Use of Alternative Medicine in Animal Reproduction

India has a rich biodiversity of medicine plants. India has one of the sophisticated medical cultures with a tradition of over 5000 years. The livestock owners in India have been using traditional medication based on plant formulations since time immemorial. Livestock raisers and healers everywhere have traditional ways of classifying, diagnosing, preventing and treating common animal diseases.

Many of these “ethno veterinary” practices offer viable alternatives or complements to conventional, western style Veterinary Medicine especially where the latter is unavailable or inappropriate. The unique advantage is that India is one of the world’s 12 mega diversity countries accounting for 8 % global plant genetic resources and higher share of microorganisms.

Many medicinal plants have been claimed to be effective in modulating reproduction but the systematic scientific evidence regarding their mechanism of action, dosage or clinical efficacy is lacking. Though incorporation of cheap, efficacious and scientifically proven indigenous plant based medicines is needed, their safety needs to be established.

Advantages of EVM:

  • It is freely available or at a cost in proportion to the value of the animal.
  • It is easily administered, usually topically or orally.

Disadvantages and Limitations

  • Particular methods are often very localised and the scope for their further dissemination is limited.
  • Cures are variable in their effectiveness according to season, method of preparation etc., and few have been validated in the same way in which synthetic drugs must be validated.
  • From a technical standpoint some are totally ineffective.
  • EVM has little or nothing to offer against the acute viral diseases of animals.

Management of Anoestrus:-

Anoestrus may be defined as a prolonged period of sexual quiescence. It may be physiological (pubertal, a short interval post partum or during pregnancy)or pathological where the ovaries may either be quiescent (true anoestrus) or may contain a progesterone secreting luteal tissue due to some uterine pathology. Various methods for management of true anoestrus through alternative medicines have been suggested.

Herbal Preparation:

Many indigenous preparations marketed by Indian Pharmaceuticals have been used to manage delayed puberty, post-partum anoestrus and for breeding during off breeding seasons in domestic animals & yaks. The preparations include Prajana H.S (Indian Herbs; Natural Remedies), Janova (Dabur Ayurvet), Aloes compound (Alarsar), Fertivet (Ar Ex Labs), Sajani (Sarabhai), Heat-Up (Century), Heatraj (Rajan) etc. These formulations are potent combination of herbs formulated scientifically to induce ovarian activity. The proposed mechanism of action is similar to gonadotrophins. Though, a very high success rates for inducing ovulatory estrus and subsequent conception were reported, their clinical applicability and efficacy under field conditions, on a large cattle population, has not been proved. However, supplementing essential amino acids, minerals and trace elements with or without these preparations seems logical and encouraging results are expected.

Pigeon Waste:

The effect of feeding 100 gram dried powdered pigeon waste for three days for inducing ovulatory estrus in anoestrus heifer and post partum cows was evaluated at IVRI. The pigeon waste successfully induced estrus in 40 percent of cows and 44 percent of heifers of which 71 and 50 percent, respectively, became pregnant. The estrus induction as well as pregnancy rate was higher compared to that obtained after using allopathic medicines. The determination of chemical composition of the pigeon waste was also done. Substantial amount of copper, cobalt, lead, cadmium, zinc, iron and fluorine were present in the waste. Substantiating the above findings the workers at G.B Pant University of Agriculture and Technology reported very high concentration of Iron (48.5 Times) and Zinc (2.23 Times) in pigeon waste as compared to standard Mineral Mixtures. The feeding of pigeon waste mixed with feed in proportions equal to or higher increased growth of genital organs by 84.5 percent in pre- pubertal Swiss mice. The work need to be substantiated on a larger group of animals.

Garlic and Raspberry:

The garlic plant or cloves were found effective for management of infertility, prevention of abortion and cleansing action post abortion. The raspberry plant (whole chopped) or leaves extract along with either chopped garlic plant or 4 – 5 cloves fed twice daily to bovines reduced chances of post-partum infertility. The raspberry leaves have very high minerals and vitamin content.

Ginseng plant has hormone balancing properties.

The Ginseng plant has hormone balancing problem.

