Homeopathy and Hooves
Help for the Natural Horse

By Randi Peters, editor of Natural Horse Magazine, as published in Issue 2 of The Horse's Hoof Magazine (2001)

The complex make-up of the hoof coupled with the complex nature of the horse creates the opportunity for various hoof problems. Serious conditions such as founder can wreak havoc inside the hoof, often leaving euthanasia as a humane option; even less serious conditions such as cracking can be very painful for the horse. Many conditions, however, can be addressed with homeopathy.

The word homocopathy (now commonly spelled homeopathy) was coined by Samuel Hahnemann, the father of homeopathy, from two Greek words, homoios, meaning similar or like, and pathos, meaning suffering or disease. The basic homeopathic principle is treating like with like. A substance that produces disease symptoms in a healthy individual can be used to cure an individual with similar disease symptoms. For example, the onion causes burning, watery eyes. The specially prepared, diluted and succussed homeopathic remedy called Allium cepa, made from the onion, is used to treat colds in which burning, watering eyes are a symptom.

Hahnemann believed that through this principle, nature provides us with the medicine we need to heal ourselves of nearly every illness if we maintain a balanced lifestyle, including proper nutrition and a clean environment.

Homeopathic remedies, unlike drugs and some herbs, do not manipulate the body. A correctly chosen remedy gives a signal, triggering a response, and the body does the healing. While drugs force a response, often affecting the entire body indiscriminately and thwarting its attempts to heal itself, properly chosen homeopathic remedies work with the body and not against it. With its inner intelligence, the body knows what to do and where to do it.

The following are some remedies that are helpful in various hoof conditions. This list of remedies presents some basic characteristics and symptom pictures of each. More detailed information can be found in a Materia Medica, which will provide a more complete picture of each remedy. Observe your horse closely to determine the remedy that best matches his overall symptoms.

Arnica montana - Leopard’s Bane. Arnica is the first remedy to think of in any injury situation, especially where bruising occurs. Its remedy picture also includes muscle damage, strained joints and acute injuries to bone, post-surgery and post-parturition bruising. (Note: In the tincture or herbal form, it is NOT to be applied to broken skin.) Symptoms are made worse from the least touch, motion, and damp cold. Symptoms are made better by lying down or keeping head low.

Bellis perennis - Daisy. Bellis is another remedy useful for bruising; it acts upon the muscular fibers of the blood vessels. Its remedy picture includes venous congestion, bruised tissues, especially deep bruising, bruises of the hoof, sprains and strains. Symptoms are made worse by moving, hot bathing, cold bathing, cold wind, and before storms. The left side is usually worse.

Bryonia alba - White bryony, wild hops. Useful when symptoms are painful and the horse does not want to move. Bryonia is useful for bruising of the sole and frog with these symptoms. Symptoms are made worse from warmth, movement and touch, yet firm pressure relieves. Symptoms are made better by cold, rest, and from lying on the affected side (applying firm pressure).

Calcarea fluorica - calcium fluoride, fluoride of lime. Indicated for disorders in hooves and connective tissue and for problems such as a lack of elasticity of the tissues and blood vessels resulting in brittle bone, bone bruises, dental problems, and circulation disorders. Its remedy picture includes bony formations and exostoses, bone and connective tissue lesions, splints, ringbone, sesamoiditis, sandcrack, founder, coffin bone problems, relaxation of connective tissue, brittle bones, enlarged and painful joints, and much more. Symptoms are made worse by rest, dampness, and humid weather. Symptoms are made better by heat and warm applications, rubbing, and continuation of movement.

Calcarea phosphorica - calcium phosphate, phosphate of lime. Though not necessarily indicated for specific problems in the hoof, this remedy includes in its picture a general deficiency of assimilation, delayed development, poor bone and teeth development, imbalance of the calcium/phosphorus ratio, and conditions of the young, growing animal such as rickets. It also includes slow healing fractures, brittleness of bones, swollen and painful joints with stiffness of muscles, back stiffness, and more. Symptoms are made worse by cold drafts, dampness, and melting snow. Symptoms are made better by warmth and dry weather.

Crotalus horridus - Rattlesnake. Crotalus has a marked action on the circulatory system; its picture includes septic states and capillary bleeding. It can be useful in cases of acute founder by acting on the vasoconstricted areas. Symptoms are worse on the right side, in open air, in evening and morning, in spring, at the coming on of warm weather, upon awakening, in dampness and wet conditions, and from a jolt or jar.

Hepar sulphuris - Calcium sulphide. Its remedy picture includes hypersensitivity to pain, abscesses (Hepar sulph can dissolve a small abscess that is still firm or open an abscess that is ready to drain), sandcrack, gravel, infected Iymph glands, infected wounds, discharge of pus which often smells like old cheese, fistulous withers, some forms of bursitis, and conditions that are extremely sensitive to touch. Symptoms are made worse by cold drinks, cold air, drafts, moving about, and touch. Symptoms are made better by heat, warmth, eating, and damp wet weather.

