Department of Veterinary Medicine, College of Animal Sciences, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310029, Zhejiang, P.R. China
Mastitis is the most common disease in dairy cows. Widespread use of antibiotics for the treatment of this disease has a potential to cause contamination of milk, which has become a subject of public concern. Medicinal herbs and acupuncture are natural and safe approaches, and are receiving attention from an increasing number of veterinarians. Based on clinical signs and manifestations, mastitis is usually classified into three patterns: domination of 'heat pathogen', stagnation of Qi and blood, and deficiency of Qi and blood. Four herbal prescriptions for the treatment of different patterns of bovine mastitis are described. They are Powder of Dandelion, Decoction of Snakegourd and Burdock Achene, Ease Powder, and Decoction of Eight Precious Ingredients. Laser-acupuncture therapy is also introduced.
Keywords: Acupuncture, cows, herbal medicine, mastitis
Mastitis is the most common disease in dairy cows, which accounts for a great deal of economic loss throughout the world. The common practice in China is the intramammary infusion of antibiotics when clinical mastitis is detected. Due to the extensive use of antibiotics in dairy herds, contamination of milk has become a subject of public concern. Therefore, an increasing number of veterinarians are turning to non-antibiotic approaches in order to reduce the use of antibiotics. In the traditional Chinese veterinary medicine, only medicinal herbs and acupuncture are used to treat animal diseases. These are believed to be natural and safe therapeutic methods. In this paper, four commonly used prescriptions and a laser-acupuncture therapy for mastitis treatment are described.
In the traditional Chinese veterinary medicine, therapeutic method is chosen based on the identification of disease patterns. Mastitis is usually classified into three patterns according to the clinical signs and manifestations (Kang 1991).
This pattern is characterised by red, swollen, heat and painfully inflamed quarter with decreased milk production, and abnormal secretion in the gland. The cow may appear lame because inflammation of the gland causes her to walk awkwardly in an attempt to avoid leg-udder contact. Severely affected cows may show systemic illness such as high fever, depression, loss of appetite, dry mouth, condensed urine and rapid pulse. This condition is believed to be caused by invasion of 'heat pathogen' into the mammary gland due to the traumatic teats or udder, resulting in galactostasis, and damage of the duct system. The pattern corresponds to acute mastitis. The therapeutic principle for containing the condition is to eliminate `heat pathogen' and subdue swelling.
This pattern has no systemic changes, and the changes in the gland and secretion are less marked. There are hard lumps in the udder, which can be detected by palpation, and milk production is reduced. The condition is believed to be caused by stagnation of Qi and blood in the udder due to poor management or mental disorder in the animals. In the doctrine of the traditional Chinese veterinary medicine, a liver-channel and a stomach-channel are said to pass through the udder and teats. The normal flow of Qi and blood in the channels is necessary for the normal function of the mammary gland, and stagnation of Qi and blood in the channels will lead to dysfunction of milk secretion and give rise to mastitis. This pattern corresponds to sub-acute mastitis. The therapeutic principle here is to dredge the liver channel and disperse the lumps.
In this pattern, systemic changes, and the changes in the gland are not obvious, but the milk frequently becomes abnormal. The affected animals may appear emaciated, lassitude with thin and lightly coloured coating on the tongue etc. This pattern of mastitis is thought to be a result of deficiency of Qi and blood due to malnutrition or other chronic diseases. Milk is considered to be transformed from Qi and blood, deficiency of which may lead to insufficient milk production and cause mastitis. Some subclinical cases belong to this category. The therapeutic principle in this case is to supplement Qi and blood.
The treatment includes oral administration of Powder of Dandelion (Wei 1987). One dose of the powder consists 250 g of Herba taraxaci, 100 g of Flos lonicerae, 75 g of Fructus forsythiae, 50 g of Fructus retinervus luffae, 25 g of Medulla tetrapanacis, 25 g of Flos hibisci and 30 g of Squama manitis. These herbs are ground into powder and orally administered after mixing with boiled water. A good result can also be obtained from oral administration of Decoction of Snakegourd and Burdock Achene (Institute of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine and Institute of Veterinary Medicine of Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences 1979). One dose of the decoction contains 30 g of Fructus trichosanthis, 24 g of Fructus arctii, 18 g of Radix bupleuri, 30 g of Radix trichosanthis, 30 g of Fructus forsythiae, 30 g of Flos lonicerae, 24 g of Radix scutellariae, 15 g of Pericarpium citri reticulatae, 24 g of Fructus gardeniae, 60 g of Herba taraxaci, 24 g of Radix glycyrrhizae and 15 g of Pericarpium citri reticulatae virida. The herbs are decocted in boiling water and the soup is orally administered after cooling.
Oral administration of Ease Powder is recommended for this pattern (Kang 1991). One dose of the powder consists of 30 g each of Radix bupleuri, Radix angelicae sinensis, Radix paeoniae alba and Rhizoma atractylodis macrocephalae; 20 g each of Poria, Radix glycyrrhizae praeparatae and Rhizoma zingiberis praeparatae; and 15 g of Herba menthae. These herbs are ground into powder and orally administered after mixing with boiled water.
The treatment includes oral administration of Decoction of Eight Precious Ingredients (Wei 1987). One dose of the powder consists 30 g of Radix ginseng, 40 g of Rhizoma atractylodis macrocephalae, 40 g of Poria, 30 g of Radix glycyrrhizae, 50 g of Radix angelicae sinensis, 50 g of Radix paeoniae rubra, 40 g of Rhizoma ligustici chuanxiong, and 40 g of Rhizoma rehmanniae praeparatae. These herbs are boiled in water and orally administered after cooling. Subcutaneous injection of ginseng extract may activate immunocompetent cells and increase the body resistance against intramammary infection (Hu et al. 2000).
Besides the administration of the herbal prescriptions mentioned above, it is recommended to stimulate Acupouints Yang Ming with a He-Ne laser beam to promote recovery from mastitis (Figure 1) (Kang 1991).
Figure 1. Acupoints Yang Ming of the daily cow.
Hu S.H., Concha C., Johannisson A., Meglia G. and Persson-Waller K. 2000. Treatment of bovine subclinical mastitis using ginseng. Proceedings of symposium on immunology of ruminant mammary gland held in Stresa, Italy, 1–14 June 2000. pp. 371–372.
Institute of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine and Institute of Veterinary Medicine of Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (ed). 1979. Newly compiled traditional Chinese veterinary medicine. Gansu People's Publishing Press, Lanzhou, P.R. China. 522 pp. [in Chinese].
Kang C.L. 1991. Mastitis. In: Chen L.F. (ed), Chinese agricultural encyclopaedia—Section of the traditional Chinese veterinary medicine. Agricultural Publishing Press, Beijing, P.R. China. 228 pp. [in Chinese].
Wei X.B. 1987. Treatment of 68 cases of bovine clinical mastitis based on their clinical syndromes. Chinese Journal of Veterinary Medicine 13:36–38.