Vaccinosis in Animals

Publishing a post on vaccine damage is something akin to walking into fire.  However, I felt prompted to write this particularly as a result of a recent discussion where someone asked if it could really take seven years of non-vaccination to produce a ‘clean’ litter (specifically referring to natural-rearing breeding – of any domestic species, although dogs were the primary subject) through species appropriate diet; my response was, not necessarily.  I intimated that via the use of homeopathic “clearing remedies” vaccinosis could be reversed.  I think it was a response not particularly understood and likely created more confusion as other things (primarily essential oils) were suggested as being able to do the same regarding clearing the vaccinosis.  This post then is my in-depth response as I did not feel it appropriate to do so within that group.  In order to understand this to the depth it needs to be, several issues should be addressed…therefore this is quite a long post.

Vaccinosis used to be a fringe term reserved just for us holistically-minded ‘quacks’.  However it is now being recognized by conventional veterinary medicine as one or more conditions that may occur after vaccination, taking the form of any number of auto-immune conditions and can result in development of a tumor.  Even many so-called natural health advocates (including naturopaths) think of vaccinosis as a result of “too many” vaccines and is equated with the term “vaccine damage”.  Charles Loops, DVM states:  “Vaccinosis is a disease syndrome caused by a weakness that is precipitated by vaccination.”1  One of the primary differences between these two camps of thought is that, according to the conventional side, vaccine damage or vaccinosis generally only occurs within a relatively short period of time following a vaccination; and at least some of us within the natural health camp recognize that the phenomenon can occur any time – even years following a vaccine or years after vaccinations have been halted.  Conventional medicine addresses vaccinosis if it results in a tumor by surgically removing the evidence and calling it a “cure”, although many times the tumor is never acknowledged as being precipitated by vaccination.  For non-neoplastic vaccinosis symptoms, conventional medicine will typically suggest some suppressive drugs; and if it is truly recognized as vaccinosis, perhaps some supplements or herbs with a “I don’t know what else to do” prognosis.  The natural health camp, including those that straddle the fence (e.g. “holistic” vets), views vaccinosis as another assault upon the life force and will attempt to mitigate its effects by use of species-appropriate diet changes (if not already done), various supplements, herbs, essential oils, and some will use homeopathy in a classical manner (one remedy given based upon the individual’s symptoms).  Natural health does not look to “cure” vaccinosis, buts sees its remediation as a healing process that takes place solely within and by the body; it is viewed as the opposing answer to conventional medicine’s suppression of symptoms (which they call “cure”).

I am an animal naturopath and homeopath yet I could not disagree more with both streams of thought on this subject, as well as the entire debate of healing vs cure as it is commonly bandied about.  In order to understand these phenomena and how to reconcile the seeming disparities, we need get a better understanding of what is happening now and what occurred historically to bring us to this point…this is a bit of a journey going back upstream, to borrow a phrase from Henri Bortoft (Taking Appearances Seriously), which is a process I find helpful in coming to understand many aspects in life.

The first stop on our upstream journey is understanding the fact that even though conventional medicine and natural health appear to be opposing factions, the two are in actuality the flip side of the same coin, so to speak.  They both operate in abstractness; conventional medicine speaks of disease and cure, declaring that it has “cured” something when it no longer sees any symptoms but can’t manage to connect the dots to any other symptom.  The natural health system on the other hand, has no concept of disease and therefore eschews any reference to curing.  Natural health sees that the only way to achieve a state of health is by bolstering the life – or “vital” – force of the body, allowing it to heal itself.  And thus, we find within natural health there is only a concept of dis-ease, or imbalance. The conventional system, on the other hand, doesn’t even understand what a state of health truly is.  Conventional medicine has hijacked both terms (disease and cure), falsifying both; it does not allow anyone without a so-called medical degree (veterinary or human) to use these terms.  Yet this is not true medicine, and that is the caveat – the terms they hold sway over are not the same terms as defined within true medicine (we will get to that in a moment).  Conventional medicine does not follow the laws of nature, it opposes them in every way.  On the flip side, natural health abstracts the laws of nature into one overarching idea.  This is what is generally seen as the “holistic” view – everything is a whole and it cannot be broken down into parts.  Or even worse, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.  Not sure how that can happen.

The natural health system today along with the current incarnation of homeopathy (aka ‘classical’) views homeopathic remedies as substances to help to ‘balance’ the immune system or the ‘vital force’ as many like to call it.  The paradox is that everyone also seems to recognize that homeopathic remedies contain no crude substance as they exceed Avogadro’s number…yet this ‘stuff’ (the remedy) that contains no actual substance is relegated to being able to influence the substance that we know as the physical body.  The further conundrum is that some people at least in the natural health system are not comfortable with the metaphysical aspect, yet homeopathy is accepted as a natural healing modality which would seemingly ignore the fact that the (initial) action of a homeopathic remedy is nothing but metaphysical.

