Detoxification helps open positive energy flow and eliminates toxins that may lead to decreased immunity and eventual disease
A sensible detoxification program combats the effects of stress and environmental factors your horse is subjected to on a daily basis. The goal is to rid accumulated toxins brought on by the stress of a variety of factors that influence overall health, including exercise, travel, injury, side effects from bute and other drugs, exposure to chemical poisons and pollution (including wormers and vaccines) and seasonal changes.
Horses with healthy immune systems, no ill health, no exposure to new horses, ample clean water, and plenty of exercise with free grazing on a wide variety of unpolluted grasses are at minimal risk and may need detoxifying only after an illness or when signs of stress are chronic or lingering.
SIGNS YOUR HORSE MAY NEED DETOX:
Dry, scruffy coat, bleached hair
Dull, cloudy or sunken eyes
Foul odor of manure
Irritability, poor attitude
Low energy, lethargy
Skin issues (bald patches, dry, scaly, lumps, cysts, hives)
Recurrent respiratory problems
Underweight or weight loss
PRIMARY DETOXIFICATION TARGETS
Your horse’s largest gland, the liver acts as the main filter of all things toxic. It directly aids digestion by producing bile, and helps break down worn out red blood cells.
The ability of the liver to filter toxins may be compromised by:
• a diet of processed grains and fats such as refined rancid oils
• worm larvae overload
• chemical poisons (fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides)
• feed toxins (mold, fungus, preservatives, additives, coloring, flavors, etc.)
• drugs (steroids, antibiotics, vaccines, wormers)
• spider bites
• ingestion of toxic plants, including oak, purple foxglove, oleander, sagebrush, red maple, bracken fern, tall fescue, and buttercups
• pollution and environmental toxins (exhaust fumes, cleaning solvents, fly sprays)
Signs of possible liver damage include:
• skin bumps
• oozing (clear or yellow) bites
• light yellow colored manure
• tenderness at the liver acupuncture point (may show as a sore back)
• lack of ligament and tendon support
• frequent tendon injuries
• more sensitive to work on right side, avoids turning to the right
• anemia or hepatitis (determined via blood test)
Since the kidneys’ job is to eliminate the toxins the liver filters, it makes sense to assist the kidneys in keeping up with the toxic load. If inflammation occurs during liver detox, this is a red flag: the kidneys can’t keep up with all those toxins.
3. BLOOD/LYMPHATIC SYSTEM
With duplication in liver detox formula and function, there is no need for a separate blood cleanse unless tackling it as a single detox. Liver support/detox and blood cleansing herbs are similar; for blood cleanse only, consider adding calendula, cascara, chaparral, devils claw, echinacea, juniper or red clover.
Lymphatics work closely with the blood to release toxins. The Lymphatic system is a key disease defense network located just under the skin. Lymphatic detox is especially important in fighting inflammation and enhancing your horse’s ability to sweat. Horsetail (equisetum) and Fenugreek can be made into a tea and added to feed for 6 weeks, and/or add mint to your hedgerow or trough herbs. It is wise to add sea salt, rosehips and kelp during this process as well. Feeding oats can support lack of dietary silica, common in lymphatic problems. Silver Lining makes #35 Lymphatic formula. Additional supports include:
• Germanium has an affinity to the lymphatic system, tones liver and kidneys and also balances hormones and emotions.
• Grapefruit is a gentle and effective lymphatic stimulant, nourishes cells, eliminates toxins, is a liver tonic and cleanses the kidney and vascular system.
• Clivers supports lymphatics.
• Nat Sulph Tissue Salt combats edema and lymph congestion, as well as eliminating liver and kidney toxins.
OTHER DETOX SUPPORT
Massage improves circulation, stimulates the lymphatic system, hastens toxic elimination through the kidneys, and encourages the body to heal itself.
• Kidney swelling from strenuous workouts or sluggish kidney can be enhanced by a massage using Clary Sage in the blend.
• Massage Juniper essential oil to balance the urinary system, release fear, clear toxins and purify blood. TIP: Palpate above the loins (above the kidney) to identify fear in horses.
• Lymphatics particularly benefit from massage to rid inflammation (use minimal pressure).
Homeopathics - Nux Vomica at 6c or 12x twice a day is a homeopathic approach to equine detox. Dilute in water and serve as a liquid over feed if your horse won’t take pellets. Gastricol (from Riva’s Remedies) includes Nux Vomica to aid liver detox and other issues; their Infection Drops support the kidney.
Once the body is cleansed it needs to build its armor against disease with a strong immune system and balanced gut flora. Avoid potential health problems by maintaining a healthy immune system and periodically supporting the colon and digestive system to assure stress-free digestion.
In today’s world of excess pollution, detoxification and toxic avoidance for you and your horse should be standard procedure. Avoid stress by following daily and seasonal routines, whenever possible. Incorporate simple supports such as adding Juniper to rinse water after a workout to release toxins. Muscle test feed and request lab tests on hay and feed to avoid contaminants that accumulate toxic build up. In today’s toxic world, we owe it to our horses to give them the best chance at optimum health.
THE DETOX PROTOCOL
Before beginning any detox, offer immune support for 1-2 weeks. (Ideally, maintaining a healthy immune system is an ongoing process.)
For first-time or once-a-year users: Detox with Liver and Kidney (add Blood/Lymph if needed, based on the horse’s issues) daily for 1-2 months. Shorten to 2-4 weeks if the horse has previously been detoxed or recently endured a bout of illness or stress.
After the detox program, continue to provide specific supports for that horse’s unique issues.
A 3-5 day FLUSH in lieu of the 1-month kidney detox is similar, but shorter and more intense. Use this when visible inflammation is present, the kidney needs support to eliminate fluids or if the kidney is in distress (indicated by palpation, acupressure or acupuncture points). This “jump start” for the kidney is a detox as well, just a shorter protocol.
If your horse is not urinating, call your vet. Meanwhile, consider administering a Flush, monitoring your horse for rapid results.
Equine competitors can vastly reduce potential health problems by starting and ending their season with a detoxification program, all the while using ongoing support for immune and digestive bacterial (probiotic) aids.
Shari Frederick, BS, NMD, LE, a nutritional educator, assists horseowners in making healthier, more natural choices in horse care. She is an independent author, international lecturer and self-styled naturalist. At her HHH Rescue in Texas, detoxification and liver/kidney/immune supports are the FIRST steps in rehab for nearly every arriving horse. Visit Shari’s websites, happyhorsehavenrescue.com , horserescuefaces.com , and hautehorseyhabits.org