Caring for the horse with laminitis involves much more than just the hoof. Acupuncture, chiropractic, magnetics, herbs, homeopathy and essential oils may be beneficial treatment options, too.
Acupuncture is well-known for its ability to relieve pain, one of its most beneficial aspects. For deeper healing, it is best to diagnose a case from a Chinese medicine perspective. The imbalance in the flow of energy to the various organs and meridians (pathways) can lead to a better understanding of why a particular horse has the symptoms he has.
In Chinese medicine, there are three main pathways that can lead to chronic laminitis:
• One pathway by which insulin resistance can occur is from the overeating of sweet, greasy and fatty foods resulting in the internal generation of Damp and Heat which then damages the Spleen. Horses eat sweetened feed regularly and rich grass high in carbohydrate. In recent times feed is commonly supplemented with animal or vegetable fat.
• The second pathway is stress causing stagnation of Liver Qi which can damage the Yin energy. This can be from excessive drug or vaccine use, travel to competitions constantly, confinement in a stall with little turnout and emotional stress from abusive training.
• Older horses often are Kidney Yang deficient which occurs after the Yin has been deficient for a long time or the animal has aged. This is the imbalance that gives rise to the winter laminitis cases that often puzzle practitioners.
The Chinese explanation gives an understanding of why laminitis may occur and tells the practitioner which acupuncture points are needed to treat it and improve overall health.
-- Joyce Harman DVM, MRCVS, Harmany Equine Clinic, Ltd., www.harmanyequine.com
International Veterinary Acupuncture Society, www.ivas.org
American Academy of Veterinary Acupuncture, www.aava.org
In horses with laminitis, essential oils can help relieve pain elsewhere in the body that often results from the constant adjusting of weight due to sensitive feet.
Chamomile is very useful when the body develops muscle spasms. The herb itself is high in magnesium; with the use of essential oil of Roman Chamomile, you can help the body release its own store of magnesium.
Rose Geranium has a mild analgesic effect is very effective applied in a 2.5% dilution on areas that are bruised or inflamed (but do not apply to broken skin).
Pain Relief Blend for a horse in extreme pain. A blend of essential oils that can have a pain-relieving effect for up to 24 hours while helping to lift the spirits of the one suffering pain:
Add to 1 oz bottle of carrier (cold pressed vegetable oil or aloe gel): Rosemary 5 drops, Juniper 8 drops, Bergamot 12 drops, Lavender 8 drops. You only need to apply this blend once or twice a day to be effective.
-- Catherine Bird, www.happyhorses.com.au
“Come on, Doc, laminitis occurs in the hoof. Even you can’t adjust the bones under the hoof wall.”
Laminitis is a systemic problem, changing the way the horse moves. Laminitic horses move with a very short stride in the front end. This usually results in subluxations in the lower cervicals and upper thoracics. Shortened stride in the front end also results in a compensated shortened stride in the rear. This can result in subluxations in the back and pelvis. Any horse with a problem that results in an altered gait will benefit from chiropractic care.
Adjusting the lower cervicals and upper thoracics in a laminitic horse will help free up the motion in its front end. Tendons, ligaments, and supporting tissues in this area will become more mobile. Immobilization of these tissues leads to profound degenerative changes in as little as 3 days. Cartilage shrinks, increasing its susceptibility to damage from minor trauma. Adhesions start to form, which further decreases mobility in the area. Ligaments start to shorten, leading to tightness in the area. Luckily for your horse, most of these changes are favorably affected by the chiropractic adjustment.
Your horse’s chiropractic adjustment may not have a direct impact on the laminitis going on in the lower limbs. The chiropractor may not even pick up your horse’s feet. The indirect effects of a chiropractic adjustment will go a long way in helping your horse’s body combat the systemic effects of laminitis.
-- Bill “Dr.O” Ormston, DVM, www.jubileeac.com
Toxins in our horses’ bodies contribute to a variety of disorders, including Cushing’s, arthritis, cancer and stress-related injuries. Learn how to DETOXIFY your horse, and your other pets, too, at www.AnimalDetox.com
Homeopathy can be very valuable in acute laminitis. Consider these remedies:
• Belladonna – For a pounding pulse, dilated pupils, and heat in the feet. I give either 200c or a 1m potency one to three times a day.
• Aconite – Similar to Belladonna but the horse is more frantic and fearful. 200c-1m one to three times per day.
• Arnica – For stiff, sore horses with an elevated but not pounding digital pulse. Again, 200c-1m one to three times daily.
• Apis – Often, a horse with extreme swelling of the lower legs is thirstless and worse from heat. I give Apis either a 30c or 200c potency one to three times a day.
• Nux Vomica – I use Nux when symptoms develop after overeating green grass, feed or heavily fertilized hay. I give a 30c potency once an hour for four doses.
-- Madalyn Ward, DVM, www.holistichorsekeeping.com
For the purpose of healing anything that affects the area below the coronary band, use a magnetic bell boot.
Preferred application would be a north pole field to achieve an alkaline oxygen state in the blood and tissue. An alkaline oxygen state is the normal cellular operating polarity for the hoof. One result of the body being returned to its normal state would be relief of pain and discomfort. Changing the cellular polarity to its normal operating state allows flushing of waste and toxins from the area affected by the magnets. This also promotes the proper cellular growth for tissue repair and replacement. This application will work for founder from Cushing Syndrome as well.
When using the north pole polarity, the bell boot can be left on as long as the horse is in its stall or under a supervised state to ensure that the bell boots stay in place. If you are going to use other field magnetic bell boots like bi-polar or south pole magnets, they should be removed as soon as a level of comfort appears on the horse. Long use of these fields may create an acidic state in the body which may become detrimental.
-- Ray Elliott, Stuck On You, email@example.com
TRADITIONAL CHINESE MEDICINE (TCM)
• clear heat and reduce inflammation
• cool and move blood
• breakup stagnation (damaged cellular debris)
• nourish blood
• stimulate blood flow to the feet
LI11 - the "itis" point: heat, fever, inflammation anywhere in the body
LI4 - Pain, Pain, Pain!
SP10 - point of blood: clear heat, move, cool and nourish blood; critical to restoring the health of the lamina
UB18 - Liver Shu: hooves are under the jurisdiction of Liver, influences the blood and hoofs
SP3 & SP6 - cooling and yin/blood nourishing
Jiao gu lan (Gynostema) - stimulates blood flow to the lamina
Yunnan Bai Yao - moves and cools blood, reduces stagnation; useful orally and topically mixed with aloe or oil as a hoof paint to reduce heat in the hoof
Chinese herbal supplements should be used properly and thoughtfully under the guidance of a licensed Chinese herbalist. Information presented here is not intended to replace proper veterinary diagnosis or treatment and should not be used for that purpose.
-- Gloria Garland, L.Ac., Dipl. Ac. & Ch, www.wholehorse.com