That brings us to another stop on the upstream journey – back a couple hundred plus years ago.  Here we find a true, complete system of medicine and a much deeper understanding of curing and healing, and paradoxically, much clarification compared to what we have today.  The knowledge of this dynamic system of medicine was initially given to us in the late 18th century.  Paracelsus had the idea of it 250+ years earlier but could never bring forth the knowledge of how to use crude poisons in a curative manner; but it was Samuel Hahnemann who was able to bring this knowledge into conscious thought.  In the ensuing years a few others have given us even greater insight into the work that Hahnemann was not able to finish in his lifetime: Antoine Bechamp, Wilhelm Reich, Gunter Enderlein, among several others – but in particular, Rudolf Steiner who brought the work of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe into a much deeper and broadened perspective.  Unfortunately homeopathy became disenfranchised after Hahnemann’s death, to the point it no longer belongs to the system of medicine he originally laid out.  What we have today is a mere ghost of the extensive work he did and the insight he set forth in his writings, of which the Organon was a part of a more complete whole.  As opposed to the abstract ‘vital force’ that the current version of homeopathy sees, Hahnemann recognized a duality of the living power; and he recognized that disease itself has a duality.  What he saw as disease has nothing to do with the labels that are placed upon physical and mental conditions today, but before we define what disease really is, we need to come to at least a brief understanding of these polarities that exists in the living power of a being – including the ‘being’ of a disease.  What follows is an abbreviated version.

We – and our animals – have two, interpenetrated aspects that allow the living body to function as we know it.  One is the sustentive aspect: this is the realm in which food nourishes and in which the body (if healthy enough) can heal itself.  This sustentive realm is one of mostly automation – which please do not translate that into meaning not intelligent, it is, very much so.  There must be communication within this realm at all levels – cellular, tissue, organ – or else nothing would get accomplished including the fact that digestion would not happen.  For instance, when the body suffers a trauma such as a cut or wound, it will make every attempt to heal itself.  The caveat to this is that if the wound is significant enough, the sustentive power ‘knows’ that it can sacrifice lesser important parts to save a vital one.  To put this into perspective, this is the principle that allows an animal caught in a trap to chew its leg off in order to survive.  This is the action in which the body will slough off dead tissue that is no longer needed.  There is no disease involved here (at least at this immediate point).  These are healing actions completely under the control of the sustentive power.  If we never interfered, a healthy body would continue to function as it should, healing itself when needed.  Of course what happens in reality is that we do interfere and many times wind up suppressing the healing action of the body, then we start having all kinds of complications.  On top of that, we actually cause many of the events that generate healing actions in the body.

The other realm of the living power is what we call the generative aspect.  This is the realm of disease.  Hahnemann saw disease as an entity, a life force of its own – he called it a wesen.  By the same token that the body can become impregnated with another life, it can become impregnated with a disease life.  And yes, males have a female aspect that allows this to happen.  A disease is an impingement upon the animal’s life force by another living force, it does not arise directly out of imbalance (within the sustentive realm) as conventional medicine would have you believe…although if imbalance continues unabated it will cause the organism to become susceptible to disease impingement.  The natural health system (including classical homeopathy) on the other hand, sees nothing but this imbalance (dis-ease) arising out of the sustentive power, and as discussed above, never recognizes any kind of actual disease.

Hahnemann further broke down the disease process…another duality, into two types of diseases.  Please understand this is not reductionism as conventional science practices – this is actually a view of multiplicity in unity; parts within a whole, which all of the parts reflect the whole.  Hahnemann saw there existed both constant (or chronic as he often called them) diseases and variable diseases.  The constant diseases are relatively few and he did not spend much ink writing about them in the Organon with the exception of a few mentions in principle; most of the constant diseases he discussed within the compilation of the Lesser Writings as well as the two volume The Chronic Diseases.  The Organon is devoted primarily to the discussion of the variable diseases, what we call the ‘pathic’ disease; and this is where much of the misinterpretation concerning homeopathy has stemmed from – both the fact that the Organon was incorrectly translated until Stephen Decker’s version and the fact the most homeopaths don’t even know about or have not read Hahnemann’s other works.  Hahnemann taught that we always need to find the etiology of any condition if we possibly can, and thus he further saw that all variable (pathic) diseases had a deeper underlying cause – meaning the constant or chronic diseases.  This is also what we can refer to as getting to the essence of a given situation as opposed to just treating symptoms, the latter being what conventional medicine does only.  We can say that pathic (variable) diseases are always spawned by an underlying constant disease, so when we remove the constant disease many times the pathic disease will abate on its own as it no longer has anything to ‘fuel’ it.  What we also need to understand, however, is that this constancy resides at the level of the disease’s essence; it may take slightly different forms – such as the so-called various forms of influenza, but this does not mean that it is a variable or pathic disease.

