You may be well-versed in the more common calming herbs – the mint family, chamomile (obvi), CBD (the new herb on the block), but what’s likely not on a blip on your radar is an herb called Bai Zi Ren or biota seed.
It’s an herb almost exclusively used in Chinese medicine, and when utilized with a few select herbs, should make anxious pets’ ears perk up.
On The Agenda
What Is Biota Seed?
A delightful way to wind down. Commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine, biota seed or Bai Zi Ren is a sweet-tasting herb cultivated from Biota trees (no surprise there). The seeds, in particular, are rich in saponin, fat, flavonoids, tannins, and vitamin C and are said to promote quietude, benefit sleep, promote mental acuity, and support digestive health.
Where Biota Seed Comes From
Biota is a tree species native to China that can grow to a height of about 45 feet. The naming is all quite similar, but don’t mix them up—the biota seed is not to be confused with the biota leaf, another production of biota trees used for other purposes in traditional Chinese herbalism. Biota trees can be found in moist, well-drained soils throughout East Asia, and their purposes are plentiful: young branches can even be used to make natural yellow dye.
How Does It Work?
Biota seed falls under the traditional Chinese medicinal umbrella of “herbs that nourish the heart and calm the spirit.” In TCM, the ‘Heart’ is the store of the ‘Mind’ or what basically is referred to as someone’s vitality or mental faculties. Put simply, the seed is credited with calming and sedative properties.
From a Western perspective, the seed’s calming and sedative properties are attributed to the flavonoids and saponins found in the seed. What’s glaringly apparent is that both perspectives are saying the exact same thing.
From a Chinese medical perspective, the seeds nourish the heart, which houses what we see as our emotional and mental faculties– meaning the seeds put the mind (heart ‘shen’) at ease and help restore balance and peace.
From a western perspective, this is attributed to two phytochemicals found in the biota seed– flavonoids and saponins. They trigger changes to two important neurotransmitters in the brain for mood, including serotonin– the hormone that stabilizes mood and our sense of well-being.
An unsurprising benefit of biota seed is that it promotes a healthy sleep cycle, reducing insomnia, disturbed sleep, and nightmares.
Those saponins found in biota seeds are natural plant chemicals. Saponins, along with flavonoids, help to quiet activity in the brain while triggering sleepiness.
Better sleep when there’s less stress and anxiety—who knew?
The herb promotes cognitive function while working to prevent memory loss. With improved concentration, better quality sleep, and reduced anxiety, bring on the brain games to sharpen your pup’s brainpower even more.
Biota seed supports healthy digestion by wetting the intestines and nourishing the heart and kidney. This is based on the Organ Meridian Theory in Traditional Chinese Medicine: that the body is a holistic, integrated microcosm and that all tissues and organs are connected. Meridians are the pathways of the interconnectedness of the body, its organs, and their functions distributing energy throughout the body. Each organ has its own physiological and energy functions, while also being dependent on other organ systems and that greater meridian network. In TCM, the emphasis is on how organs interact with each other to balance one another. And in the anxiety dog there is disharmony between the heart and kidney (fire & water), more on this in a bit.
From a Western perspective, we know how crucial the microbiome’s role is in creating serotonin, a chemical that talks to the brain to regulate mood and mental health & wellbeing. Because of this gut-brain connection, known as the gut-brain axis, the notion of a healthy gut = a happy dog rings true on many levels.
Like most Chinese herbs, biota seed is put to use best when paired with other herbs. Biota seed or Bai Zi Ren is known as an assistant ingredient. It either reinforces seeds the effects of other ingredients seeds or dampens any negative effects of potent herbs.
How Dr. Bessent Uses Biota Seed
Because biota seed is at its best when used in tandem, it’s combined with heat-draining herbs and harmonizing herbs to work synergistically.
To Balance The Anxiety Pet
Anxiety is directly connected to emotion, and emotion affects health. It’s something that western medicine often forgets or even disregards, but Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) addresses.
You, me, the dog next door, we all have emotions, and for the most part, we have emotional balance. It’s this ability to maintain equilibrium and adaptability in the face of challenges or changes. TCVM would refer to it as the balance between the heart, a fire element (yang), and the kidney, a water element (yin).
Anxiety happens when emotions are out of control– an anxiety dog has an inability to control these extreme emotions or heat. Since health and balance–mental, physical, emotional– go hand-in-hand, the goal is to restore your four-legger’s. Think less emotional highs and lows and more of the dog you know and love again.
Combining spirit-calming herbs like biota seed with heat-draining herbs like raw Rehmannia root and harmonizing herbs, we can slowly correct the disharmony, this over-anxiousness, and bring them back to a healthy emotional balance.
Powerful herbs like biota seed and polygala help to calm the spirit while preserving the dog or cat’s unique personality.
Rehmannia, asparagus tuber, ophiopogon, and Scrophularia nourish the kidneys (water organ/think yin) and dispel heat from the heart (fire organ/ think yang) to restore balance.
These herbs are arguably the crux since they make the other herbs more effective to address the imbalance between heart and kidney, fire and water, yin and yang.
It’s the synergistic properties of these age-old herbal combinations that offer a natural and effective alternative for those dogs battling with constant and unending anxiety.
It’s a gradual progression towards balance, so the changes are subtle at first, but slowly demeanor begins to change. Their tail wags a bit more, they’re more in the present with you, and your anxious pup isn’t so anxious anymore. The weight of anxiety doesn’t bog them down so much, and they’re finally able to come into themselves more. You can make a difference like this for your dog.
To Ease Anxiety in Dementia Dogs
For the elder hounds with dementia, the confusion and restlessness are especially frustrating to witness. It’s really no surprise that such changes would also make that senior anxious.
To help white-whiskered dogs’ with their anxiety, Dr. Bessent pairs that calming combination of herbs with targeted antioxidants and nutraceuticals that nourish the brain. Doing so can help manage confusion and disorientation for more good days.
Biota seed plays an integral part in doing this, but it is just one herb. It has benefits and such potential on its own, but what traditional Chinese medicine has shown time and time again over the centuries is the capabilities of herbs when they come together.
Helping to ease anxiety, balance a dog’s emotional wellbeing– no one herb does it alone.