Retained Placenta:

Retained placenta is an important post partum complication. The placenta may be retained because of lack of expulsive forces or failure of separation of fetal cotyledons and maternal caruncles. Since it has multiple etiologies, the therapy commonly advocated includes ecbolics, drugs and/or hormones stimulating uterine contractility, minerals (mainly Ca & P), enzymes which may facilitate placental separation and antibiotics along with supportive therapy. The herbal remedies may help in uterine contractibility or have antimicrobial properties. Some of the herbs used have been documented below:                                                               

  • Raspberry leaves when fed to pregnant mares during last 45 days of gestation reduced the incidence of peri-parturient diseases viz prolonged labor, retained placenta. etc.
  • Garlic has cleansing action & helps expulsion of retained foetal membranes and placenta.
  • Thyme (Thymus serpillum) plant extract is useful in retained placenta and metritis.
  • Starwort (Helonias root) – plant found in North America has uterotonic properties and is also indicated for threatened abortions. 
  • The feeding of bamboo leaves mixed with oil bran or bajra grains helps in expulsion of placenta. 
  • The plant extract of Grewia ferrugina or Girardina bullosa were useful for easy expulsion of placenta membranes.     
  • The scientists of central arid Zone Research Institute, Jodhpur, validated the claim that chick pea floor mixed with butter milk (rabri) helped in expelling retained fetal membranes. 

The parched chick pea floor (1 kg) mixed with buttermilk was fed to the affected animals (4 cows & 3 buffaloes). The placenta was expelled in majority (6/7) of the animals within 1-24 hrs of the treatment. 

The kheem (laptodenia pyrotecnica) roots, churmi (Abrus perkatorius), chopped bamboo leaves or sticks and decoction prepared with black pepper, coriander, ajwain, sonth and methi have also been used as cleansing drought by farmers of Rajsthan. However, feeding of either banana inflorescence or baykhal (Principia utilis) twigs extract was not effective for expulsion for retained placenta as claimed by some farmers of Himachal Pradesh. 

An electuary prepared from liquid extract of ergot(8 ml), quinine sulphate (4 g),Magnesium sulphate (200 g),pulv. gentians (16 g) and molasses is known cleansing agent after parturition. Some herbal preparations such as replanta, utrifit (Indian Herbs), Uterotone (CattleRemedies) etc have been recommended for the treatment of retained placenta & post parturient complications. Since retained placenta is a multi-factorial problem, a single herbal preparation may have little or no effect.


Though many homeopathic medicines have been recommended for management of reproductive disorders, the systemic studies to prove their efficacy have not been done.

Sepia + calcaria phos + pulsatilla + alertis ferti + iodum InfertilitySabina 200, Pulsatilla 200Echinaca I M, Secale, Heper sulph, Silica MetritisCalc phos + carbo-veg + Sepia Anti partum prolapseAloes 200 Morning diarrhoea with post-partum prolapse Agnus Castus 200 White discharge after post partum prolapse Secale Cor 30 Violent straining Podophylum 200 Prolapse after staring at parturition Iodum 30 Anoestrus with small ovaries Sepia 200 To regulate estrus cycle Acid Nitric, Cantharis, Hydrastis, Mere cor, Rhus tox Vesicular Vaginitis Sepia, Podophyllum Uterine prolapse Sepia, pulsatilla, calc. phos, Iodum Oophorinum Repeat Breeding Arnica, Sabina, Secale, Pulsatila, China, Rhus tox. Abortion in equines Aconite 30 (1/2 hourly) Ipecac, Trillium, Amica Miscarriage in bitches.


Septilin, a herbal product of Himalaya Herbal Heatheare, was instituted intra-uterine in cows suffering from endometritis. Despite being anti bacterial it may act as immuno-stimulant.

Antifertility Drugs:

Some of the species of domestic/wild/semi wild animals have become hazards to either crops or may help spread diseases. These mainly include monkeys and stray dog. The invasive methods have been suggested for the control of their population. 

Some of the herbs effecting reproduction which might be useful are:

  • Vasicine: It holds the promise of being an ideal abortifecient by acting through the promotion of synthesis or release of prostaglandins.
  • Azadirachta indica (Neem): The Na-nimbinate derived from neem has powerful spermicidal activity.
  • Gossypol: a phenolic compound from cotton seed oil can produce aspermia and hinder sperm motility.
  • Albizzia lebbeck: Inhibits ovulation through central neuro-humoral mechanisms. 
  • Embelia vibes and Mentha avensis have anti-implantation activity through their anti-prostaglandin action. 
  • Centachroman, a research product of CDRI, derived from rhizomes of Curcuma longa (turmeric), hampers reception of fertilised ovum by endometrium. 

These sources of use of Veterinary herbal medicines are not so reliable. But this medical tradition of ancient India deserves a better recognition. Any attempt to understand and evaluate genuine Ayurvedic system of treatment on animals will be a futile exercise unless exhaustive, scientific & clinical studies are undertaken