[Excerpted from the 2011 Annual Conference Proceedings, American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association]
Paper: DIGESTIVE HEALTH IN THE EQUINE
Author: Joyce Harman DVM, MRCVS
Parasite control has been a problem since domestication has brought horses into confinement. In nature, parasites do not like to kill their hosts as it deprives them of a place to live. When horses are confined and crowded with others of the same species, the intestinal immune system is stressed and parasites can become a life-threatening problem. However, current literature is emphasizing that parasites are seldom the cause of serious clinical disease except in extreme situations. It is not necessary to maintain a zero fecal egg count.
It is this author’s belief that the reason many natural deworming protocols fail is due to the stress of modern horse-keeping. Even Dadd, an herbalist from 1854, felt that infestation was the result of a “perverted state of the organ the parasite invaded.” Healthy horses kept in low stress environments can often successfully be dewormed for many years with natural products alone.
A client should be advised to check fecals quarterly for the first two years of a natural program, then once or twice a year after that. If anything significant in the environment changes such as a new horse, severe weather stress or a move to another property, more frequent checks should be performed. Caution should be exerted about the claims of efficacy for many of the products on the market. Ingredients should be declared for any product used as many of the vermifugal herbs are relatively toxic.
Herbs that have vermifugal actions include agrimony, aloe resin, annual wormwood, blue vervain, cinnamon, cloves, fennel, garlic, horseradish, hyssop, male fern, mugwort, parsley seed, peppermint, tansy, thyme, valerian, vervain, wormseed and wormwood.
Most of the herbal formulas used in the past included a purgative of some sort to mechanically help remove the parasites. Part of the lack of success with some horses in modern times may be related to the reluctance of the herbalists and owners to purge the animals. Another possible reason may be due to the lack of herbal and immunological support after the vermifuge is given. Some of the horses who are egg shedders, i.e.. those who shed parasite eggs regularly, may be perfectly healthy and living in balance with their parasite load.
Paper: HERBAL ALTERNATIVES TO ANTIBIOTICS AND ANTHELMINTICS
Author: Susun S. Weed, herbalist
Excerpt: Herbs That Counter Worms:
Black walnut hulls top many anthelmintic lists; I don’t like it; I don’t use it.
Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea or Echinacea augustifolia) was tested in several large dairy goat herds in New Zealand. A teaspoonful of ground dried root added to feed on a daily basis gave excellent control of worms. Echinacea is currently selling for around $30 pound wholesale.
Garlic is Juliette de Bairacli Levy’s favorite worm remedy. She ferments garlic in lemon juice for several days while fasting her dogs. Then feeds the fermented garlic (probably with some raw meat) to her hounds to blast the worms right out of them.
Rue, whether fresh or dried, tinctures or brewed in water, contains volatile oils that can kill worms – or injure the kidneys and liver. I don’t use or recommend rue.
Tansy is another plant rich in worm- (and liver- and kidney-) killing compounds.
Wormwood (Artemisia absinthemum) has a great reputation as an anthelmintic. It is very bitter and may cause central nervous system problems with long use.
Mugwort/Cronewort (Artemisia vulgaris) is my favorite and the one I rely on.
CRONEWORT is a weed throughout much of the world. It is related to wormwood, but packs a milder punch. I make sure there is plenty for my goats to browse. I also harvest and dry the flowering stalks to insure a supply through the cold months and during kidding season if it occurs before the cronewort is up.
I don’t use a specific dose, merely allow the goat to eat as much, fresh or dried, as she wants. I have not had to use any chemical wormers in my herd for more than thirty years.
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