One of the things I love about Equine Herbal Medicine, is that we look at treating SYSTEMS, not just SYMPTOMS.
Just like humans, the horse’s physiology hasn’t changed in thousands of years.
The cardiovascular system, the endocrine system, the circulatory and gastrointestinal systems all have the same parts and work as they always have.
What has changed, is what we are asking those systems to process.
Herbal medicine is much more than throwing a handful of dried herbs into the feed.
I use human grade medicinal herbal extracts made into a mix that is specific for the horse, its illness/injury and how the horse manifests its symptoms.
During a consultation I like to conduct a physical examination of the horse when I can.
It’s also necessary to take down and receive information regarding the health history of the horse and any previous treatment plans whether they were effective or not.
Given that all the body systems work together to produce the whole horse, it’s important to have a detailed knowledge about what they do, how they work, and what signs are present in the horse that may indicate the system isn’t working optimally.
For example; looking at the horse’s coat or skin can give information about hydration, fungal infection, allergies, ringworm, or warts.
The skin is the largest organ of the body. It has the ability to excrete substances and more importantly to absorb them.
Looking at the skin, followed by looking at the gum colour or capillary return, can help to indicate that there may be some issue with circulation.
Pale gums, coupled with some unusual skin eruptions, hairless areas or a recent hoof abscess, may indicate that the horse could have an immune system dysfunction.
Rings, cracks or unusual patterning on the hooves might point to a dietary deficiency.
Glands which are enlarged may point out something else; possibly an endocrine issue.
Sensitivity over the back or around the kidney area can be related to fluid balance and kidney function.
So now it’s easier to see why we look at systems first. Then based on the symptoms we can choose the nest herbs to go in the mix.
The more information I have, the more precise my herb selection will be.
SETTING A BASELINE
Physically, we can get a baseline of what is normal or abnormal in the horse, Some of the things I look for are:
These are things that all horse owners or managers should be familiar with for each horse.
Often referred to as the TPR, knowing what is normal for your horse or horses can be invaluable when you need to relay that to a vet or other equine health professional.
Below is a rough guide to the normal ranges of TPR
Some breeds run a little hotter and some a little cooler. What’s important is that you know what is normal for your horse.
The herbal mixture usually contains between 4-6 herbal extracts.
Nearly all herbs do double or even triple duty so it then comes down to the herb that is most suited to the specific injury or illness.
Recently my own horse Benjii had a very serious injury to his near side hind on the cannon bone.
It was down to the bone, and a large amount of flesh was missing. The skin was also gone; so that left nothing to stitch up.
We washed it with water only. Applied a salve that I manufacture called Salve-Ation. I can say it has certainly been our salvation as it was a horrific injury.
These photos were taken on March 1st which was the injury date. The one on the right was taken 15 days later on the 16th.
While the salve is doing a super job, the horse needed more to help this injury to heal.
The multi-faceted approach was exactly what was needed her.
In addition to the salve, a herbal prescription was made using herbs that were specific in the healing of a deep flesh wound.
Gotu Kola (Musculo-Skeletal) Acceleration of healing wounds.
Yarrow: A (circulatory) helps to stop bleeding and is a superior wound healer.
Rosehip: An (Immune)
Comfrey: (Musculo-Skeletal) for its anti-necrotic properties and cell proliferation.
Garlic Syrup: (Immune and made by me) Antibacterial.
This was given twice a day.
The dressing was slathered in salve, bandaged and then taped to keep it in place.
I also manufacture a herbal version of Bute, called U-Bute which was given twice daily for 4 days. This works as an anti-inflammatory and pain relief.
The last part of the treatment was to spray around the leg with a herbal fly and biting insect repellent all around the leg and on top of the dressing to minimise any insect activity.
So far there has been no heat or any sign of infection.
It is healing well and there has been no hint of proud flesh.
Its been a real testament to using multiple modalities to treat a gruesome injury.