The really important distinction here is that within the framework of classical homeopathy (and natural health), there is no distinction between the patient and the disease – they are in essence one and the same.  This is not what Hahnemann taught.

Let’s translate this constant vs pathic disease concept into simple terms.

For the constant diseases, we always use the same remedy; i.e. there is a constant relationship between disease and remedy.  For instance whenever there is an involvement with the nerves we always use Hypericum; whenever there is blunt force trauma, we always use Arnica.  This concept also forms the basis for homeopathic first aid prescribing.

For the pathic or variable diseases we will need to consider the individual symptomology in order to determine the correct remedy.  This is the process of so-called ‘classical’ homeopathy.

Hahnemann was very aware of the laws of nature, or jurisdictions as we might call them; indeed this knowledge formed the basis of his dynamic medical system.  What has become abstracted throughout the years following his death, however, is the concept that there is only the Law of Similars.  And this is indeed the only law of nature that is effective in treating disease and belongs to the generative side; but he also recognized the Law of Opposites, which belongs to the sustentive side.  This Law of Opposites is what we utilize when we use supplements, etc – we are opposing a deficiency or excess.  This also includes the entire concept of nutrition.  There is a third jurisdiction that Hahnemann recognized, and that is the Law of Truth, or education as we might call it.  So let’s sum this aspect up:

Medicine – this falls under the Law of Similars and utilizes a potentized “like” substance that then creates a medicine of closest similarity; this is the realm of the generative power

Regimen – this is the realm of the sustentive power and includes the four cardinal aspects that sustain the physical body: nutrition, dormition (sleep), hydration, and activity/exercise; this realm embraces the Law of Opposites

Therapeutic Education – this is a realm that is used with humans, not animals for obvious reasons; our animals are subject to our false beliefs, not theirs – they have none, their beliefs are true to their nature; this is the area a practitioner will get into, for instance, in teaching the owner the aspects of a species-appropriate diet; we can utilize both the Law of Similars and the Law of Opposites here…it really all depends upon the situation

There is one more polarity concept from Hahnemann that I want to address before we begin going back downstream…and that is the dual action of a remedy.  Classical homeopathy has no real concept of this and so there remains a fear-based notion that if the wrong remedy is selected havoc can result; this is also the false belief that allows homeopaths to say things like…”nosodes have their down-side” and should not be given unless necessary.  This could not be further from the truth.  There are always two actions of a remedy: the initial action, and the counter action – which we can call the healing action.  Keep in mind there is not a definitive divide between the generative power and the sustentive power – they reside within the same body.

Initial action – belongs to the generative power; this is the first thing that occurs when a remedy is given and constitutes the action of the remedy upon the similar disease, i.e. the removal of the disease; most of the time this process goes unnoticed, however sometimes an aggravation can occur…such as ‘fighting fire with fire’, a short-lived flare-up can happen

Counter (healing) action – belongs to the sustentive power; this is the body’s attempt to fill the void left by removal of the disease; in diseases born of nature this healing action is typically minimal; unfortunately when we get into removing the man-made diseases (e.g. vaccines) that is when we can get the strongest healing actions, and some of this intensity also depends upon both the current as well as historical regimen of the animal

Let’s now start our journey back downstream and begin putting all these concepts together into an understanding of vaccine damage in our animals.  The first concept to understand is the difference between vaccine damage and vaccine disease.  As we discussed above, this has been abstracted into one singular idea.  When we vaccinate we are engendering an iatrogenic disease (which is a constant disease), there are no two ways around it.  We can call this vaccinosis if you like, but to keep things clear let’s simply call this vaccine disease.  The vaccine damage follows the impingement of the disease itself, and the damage in turn is what causes the symptoms we see.  As we can imagine if this is never corrected – i.e., the disease never removed – the damage can be passed onto future generations.  And that in a nutshell, is why some people think it takes up to seven generations of species-appropriate regimen to remove vaccine damage.

We refer to removing the vaccine disease as ‘clearing the timeline’ of that particular event.  In actuality, all traumatic timeline events should be cleared; however vaccination and drugs are by far the most damaging to our animals.  Now there are no guarantees that even when clearing the vaccine damage in a given individual that a state of health will automatically ensue.  Again, please remember that the animal is not an island – they are influenced by our emotions and false beliefs; their history of regimen will influence the ability to recover, and so on.

Lets’ take a couple of illustrative examples – Fido and Fifi (and this will apply to any species…dog, cat, horse, etc, but I will use dog as example).

