Literature that supports Chinese herbal medicine in conjunction with or as an alternative to conventional veterinary treatment is lacking; however, relevant studies and increasing client demand have brought the issue to the forefront.
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In China, herbal formulas have been administered to animals for thousands of years. There have been documented effects on various organ systems and oncologic processes.1,2 In 2002, 18.6% of American adults reported using some sort of Chinese herbal medicine, compared with 12.1% in 1997.3 Similarly, a study published in 2011 reported that 12 accredited veterinary schools in North America offered programs in complementary or alternative medicine, compared with 7 schools in 2000.4
Interests in improving treatment outcome and quality of life have contributed to the increased popularity of veterinary Chinese herbal formulas. Despite concerns about drug interactions, lack of supportive evidence-based research, and questions about formulas containing by-products from endangered species or other animals, evidence may exist for the recognition of this modality as a legitimate treatment option.