Recently I’ve become obsessed with finding an herbal preventative for heartworms to replace the drugs we now use. For the last 10 years while I lived in Oregon, I haven’t had to even think about it because of its low incidence of the disease.
But now back in Delaware, it seems that the vets are gung-ho on year round prevention.
So, I’ve been spurred on to learn about the whole lifecycle of heartworms with its microfilaria and adult stages.
I found this video that is easier for me to wrap my head around how it all happens. Hope this is helpful for you as well.
I began with reviewing the traditional meds used such as Selemectin (brand name Revolution), Ivermectin (brand name Heartgard), and Milbemycin Oxime (brand name Interceptor): the one previously used by the herding breeds due to the MDR1 mutant gene issue.
Interesting to me was the fact that these meds killed intestinal worms as well as heartworms in dogs. This got me thinking that whatever herb I could come across that killed intestinal roundworms probably would kill heartworm microfilaria.
My assumption then was; if it takes less to kill microfilaria than intestinal worms, all I would have to do was prove an natural alternative killed intestinal worms to be relatively assured of its effectiveness.
That assumption is the key for me, because it is pretty easy to verify if there are worms in the stool.
Everyone follow so far? If I have faulty thinking here, let me know….
So I began my search of the internet for herbal intestinal roundworm remedies.
As I searched, I found a lot of repetition with the information. Same stuff regurgitated in site after site. Some seemed a little more reliable, reasonable and rationale than others.
Some were downright ludicrous. There were the sites that are just a little to “woo-woo” for me, if you catch my drift. You know, the kind that start off….
“I had a dream and in it, the THE FOREST FAIRY instructed me to…. BLAH, BLAH, BLAH…”
Gotta say that those types of sites didn’t instill any confidence in me when looking for the answer to heartworms in dogs.
As an RN (albeit and anti-drug, anti-vaccine RN), any of the natural heartworm remedies I find would need to be at least remotely grounded rationale thought in order for me to to accept it.
The info I found on the web about herbs posed a problem. How did anyone know what actually worked? And what would the doses for canines be? (Sometimes finding doses for humans was tough too).
I had to satisfy myself with anecdotal information or a few very small international studies. There really aren’t any double blind studies done.
After all, what drug company wants to prove herbs you can buy in the local grocery store will be effective for heartworms in dogs? It would take profit out of their pockets.
It was a matter of taking a leap of faith that what was claimed to be effective, actually was and begin my own testing.
While I am not fond of using my pups as guinea pigs (HA! Little joke there…. my pups are guinea pigs… OK, not so funny) but someone has to step up to the plate.
I slowly compiled a variety of herbs that appear to work on intestinal roundworms and therefore may be decent remedies for heartworms in dogs as well, though some more toxic than others.
Yes, folks, just because it’s natural doesn’t mean it can’t kill you. You remember Socrates and hemlock, right?
It’s a lot for me to organize, so have patience as I write up what I’ve found.
Yes, this is an experiment.
It’s going to take time to see if what I think will work will actually do so. I’ll provide links to other sites so you can see what I found and you can decide for yourself what you may want to try. I would LOVE to hear from anyone willing to do some testing of their own.
Green Black Walnut Hull Extract.... Sounds like an oxymoron and quite a mouthful, eh?
This is an old time remedy made from Black Walnut hulls which were harvested while still green. (Now does the name make sense?) It was traditionally used for the removal of intestinal worms in people and is also used for canines.
It has a long history and you can find website after website talk about the effectiveness anecdotally.
Similar to the green black walnut hull extract for heartworm would be the long-used combination herbal remedy of Black Walnut Hull, Cloves and Wormwood.
This was originally recommended by a Dr Hulda Clarkia with a long standing reputation among her followers, but from what I read, she has a less than impressive background educationally and clinically.
You can find background easily on the ‘net. Her theory was that worms caused cancer and removing worms prevented or cured cancer. She stated the use of these three herbs would kill flukes, pinworms, threadworms, hookworms, round worms, tapeworms and treat Candidiasis. Which if it can do that, I figure it can probably kill heartworm too.
Treatment for humans was 3 times a day for 2 weeks with a 1 week break, then repeat the treatment 4 times. So that’s a 12 week course of herbs. YIKES!
If it’s something you’d like to try you can find either the original three herb combo:
Or just the Green Black Walnut Hull Extract alone:
I found dosing information on one website for dogs:
1 drop for every 10lbs daily, build up to the number of drops for every 10lbs as they can tolerate it. (a 20lb dog would get 2 drops, a 30lb dog would get 3 drops, etc.).
After a week on the Green Black Walnut Extract, add a small pinch of the Wormwood capsule to the dog's food daily.
After a week on the Green Black Walnut Extract and the Wormwood powder, add a pinch of the Cloves to the dog's food daily.
Apparently, you then keep this up daily forever.
This regimen for the Green Black Walnut Extract for heartworm seemed a little too labor intensive for someone like me.
Dr Clarkia felt the hull and wormwood together killed any kind of adult worm and the Cloves were necessary to kill the eggs of worms. I have yet to find results of any clinical trials she may have performed. All I find is the regurgitated info on the use of her extracts.
My main issue experimenting with this extract for heartworm is there are a few places that mention its toxic effects on the liver. For that reason I wanted to put it on the “back burner” and see if I could find something equally effective with less possible side effects.
After all, I am dealing with adult dogs, puppies, and bitches in whelp or nursing, so I want to err on the side of caution.
However, for those of you who feel it is an acceptable risk, dosing correctly should minimize any adverse affects.
Now, if my dogs already HAD heartworm, I'd certainly give it a try. It can't be worse than the prescription medication course of treatment.