WRITTEN BY: Joyce Belcher, Sustenance Herbs in Kittery, Maine

ADAPTOGENS…are the ideal group of herbs for pets: They are non-toxic to the recipient, regulate and normalize organ and body systems function, all contain antioxidants and scavenge free radicals, bring balance to the immune system

TONIC HERBS…promote overall health and wellbeing, tonify and restore the organ systems, they are rich in minerals, trace minerals, vitamins and mucilage, all contain antioxidants and vital nutrients.

WRITTEN BY: Joyce Belcher, Sustenance Herbs in Kittery, Maine

Balance is the key word with adaptogens, they adapt to the body stressors creating harmony in animals. If the immune system is heightened, adaptogens can depress to balance. If depleted, they can exemplify to balance.  When our pet has an immune issue that we or our veterinarian may not be able to determine exactly, choosing adaptogenic herbs can help to restore the balance to the immune system without the risk of shutting down or over-stimulating the immune response.

Growth and strength are the descriptors for nutritive tonic herbs., they are rich in minerals, trace minerals and vitamins, fiber, and mucilage, and take on the role of diuretics and adaptogens in many cases. These herbs also play a key role in the absorption of vital nutrients and can be considered both food and medicine that act to heal and support the body.

Both adaptogens and nutritive tonic herbs are antioxidants and help to regulate the body systems with ease. Without overstimulating the immune system, they can be used to instill balance in conjunction with a healthy lifestyle. These following herbs are game changers as they’re well known for their healing powers.

Schisandra (Schisandra chinensis)

Schisandra has a uniqueness beyond other adaptogens. It has a strong impact on the central nervous system as well as the sympathetic, endocrine, immune, respiratory and cardiovascular systems.


    In addition, it can help remove neurotoxins and promotes healing of existing damage in the liver, the organs of digestion, and especially the bowel which increases the body’s ability to metabolize and eliminate toxins. It also increases hepatic glutathione, an essential liver antioxidant. The lignans present in this plant work as free radical scavengers.

Eleuthero root (Eleutherococcus senticosus)

This adaptogen disburses oxygen and vital nutrients to the brain and the body which makes it my primary go-to herb for the circulatory system; whether musculoskeletal or cognitive. It increases energy, endurance, longevity, and immunity, and improves skin, muscle tone and bone strength, making it an ideal herb for athletic or working dogs and horses. It prevents lactic acid buildup while enhancing circulatory action, relieves stress, improves resistance to infections, clears stagnation and heat, and helps animals recover quickly while minimizing immune depletion from intensive training. It’s also excellent for use with older animals.

Amla/Amalaki (Emblica officinalis) 

Known as “The Great Rejuvenator” in Ayruvedic medicine, Amla is considered a nutritive tonic, while it has many characteristics of an adaptogen. 

    Raw Amla is nutritive and restorative, able to deliver high levels of vitamin C 

(without causing GI distress) that is essential for our pets musculoskeletal system and should be provided daily. It contains the potent antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD) – an enzyme that promotes the rejuvenation and repair of cells – as well as the potent phenolic combination of ellagic acid, gallic acid and emblicanin A and B. Together these polyphenols are important for reducing cellular and oxidative stress and destroying immune damaging free radicals.

    Glutathione, peroxidase and catalase is also present in Amla, as well as a high concentration of amino acids, trace minerals and phytonutrients. It helps to knit and strengthen connective tissue disorders such as a luxating patella or a partially torn CCL and protects from further joint degeneration. 

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