Fido is a young dog, only about three or so; he had one round of rabies vaccine as a pup and has been raw-fed his entire post-weaning life; he was bred from a naturally-reared sire and dam that had minimal vaccination.  Clearing the timeline of Fido should be relatively straight-forward and with little consequence, and even though the sire and dam were never cleared of vaccine disease, there would very likely not be any inheritance of Fido’s offspring of vaccine damage.

Fifi on the other hand is a pure bred dog, about five years or so, that was adopted out because the owner could no longer take care of her; it is obvious that she has not only been vaccinated according to schedule (multiple times/year) she has also suffered emotional trauma; she was kibble fed all her life until her new owner took her in about a year ago, and it is a safe assumption that she comes from generations of kibble-fed dogs.  Clearing her timeline of traumatic events including the vaccine diseases, along with the now safe environment and appropriate diet, will certainly help her regain health; nevertheless one has to consider that the previous damage done may be too great for the sustentive power to effect complete healing; e.g. she may always have itchy skin or conjunctivitis flare-ups no matter what else is done.  She is a dog that would quite likely go thru fairly intense healing actions during timeline clearing, and that is a specific reason to go slowly in a situation like this.  I would also just about guarantee this dog, given her history, would pass along vaccine damage to offspring…in other words, she is a dog that should never be bred no matter how lucrative her blood line appears.  And this is where the problem lies so many times…the stock that keeps being bred does nothing but exacerbate and continue the vaccine damage.

 In the above example, if you bred Fifi and bred her offspring for the next seven generations without appropriately clearing the timeline (i.e. you only used proper nutrition, essential oils, supplements, etc), yes you may eventually see a reduction in the symptoms of the vaccine disease, but the disease itself remains.  What can – and does – happen in a situation like this is that some kind of event will trigger the vaccine disease out of its latency…one of the future generation pups is sold to a person that does not completely adhere to natural rearing principles, perhaps is forced by local law to give a rabies vaccine or the owner is gone for a week or so and the sitter feeds kibble, etc.  That is when the suppressed disease will rear it ugly head.

This is a long, complicated post especially for those that are not familiar with these concepts; I invite honest questions and discussion, however if all you wish to do is bash what I say here, then please do so else where.  Thank you.

If you wish to obtain a consult with me concerning timeline treatment, please see the Consultations page.




Equine Therapeutics: Using Biochemic Tissue Salts in Healing

Tissue or cell salts may sometimes be thought of as the “red-headed stepchild” in holistic therapeutics. They are triturated yet they are not true homeopathic remedies, and in fact they work within the Law of Opposites, not the Law of Similars. They are not really understood by many naturopaths, and many ‘classical’ homeopaths shun them because they are outside the context of the “totality of symptoms” approach. Yet these little tablets of twelve various mineral salts can be invaluable in certain therapeutic situations…we simply have to understand what they are and know when to use them.

Tissue salts were developed by Dr. Wilhelm Heinrich Schϋssler in Germany during the mid to latter part of the 19th century. Dr. Schϋssler was born and raised during a peak time of conflict between natural science and the burgeoning materialistic approach to science. He was both a homeopath and a medical doctor (for humans). Like Samuel Hahnemann before him, he was disenchanted with the ignorance of fellow doctors who were becoming more and more enveloped by the materialistic realm, and was becoming disenchanted and frustrated by consistent lack of successful treatment of his patients utilizing the prevailing conventional methodology. Even though he practised as a homeopathic doctor for seventeen years, including writing a book on homeopathy, he was very restless with applying the Law of Similars principle and employed “Contraria contrariis” – treatment via antidoting, or what we now call the Law of Opposites. What Schϋssler apparently failed to realize at the time, is that Hahnemann viewed the Law of Opposites as a valid natural law from a non-disease aspect; and what Hahnemann did not comprehend enough to bring to light was the biochemical process that the body goes through in utilizing minerals.

During his university years, Schϋssler was exposed to the teachings of Justus von Liebig, a chemistry teacher, as well as Rudolf Virchow, the founder of cellular pathology, who taught that changes in function or condition of cells in the body can result in illness. Through von Liebig we gained the knowledge of the “law of the minimum”, particularly with respect to nutrient minerals: if one element is missing or deficient, (plant) growth will be poor, even if the other elements are abundant.1 (This can apply to growth of any organism that requires minerals for sustenance.) It was Schϋssler who coined the term “biochemistry”.

In order to develop his understanding of mineral requirements, Dr. Schüssler performed studies which allowed him to determine which mineral elements remained after a person or animal had died. He burned cadavers and examined the contents, establishing that 12 minerals remained in the ash, and depending on the state of health of the cadaver before death, found that certain minerals would be lacking. What is interesting to note is that the tissue salts that Schϋssler determined as being crucial to sustain life are the same minerals that we now label as essential to organic life. These minerals are also called electrolytes due to electrical charges that separate them.

