Saturday 21 October 2023

Silvervine is non-addictive and safe for cats to enjoy

Although the general opinion has been for many years that silvervine is nonaddictive and safe for cats to enjoy, it hadn't been proved beyond reasonable doubt until now so I'm going to report on this Japanese study led by the biochemistry professor Masao Miyazaki of Iwate University's Faculty of Agriculture.

Tabby cat rolls around on silvervine. Image: courtesy of Iwate University.
Tabby cat rolls around on silvervine. Image: courtesy of Iwate University. 

The Prof and his team: Reiko Uenoyama, Sae Ooka, Tamako, Miyazaki, Hiroki Mizumoto, Toshio Nishikawa, Jane L. Hurst, tested silvervine extensively on 17 cats. The active ingredient of silvervine is a chemical under the category iridoids. It's a substance which is designed to protect plants against herbivores and pathogens. It has a bitter taste which stops animals eating the plant. It seems that cats don't mind this bitter taste because sometimes they chew on it.

They found that the silvervine increased the blood concentration of a substance that works in brains and which makes the cat happier. They decided it wasn't addictive because the cats only stayed in contact with silvervine extracts for about 10 minutes and over time they lost interest.

And they decided it was non-toxic after they analysed possible indicators of liver and kidney damage in cats who had been enjoying silvervine for three years. The blood sample indicators remained at normal levels even after the cats had just enjoyed the plant.

The researchers say that there "was apparently no statistical tendency for the values to increase even after a long period of silvervine reactions".

The overall conclusion by the professor was that:

"For the first time, we are able to demonstrate the scientific basis for giving silvervine to cats with peace of mind."

Before the professor carried out this study, the general consensus, as mentioned was that silvervine was unlikely to be addictive and unlikely to cause any health problems. People were generally fairly sure but it's nice to know that it is entirely safe with no negative side effects.

It is unusual in the human world for a drug to make people happier without any negative side effects. Does that sound unique to you? And is properly fair to say that silvervine is a kind of drug and veterinarian say that all drugs are essentially poisons because you alter the brain chemistry or the metabolism of the patient. When you alter the metabolism which nature gave the cat or human, you can expect some negatives but that apparently not the case with silvervine.

Silvervine is also called matatabi and it is very similar to catnip in its effects which is also, I believe, safe to use and nonaddictive.

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