Nutrition begins with Soil

Just finished reading an article on that prompted me to post this…is a subject I covered somewhat in my equine nutrition book although I did not refer to it specifically as “biological farming”, nor did I go into it to this depth, which is something I’ve wanted to do for some time.  These same principles apply to animal health as well as human health – we are all dependent upon the soil to grow food that nourishes us on all levels, regardless of whether we eat just vegetables or include meat and/or animal products in our diet.  All life on this planet is connected – we seem to forget that in the one-eyed reductionist mentality that permeates modern science.

Our nutrition begins with the soil…the plants growing in the soil are consumed by humans either directly or indirectly via meat and animal products.  Conventional farming methods concentrate only on yield, this methodology cares nothing for the “food source” of the crops themselves; that aspect is considered irrelevant.  Andre Voisin said (1):

The “dust” of our cells is the dust of the soil.  We should frequently meditate on the words of Ash Wednesday:  “Man, remember that you are dust and that you will return to dust.”  This is not merely a religious and philosophical doctrine but a great scientific truth which should be engraved above the entrance to every Faculty of Medicine throughout the world. … If these “dusts” have been wrongly assembled in plant, animal or human cells, the result will be the imperfect functioning of the latter.

I honestly don’t know how we have “forgotten” that plants are living organisms that have relationships with their environment – yes, plants do communicate!  I posted a fascinating video a while back about how plants “talk” – see it here.  I suppose it is the ego-based attitude that humans can not only control nature but can do things better than nature can.  Unfortunately we are in the midst of a rude awakening about that – at least some of us are.  Several enlightened individuals such as William Albrecht, Carey Reams, Rudolf Steiner (and Goethe before him), Lady Eve Balfour, Sir Albert Howard, Weston A. Price, and more recently Harvey Lisle, Michael Astera, Jerry Brunetti, and others have been writing, practicing, and teaching about the link between soil health and our health, and how that link influences virtually all of life.  Almost all of these people were/are scientists who had/have the capability of “seeing” phenomenological relationships…even if they might not have used those terms (except for Goethe & Steiner who certainly did).  Yet they are shunned by “allopathic” science as not being “real”.  I do not disregard mainstream reductionist science as do many “holistic” practitioners/teachers, because I understand (as did Goethe, Steiner, et al) that you have to be able to break the whole down into its parts in order to be able to then actually “see” the whole.  It is not a “sum of the parts is greater than the whole” as much of holistic science would have you believe; nor does each individual part work by itself as mainstream science would have you believe.  The truth lies in the relationship of the parts to the whole.  So it is exciting to me when I read articles (or books) such as this that demonstrate this kind of “seeing” – this kind of conscious awakening.

Now…I am going to go out on a limb here and say something that most of you reading this will likely disagree with – at least at first blush.  Organically grown food is NOT necessarily more nutritious than conventionally grown food.  What???  You must be insane!  Before you virtually tar and feather me, read on.  There is absolutely no doubt that organically grown food is better than food that has been sprayed with chemicals.  But…most organic growers concentrate on building soil tilth – I know, I used to be a small commercial organic grower and was rather active at one point in my local organic association (before the USDA “bought” the word organic).  There is nothing wrong with building humus in the soil; the problem is humus alone does not provide nutrition for the plants growing in that soil.  And the whole concept of “organic” is actually a negative one inasmuch as it considers what is NOT in your food (pesticides, herbicides, etc).  What I have come to realize is that we are missing very key elements in our food.  Why do you think the supplement industry is so huge?  Our soils are depleted.  What most people don’t realize is what they are depleted of.  Minerals, plain and simple.  Minerals cannot be added back by simply tilling in the fall crop of leaves or compost or what-have-you.  Yes, there may be some elements that are added back…but by and far the soils at least in this country (if not most of the developed world) have been so heavily farmed without ever putting back what was taken out that there is nothing left.  Why do you think conventional agriculture tends to keep such a strong-hold on our food supply?  Yes, there are many other factors involved, but the bottom line is you can produce a more “nutritious” vegetable by directly feeding the plant – according to lab analysis.  What is missing from this picture however is the quality and how the nutrients are utilized by the body – lab analyses only give you quantities.  All of us in the animal world – humans included – were designed to ingest our minerals that have been assimilated first by the plant kingdom.  Plain and simple.  Minerals are the electromagnetic means of communication between the soil and the plant kingdom.  Remember what I said above that it is more the relationship between entities than it is the entities themselves that drive responses?  It is the relationship between the plant and the soil that dictates what the plant will become – a purveyor of health or simply something to ingest.  Taking and taking, never giving back = depletion.