Since ingested minerals must go through the digestive tract, and utilizing his knowledge of biochemistry, he realized that the body requires time to break down and metabolize crude (or coarse, as he called them) minerals. Dr. Schϋssler also understood that when the body digests food (at least of the kind it recognizes) it is essentially dynamizing and potentizing that food – and all of its components – to become assimilated into self. From his knowledge of homeopathic principles and then by applying this same theory to minerals, he was able to formulate a delivery method of single minerals that the body recognized as already having been ‘digested’. Therefore, Schϋssler tissue salts bypass the digestive process and are transported directly into the blood stream which in turn allows them to pass to each cell as needed. He called these dynamized tissue salts “fine” minerals, as opposed to “coarse” (or crude) minerals. We have a process today of chelating crude minerals that helps facilitate absorption over simply feeding ‘rock powders’, but these “fine” tissue salts work much faster than even chelated minerals; depending upon the exact form, coarse minerals may take up to three months before any difference is noticed in the organism.2

Minerals first need to come through food – and that means a species appropriate diet. However, it is no secret that many of the Earth’s soils are minerally depleted. If the soil is depleted whatever is growing in that soil will also be lacking. We can also find that the animal suffers a functional deficiency even when there is sufficient quantity of a given mineral in the food. This can occur due to many things, not the least of which is a history of traumas to the system such as vaccinations and other conventional drugs. The first step is to clear these traumas (a subject not addressed here), but sometimes the body needs a little ‘push’ in the right direction – this is where tissue salts can have a significant therapeutic advantage. We can think of tissue salts as cellular ‘superfood’. While they do not replenish a lacking of a particular mineral, they provide a blueprint or model for which the organism can then regain functionality. In some very chronic cases we may need to rely on these fine mineral forms (to correct function) as well as more coarse forms (to replace a mineral that is missing). This is why I always recommend having available a good blend of chelated powdered (not block form please!) minerals, as well as loose Celtic or Himalayan salt and quality kelp meal, that a horse may partake of free choice; allowed an appropriate lifestyle, he will instinctively know when to do so.

Tissue salts are generally triturated up to D12, but more commonly one finds them in D6 and sometimes D3 potencies. Any dilution past D24 (24X/12C) exceeds Avogadro’s number, so these biochemic tissue/cell salts contain some amount of crude mineral substance and are therefore used to ‘oppose’ a deficiency; they do not treat ‘disease’ as regular homeopathic remedies do. Below is a list of the twelve primary tissue salts with a short description; I am listing the full name as well as the abbreviated version of the name; also please note that the tissue salts go by number and that the numbers may be different between US and European pharmacies. Before utilizing, please do more reading as this article is but a brief introduction. One good book is Schϋssler Tissue Salts for Horses; Hans-Heinrich Jӧrgensen, 2007, Cadmos Verlag GmbH, Brunsbek (This book addresses the typical human-centric “use” of horses; obviously that is an etiological factor that needs to be stopped, thus reducing the need for so much therapeutic intervention.)

#1 Calcium fluoride (Calc fluor) – affinity for the bones, teeth, skin, connective tissues, and the elastic fibers of the veins and glands (i.e. the form of the organism); respiratory issues may be helped with this remedy especially when there is loss of elasticity in the lung area.

#2 Calcium phosphate (Calc phos) – affinity for the bones and teeth especially; also glands, nerves (particularly through spinal area), blood, gastric juices, and connective tissues; is an excellent restorative remedy for the convalescent; main function is to process protein; foals that may not be growing well for some reason may benefit from this remedy.

#3 Calcium sulphate (Calc sulph) – liver (including assisting with drainage/detoxification), gall bladder (which horses don’t have but nevertheless can help with excess acid reduction), spleen, and testicles; this mineral is mostly found in tissues of skin, blood, and mucous membranes; can help loosen mucous as well as sclerotic processes in the body. Please note: in original literature this remedy may be omitted as Schϋssler placed it at the end of his list and later removed it (leaving only 11 biochemical salts); however it was already established in use by that time; in the US it is listed as #3.

#4 Iron phosphate (Ferrum phos) – iron transports oxygen in the body and primarily found in all blood vessels as well as intestines; is an indicated remedy for anemia; it is also a primary remedy for inflammatory/fever processes (although keep in mind that some inflammation is necessary as a healing process).

#5 Potassium chloride (Kali muriaticum) – is a component of muscles and connective tissues, nerve cells, blood, mucous membranes, glands, and brain cells; helps to form fibrin; may bind to toxins but does not eliminate them.

