Herbs and other plants are commonly used for medicinal purposes and to maintain overall health. Some of them are proven to offer health benefits, others are believed to have them. Using herbs to help keep a rabbit healthy is a very simple thing to do. We don’t sit at home studying herbal medicine (well, not usually, anyway). All we do is this: Whenever Bunny seems to have an upset stomach, we deliberately choose his vegetables for the week based on their possible health effects. In that case, the list would definitely include fennel, chamomile, and mint, for example. If he had issues with his bladder, we’d go for stinging nettles and parsley. He still gets the usual amount and we don’t get more than 2-3 herbs at a time (he still gets about 2 types of lettuce and about 4-5 types of other vegetables). It’s a small thing we can do to help Bunny feel better. *FYI: Bunny is on a pellet-free diet and gets 7-10 different kinds of vegetables and herbs that rotate every few days. For more information, read here.*
Let’s take a look at some of the plants that are relevant to many rabbits and their humans alike. Please note that while researched thoroughly, this is just a summary of what we found. If you find an error, let us know and we’ll double-check. We are not experts on the subject and this article is not a substitute for a vet visit and/or consultation. Be aware that herbs may interact with other medication. Any of these plants can be offered to healthy rabbits; if your rabbit has health problems, please consult your vet first. And as always, new food needs to be introduced slowly and one at a time. Here we go, in alphabetical order:
Scientific Name: Ocimum Basilicum
Used for: Basil helps reduce fevers and indigestion, relieves from headaches and bladder troubles, and strengthen kidneys. It is said to be carminative and a diuretic.
Scientific Name: Chamomilla Recutita
Used for: Chamomile is highly regarded for its digestive and calming properties and should be one of the first herbs considered for all digestive complaints. Known as the “band-aid for the stomach”, chamomile is a good remedy for a variety of issues, including diarrhea, cramps, gas, and inflammation. It’s also calming and may relieve nervousness and insomnia.
Fun Fact: Chamomile tea makes a good rinse for blond hair.
Scientific Name: Coriandrum Sativum
Other Names: Coriander
Used for: Cilantro is rich in antioxidants and helps lower cholesterol. It also contains various minerals, such as potassium, calcium, and iron and helps control heart rate and blood pressure. Due to the high amount of Vitamin A, cilantro also benefits the skin, vision, and mucus membranes. It has antibacterial effects and may help prevent urinary tract infections as well as indigestion.
Fun Fact: Studies show that cilantro may be a great natural source for water purification.
Scientific Name: Centaurea Cyanus
Other Names: Bachelor’s Button, Cyani Flower
Used for: Cornflowers are said to aid in the treatment of fever, constipation, and congestion as well as liver and gallbladder disorders.
Scientific Name: Taraxacum Officinale
Used for: Dandelion is especially linked to the treatment of liver problems, but it can also help treat kidney diseases, issues with the stomach and bladder, and the loss of appetite. The leaves are used as a diuretic to help the body get rid of too much fluid, lower the blood pressure, and flush out toxins.
Fun Fact: You can use the roasted roots as a substitute for coffee.
Scientific Name: Foeniculum Vulgare
Used for: Fennel has repeatedly shown to reduce inflammation and help prevent indigestion as well as the occurrence of cancer. It is a good source of fiber and potassium and can help lower blood pressure, increase brain activity, and improve the digestive system. If your rabbit has a sensitive stomach, this is a good choice of vegetable to feed.
Fun Fact: Fennel is often used as a breath freshener.
Scientific Name: Petroselinum Sativum
Used for: Parsley leaves and roots are used for urinary tract infections and kidney stones. They also help treat congestion, constipation, intestinal gas, indigestion, and high blood pressure.
Other Names: Ribwort Plantain, English Plantain, Narrowleaf Plantain, Snake Plantain, Soldier’s Herb, Costa Canina, Ribble Grass
Used for: Ribwort stimulates the repair of damaged tissue and has antibacterial properties. It has been used since ancient times to maintain a healthy digestive system and treat related issues such as diarrhea and bladder diseases. It was also mentioned as a way to treat respiratory problems such as bronchitis as well as blood conditions, kidney problems, and liver disorders.
Fun Fact: Apparently, humans can put the herb into a shoe to avoid blisters. Now who wants to be the first to test that one out?
Scientific Name: Mentha Spicata
Other Names: Garden Mint
Used for: Mint is not only served after dinners to freshen the breath, it also helps with digestion, reduces gas, and can treat fevers, colds, headaches, and the flu. It is also said to offset states of melancholy and depression. The best thing is, it grows like a weed and can easily be planted just about anywhere. Peppermint has similar herbal properties as spearmint.
Used for: Stinging Nettle root is said to improve any urination problems, such as an irritable bladder, and issues with the joints. They are also diuretic and may help the body get rid of too much fluid, lower the blood pressure, and flush out toxins. The leaves are used to treat urinary tract infections, kidney stones, and allergies. Nettles are supposed to help build blood after blood loss and are said to be anti-inflammatory. Fresh nettles sting and cause a painful, itchy rash on the skin, but they loose their sting once dried (for rabbits) or cooked (for humans).
Fun Fact: People have stung themselves on purpose to stay awake during battle and to ease arthritic pain.
Scientific Name: Nasturtium Officinale
Used for: Watercress helps treat respiratory issues, such as swollen breathing passages in the lung, coughs, bronchitis, and the flu. Other uses include treating constipation and indigestion.
Scientific Name: Triticum aestivum
Other Names: Couchgrass
Used for: Wheatgrass is believed to treat colds, coughs, bronchitis, fevers, infections, and inflammation of the mouth and throat.
Please note that all information given on our website is provided for informational purposes and is not meant to substitute the advice of a physician or other medical professionals. You should not use the information given for diagnosing a health problem or disease. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, promptly contact your health care provider. The above information is just a guide to general circumstances and in no way should it contradict the advice that you have been given by your medical doctor or specialist.
Murray, Michael T. The Healing Power of Herbs. Rocklin, CA: Prima Pub., 1995. Print.
“American Cancer Society.” American Cancer Society. Web. 18 Aug.2013.
“Ribwort.” Ribwort (Plantago Lanceolata). Web. 18 Aug. 2013.
Tierra, Michael. The Way of Herbs. New York: Pocket, 1998. Print.
“WebMD.” WebMD. Web. 15 Aug. 2013.