These days, more and more Canadians are turning naturopathic or herbal therapies. In some cases, patients seek out alternative medicines only after all of their more conventional options have failed them. But natural remedies aren’t always a last resort.


 Canadians make an estimated 425-million visits to alternative medical therapy providers every year. Compare that to just 338-million annual visits to U.S. primary-care physicians, and you’ll notice a trend. The trend isn’t unique to humans either. More and more pet owners are choosing herbal and alternative remedies in favor of the more traditional, and more expensive, Western alternatives.

 

Take acupuncture for example. This natural procedure has been helping humans for centuries. When used on pets, it can help relieve severe pain or alleviate discomfort from arthritis. Homeopathy also offers healthier alternatives for chronic skin disorders, without all of the long-term side effects of cortisone.

 

Specific herbs and alternative remedies have also been shown to promote better health in everything with a heartbeat. Some improve vitality, some encourage a healthier immune system, while others still increase an individual’s resistance to disease. It’s true! The proper and regular use of holistic or complementary medicines can improve your pet’s quality of life.

 

If you’re looking to discover which holistic options will help your pet the most then you’ve come to the right place. Below, you’ll find a comprehensive breakdown of the most popular, and parrot friendly, herbal and alternative remedies on the market today.

 

HERBAL TREATMENTS FOR PARROTS

 

Years ago, only the most progressive bird keepers used herbal remedies to care for their pets. That’s because, back then, there were no guidelines or recommended dosages readily available to the public. But, as time, technology and the herbal medicine market progressed, the bird community established a reliable system of instructions and dosage levels.

 

In order to determine the appropriate dosage for small to medium sized birds, parrot owners used the recommended dosage for a 10-pound human infant. Using that number as a base-line, bird keepers went on to calculate one-tenth of an infant’s dosage. The resulting number went on to determine a single dose for their beloved parrot.

 

Looking for the right herbal remedy to treat your parrot? The following is a list of other herbs and the conditions for which they can be used in the treatment of parrots. Please remember to consult your avian veterinarian before administering any of the below herbal remedies as a precaution. 

 

§  ALFALFA
o   Helps alleviate the symptoms of allergies and arthritis by removing toxins from the body.
o   Purifies the blood by neutralizing acids.
o   Stimulates appetite.
o   Aids in the absorption of protein, calcium and other essential dietary nutrients.

§  ALOE
o   When applied topically, aloe gel can help heal small cuts, abrasions, and rashes on parrots’ skin.

§  CAYENNE
o   Contains capsaicin, which helps stimulate appetite.
o   Great natural treatment for sinus congestion in parrots.
o   When used topically, cayenne has potent anti-inflammatory properties.
o   Parrots love the taste!

§  CALENDULA
o   Rapidly heals wounds, abrasions and skin conditions.
o   Great for birds who are prone to feather picking.
o   Great for birds with skin allergies.
o   Often used as an anti-inflammatory.

§  CHAMOMILE
o   One of nature’s safest (and mildest) sedatives.
o   Used to calm birds in stressful situations.
o   Has been shown to kill the yeast fungi Candida albicans as well as certain staph bacteria.

§  CINNAMON 
o   Fights against the fungal effect of candida and other types of yeast, and aspergillus. 
o   Has a mild, anti-bacterial effect against strep and staph bacteria.

§  DANDELION
o   Helpful in diseases of the liver and digestive organs.
o   Useful in the treatment of arthritis.

§  ECHINACEA
o   Stimulates the immune system.
o   May speed recovery of poxvirus and in debilitated birds.
o   Possesses anti-bacterial properties.

§  EYEBRIGHT
o   Promotes eye health.
o   A strong eyebright tea can be used as a wash to aid discomfort from irritated eyes for all pets.

§  GARLIC
o   Powerful anti-oxidant.
o   Contains anti-parasitic properties used to kill intestinal parasites.
o   Protects the liver from chemical pollutants in the air, food, and water.
o   Researchers at the University of Cambridge in England found that garlic juice is as strong as the popular antifungal drugs Amphotericin and Nystatin, when treating against Candida (a common fungal problem in parrots). 
o   Garlic should be used sparingly, and in the form of fresh garlic slices. Avoid the use of garlic powder. One or two thin slices once or twice a week is sufficient.
o   Too much garlic may cause anemia in some animals if used excessively for a prolonged period of time.

§  GINGER
o    Prevents motion sickness when parrots must travel.
o   Add a few drops of ginger extract to the water, along with slices of fresh ginger the night before a planned travel.
o   Useful in treating nausea and regurgitation.

§  KAVA KAVA (member of the pepper family)
o   Has mild sedative and tranquilizing effects.
o   Can be used to treat feather plucking and hyperactivity.
o   Use with caution: kava kava is quite strong, and therefore must be used sparingly.

§  LAVENDER
o   Has been shown to eliminate nervous tension, relieve pain, disinfect the skin, enhance blood circulation, and treat respiratory problems.

§  MILK THISTLE
o   Seeds contain silymarin, a flavonoid that has been shown to treat liver disorders.
o   Milk thistle is the main herbal ingredient of Aloe Detox, and the number one herb for the treatment of all liver problems.
o   Has been used to treat liver disorders without side effects for years.

§  OREGANO 
o   Highly enjoyable for many parrot species.
o   Most birds are also greatly appreciative if a piece of fresh thyme makes it into their feed bowl. Not only does thyme smell great but it eradicates worms, helps with diarrhea and has antibacterial properties.

§  PASSION FLOWER
o   Passiflora incarnata, often referred to as Maypop, acts as a gentle sedative.
o   One of the best natural parrot tranquilizers.
o   Hyperactive parrots, or those with compulsive behavior patterns like feather destruction, may benefit from Passion Flower.