Samuel Hahnemann gave us a medical system over two centuries ago called Heilkunst, or “art of healing” in a rather crude translation.   Within that he recognized certain “miasms” or chronic, many times inherited diseases.  Those that have worked to bring his medical system into present times have recognized the “cancer” miasm, which is a state of mentality more so than the conventional diagnosis of tumor (although the mental state can certainly lead to tumors).  The mental state of cancer is one of continuously giving – we can characterize it by the person that continually gives and gives until her physical and spiritual bodies are totally depleted.  If the soil keeps giving and giving without having the opportunity to replenish itself – what do you think it will produce?  Cancerous causing products.

Harvey Lisle called minerals the “enlivened rock powders”.  Why?  Because they give life.  The soil replenishes itself slowly by the breakdown of rocks.  The advent of agriculture put pressures upon this process that would eventually cause severe depletion if these minerals (“rocks”) were not replaced – at state which we have now realized.  It is not, at least in my opinion, that so-called “modern” agriculture is a bad thing, it is human greed and inflated ego that has kept us from “seeing” our responsibility.  The soil, the plant life, the animal life…are all available to us to utilize as we need – and that is the key…use as needed.  In a loving caring, nurturing way.  However we treat the soil, we treat ourselves.


(1)  Quote from front matter of The Enlivened Rock Powders, Harvey Lisle, 1994, Acres USA.




Is the Epidemic of Thyroid “Cancer” an Illusion?

This is an article from GreenMedInfo posted on Aug 15, 2013. Much of the information that follows is every bit as pertinent for our animals as it is for us.  Thyroid dysfunctions are way too commonplace these days.

While I completely agree there are far too many unnecessary thyroidectomies, I would caution however about taking “iodine supplements” as this article suggests at the end; i.e., know what form you are taking.  The thyroid only transports iodine in its ionized form (i.e. iodide) and the body does not utilize iodine directly.  The intestinal tract does not convert iodine to iodide and the ingested iodine must go thru an oxidative reaction before the thyroid can utilize it, resulting in oxidative stress (note that it is the iodine form, however, that the breasts utilize).  Uncontaminated food sources, including sea veggies, are the best source of naturally occurring iodine and delivers iodine to the body in a form it “understands”.

It has been assumed that the advent of iodized table salt (added potassium iodide) in the early part of the 20th century “cured” the then iodine deficiency that apparently was causing an epidemic of goiter (swelling of the thyroid gland) in the US.  To me this was actually one of the early signs of mineral depletion in our soils, which just happened to be concentrated in the central US states and which came to be known as the “goiter belt”; the central US was the first area to be heavily farmed with the advent of the industrial age and farm machinery.  At that time, there were no cautions from the medical community about salt and its supposed link to high blood pressure and other cardiovascular conditions; people ate enough iodized salt to successfully reduce the rate of goiter.  The fact remains, however, there is not enough iodine in common table salt to make any significant difference in the body’s iodine levels unless consumed at high levels.  While those of us in the holistic health field recognize the correlation between salt and heart “disease” is a false one, eating too much (actually any IMO) refined salt can lead to many health issues:  the “impurities” (other minerals) are typically removed by use of chemical treatments that may include sulfuric acid or chlorine; the water is evaporated under high compression and heat, disrupting the molecular structure of the native salt and most of the water is removed; and then conditioning and free-flowing agents are added to the salt to “make it pour when it rains”.  Dextrose (refined sugar) is also used as a stabilizing agent in refined table salt to keep the iodine intact.  According to Dr. Brownstein, iodized table salt is only about 10% bioavailable.  Keep in mind that even some sea salt is mechanically harvested – it pays to know where your salt comes from and use only a salt that is hand-harvested from a clean area and has all its naturally occurring minerals intact.  [IMO, this means either Celtic Sea Salt or Himalayan pink salt.]  Unfortunately the “salt scare” from the medical profession has kept many people from even utilizing clean, natural salt.

Some of the reasons we are now seeing a resurgence of iodine deficiency include even greater levels of mineral depletion from our soils; less use of iodide in the food and agricultural industry; declining consumption of iodine-rich foods including eggs, fish, and sea veggies;  fluoridated drinking water; and bromine exposure.  Fluoride and bromide are halogens just like iodine is.  Halogens are a group of elements that, when combined with a metallic element, form mineral halides.

