There’s still plenty of time to establish an herb garden for yourself and your house rabbits. Bunnies and other herbivores love fresh herbs; herbs don’t take up much room, most will grow in pots, and many are perennials (meaning you won’t have to plant them again next year). The following selection of herbs will all grow quite well here in Ohio and have many healthful benefits. Links will take you to more in-depth articles and photos of each herb.
Mint (spearmint, peppermint, chocolate mint, etc) is easily grown and will multiply and spread out all over your garden and into the yard! You may wish to grow mint in pots in order to contain it (or not!). Mint aids in digestion and helps stimulate bile flower (promoting proper digestion). Mint soothes nausea and helps relieve gas.
Lemon balm is another member of the mint family and has been used for centuries to reduce stress, agitation and anxiety and to promote sleep. Lemon balm eases indigestion and can be mashed into a paste to treat minor skin ailments. It can be safely licked off by the rabbit or guinea pig. Lemon balm has a lovely lemony fragrance and flavor, and it is a terrific addition to your summertime iced tea,
Lavender is yet another member of the mint family and is also a calming herb; even a small amount of lavender will soothe the nervous system and have a positive effect on a stressed-out, anxious rabbit or other pet (or human). Lavender has analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties, relieves gas and nausea, aids in digestion, and acts as an anti-spasmodic (another plus for pets with intestinal problems). This all-purpose herb can be brewed into a tea and served (cooled) to your pet, or simply give them some lavender leaves to enjoy.
Sage has also been used for centuries to treat a variety of ailments. Sage has proven antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal and antiviral effects, making it useful as a general tonic and to ease symptoms of the digestive and respiratory systems. Sage calms the nervous system and strengthens the immune system.
Chamomile is a calming herb, and many pets enjoy cooled chamomile tea (it is a very mild tea) which can be offered several times a day. The National Institute of Health has conducted studies – on mice, guinea pigs, rabbits, rats and other small animals - on the effect of chamomile on fifteen different medical conditions. Chamomile has been shown to decrease anxiety in rodents, soothe and settle the stomach, and it can be used topically on minor wounds, burns, scrapes, sore hocks (bumblefoot), and even urine scald.
Marjoram has been used historically as a remedy for gas and bloating, as a stress relief and to promote easier respiration. The leaves and flowers that have been strained off from brewing marjoram tea can be compacted into a small muslin bag, heated in the microwave until warm (but not so warm as to burn your pet of course) and applied to painful arthritic joints.
Wild Plantain (not the banana sort of plantain) is also known as snakeweed, or ribwort. Wild plantain is vitamin rich, has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, and is helpful in treating respiratory, digestive and urinary system disorders. Plantain protects the membranes of the respiratory tract from inflammation (as in bronchitis) and relieves congestion in the chest. The anti-bacterial properties help to fight off the cause of infections. Enzymes in the leaves and root relieve mild intestinal inflammations, and tannins in plantain are effective in easing diarrhea and other symptoms of intestinal upset. Plantain acts as a gentle herbal diuretic and can help in clearing urinary tract infections. Plantain is also known to increase bone strength. Buckhorn or narrowleaf plantain is also high in vitamins, minerals and fiber, and has the same antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Most rabbits seem to prefer it dried. Both varieties of ribwort provide excellent roughage and promote proper digestion and bowel function.
All of these herbs can be grown right here in Ohio, most are perennials and bunnies and other herbivores think they are quite the treat (although if you have a pregnant pet, please consult with your veterinarian before offering unlimited herbs).
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