§  PAU D’ARCO (a.k.a. Taheebo) 
o   Effective against candida and intestinal parasites in both humans and parrots.
o   Anti-fungal properties.
o   Considered a “miracle bark”.

§  ST. JOHN’S WORT
o   Contains hypericum, which has anti-depressant properties.
o   Often used as a natural substitute for Haloperidol in some feather-plucking parrots.
o   CAUTION: St. John’s Wort could cause problem for parrots that live outside with access to direct sunlight. A study of sheep that ingested extremely large quantities of pure hypericum-perforatum and died of phototoxicity. This may or may not apply to parrots. To date, there have been no studies published on the use of St. John’s Wort in parrots.

§  SEAWEEDS (Kelp, Wakame, Undaria, Kombu, Nori, etc.)
o   Protect parrots from gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria known to potentiate carcinogens.
o   Contain anti-fungal, anti-viral, and anti-tumor properties. 
o   Help promote a strong immune system.

§  SLIPPERY ELM
o   Used topically to treat wounds, burns, rashes, abscesses, boils, or insect bites.
o   Used internally to treat lungs complications, coughing, and vomiting.

§  VALERIAN
o   Used as a sedative and pain reliever.
o   Stronger than most other herbal sedatives.
o   Should only be used after consulting an experienced herbalist.

§  WITCHHAZEL
o   Applied topically in a spray, it has astringent and healing properties.
o   Used to relieve itching.
o   Can be used in addition to or as an alternative to aloe vera spray I nthe treatment of itchy skin.
o   CAUTION: Witch hazel is preserved with alcohol, so it should not be sprayed near the face of a parrot.

 

HERBAL PRODUCTS TO AVOID

§  BORAGE
o   Contains toxic pyrrolizidine alkaloids.

§  CALAMUS
o   Can be toxic.

§  CHAPPARAL
o   Can cause severe liver toxicity.

§  COLSTFOOT
o   Contains carcinogenic alkaloids.

§  COMFREY
o   Contains toxic pyrrolizidine alkaloids.

§  EPHEDRA
o   Can cause a dangerous increase in heart rate and blood pressure.

§  GERMANDER
o   Can cause liver toxicity.

§  LICORICE
o   Causes sodium and water retention.
o   Causes the depletion of potassium.

§  MA HUANG
o   Has caused heart attacks, seizures, psychotic episodes and death in humans.

§  LIFE ROOT
o   Can cause liver toxicity.

§  LOBELIA (a.k.a. Indian Tobacco)
o   Can cause vomiting, convulsions, coma and death.

§  PENNYROYAL
o   The oil is highly toxic to the liver and can lead to blood clotting.

§  POKEROOT
o   May be fatal.

§  SASSAFRASS
o   Ineffective and carcinogenic.

§  YOHIMBE
o   Though some look to Yohimbe bark as a possible aphrodisiac for non-producing, mature breeding parrots, the herb is currently is on the USFDA unsafe herb list as of March 1977.
o   There is no proof of effectiveness in animal or human studies. 
o   Yohimbe is a powerful drug which can cause the dilation of blood vessels in both animals and humans.
o   It can cause weakness, paralysis, gastrointestinal problems and even psychosis in humans.
o   Experimentation using this herb with parrots could be fatal.


 It’s important to note that medicinal herbs contain powerful, pharmacologically active compounds — in other words, herbs contain drugs. Like drugs, herbal remedies should be used with caution.

 

There is also very little government or industry oversight or regulation in the sale or medical use of herbs. Which can make things difficult for bird owners seeking out the best natural remedies for their pets. Unfortunately, it’s up to us bird-keepers to learn as much as possible on our own.

 

Thankfully you don’t have to navigate the complicated world of natural remedies on your own. Through exhaustive research and invaluable consultations with veterinarians and herbologists, The Parrot Shop has developed our very own line of parrot herbals, finely crafted to increase your pet’s quality of life! Take a look, and if you have any questions about any of the products below, shoot us a line at [email protected]


Calming Herb Blend

 

This fragrant blend of chamomile, lavender and passion flower is designed promote relaxation, and is especially useful in calming your bird during high hormone season. The Parrot Shop’s Calming Herb Blend is recommended for birds who are prone to feather picking, screaming or suffer from high anxiety.

 

Glowing and Gorgeous Feathers Blend

 

This all-natural blend relies on a combination of chamomile, calendula, rose petals and lavender to promote healthy skin. The Parrot Shop’s Glowing and Gorgeous Feathers Blend is great for restoring feathers and skin back to bright and beautiful.

 

Liver Detox Blend 

 

The Liver Detox Blend features Milk Thistle, Dandelion, Burdock Root, Organic Oregano, Hibiscus and Rose Petals, and enjoys the countless liver-healing properties. Highly recommended for birds who are transitioning away from a fully seed-based diet or have a history of liver problems.

 

Liver Detox Powder Blend 

 

Made from Milk Thistle, Dandelion and Burdock Root, this blend uses all-natural ingredients and enjoys many healing properties. The powder can easily be dissolved in your Parrot’s water dish, for more accurate dosage control. Great for birds who were previously on an all seed-based diet and/or experiencing liver issues.

 

Botanical Blend 

 

This fragrant blend of Marigold, Rose Petals, Rose Hips, Hibiscus, Chamomile, Calendula and Lavender is a treat for birds that crave edible flowers. Flowers have natural healing properties and are a great addition to your bird’s diet. The Parrot Shop’s Botanical Blend is particularly beneficial for Lorikeets.


Resources

http://freedomflightsparrotrescue.ca/herbal-remedies-for-parrots/

https://journals.tdl.org/watchbird/index.php/watchbird/article/view/1469/1446