Spring! Everything's full of energy and vigour and new life, bounding around enthusiastically like a foal. It's time to shake off the sluggishness of winter and get ready for summer fun. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, spring belongs to the element Wood , which also rules the Liver and Gallbladder meridians, so this is the best time of year to pamper and support the liver.
In nature, many plants that grow in the spring help cleanse the liver and/or the blood and lymph, including dandelion ( Taraxacum officinale ), greater celandine ( Chelidonium majus ), and rosemary ( Rosmarinus officinalis ). Wild roaming animals have access to nature's liver cleansers; unfortunately, most of our horses don't. Essential oils are a safe, natural way for you to give your horses a chance to self-select the secondary metabolites they need for health, just as nature intended.
At this time of year I use Wood element essential oils. Among my favourites are:
- Bergamot ( Citrus bergamia ) is uplifting and sunny and cleanses the air, cutting through stagnant energies to release pent up emotion. It has a profound anti-depressant effect, and relieves tension and irritability, all symptoms of an upset liver. It also helps clear tumours, balance hormones and is often chosen by mares after foaling.
- Carrotseed ( Daucus carota ) regenerates liver cells, is said to repair damaged skin, rebuilds poor quality hooves and nails, and encourages the production of healthy tissue in smooth muscles. I often use it where an animal has had a high worm load, as it is vermifuge and helps repair damage to the stomach lining.
- Juniperberry ( Juniperis communis ) cleanses the liver and breaks down uric acid, purifying the blood. Juniper's sharp pungent fragrance dispels negativity and has been used since ancient times for spiritual purification. It is especially powerful at clearing out and protecting our psychic space. Together with grapefruit, this is one of the most effective liver tonics.
- Rosemary ( Rosmarinus officinalis ) is particularly good at supporting the energetic 'get up and go' side of the Wood element and spring. Rosemary stimulates the liver and circulation, dispelling stiffness and giving a feeling of confidence and strength, at the same time keeping you grounded and focused.
- Peppermint ( Mentha piperita ) stimulates circulation and liver function, and is energetically invigorating, bringing things into focus.
- Seaweed ( Fucus fesiculosa ) draws toxins from the liver, cooling and nourishing the body with a good dose of bracing Atlantic water. It is very useful for horses prone to laminitis.
- Grapefruit ( Citrus x paradisi ) is energetically cleansing and uplifting, dispelling blockages that lead to frustration and irritability, especially for overweight, food-obsessed horses.
- Sweet orange ( Citrus sinensis ) helps to balance an overactive liver, which can lead to angry outbursts or pushing yourself too hard. Energetically this oil is very happy and positive, helping to move built-up stress and frustration, encouraging a more easygoing attitude.
HOW TO ADMINISTER
Choose an essential oil you think your horse might need. Hold the open bottle tightly in your hand so your horse can come toward it and smell. If he seems to like the offered oil, dilute 3-5 drops in a teaspoon of cold-pressed sunflower oil. Offer him the diluted oil and let him sniff it or lick it off your hand. Never force him to take the oil or rub it on him unless he clearly indicates that you should. Be very passive and patient and watch your horse; he knows instinctively if it is the oil he needs. If it is not what he needs (i.e., he is not interested in it), it can be harmful for you to apply it.
Used correctly, essential oils are a great way to get your horse mentally and physically prepared for spring.
Nayana Morag, author of Essential Oils for Animals, is one of the world's foremost experts in the use of essential oils and aromatic extracts for animals. She developed Animal PsychAromatica, founded on the use of essential oils, understanding animal behaviour and the reduction of physical, environmental and psychological stress. Nayana works with horses and their guardians to help them develop a positive, creative relationship based on trust and understanding. She lives in Portugal with a herd of horses and together they host workshops in natural horse care. www.essentialanimals.com , email@example.com