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Are Chinese herbal products safe for cats?

Shmalberg J, Hill RC, Scott KC. Nutrient and metal analyses of Chinese herbal products marketed for veterinary use. Journal of animal physiology and animal nutrition 2013;97:305-314.

Chinese herbs and herbal mixtures are often fed to animals in order to treat certain medical conditions. Practitioners of traditional Chinese veterinary medicine primarily utilize two companies that provide products specifically for veterinary medicine. Some contain measurable quantities of toxic metals, but the composition of veterinary products has not been evaluated.

As stated by these investigators, “the purpose of this study was to determine the nutrient and metal content of fourteen commonly used veterinary Chinese herbal combinations to ascertain whether these remedies could significantly contribute to an animal’s intake of nutrients or metals when fed at recommended doses.” Three single herbs, Bupleurum chinense, Curcuma zedoaria, and Astragalus membranaceus, each obtained from several sources, and Yunnan Baiyao, a proprietary hemostatic mixture, were also analysed.
The investigators found that the formulas did not provide significant amounts of essential nutrients, though some minerals were present at moderate levels, such as calcium, iron, and manganese. However, small amounts of nonessential contaminant minerals such as cadmium, nickel, and lead were also present and warrant further research to determine if safe levels are present. [MK]

See also:
Lana S, Kogan L, Crump K, et al. The use of complementary and alternative therapies in dogs and cats with cancer. J Am Anim Hosp Assoc 2006;42:361-365.

Kidd JR. Alternative medicines for the geriatric veterinary patient. Veterinary Clinics of North America: Small Animal Practice 2012;42:809-822, viii.