Gardening for Health

Herbs Can Help Pets, Too 

By Maria Price 

I believe 2020 has brought us the biggest challenge of our lives with a global pandemic. Our weather is also a mixed bag of extremes. Sustained heat and humidity make the best of us want to stay indoors. Even our pets don’t want to be outdoors too long as the heat has been overwhelming. 

My golden retriever Barley came down with hot spots on his neck and head, which caused a bad odor from the infected area. We quickly called to make an appointment with our vet and were told he couldn’t be seen for two weeks because of reduced help due to the pandemic. I felt helpless at first and thought we couldn’t wait two weeks for him to be seen. 

When I feel this way, I always turn to the garden. Since most hot spots are fungal and bacterial, I researched herbs that have antifungal properties. The Green Pharmacy by James A. Duke, Ph.D., lists the following antifungal herbs: garlic, licorice, tea tree, black walnut husks, chamomile, goldenseal, lemon grass, Pau d’arco and turmeric.  

Duke’s database showed that licorice contains at least 25 fungicidal compounds, more than any other herbs listed. Chamomile is a fungicidal especially good against candida and it’s also potently antibacterial and anti-inflammatory. Chamomile is widely used in Europe where it’s incorporated into many over the-counter antiseptics. Thyme is also an antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral and antioxidant. It is used externally for infected wounds. Oil of thyme or thymol is one of the main ingredients in Listerine. 

After carefully cutting away the fur around the affected area, I made a blend of herbal ingredients. I made a strong chamomile tea of 1 tablespoon herb to 1 cup of boiling water. I blended equal quantities of chamomile tea, licorice tincture and Listerine and applied this twice a day to my dog’s neck with a cotton ball. After it dried, I sprinkled over-the-counter antifungal foot powder over the area to keep it dry. It took about four days to clear up and new fur grew back. He is very happy now.