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Veterinary Homeopathy - by Christopher Day MRCVS |
Veterinary Homeopathy is based on the same principles as its human medical counterpart. Homeopathy is the science of medicine based on the principle ‘similia similibus curentur’ – ‘let like be cured by like’, as discovered by Samuel Hahnemann (1755 - 1843).
As in humans, homeopathy treats the animal patient as an ‘energetic whole’, not as a collection of symptoms or signs with a specific ‘scientific’ disease name. Because of the individuality of expression of disease, two different animals with the same named disease may require different homeopathic medicines. Likewise, two animals suffering different named diseases may require the same homeopathic medicine.

For this reason, since we are treating the animal not the disease, we need to know a great deal of information. This often entails asking seemingly strange questions that are often unrelated to the specific problem.
Homeopathy is a force for good in the animal world since it is able to treat so many diseases, from simple to serious, including many that fail to respond to conventional methods, without the risk of side effects. All species respond, from mice to snakes, cats to horses and birds to tortoises.

Homeopathy works by stimulating the body's own powers of healing. The final outcome depends upon both the prescriber's skills (ability to select the correct remedy and to remove potential obstacles to recovery) and the response by the animal. If no mechanism exists in the body, to heal the disease effects, then necessarily no cure can result. Even so, many so called ‘incurable’ diseases, for which no conventional drug cure exists, can respond.

In horses and ponies, the diseases that we are most commonly called upon to treat are listed below. It is no accident that a great many of these prove very difficult to treat satisfactorily by conventional methods. Commonly treated diseases and conditions are; COPD, Head Shaking (head-shaking, headshaking), Laminitis, Moonblindness (periodic ophthalmia, recurrent ophthalmia, recurrent uveitis), Mud Fever, Navicular, Ringbone and Sweet Itch.

Because homeopathy is a holistic science, we must also pay attention to diet, to lifestyle, to management and to all factors that may impinge on a horse’s health, including shoeing and saddling. A homeopathic consultation process is therefore quite extensive.
Apart from homeopathy’s great benefits in serious and chronic disease, it is also very suitable for home first-aid treatment of horses. It cannot give rise to tissue or blood residues and cannot adversely affect a ‘dope test’. A selection of valuable medicines with first-aid indications is given by way of illustration and for the benefit of the reader:

· Aconitum - This remedy treats shock, both mental and physical and will also assist in the treatment of acute febrile conditions, such as viral or bacterial diseases. Any sudden-onset disturbance of equilibrium may be helped by Aconitum.

· Apis - Urticarial swellings, oedema and fluid in joints will often respond to this remedy, apart from its benefits for burns and scalds or for insect bites and stings.

· Arnica - Arnica is homeopathy’s great injury remedy. Its use will minimise pain and bruising from injury and will speed healing.

· Belladonna - High fevers with head, ear, throat or eye pain are especially helped by this remedy. Very painful abscesses may also respond.

· Bryonia - Arthritis, rheumatism, pneumonia or mastitis, when the horse refuses to move, are the main areas of use of Bryonia.

· Calendula - Used as a lotion, this remedy speeds healing of cuts, grazes or open wounds, in addition to helping the animal to fight septic infection of such injuries.

· Carbo veg. - This is nick-named the ‘corpse reviver’, on account of its ability to help patients in collapse. It is also a valuable remedy for ‘gassy colic’.

· Caulophyllum - The birth process, at all stages whether before, during or after, is helped by Caulophyllum.

· Colocynthis - Crampy colic in horses would be the most common first-aid use of Colocynthis.

· Euphrasia - With the folk-name ‘eyebright’, this remedy helps many eye conditions, including conjunctivitis. It also helps in cases of sneezing and nasal allergy and can be useful as a first-aid treatment for eye ulcers.
· Hepar sulph. - This is nick-named the ‘homeopathic antibiotic’, so effective is it in helping patients to fight septic, purulent infections.

· Hypericum - Use this remedy whenever there is a painful graze or damage to tissues rich in nerve endings (e.g. toes and tail).