#6 Potassium phosphate (Kali phos) – an energy carrier helping to build new cells and helps to prevent cellular breakdown; regulates metabolism in muscles; is a component of the nervous system (brain, spinal cord, etc); may be appropriate for some nerve-related emotional issues.

#7 Potassium sulphate (Kali sulph) – assists in the conversion of oxygen from blood into cells; detoxification with main action on spleen, liver and GI tract; is also found in the skin and mucous membranes; a primary use is in skin issues as well as mucosal related complaints.

#8 Magnesium phosphate (Mag phos) – has an affinity for the nerves, muscles, and heart, and is a good remedy for cramps and spasms of all kinds; may help with flatulence as it binds gases and helps to eliminate them.

#9 Sodium chloride (Natrum muriaticum) – salt regulates fluid throughout the body, and therefore also heat; it works on regeneration and renewal of tissues, cells, and fluids; may be used in both excess (edema) and deficiency (dehydration).

#10 Sodium phosphate (Natrum phos) – the biochemic acid balancer; can help with transformation of uric acid into urea and gastric upset; may assist with fat and sugar metabolism as well as blood pH regulation; the primary action is on the stomach, lymph, and tissue.

#11 Sodium sulphate (Natrum sulph) – helps with waste removal; has affinity for liver, pancreas, intestines (and gall bladder); along with Nat mur can assist in cases of edema.

#12 Silicon dioxide (Silica, sometimes spelled Silicea) – can assist in expelling nonfunctional organic matter (although this may best be done via actual homeopathic treatment depending on the situation); it is the construction material for connective tissue; acts on nerves, skin, hair, nails, cells and intracellular substances.

Administering cell/tissue salts to horses is quite easy. They are typically purchased in a bottle of small lactose tablets, and are generally quite cost effect being sold in bottles of 100 tablets. Once you have determined which one or ones need to be used, you can take the amount of tablets of each one (if more than one remedy), dissolve in a small amount of warm water (which generally only takes a few minutes). If there is a concern about too much lactose, you can let settle and pour off, leaving the lactose at the bottom of the container. This poured-off water (or otherwise entire amount) can then either be syringed directly into the mouth or simply poured over a tiny bit of hay. A typical maintenance dose for a 1000 pound horse would be about five tablets one or two times per day; a therapeutic/acute dose would be more frequently given, not more quantity per dose.

Cell salts may also be purchased as a combination of all twelve; this is a situation where they may be used to replace or balance electrolytes in total, such as after a profuse sweating, diarrhea, or other cause of loss of body fluids. One may also use the 12-combination salts prophylactically to help maintain functional homeostasis. In these situations, I would recommend doubling the amount of the tablets in a single dose, however if giving prophylactically, you may do so only once per day or even just a couple times per week. In a situation of emergency electrolyte replacement, I would recommend giving about 5 tablets dissolved every thirty minutes until the situation begins to resolve, then decrease to once every couple of hours until the horse is replenished.

1 Paraphrased from:

2 Some information here is based upon the article: “Schüssler Cell Salts and Their Application within the Heilkunst System”; Gudula Beythien, Hpathy Ezine, June, 2009.

[This article was first written for and published in the Feb 2015 newsletter of the American Council of Animal Naturopathy; it can also be found here on the ACAN blog.]

Equine Nutrition & Lifestyle: It’s De Plane

(Please note that the following discussion applies to healthy horses, not sick/debilitated ones.)

Those of you too young to remember the TV show, Fantasy Island, may get a little lost by the article title; if so Wikipedia can explain it thoroughly. 🙂 The idea for this piece came to me after reading a post on Wild Horse Education concerning body scoring on wild horses and the natural fluctuations they go through. Sometimes it seems our domestic horses live on a “fantasy island” when our husbandry methods go contrary to their biological nature.

Body scoring on a horse was developed by Dr. Henneke et al. in the early 1980’s, as an attempt to standardize the assessment of body condition without mechanical means, using visual observation as well as palpation. Its use is primarily with horses in domestic situations but can be used to assess wild horses – IF the naturally occurring variations are taken into consideration. And therein lies the crux of the situation…we humans have a tendency to think we have “saved” the horse from the vicissitudes of the wild by giving him a warm bed and regular meals.

According to Wikipedia:

The Henneke horse body condition scoring system is a numerical scale used to evaluate the amount of fat on a horse’s body. It was developed by Henneke et al. (1983) at Texas A&M University with the goal of creating a universal scale to assess horses’ bodyweight. It is a standardized system that can be used across all breeds without specialized equipment; condition is assessed visually and by palpation. Scores range from 1 to 9 with one being poor and nine being extremely fat; the ideal range for most horses is from 4 to 6. … The system is based on both visual appraisal and palpable fat cover of the six major points of the horse. The system is used by law enforcement agencies as an objective method of scoring a horse’s body condition in horse cruelty cases. [In practice it is also used in clinical applications and by owners.]

