This paper explores India’s ancient herbal veterinary tradition, how it has developed into a multi-million-dollar industry, and some evidence-based therapies.
India’s herbal and Ayurvedic veterinary medical tradition is more than 4000 years old and the tradition is thriving today. India’s national network of vet hospitals and dispensaries is the first on record (2300 BCE) and vastly precedes European traditions. Aspects of this traditional medical system are taught in vet schools, are found in most areas of India, and used extensively by subsistence and commercial farmers and pet owners. The veterinary herbal industry is estimated to be worth eight million AUD (26% of the national veterinary pharmaceutical industry).
This paper will explore the foundations of India’s Ayurvedic and herbal traditions and the socio-economic factors that have caused it to thrive in contemporary times alongside biomedical pharmaceuticals. Vets are taught plural medicine at university, viewing herbs, nutraceuticals, Ayurveda and biomedicine as important strategies in animal health care. The implications of this for the veterinary industry in India and Australia will be discussed, and some evidence-based therapies described.