Hypericum perforatum - St. John’s Wort. This is the prime homeopathic remedy for injury to nerves. It is an excellent first-aid remedy. Hypericum relieves the pain of such injuries in humans as crushed fingers, stepped-on toes, hammered thumbs, and even spinal injuries. For the horse it is helpful for nerve damage, especially in the hoof, such as puncture wounds and some cases of founder. Symptoms are made worse by cold, dampness, fog, touch. Symptoms are made better by bending the head backward.

Kreosotum - Beechwood Kreosote. Its picture includes burning, corrosive, putrid discharges such as with thrush, and threats of gangrene. Symptoms are worse in open air, from cold and rest. Symptoms are made better by warmth, motion, and warm food.

Ledum palustre - Marsh Tea. Ledum is useful for all puncture wounds, especially when the surrounding parts are blue and cold. Ledum helps relieve pain and prevent further problems. Its remedy picture also includes swollen extremities and the feet feel hot. Symptoms are worse at night and from warmth. Symptoms are made better from c.old and putting feet in cold water.

Ruta graveolens - rue, bitterwort. Particularly indicated for ligament damage and strains, especially of the back and flexor tendons; also acts upon cartilage, periosteum (the outer layer of bone), the eyes, and the uterus. Symptoms are made worse by Lying down and from cold, wet weather.

Secale cornutum - Ergot. Ergot is a fungus that produces marked contraction of smooth muscle fibers causing decreased blood supply to various areas and anemic conditions. In homeopathic form it helps restore normal circulation; in cases of founder or entrapment in wire or a snare, Secale can aid circulation to the hooves. Symptoms are made worse by heat and warm coverings. Symptoms are better from cold, uncovering, rubbing, and stretching out limbs.

Silicea - Silica, silicon dioxide; found naturally as flint, sand, and quartz. It is found abundantly in plants and is excellent for the hooves. Its remedy picture includes chronic or recurring hoof abscesses, conditions with pus that have passed the acute stage and are in the chronic stage, founder, thrush, weak or brittle hooves, sandcrack, bone decay, tendonitis, fibrous thickening of ligaments and tendons, bowed tendons, scar tissue, exaggerated reflexes, tendency to get cold easily, lack of body heat, wounds which tend to form pus and are slow to heal, weakness, defective nutrition, chronic inflammatory conditions, some forms of tumors, ill effects of vaccinations, sensitivity to noise, nervous exhaustion, anxiety, dislike of drafts, and more. It is a constitutional remedy and promotes strong restructuring of tissue while reducing scar tissue. Homeopathic Silicea is a cleanser and eliminator that helps break down scar tissue and encourages the body to eject foreign bodies via pus formation and expulsion. Symptoms are made worse by cold, dampness, and getting baths. Symptoms are made better by heat and dry weather.

Thuja occidentalis - Arbor vitae, ‘tree of life’. Fungal infections and growths, warts, spongy tumors that bleed easily, greasy heel and mud fever are included in the remedy picture of Thuja. Symptoms are worse at night, at 3am and 3pm, from cold damp air and from vaccination. Symptoms are better on the left side and are made better by drawing up a limb.

Homeopathy can play an important role in the overall health of your horse. Rather than using harsh chemical treatments and drugs, explore the advantages of homeopathic care. Homeopathic remedies are generally best used alone and not in combination with other homeopathic remedies, so consult your homeopathic veterinarian for the proper way to utilize a remedy, or if you think there is a need to combine them, such as with Ledum and Hypericum.

Each horse is an individual and homeopathy recognizes the uniqueness of each patient. The emphasis of homeopathy is on treating the whole individual rather than the disease.

Therefore, homeopathic remedies are most effective when used according to this ponciple. A horse may tend to exhibit certain symptoms that will point one to the correct remedy for that horse and while many homeopathic remedies can be selected merely to treat the current problem, it is more effective to look at a remedy as being useful for a horse who tends to get thrush rather than viewing it as a remedy that is useful for thrush. When the simillimum is used, the patient can be cured rather than just relieved, and the individual becomes healthier overall. Homeopathy is individualized and choosing the remedy to fit the patient is the key to its success.

This is an informational article only; it is not intended to replace professional farriery or veterinary care. The remedies mentioned are suggestions only and the reader is advised to seek the expertise of a veterinarian trained in homeopathy or discuss the use of homeopathic remedies with his holistic veterinarian. Chronic problems are best treated by a professional homeopath.

©2007 Natural Horse Magazine. Reprinted from Natural Horse Magazine courtesy of Randi Peters. Visit www.naturalhorse.com to subscribe or for more information on natural horse care, alternative medicine, natural horsemanship and more!

As published in Issue 2 of The Horse's Hoof Magazine (2001)

©2007 by The Horse's Hoof. All rights reserved. No part of these publications may be reproduced by any means whatsoever without the written permission of the publisher and/or authors. The information contained within these articles is intended for educational purposes only, and not for diagnosing or medicinally prescribing in any way. Readers are cautioned to seek expert advice from a qualified health professional before pursuing any form of treatment on their animals. Opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher.

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