing lozenges at the drugstore, but it’s most useful to ADogs with digestive upset. It soothes the digestive tract, with its lubricating, emollient and anti-inflammatory qualities.
It is generally considered a safe herb, except for cases of allergic reactions. It can be given as capsules or the powder can be mixed with warm water or broth. Most dogs like the flavor of it.
Ginger has long been used for motion sickness and is useful in any cases of nausea and indigestion. It helps settle the stomach and relieve gas. It can be given in capsule or tincture formula, or even baked into treats. A couple of gingersnaps may be enough to keep your ADog from getting carsick.
Herbs for Animals
by Susan Wynn, DVM
If you are thinking about using herbs and/or supplements for your dog, please discuss it first with your veterinarian or seek the help of a qualified holistic veterinarian. If your dog is already on one of these therapies, inform your veterinarian that is caring for your addison dog. The use of herbs or supplements may influence prescribing of medications and the results of certain laboratory tests.