Recently, evidence has started appearing in both the veterinary and aviculturalist literature that supplementation with certain herbs may be of benefit. For example, chlorophyll, which is always present in wild diets, has been shown to improve crop emptying time in hand-raised cockatoos. Dandelion and milk thistle have been shown to decrease cholesterol levels and help to prevent fatty liver (a degenerative condition associated with primary liver disease and a high-fat diet) in lorikeets. Echinacea has been shown to be an immune stimulant.

Some herbs contain high levels of important nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals. Dandelion, for example, is rich in vitamin A and calcium. Wheat grass is high in beta-carotene and chlorophyll and contains a multitude of other trace nutrients as well. Rick Jordan in his well-known book on hand-raising parrots records that a noticeable difference in the overall plumage colouration is seen, in particular the reds were more brilliant, when the birds were supplemented with wheat grass powder. Spirulina is another useful natural supplement for birds. It contains beta-carotene, chlorophyll, vitamin B, calcium, amino acids known to be low in seed diets, plus many other nutrients. The minerals found in plants are in a proteinated (or organic) form, which enhances their uptake from the bowel. The vitamins are often in their precursor form. As the precursors are only converted to the active form and absorbed if the body actually needs them, there is little risk of an overdose.

In Herb Tonic, the herb extracts are carried in a lactulose base. Lactulose is a good base for herb extracts. It is a complex carbohydrate, which does not react with the ingredients in the extracts, even with prolonged storage. Lactulose is not absorbed from the bowel but when acted on by the body’s digestive enzymes is turned into acetic acid. This helps to ensure that the pH of the stomach and bowel is weakly acidic, which is the situation in health. The weakly acidic conditions in the stomach and bowel of birds help to protect them from disease. A natural tonic of particular benefit
for confined birds that do not have the opportunity to forage.

Herb Tonic contains:
Grapefruit seed extract, 12 mg/ml
Dandelion extract, 12 mg/ml
Milk thistle extract, 12 mg/ml
Echinacea extract, 24 mg/ml
with added chlorophyll, wheat grass powder and Spirulina in a lactulose base.