I have to share my personal journey with herbal remedies and thunderstorm/fireworks/noise anxiety with my dear boy, Bo. Bo is a happy-go-lucky Lab with a heart of gold, but he has been developing significant noise phobia (mainly thunderstorms but also fireworks) over the past 5-6 years. They used to not bother him, but over the past few years, his anxiety has been significant. He paces, pants, keeps us up all night, and even runs away if he can find a way out of the yard.
I have tried many options for Bo, including various combinations of the following: behavior modification, alprazolam (Xanax, anti-anxiety medicine), acepromazine (sedative), Composure and other calming herbs, Shen Calmer (Chinese herbal formula), Thundershirt, and loud music. The best I could ever do was to take the edge off, but he was getting worse and worse over the years.
I see many complicated problems for animals, and I have many options for people and animals suffering from chronic recurrent conditions. As many veterinarians know, sometimes we are so busy taking care of other people’s animals that sometimes we let problems go too long on our own pets. Now that things have settled down a bit at the new hospital, I decided I really need to focus on Bo. So July 3rd, right on the eve of one of the worst nights for dogs, I decided to try a new herbal formula. Usually herbs can take some time to work, so I knew I was in for another tough 4th of July, but I had to try to get him going in the right direction. On the evening of July 3rd, I gave the first dose of his new herbal medicine, called Er Yin Jian, in addition to another herbal formula I had used in the past, called Shen Calmer, in his dinner. Well, that night we actually had a thunderstorm. To the amazement of myself and my husband, HE WAS FINE! I mean, FINE! Slept right through it. No pacing, no panting. He acted like he couldn’t even hear it. It was nothing short of a miracle. We couldn’t believe it.
So the next day, he had both herbal medications again in his breakfast and dinner, and we waited to see how he would do with the fireworks. At 10pm, in the midst of booms and bangs, we were totally amazed by his reaction:
Complete relaxation. His eyes opened when he heard us snap a picture of him, but he had been sleeping the whole time. My husband and I kept looking at each other asking, “Is this really happening?”. Anybody who knows me knows that I LOVE HERBS. They are amazing. I have cured so many chronic conditions I never dreamed I could cure with herbs. But I have just started to tap into the herb possibilities for behavior conditions, and so I had not yet seen something so amazing. Sometimes I learn the most from my own pets, and I often see them as my guides to help me understand and help other people’s pets. I cannot tell you how relieved I am to have found the solution for Bo. As I write this on July 15th, only 12 days after starting Bo’s medicine, the thunder is rolling through another dramatic North Carolina storm, and this is Bo’s reaction:
Here is also a video of him just now. There is thunder rolling in the background.
The good news is that herbs are absolutely amazing and often work better than pharmaceuticals. The bad news it, they are not one-size-fits-all. In Chinese medicine, we don’t pick herbs for symptoms, we pick them based on the imbalance of the animal that has created the symptom. So I can’t say that Er Yin Jian will work this way for every animal with noise phobia. We need to look at each animal individually and try to pick the right formula for them for the symptoms they are experiencing. What I can tell you it that now I know for sure how well they can work for anxiety and behavior problems, and I am excited to help my other patients with this approach! Thank you, Bo, for being my teacher.