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Original Article

Free Access

Treatment of Organic Livestock with Medicinal Plants: A Systematic Review of European Ethnoveterinary Research

Mayer M.a, d · Vogl C.R.b · Amorena M.a · Hamburger M.c · Walkenhorst M.d

Author affiliations

aFaculty of Bioscience and Agri-Food and Environment Technologies, University of Teramo, Teramo, Italy; bDivision of Organic Farming, Department of Sustainable Agricultural Systems, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU), Vienna, Austria; cInstitute of Pharmaceutical Biology, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland; dDepartment of Livestock Science, Research Institute of Organic Agriculture, Frick, Switzerland

Corresponding Author

Dr. med. vet. Michael Walkenhorst

Department of Livestock Science

Research Institute of Organic Agriculture

Ackerstrasse 113, 5070 Frick, Switzerland


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Forsch Komplementmed 2014;21:375-386

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Background: The EC Regulation for Organic Farming states that organic livestock should be treated preferably with phytotherapeutic products. In spite of the high importance of organic livestock in Europe, primarily ruminants, today almost no phytotherapeutic product is registered for livestock. Also, information regarding veterinary phytotherapy is rare. The aim of this paper is to find approaches to cope with health problems of organic ruminants in Europe on the basis of findings from the European ethnoveterinary medicine (EuEVM). Methods: A systematic review of ethno-biomedicinal papers was conducted with the aid of the Scopus database, and 75 papers, from European countries were analyzed regarding ethnoveterinary information. Results: A total of 590 plant species referring to 102 different plant families are reported to be used for animal treatment, with Asteraceae, Fabaceae and Lamiaceae being the most important families. The traditional use of some plant species (e.g. mallow, chamomile, wormwood) corresponds with findings from recent scientific literature. The large number of less studied plant species, such as white lupin as an antiparasitic herb, and Helleborus spp. as potential immunostimulatory agent, opens an interesting field for future research. Conclusions: In general, EuEVM provides interesting treatment approaches for gastrointestinal and dermatological disorders as well as parasitosis. Findings regarding disorders of female genital or respiratory tract are less consistent. Nevertheless, EuEVM offers a solid basis for stimulating research in veterinary phytotherapy in Europe with a perspective to solve animal health problems in organic or even nonorganic ruminant production.

© 2014 S. Karger GmbH, Freiburg


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