Hennecke fat depositsThis is a pictorial guide to the various places on a horse’s body that will accumulate or lose fat. This particular horse is what has been determined to be about “ideal” (body score of 6) regarding weight and fat deposition. Obviously breed confirmation can have some effect on this.

An excerpt from the book Equine Nutrition: From a Species Appropriate Perspective (p112), and is the book used in the ACAN Equine Nutrition course:

A little recognized aspect of the nutritional ecology of the horse is that they have evolved to be able to adapt to varying planes of nutrition. What is a “plane of nutrition”? A plane of nutrition is defined as the quantity and quality of per capita food intake. In practical terms, this means that the horse is perfectly adapted biologically to seasonal fluctuations in nutrient availability. This does not translate into – “it is ok to feed my horse only one or two large meals per day”. What it means is that the horse instinctively knows he is supposed to increase his nutrient intake – and thus likely his fat deposits – prior to winter. When you see your horse put on a little weight in the fall, this is no particular cause for alarm. By the same token, when you see your horse lose some amount of weight over winter, this again is not necessarily cause for alarm. To contradict this natural biological process can have consequences that I think are not being given proper recognition. When we disrupt these innate biological processes, we can begin to step into at least the realm of metabolic imbalance if not outright disease condition. There has been much written about the biology of behavior, but too little about the behavior of biology as science has tended to take a Newtonian view that biological processes are “mechanized”.

Allowing the horse to actually lose weight over winter respects his natural biological processes. Western civilization tends to be obsessed with diet, and overeating is an all too common occurrence. This unfortunately carries over to the animals under our care; horse owners tend to panic when they see their horse losing some amount of weight over winter and will increase the quantity of feed to compensate. This is foreign to the horse whose not-so-distance ancestors were completely adapted to a decreasing plane of nutrition over winter. Those same horses also knew to increase their plane of nutrition prior to the onset of winter and would naturally gain weight during that time. Modern day horse owners will then respond to this with either increased exercise (to get that weight off!) and/or reduction in amount of food. All of this has the effect of being virtually the opposite of what the horse would naturally do left to his own devices.

There are now many factors involved in the current management situation of the wild horses in the western US states that have dire effects upon what would otherwise be a normal situation; in other words, we no longer have “normal” regarding wild horses in many of the areas. That being said (and the discussion of which is much too involved to get into here), we can still glean some amount of information as to appropriate biological responses in horses. The remainder of this discussion referring to wild horses will “pretend” they still live in such a biologically appropriate manner.

In the wild a horse may show a body score of 4 as summer is coming on; gain weight during the warm months and going into winter, increasing to a 5 or 6; then drop to a body score of 3+ as winter ends; this cycle gets repeated year after year. In addition to seasonal changes to the food supply, we also find that the reproductive cycle plays a significant role in determining response to varying nutrition planes, with both mares and stallions being affected. The physiological response on the mare is of course due to the requirements of the foal both in-utero (we should see weight gain in the mare especially during the last trimester and reasonable weight loss after birth) and post-foaling (nursing); the physiological response of stallions is typically seen in weight loss in response to the dynamic tension that naturally exists in competing for mares.

In domestic situations, most people strive to keep their horse equivalent to a body score of 6 or a little above continuously, although we may find many people think that a body score of 6 is too “thin”. Even though there is an abundant amount of information available showing that horses evolved physiologically to be trickle feeders (i.e. requiring little bits of food over most of a 24 hour period) for some inexplicable reason many (if not most) horses are subjected to scheduled feedings two or three times per day, year around. In fact, many times their feed is actually increased during late winter months to compensate for what would be natural weight loss. These practices tend to be generated by both the human centric “use” of horses as well as an anthropocentric projection of what the equine body condition should be.

On the other hand on some of the more prominent breeding farms, we can find the concept of variable planes of nutrition being used to force mares to come into cycle earlier in the year so that, again, human needs can be met regarding production and timing of foals to either get the breeding mare back into breeding status or other work. (Artificial lighting is a co-factor in this application, meaning the mare is kept stall-bound at least part of the day under lights in order to trigger the estrous cycle earlier; and of course hard feed is generally used to effect the rising plane.) In essence, there seems to be a generalized attitude (even if not consciously) among all classes of horse owners that the “domestic” horse has adapted to a nutritional cycle that is distinctly different than their wild cousins. Nothing could be further from the truth. (In fact I could debate the idea that horses have ever been truly “domesticated” according to definition…but will save that for another article.)

Unfortunately the word “natural” has become extremely adulterated when it comes to horses. As an equine health coach, you can help teach your clients what a “true natural” lifestyle is for their horse. The courses at ACAN can help you help your clients – we invite you to join us on an exciting learning journey!

