Ashwagandha benefits for dogs and cats
Last time I wrote about Milk Thistleand it seemed to be a magical herb. In researching Aswagandha, I have found it to be an even more fantastic simple, safe herbal supplement to aid the overall health of people and pets.
This herb has been used in India for somewhere between 3000 and 4000 years to help treat many ills.
Some of the listed benefits are that Ashwagandha acts as an antioxidant which means it protects cells from damage and it helps increase immune function which can therefore aid in the removal of bacterial and other infectious agents. Also, this herb has anti-inflammatory properties which helps with all kinds of aches and pains and is especially useful in degenerative arthritis conditions in pets. It has been shown to provide nutrients to and protection for the liver. Especially in cats with chronic kidney disease who are experiencing some anemia (low red blood cell count), it helps to increase these oxygen carrying red blood cells. And I suspect it would help in other anemic conditions as well. Healthy endocrine function is another benefit. Ashwagandha helps balance the adrenal glands and may lower cortisol levels and through the regulation of adrenal hormones help to lower high blood pressure. The thyroid gland is also supported which increases energy levels, digestive function and can help with weight gain and mood. It also appears that certain nerve cells are helped to regrow with the aid of this herb which can help with senility issues. In people, it has been shown to increase alertness and memory.
With all of those effects, Ashwagandha promotes a feeling of well-being, helps with relaxation and sleep and is good for anxiety and irritability issues.
This makes it good for our hyper, scared and otherwise irritable pet moments.
In people it can take 2 to 3 months before the full benefits of this herb are achieved. There is no data on if this is true in pets.
The only listed side effects are sedation especially if given with other sedative medications, such as certain ones used to treat epilepsy. Definitely don't start use ot this herb if your pet is on any medications until you check with your veterinarian for any possible additive sedation issues. Some issues may occur with the intestinal system, though these tend to be rare. Such things as an upset stomach. gas and diarrhea have been seen, so if this herb is started and any such issues occur stop giving it immediately and check with your veterinarian to make sure there is no other cause for the symptoms.
In the veterinary field, Ashwagandha is used for anxiety and other behavioral issues, arthritis, low red blood cell count especially in cats with kidney disease and I suspect as we learn more about it in time, we will find other uses. And with the mild to no side effects of this herb is is SO much safer than any of the prescription behavioral medications such as anti-depressants and anti-anxiety drugs which have side effects that affect most every organ in the body negatively.
I hope this helps you with your beloved pets.
Dr. Jan Becker