A Practitioners Perspectives: Traditional Tannin-Treatment Against Intestinal Parasites in Sheep and Cattle

Aas, Eilif
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University of Hawaii at Manoa
Around the world indigenous groups have traditionally used leaves, bark and roots containing tannins to treat diarrhea and intestinal parasites in humans and livestock. Traditional veterinary medicine has largely been replaced by pharmaceuticals throughout most of the world. My aim is to revitalize traditional veterinary practices and connect them to novel research. This study includes a literature review based mostly on three articles about condensed tannins (CT), all from New Zealand: Barry & McNabb (1999), Niezen et al. (1995 & 1996), and Høeg (1974). These are considered in light of my observations and experiences of beneficial effect from feeding sheep with high-tannin forage. CT have been reported to increase absorption of essential amino acids in the small intestines. This results in increased wool growth, body mass, milk production and amount of protein in milk. CT seem to counteract protein loss caused by gut parasitism and may stimulate the immune system. CT may also inactivate parasite larvae during passage through the gut. Forage containing CT could offer a nutritionally-based ecologically sustainable system for controlling the effects of parasites. Tannins might also be a way to reduce the large amount of grain fed to sheep and cattle. Traditional practices could be a means to better health and economy for traditional societies. This is especially important when crops containing CT are available in great amounts or can be grown in mountain or cold districts where grains are difficult to grow.
Aas E. 2003. A practitioners perspectives: traditional tannin-treatment against intestinal parasites in sheep and cattle. Ethnobotany Res Appl 1:31-38.
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