Bromine is the naturally occurring element discovered in 1926; bromide is the reduced form of it and is rapidly absorbed in the intestinal tract.  Bromine lies just above iodine in the periodic table and has a molecular size and weight very similar to iodine. Because of this, the two elements can compete with each other and bromine can displace iodine, causing iodine deficiency.  Bromine is considered a toxic element and classified as a goitrogen (a chemical that causes thyroid goiter).  Bromine’s use (especially in its reduced form of bromide) is widespread:  antibacterial agent in pools and hot tubs; fumigant in agricultural use and pest control; it is found in some soft drinks and as well as some Gatorade products; brominated vegetable oil is a common ingredient in many processed foods; even though bromine has largely been phased out of medical use it can still be found in some medicines such as some prescribed for asthma (including the commonly prescribed Atrovent) and bowel/bladder dysfunction; since the 1960’s bromine is found in a wide range of bakery goods.

Fluoride is another element in the halogen family that has been shown to inhibit the uptake of iodine.  Technically, fluorine is the element and fluoride is an ion or ionic compound containing fluoride; so water fluoridation is generally accomplished by adding sodium fluoride (NaF), fluorosilicic acid (H2SiF6), or sodium fluorosilicate (Na2SiF6) to drinking water.  Fluoride was first reported as a goitrogen in 1854 when it was found to be a cause of goiter in canines.  Fluoride can become even more toxic to the body in the presence of iodine deficiency, which fluoride itself can cause and thus one of those “disease” cycles.

Chloride is another halogen that can compete for iodine, chlorine being the oxidized form and found in many products including municipal water supplies.  Perchlorate consists of one chlorine atom surrounded by four atoms of oxygen; it is found naturally as well as man made; it has also been found to displace iodine binding.  Perchlorate is found in a variety of products including car air bags, leather tanning, fireworks, and rocket fuel; it has been associated with many serious health conditions.

What can we do to make sure our thyroid is working properly and we are getting enough iodine?  First of all, make sure you are feeding your animals a species appropriate diet from clean sources and eating a natural, organic diet yourself.  Try to include more fish and/or sea veggies in your diet.  Try to avoid plastic as much as possible for yourself and your animals (which I know is very difficult nowadays).  Try to make sure the bread products you consume contain no bromine.  Eliminate soft drinks (including the diet type).

If you find that you are deficient in iodine, then certainly consider an appropriate supplement.  Young Living has some great dietary supplements that can help:  MultiGreens and Sulfurzyme are two that are recommended, along with Thyromin capsules.  Myrtle essential oil is one of my favorite oils to use in balancing thyroid function – in horses, thyroid dysfunctions are generally at least secondary to other conditions (such as insulin resistance), nevertheless bringing the thyroid back into balance can make a significant difference while you continue to address other underlying issues.  These protocols can be used along with any synthetic thyroid hormone you may take (and which I personally do not recommend) – but please keep your thyroid levels checked as you may find that you need decreasing amounts of the synthetic version.  Synthetic thyroid hormone mimics (replaces) your body’s natural production and therefore can degenerate the thyroid as it does not “see” a need to produce hormone.  Natural food products such as those from Young Living work to balance the thyroid’s own production; what the body doesn’t use as it needs will be eliminated.  (Note that Thyromin is one of the very few YL products that contains glandulars and horses may not take it; they do quite well on the oils and other supplements.)

Read Article Here



Salt Your Way to Health. David Brownstein MD, 2006


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.


It’s been known for decades that animals such as chimpanzees seek out medicinal herbs to treat their diseases. But in recent years, the list of animal pharmacists has grown much longer, and it now appears that the practice of animal self-medication is a lot more widespread than previously thought, according to ecologists.  Source:  U of Michigan, Apr 11, 2013

Read Full Article Here

Zoopharmacognosy is a term used to describe the process by which non-human animals self-medicate.  In the domestic equine world this is a very difficult thing for the horse to accomplish as his world is typically very manipulated.  However horses in a natural environment are perfectly capable of doing this.  Daniel Janzen first observed this behavior in various wild animal species in 1978.  It is an important behavior function for parasite control and general health – the domestic horse can be kept in such an environment!

Applied zoopharmacognosy can be done on a case-by-case basis, using plant extracts and/or essential oils.  Carolyn Ingraham in the UK has been instrumental in bringing a scientific approach to this discipline.

The book, Wild Health: How Animals Keep Themselves Well and What We Can Learn From Them, by Cindy Engel is a good read on this subject.

Zoopharmacognosy-Self Medication in Wild Animals-Raman et al

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