· Ledum - Use this whenever puncture wounds occur, from whatever injury. There are reputed anti-tetanus properties in addition to its ability to help such wounds heal correctly, from the depths outwards. It is used when a horse has a punctured sole, for instance, in conjunction with proper foot attention for the injury.

· Nux vomica - This remedy may help in cases of colic, particularly if the cause is suspected to be concentrate feed (hard feed).

· Rhus tox. - This suits most cases of rheumatism and arthritis that are worse for first movement but limber up.

· Ruta - Ligaments, tendons and other fibrous tissues are the main areas of benefit of this remedy.

· Silica - Helps the body to drive out foreign bodies, e.g. thorns and to resolve chronic abscesses that refuse to heal.

· Symphytum - Symphytum treats bone injuries of any type, speeding healing.

· Urtica - This remedy treats nettle rash (urticaria) and helps the flow of milk from the mammary gland.

N.B: In the UK, it is illegal for anyone other than a qualified vet to prescribe or advise on homeopathic medicines for animals.

About the author: Christopher Day is a homeopathic vet and holistic vet of thirty-five years experience. He runs the Alternative Veterinary Medicine Centre, in Oxfordshire and treats horses all over the UK |
Veterinary Homeopathy - by Christopher Day MRCVS |
Veterinary acupuncture is based on the ancient Chinese art of acupuncture in humans, which possibly began over 4,000 years ago.
As in humans, acupuncture treats the animal as an 'energetic whole' rather than as a body presenting with a specific named disease. As such, it constitutes more than a method of pain relief (for which it is commonly used as it is so effective), being rather a system of internal medicine.

In the art of acupuncture, disease is considered to be a result of disordered energy flow in the body, which the Chinese have charted as flowing along 12 paired meridians or channels and two unpaired. When the energy flow is interrupted or disturbed, symptoms of disease are seen. By stimulating certain defined sites on the surface of the body (acupuncture points), with needles, heat, LASER or other stimulus, the correct and harmonious energy flow and balance can be restored.

The practice of acupuncture should be accompanied by internal medicine (traditional Chinese herbs in China) and by diet, lifestyle and management control. Chiropractic manipulation is also essential, if misalignments exist. The proper practice of acupuncture is truly holistic medicine. In horses, saddling and shoeing must also be considered carefully.

Diseases and conditions of horses and ponies, which we are commonly called upon to treat with acupuncture are: Back problems, COPD, DJD, Head Shaking (head-shaking or headshaking), Lameness, Laminitis, Moonblindness (periodic ophthalmia, recurrent ophthalmia, recurrent uveitis), OCD and Paralysis.

Treatment is generally non-painful and can last for varying periods, usually from 5 to 30 minutes. Veterinary surgeons have used acupuncture successfully on most species of domestic animals, particularly horses, ponies, dogs, cats, goats and cattle.

N.B: In the UK, it is illegal for anyone other than a qualified vet to perform acupuncture on animals. It is even illegal for a non-veterinary acupuncturist to work at a veterinary practice.

About the author: Christopher Day is a holistic vet of thirty-five years experience, who has used acupuncture for 27 years. He runs the Alternative Veterinary Medicine Centre, in Oxfordshire and treats horses all over the UK |
Veterinary Herbal Medicine (Veterinary Herbalism) - by Christopher Day MRCVS |
Herbal medicine is as old as human civilisation itself. Records go back as far as the oldest medical text books known, from both Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurvedic medicine.

All cultures have deep traditions of herbal medicine and a study of those in different civilisations makes not only for fascinating reading but also for a wealth of medical lore. Each continent has its own traditions and all show understanding of the wisdom of herbal medicine. They have a rich and diverse plant medicine culture, deeply integrated within their societies. It is hard to imagine anyone in Britain living more than 100 yards from at least one plant species with known medical properties, even in urban centres.

