Horse guardians dread seeing any skin disorder, especially fungal and bacterial conditions like ringworm, girth itch, and rain rot. Once these skin disorders set up,
it is a challenge to eliminate them from one horse, let alone the entire barn or stable.
ACUPUNCTURE AND ACUPRESSURE
From the Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective, the first line of defense for skin disorders is prevention. When fungal and bacterial skin issues do arise, they are considered “toxic damp heat.” When a horse has a healthy, balanced immune system, his body can defend itself from skin disorders.
By adding a short acupressure session to a grooming regimen, horse guardians can boost the horse’s immune system needed to ward off dreaded fungal or bacterial skin issues.
Specific acupressure points can support the horse’s immune system and defend the body from skin issues. By placing the tip of your thumb on the acupressure points (also called “acupoints”) and being sure to do this on both sides of the horse’s body, you will enhance the flow of Chi, life-promoting energy, throughout his body.
Suggested acupoints are:
• Large Intestine - Crook in the Pond, commonly used to maintain the health of the skin while also boosting the immune system.
• Stomach - Leg Three Mile, known for its ability to enhance the flow of Chi throughout the horse’s body.
• Bladder - Lung Transporting Point, directly connected to the energy of the Lung which is responsible for the health of skin in general. This acupoint has the added attributes of relieving itching and eliminating damp heat.
These acupoints, combined with a healthy lifestyle and a clean environment, can keep your horse’s skin strong and his spirits high.
-- Amy Snow and Nancy Zidonis, Tallgrass Animal Acupressure Institute, www.animalacupressure.com
AROMATHERAPY and ESSENTIAL OILS
-Essential Oils are best diluted in a carrier, such as aloe gel, before applying directly to the skin.
Suggested blends for hair loss, inflammation, soreness, and other bacterial infection-related symptoms include:
1. 10 ml aloe vera gel as a base10 drops each of Frankincense, Myrrh, Patchouli, and yarrow. Blend in 5 ml of linseed oil. Add Chamomile water gradually (up to 100 ml) until there are no separations. Store out of direct light and extreme cold in a jar or bottle for up to 1 year.
2. Use a few drops of lavender in aloe vera gel to stimulate healing. Alternate with tea tree oil ointment for the immune system, or try lemon and litsea cubeba essential oils.
Flower remedies specific to stress reduction help alleviate the stress contributing to a lowered immune system. Trigger the body to start healing using:
-Rescue Remedy (rescueremedy.com)
-Five Flower Formula (fesflowers.com)
Herbal blends specially prepared by an herbalist should include red clover, licorice, Echinacea, fenugreek, and violet to help with blood cleansing to rid toxins and reduce skin sensitivity. If the horse’s immune system is run down, or depleted by prolonged itching or distress, offer the herbs rosehip and maritime pine bark. Vervain and St. John’s Wort (hypericum) strengthen the horse’s nervous system.
Garlic is a great antifungal herb because it is proven to work against various microorganisms, including bacteria that resist antibiotics. Also among the antifungal herbs is gingko biloba because the flavonoids in it are potent free radical scavengers that eat bacteria or fungus.
Bilberry, echinacea, and milk thistle are known to produce antioxidants that are not just good for the body but also for the skin. Also, these antifungal herbs help in boosting your immune system, making you less susceptible and stronger against infections.
Goldenseal contains berberine, a powerful antifungal and antibacterial compound that is also found in Oregon grape and yellowroot. All have been used to treat yeast and other fungal infections.
Tonics are a great addition to a horse’s diet to avoid susceptibility to bacterial infection.
-Nettle is high in iron, increases circulation, strengthens the blood, and improves the immune system. Use 1-2 cups of nettle (dried or fresh) in 1 liter of water, boil, cool, and add to the horse’s drinking water.
-Dandelion, either a few leaves daily or also offered as a tonic tea, is a good support for the liver, as is St. Mary’s thistle.
1. At onset, use 30c Aconitum napellus to fight infection.
2. Try 30c Arnica. Follow with 6c Aconitum if infection occurs.
3. If skin infection follows vaccination, use Thuja.
4. Tellurium is mentioned for use with rain rot.
5. Consider Arsenicum or Graphites for weepy sores.
Fresh chickweed herb boiled in lanolin makes a cream.
-Crush chickweed or plantain in your hand and rub on itchy areas for immediate relief.
-Add the crushed herb to aloe gel for easier application.
Licorice contains at least 25 fungicidal compounds
-Add 5 to 7 teaspoons of powdered licorice root to a cup of boiling water and simmer for about 20 minutes.
-Strain out the plant material.
-Using a cotton ball or clean cloth, apply the liquid to the affected area one to three times a day.
Poultices are excellent to draw out infection.
-Put slippery elm powder on a clean cotton pad.
-Soak with hot water, cool to warm, wring out excess water (but keep the gel) and apply to affected area for at least an hour if possible.
Sprays, such as diluted lemon juice or vinegar (100 ml) added to antiseptics like 5 ml eucalyptus or thyme oil, and 4 cloves of garlic (peeled and crushed) are easily applied. (Caution: may sting sensitive open areas). Add 5 ml of Thuja to the spray for additional antifungal properties.
Tea can be made using dried chamomile flowers or tea bags.
-Spray the tea on a damp coat to soothe skin (chamomile is naturally drawn down the hairs to the skin)
-You can add some hypericum oil, but be sure to agitate the sprayer to assure the oil is released.
-Any left over chamomile tea can be used directly on the horse’s feed.
Scientists have demonstrated that lemongrass has significant fungicidal activity against several common infection-causing fungi. You can enjoy one to four cups of lemongrass tea a day. Spent tea bags can be applied to skin.
Washes containing 20% copper sulfate powder (available at some feed stores) and a cup of cider vinegar in 1 qt water will assist killing any fungus. (Dilute for sensitive skin).
Topical salves help soothe and heal. Alternate or use one or more of the following:
• propolis cream
• aloe vera gel (soothes itching and encourages new hair growth)
• tea tree oil @ 10 drops per 1 pt of warm water. Tea tree oil is a powerful antiseptic that is very useful against fungal skin infections, including athlete’s foot and yeast infections. Never ingest the oil. Like so many other essential plant oils, small amounts of tea tree oil, on the order of a few teaspoons, can be fatal.
• colloidal silver has been used against Staph infections
• make a preparation of Vitamin E oil, Aloe vera gel and 5 ml of hypericum oil for topical use. After inflammation has subsided, try comfrey ointment or rosemary oil 1-2 times a day to encourage new hair growth.
• Iodine can be so potent there is a restriction on the amount of iodine allowed in topical preparations. Anything higher than a 2% solution must be registered as a drug.
Sources: Shari Frederick, Healthy Horse HintsTM
Nancy Zidonis and Amy Snow, www.animalacupressure.com