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 - Leopards 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
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. Johns 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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