Alternative Therapies Made Simple, Part 4
The fourth in a series of articles about alternative therapies
In Part 1, we introduced you to 'alternative therapies', its terms and meanings, and what it is all about. In Part 2 you learned about the importance of a natural environment. In Part 3, you read about the horse's need for proper hoof and dental care. Now that the basic needs of the horse have been addressed, it is time to introduce you to natural remedies.
There are many remedies that are considered natural. Some are used just as they are found in nature and others are made into concoctions or medicines.
Herbs are plants, which are the original and oldest form of medicine; wild animals instinctively use them for nourishment and medicine. Instinct helps them choose what they need. Horses, other animals, and humans should not be fed herbs without guidance because there are many poisonous plants. Herbs can be used internally - for nutrients, eaten as food or as tea, or as medicine with guidance. Herbs can be used externally (made into ointments, poultices, or lotions).
Herbs can be used fresh, dried, powdered, preserved in alcohol as a tincture, or steeped in water as a tea; they can be mixed with the horse's feed or offered free choice as an herb strip in your pasture. If horses are fed adequately, they will rarely eat plants that they shouldn't.
Cautions: Though herbs are natural and animals
may instinctively choose them wisely, we might not. Some herbs can
cause harm or death if overdosed, combined improperly, or combined
with prescription drugs, so be sure to get professional assistance
when choosing and feeding herbs.
Homeopathic remedies are most commonly made from plants, and are sometimes made from minerals and other things. Even though they are made from plants, they are very different from herbs. Homeopathic remedies are small, sugar-based tablets (which are very tasty) or alcohol-based liquids that contain an energetic form of the plant or substance they were made from. There is not much, if any, original substance left after the succussing (hard shaking) and diluting that are required to make the remedies but there is a lot of the energy imprint. That is why the remedies are so safe – they are not toxic, and even poisonous substances are made safe by this special process.
With homeopathy, “like is cured by like” – we match the remedy to the patient's symptoms. The onion, for example, in the original plant form, causes burning, watery eyes and a runny nose. The homeopathic form of the onion, Allium cepa (Latin name), will help cure a cold with the same symptoms of burning, watery eyes and a runny nose. The remedies stimulate the body and the body does the healing. Thus, homeopathic remedies work with the body and not against it.
There are various potencies available in homeopathic remedies. 6c, 30c, 12x, and 200c are some examples. Higher numbers mean higher potency, and surprisingly less substance and more energy. The remedies do not have to be swallowed, just dissolved under the tongue, because they are vibrational energy medicine and work through the mucous membranes and the body's energy system. Homeopathic remedies help with physical, behavioral, and emotional ailments and imbalances. There are over 3,000 remedies and they are available at your local health food store and through homeopathic remedy manufacturing companies. There are homeopathic emergency kits available to keep handy for accidents and emergencies that can be used safely until the veterinarian arrives. A homeopath or homeopathic veterinarian should be consulted for choosing the right remedy in cases of illness and long-term problems. Homeopathic remedies should be stored in their own containers, away from sunlight, away from strong-smelling substances, away from strong electric currents, and away from microwave ovens.
Cautions: Homeopathic remedies stimulate the body to do its own healing. To heal, the body can do some scary-looking things, like diarrhea or eye and nose discharges, skin eruptions, or even vomiting, if it needs to. For this reason, people often think that the remedy 'made them sick' or 'worse', when this may be a very good sign, a sign of recovery and that the remedy did its job. Always consult with your homeopathic professional when seeing any questionable changes after using a remedy.
Flower essences are liquid remedies made from flowers and tree buds, specially prepared in sunlight and water, then preserved in special alcohol. The vibrational energies of the plant are retained in the process, not the original substance (much like homeopathic remedies). Each flower essence has a unique 'picture', and there are many to choose from.
Flower essences work by way of the body’s energy channels and treat emotional and mental issues, and physical problems that have resulted from an emotional experience. Flower essences can restore inner harmony by releasing emotional blocks, and by changing negative mental states into positive ones. Flower essences are not fragrant, but work by taking a few drops in the mouth, either straight from the bottle or diluted in a small amount of water (they are not very tasty straight from the bottle due to the alcohol in them). They are very gentle yet effective, and can be stored almost anywhere.
Cautions: Flower essences are very safe and there
are no known cautions.
Aromatherapy is the use of liquid substances known as essential oils, made from aromatic flowers, plants, and trees. They are highly scented like strong perfume and could be called “smells that heal”. Aromas affect our moods and behavior - think of how some smells remind you of some past experience and you will understand that smell is an important sense. There are hundreds of essential oils, and they all have healing properties for nearly any ailment, physical as well as emotional and behavioral.
To use them, just open the bottle and sniff the air above it. If it is a smell you like, you will breathe deeply. If it is a smell you don't like, you will not want to take a deep breath. That is how your horse will respond to them too. If the horse doesn't want to breathe it deeply, then it is probably not an oil he needs or wants at that time. If he shows interest or wants to lick the bottle, offer to let him sniff it again every day until he loses interest. Note: It is best to not let him lick oils out of your hand unless your aromatherapist has verified that the oil can be safely ingested. (See Cautions.)
Essential oils can also be used for bathing (a few drops in a tubful of water), diluted and applied with a bandage or used as a soak or rinse (such as lavender, which is very good for burns, cuts and scrapes), and diluted in a fresh 'carrier' oil and massaged in by your horse's, or your, massage therapist.
Cautions: Essential oils are naturally made but are very strong and should not be applied topically in full strength, except in rare circumstances and when guided by a professional aromatherapist. Some essential oils applied topically can cause skin irritation. Do not get them near the eyes. If a person or animal shows disinterest in a scent, do not use it. Essential oils are not to be given orally; some are strong enough to cause death if ingested. Do not use on pregnant individuals, or while using pharmaceuticals, without professional guidance.
Always check with your veterinarian before
using complementary/ alternative medicines. Though they can work
in harmony with conventional medicine, some conventional medicines
will prevent the subtle energetic medicines from being able to work.
Also, some herbs may not mix well with conventional medicine. In
the next issue we will talk about hands-on therapies.
To be continued…
For more information:
"Complete Holistic Care and Healing for Horses", by Mary Brennan, DVM
"The Homeopathic Treatment of Horses", by George McLeod
"Veterinary Materia Medica", by George McLeod (remedies and their 'pictures')
"Healing Your Horse – Alternative Therapies", by Snader, Willoughby, Khalsa, Denega, and Basko (acupuncture, chiropractic, homeopathy, massage, herbal)
"Alternative Therapies for Horses", by Vanessa Britton
"Natural Health for Dogs and Cats", by Richard Pitcairn
"Horse Scents", by Catherine Bird
"A Healthy Horse the Natural Way", by Catherine Bird
"Veterinary Aromatherapy", by Nelly Grossjean
Acres USA, book catalog – 800-355-5313