Herbs:

Safe Longer-term:

  • Marshmallow Root and Slippery Elm Bark -- for nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation. Great for IBD cats to help rebuild
  • intestinal mucosa as well as for cats with CRF. Give at least 30-60 minutes prior to feeding to avoid nutrient absorption concerns.
  • Stinging Nettles -- for sneezing/hay fever and inhalant as well as contact allergy symptoms
  • Dandelion Leaf -- for cats with Congestive Heart Failure (CHF)
  • Aloe vera juice/gel (inner leaf/fillet only and without additives such as sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate as listed toward the end of this article) -- to help intestinal villi and heal the digestive tract.
  • Catnip –- appetite and mood stimulant
  • Turmeric or curcumin –- anti-inflammatory, emmanagogue/blood-moving for conditions such as cancer, and heart benefits.

Safe Short-term for medicinal purposes:

  • Raspberry leaf –- for queens, if needed
  • Arjuna –- a cardiotonic and beta-blocker
  • Andrographis Paniculata –- for sinus/URI problems
  • Astragalus –- immune booster, also helpful for thyroid and kidney conditions
  • Blackberry Leaf -- diarrhea
  • Boswellia Serrata-- arthritis
  • Cayenne –- arthritis (some formulations can cause stomach pain)
  • Cinnamon (water-soluble extract only), and not Cassia -– can lower blood glucose levels
  • Cranberry –- there isn't much reason to use this herb for cats with FLUTD. A better option is D-Mannose for a few days.
  • Dandelion leaf -– a diuretic containing some potassium for pulmonary edema and pleural effusion
  • Echinacea –- at the first signs of a cold
  • Fennel –- digestive upset including gas and bloating
  • Ginger -- nausea, and to increase stomach motility
  • Ginkgo Biloba -– blood-thinner good for circulatory problems
  • Ginseng – American and Siberian -– immune system; colds; physical and mental stimulation
  • Goldenseal -- antibacterial, particularly good for topical use
  • Hawthorne berries -- cardiotonic beta-blocker
  • Parsley – diuretic, however it can cause potassium loss so dandelion leaf is a better choice
  • Milk Thistle – liver problems
  • Peppermint Leaf – nausea and indigestion
  • St. John's Wort - depression/mood
  • Valerian – appetite stimulation and can be helpful for high-strung cats (though beware it can in some cases have the opposite effect)
  • Herbs containing salicin -- White Willow Bark, Feverfew, and Meadowsweet; cats have trouble metabolizing these causing "salicylate intoxication" and bleeding. With salicylate build-up that a cat's kidneys have trouble excreting, the typical presentation is symptoms of kidney failure with severe metabolic acidosis and breathing trouble. Cats much like humans with this condition have a high fatality rate. 
  • Alfalfa -- an ingredient in it - canavanine - can lead to abnormal blood cell counts and spleen enlargement as well as interfere with arginine uptake in the body. Arginine (abundant in meat) is critical for cats, and inadequate amounts of arginine can cause serious problems. See article titled "Why does the cat require a high protein diet?" by Rogers QR & Morris JG (1980) Journal of Nutrition 109, 718–723 for details on the deleterious effects of inadequate L-arginine in kitten diets. Last but not least, Alfalfa contains coumarin derivatives that can inhibit blood clotting. There is no reason to use this herb, none.
  • Garlic -- causes heinz body anemia
  • Mistletoe -- detrimental effect to the heart
  • Pennyroyal -- can be fatal to cats, and even in very diluted amounts can cause irreversible liver, lung, and brain damage. Check for this herb as one of the ingredients in those ubiquitous "flea collars"
  • Strong bitters in "worming" formulas such as Rue, Feverfew, and Wormwood which can cause kidney and liver damage.
  • Comfrey -- can cause liver damage (okay to use PA-free brands e.g. Herb Pharm's for external use on a strictly short-term basis)
  • Chapparal -- can cause kidney and liver problems
  • Lobelia -- can cause nausea and vomiting even in small doses

Herbs that can be okay but only if used with extra caution:

  • Juniper Berries -- should not be used long-term because it irritates the kidneys/urinary tract.
  • Uva Ursi -- has a strong astringent action, and should not be used long-term because it irritates the kidneys/urinary tract. Uva Ursi should only be used with alkaline urine. Even though we do not know for sure if cranberry acidifies the urine, do not use Uva Ursi together with cranberry.
  • Horsetail -- long-term use can elevate blood pressure
  • Licorice -- can lead to water retention and raise blood pressure. Best not to use on a long-term basis.
  • Ginkgo -- Do not use with allopathic heart medication/blood thinners
  • Hawthorne Berry -- Do not use with allopathic heart medication/blood thinners
  • Red Clover (one of the constituents in Essiac Tea formula) -- Contains coumarins which could affect bleeding problems in cats. Should not to be taken with allopathic blood thinning drugs
  • Goldenseal, Barberry, and Oregon Grape Root -- Strong astringent action; can kill off beneficial bacteria, so best for short-term use only.

Essential Oils

Alcohol

Other Cautions

References