Botanical (Herbal) Medicine Needs Your Help!

herbsDo you want to be able to safely use herbs for your pet? Right now, there are hundreds of holistic veterinarians in the U.S. who treat animals with herbs. But there is no standard for qualification that would assure you that a veterinarian who uses herbs has adequate training to do so.

It is time for botanical (herbal) medicine to be recognized as a distinct specialty in veterinary medicine. 

The American Board of Veterinary Specialists has accepted a petition to do just that. Now the Board is asking for comments from veterinarians and from the public: that’s you! They want to know if this will “fulfill a distinct need in veterinary medicine and provide an essential service to the public.”
Recognizing herbal medicine as a specialty will:

  • Provide a way for veterinarians who practice botanical medicine to prove that they are fully qualified to do so. Board certification typically requires, at the very least, a period (often a year or more) of specialty training, passing of a comprehensive examination, and submission of case studies. 
  • Send a powerful message to the AVMA that it is a valid field of knowledge within veterinary medicine.
  • Protect herbal medicine from attacks (like those recently leveled against homeopathy) that would seek to bar veterinarians from using herbs at all.

Tens of thousands of pets have been successfully treated with common, safe herbs like turmeric, slippery elm, peppermint, and chamomile. However, just because something is “natural” does not make it safe. Arsenic is natural! Many herbs are toxic at a high dose, but can have nearly miraculous effects at the correct dose and in the right combination.

So, if you’re looking for a veterinarian to help you with your pet’s serious chronic disease, you want someone who has done more than read an article or taken a weekend course. You want someone who has much more training and experience. Establishing botanical medicine as a specialty will enable you to easily find a qualified, certified specialist.

Please let the Board know how important it is to you to have botanical medicine as a specialty. Below is a sample letter. Please personalize it, though… form letters carry much less weight. Tell the Board about your own pets. And if your veterinarian has successfully used herbs for your pet, tell them about that, too!

The deadline for comments is September 1, 2017 — but please don’t put it off. You know how deadlines sneak up on you! It will only take a few minutes of your time, so just do it now

Please email (and send a copy to,
or mail your letter to: 1931 N. Meacham Rd, Suite 100, Schaumburg, IL, 60173.

Subject: Petition to establish Veterinary Botanical Medicine as a Registered Veterinary Specialty
Dear Mr. Banasiak,

I am writing in support of the petition to establish Veterinary Botanical Medicine as a Registered Veterinary Specialty.

Personally, I have (dogs, cats) at home. I want to have all options open to me for treating my (dogs, cats) if they become ill, including herbs.

I believe there is a great need for the recognition of veterinary botanical medicine (herbal medicine) as a specialty in veterinary medicine. Thousands of veterinarians have had at least some training in herbs; many have studied herbal medicine for years. But consumers like myself currently have no easy way of knowing whether a veterinarian who claims to use herbs has simply taken a weekend course, or has the extensive training and knowledge needed to use them safely and effectively. 

At least 25% of prescription drugs currently in use in the United States contain at least one active ingredient derived from herbs. Veterinarians with specialist training in herbal medicine could help veterinarians and consumers like myself better understand the benefits as well as potential adverse effects of herbs and drugs that contain ingredients from plants.

Approximately 70% of the American public use some kind of natural products for their pets. But many people don’t tell their veterinarian about it, especially if they have been told that herbs can “interfere with treatment” or “don’t do anything.” That leaves the veterinarian with a potentially dangerous information gap. The ability to consult with board certified specialists would be invaluable to help guide veterinarians who don’t have formal training.

This specialty is greatly needed. That is why I urge you to please add Veterinary Botanical Medicine as a recognized veterinary specialty.


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