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Natural nutrients … natural herb … from a natural source …
plants. Is this combination a better alternative than prescription
treatments? For centuries medications have been derived from plants
and many drugs now synthesized originated from plants. Could
unprocessed natural herbs and their nutrients achieve "miraculous"
cures where traditional medicines have failed?
For pet caregivers, nutritional and dietary supplements,
"nutraceuticals", can be used to maintain or improve the health and
well being of their animal. They may add nutrition animals should
be getting from their environment but aren't getting from their
"Nutraceuticals are dietary supplements from a food source
thought to have properties for improving health, preventing
disease, and providing nutritional supplementation," explained Dr.
Glennon Mays, clinical associate professor, Texas A&M Large
Animal Clinical Sciences Department. "They are substances
considered to have nutritional as well as therapeutic value."
"Nutraceuticals are thought beneficial for conditions ranging
from anti-oxidants, hypercholesterolemia, cancer, arterial health,
to joint health. Pet caregivers obviously desire improved health
quality for their aging pet. They desire to have the young pet
population become a healthier aged one," noted Mays.
"Nutraceuticals are commonly used in large animal health care.
Vitamin and mineral supplements for livestock and horses are used
in range, pasture, and equine stable environments. Probably the
most common equine supplementation is directed toward cartilaginous
health within the joint. Other supplements target skin and hair
coat quality," explained Mays.
"The effectiveness of nutraceuticals is sometime scrutinized
because of a lack of scientific study or documentation of reported
results or improvement in a certain condition or disease process,"
noted Mays. Additionally, there is concern that nutraceutical
dosage and potency have not been determined since these drugs are
not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.
"To my knowledge there is no regulatory agency charged to determine
guidelines for nutraceuticals," explained Mays. "This leads to
speculations about the purity and consistency of products in this
classification. Consequently, dosages haven't been formally
established for natural remedies and are generally left to judgment
"Animals are potentially allergic to the plant or feed source of
the nutraceutical product," Mays also noted. "Since trial studies
are not conducted, and dosing is often subjective, overdosing or an
appropriately dosed product to an animal with hypersensitivity
issues is potentially dangerous."
Mays gives examples of glucosamine joint supplement which is an
extract of shell fish and St. John's Wort, a plant beneficial or
toxic depending on the animal's reaction upon ingestion and amount
"Because testing is not done, we simply do not know for certain
the interaction of nutraceuticals with prescription drugs,"
cautioned Mays. "Research for the study of dosing, possible side
effects, toxicity levels, interaction with medications or effects
on previously existing medical conditions is lacking."
Mays explained that it is possible for any therapeutic device
or, external/internal application of natural or synthetic potion,
solution, injection, pill, capsule or liquid, to have or create an
adverse affect. Biological systems react differently to foreign
substances that are not naturally occurring within that individual
system and certainly unexpected and unwanted results associated
with untested products are possible.
"Determining that a condition exists for which one of the
nutraceuticals might address or improve is the challenge," stated
Mays. "The diagnosis of the condition is often the most difficult
area. Once the problem has a name then a plan of therapy can begin.
Any of the nutraceuticals are potentially dangerous depending on
how the patient's system responds to the introduction of the
Natural nutrients … from natural sources … and still the best
way to determine if nutraceuticals are right for your pet is to
become informed and talk to your veterinarian about what treatments
are available and how they should and should not be used.
About Pet Talk
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& Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University. Stories can be
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Angela G. Clendenin
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