It is not surprising that our forefathers mingled religion, mystique, folklore and superstition with their medicine. Shamanism and its counterparts were very much linked with reputed medical knowledge and witch doctors, druids, tribal medicine men and, later, in mediaeval Europe, the Christian church, took on the role of traditional medical continuity.

Astrology also became entangled with herbal medicine, a tradition epitomised by Nicholas Culpeper in the mid-17th century. Herbal medicine, however, still holds its validity, even without signing up to the strong mystical and religious connotations handed down to us from ancient works. Sadly, however, many traditions of herbal medicine were unwritten and many formulae, which were enshrined in oral tradition, will have been lost over the centuries, as a result of the conquest of civilisations and the destruction of cultures.

Even in modern times, systematic efforts at eliminating herbal competitors to the modern drug industry have been seen. The massive profits to be obtained from drugs, so often directly derived from the very plant medicine that the industry professes to despise, are a powerful magnet and anaesthetic to conscience.

Our western herbal medicine culture dates back to Greek and Roman traditions, oversown with lore from Saxon and mediaeval scholars from all over Europe and from the Arab culture. Names such as Asclepius, Hippocrates, Pliny, Dioscorides, Celsus, Galen, Avicenna, Paracelsus, Gerard and Culpeper crop up again and again in writings.

The rationale behind herbal medicine has changed and evolved through these times, astrological and religious beliefs being intertwined with medical experience. Nowadays, however, herbal medicines are selected more according to their known medical action, which is mediated via their analysed ingredients. Active chemicals in plants, in unique combinations, have known medical effects which are supported by modern science e.g.: Alkaloids, Glycosides, Saponins and Flavones. Herbs can also be grouped according to their general action e.g.: Alteratives, Aperients, Astringents, Bitters, Demulcents, Diuretics, Expectorants, Nervines and Vulneraries.

A surprisingly large proportion of modern conventional drug medicines either owe their origins to herbs or were originally derived from herbal material. For example Vincristine started from the Madagascar periwinkle, Aspirin (Salicylic Acid) from Willow or Meadowsweet, Digoxin from the Foxglove, Morphine derivatives from the Opium Poppy and so on. Many other drugs have originated from fungi, for example Penicillin from moulds, Ivermectin (a powerful modern anthelmintic and parasiticide) from a Japanese soil fungus.

One major difference between modern chemical medicine and properly applied traditional herbalism, however, is the holistic principle. This is applied both to the patient (i.e. treating the patient as a whole rather than just trying to counteract the symptoms) and to the medicine (using the whole plant with all its ‘active ingredients’ and many essential natural synergists, as opposed to extracting a single supposed ‘active ingredient’). Also, herbs can be combined in a formula, which is tailored to the individual, in order to achieve a balancing effect within the body. It is these properties which render herbal medicine so safe, when properly applied by adequately qualified people, avoiding harmful side-effects.

Herbal medicine is well-suited to animals too. Horses and ponies in particular are often justifiably credited with the instinctive ability to select their own natural medicine from the surrounding flora, when given free access to a natural grazing environment. However, all species of animals respond to this most natural of therapies.

Herbal remedies have proven useful for the majority of disease conditions from which animals suffer, either on their own or coordinated and integrated with other therapies such as homeopathy or acupuncture. Nutrition is also vital. Arthritis, COPD, Digestive problems, Laminitis, Skin problems and many others respond well. Treatment with herbs is without side-effects, as long as it is used carefully, with due regard to formulae and doses. It can be given in fresh form, chopped leaves, dried form, capsules, powders, tablets, tinctures, infusions, oils, creams, ointments, etc. but instructions must always be carefully followed. Herbal medicines can counteract or dangerously summate with conventional drugs. They can also give rise to residues in sporting animals, with risks of affecting the result of any ‘dope test’.

N.B.: In the UK, it is illegal for anyone other than a qualified vet to prescribe or advise on herbal medicines for animals.

About the author: Christopher Day is a herbal vet and holistic vet of thirty-five years experience. He runs the Alternative Veterinary Medicine Centre, in Oxfordshire and treats horses all over the UK |
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