Viruses are no respecter of horses or people. They come knocking at the front door and find their way in, regardless of the sturdiness of the door, and whether you are farming organically, biodynamically, sustainably, and grazing. Any weakness in a system is an invitation to illness, and viruses will test you and your animals' immune system competency.
Fortunately, if a farm or family is prepared with a supply of homeopathic medicines, a book on homeopathic first aid, and a healthy relationship with a homeopathic practitioner, treatment and relief can be achieved at the first sign of difficulty.
Conventional approaches to therapy involve killing the "bugs" with drugs. There are, however, no commonly used drugs that will kill viruses. When respiratory viruses begin to travel through a herd of animals, a family, a public school or nursery school, disease symptoms can occur. The response of each family member of any species is dependent upon the overall health of the immune system. When an individual is exposed, the first Homeopathic Remedy to turn to should be Aconite.
Aconitum Napellus -- The common name of this plant is Monkshood. Aconite can prevent illness in animals who have been shipped. Keynote symptoms for this remedy are: sudden illness after stress, chill or fever (shipping fever), restlessness and increased thirst. It's best to give it early on. May be used for several conditions: eye injuries and infection, shipping diseases, laminitis and acute mastitis. A harsh dry cough is predominant. Cough, chill and fever are worse at night. Strongly consider Aconite for the early stages for any respiratory disease. At the first sign of acute illness, give the medicine hourly for two or three doses.
Belladonna Acute -- Viral infections may also present the picture of hot, red skin, flushed face, dilated pupils. Patient is restless with a dry mouth and throat and apparent aversion to water. Dosing every half hour for three to five doses will generally initiate a healing response.
Veratrum Album -- Acute viral intestinal flu may cause vomiting and diarrhea occurring at the same time. The skin may be cold and clammy, particularly on the muzzle or the legs or feet. Young animals with prostration following copious diarrhea call for this prescription. Dose hourly in acute conditions. In sub-acute cases, dose four times daily for three days. Colicky horses with diarrhea respond well to this.
Spongia Tosta is manufactured from sponge harvested from the ocean and roasted. It has an affinity for the throat, thyroid gland and the heart. Keynote symptoms: Dryness of the mucus membranes, of the tongue, larynx and trachea. Characteristic cough, "like a dull saw cutting through pine board." Useful with a croupy cough. Patient is worse at night. Symptoms usually worsen from excitement and from dry, cold wind. The patient is better following eating and drinking.
Arsenicum Album -- One cannot think of food poisoning without thinking of Veratrum Album and Arsenicum Album. Keynote symptoms: anxiety, restlessness, with chill and burning pains. All discharges have offensive odors. Restlessness and vomiting are worse between 11:00 pm and 2:00 am. Because they are chilly, horses appreciate wearing their blankets.
For dosage amounts, one should consult a homeopathic veterinarian.
Viruses are highly contagious. Most have an incubation period of three to 14 days. Anyone attempting to control the spread of viruses will have to isolate or quarantine all new arrivals for a minimum of 14 days.
Never close buildings too tightly. Fresh air is as important as dry bedding. As soon as all the animals are well, empty the sick barn and thoroughly scrub everything down with how detergent or steam. The barn should be rested and allowed to dry out for at least 14 more days.
Edgar and Bonnie Sheaffer operate a Pennsylvania-based veterinary practice that is built predominantly on holistic natural methods. The clinic can be reached at (717) 838-9563; Fax (717) 838-0377, or toll-free 1-888-FARM VET