[This article was first written for and published in the Oct 2014 newsletter of the American Council of Animal Naturopathy; it can also be found here on the ACAN blog.]


Go figure – chickweed is actually an equine delicacy!  I had notice Maisy eating it every chance she got over a period of a few days this spring.  This is from the April 2013 Natural Horse Newsletter (wonder if you can make an essential oil out of it??? :-):


Chickweed – Stellaria media by Katharine Chrisley of Dharma Horse

Chickweed is a creeping herb with tiny white flowers. It is entirely edible for all animals (although it can be too rich for some if eaten fresh and abundantly!). It is considered a cancer-preventing herb and a premier healer of the digestive tract. It is fed to arthritic horses and used to reduce lipoma/fatty tumors.


Chickweed nourishes the Pineal and Pituitary glands, helping them return to normal function when afflicted. It is full of the mineral – organic Iron – which is necessary for all mammals to transport oxygen and maintain youthfulness. Food additives/preservatives deplete iron from the body which causes anemia, lung and circulatory damage, blood sugar imbalances and weakness. Mothers, equine and human, can be low in iron (especially after giving birth) and it should be returned to the body through a gentle, organic mode.


Chickweed is a mild herb used to gradually return health to tissues and the whole plant can be fed fresh or dried; or a tea can be made from the dried herb. I feed a half cup of the dry, cut and sifted herb in a mash once daily for mares who need it. I drink a cup of prepared tea for myself when feeling weak. An infused oil can be made by warming the herb into olive oil for use externally on swollen joints, tumors or fatty deposits.

A Forage-Only Diet for Young Horses in Training Evaluated

The preference, of course, is to see the foal with the dam outside grazing a mixed species pasture – and not in a stall being fed hay.  The hay can be fed ad lib.  And then there are the issues of how the horse is being “used”.  Nevertheless, at least the industry is beginning to realize that moving away from concentrate and fortified feeds is a good thing, and that can be translated into some amount of progress!

The  Jan 11, 2013 • Article #31192



Should you Blanket Your Horse in Winter or Not?

There are many references on the internet to a “study” supposedly done by CSU (Colorado State University) on whether or not to blanket a horse in winter.  It apparently was first posted on FB by Big Sky Morgan Horse Association here.  In April 2013 I received a comment from an individual stating that this “study” is a fake and that a certain professor she contacted at CSU could not find any evidence of it ever having been done.  I honestly do not know whether this study is fake or not, but I will say that I cannot locate any legitimate citation to it associated with CSU.  Nor does the Big Sky Morgan Horse Association list any citation.  At the bottom of this post, there is an article from Rutgers that I know is legitimate.

It should first of all, be understood that blanketing (or rugging as it is known in Europe) quite obviously is a construct of domestication, and more specifically of the equine show industry due to various clipping requirements.  People may also body clip (shave) their horse’s winter coat that engage the horse in high-energy performance requirements that would cause the horse to sweat under his natural heavy winter coat.  This can get quite complicated as the Rutgers article indicates.  While blanketing itself may seem a rather innocuous practice (or even seen as beneficial to many people), it is the underlying reason for doing so that creates an adverse situation for the horse; nor is the act of blanketing itself without compromise.

As for body clipping in the winter…this is ONLY done because the human desires it; the horse does not.  Horses that are body clipped in the winter should be given extra protection in cold weather as they have been stripped of their natural ability to protect themselves against the elements.  Blanketing itself may not particularly pose a physical threat to those horses that are kept stalled with minimal and restricted turn-out (it’s the restriction that causes the problems!), but I definitely would not recommend it for active horses that are kept in a natural herd and allowed freedom 24/7.  But then again, why would you blanket a horse in a natural herd situation?  Those horses have not been deprived of their natural protection.  Blanketing does prevent growth of a full winter coat; therefore, once you start blanketing for a given winter season, it is not an option and it must be continued for that season.

There is another reason for not blanketing that many do not refer to:  Animals that are adapted to the cold display an increased production of heat from brown fat.  Brown fat contains an “uncoupling” protein that diverts energy away from ATP synthesis, instead favoring heat production. This process is tightly regulated by signaling from the sympathetic nervous system. (Reagan 2013)

Please note that I am not talking about the use of blankets for specific health reasons.  In rescue situations in particular, more often than we like the horse is in a debilitated body condition and does not have the metabolic and physiological resources that a healthy horse does to offer protection against the elements.  Until such a day as there is no more abuse inflicted upon animals, we have a responsibility to protect that animal and the use of blankets in situations such as this is very much within an acceptable realm.  (Care for rescues will be addressed more in depth in another article.)

Rutgers FS1081-Blanket or Not