The following acupressure treatment is based on the Balance method. The Balance method of acupuncture treatment utilizes a unilateral approach, treating only one side of the horse at a time and alternating sides every treatment.
Day one: gently massage in small, quarter-sized circles the following points on the right side of your horse: LV3, LV14, GB39 and UB18
Day two: gently massage in small, quarter-sized circles the following points on the left side of your horse: LV8, LV5, GB34 and UB19
It happens every year - your horse is rubbing out her lovely tail or is covered with hives when the trees in your yard bloom. What can you do? Herbs can help our horses cope with the challenges of seasonal skin allergies.
Seasonal skin allergies can be among the most frustrating and difficult problems encountered by horses and owners alike. One of the most difficult aspects of treating skin allergies is determining what is actually is stimulating the reaction. It can be almost anything - insect bites, foods, supplements, plants, pollution or chemicals are all possible culprits. Ideally, if we can identify the offending substance and remove it, or move the horse, this is a good first step in a management plan followed by building immunity and reducing the allergic inflammatory response.,
The following herbs are a few options to support your horse through a difficult allergy season:
Spirulina is a variety of blue-green algae grown in fresh water. Spirulina is high in vitamins, minerals, protein, amino acids and omega 3 and 6 oils. Nutrient rich Spirulina was utilized as a food by the Aztecs in pre-colonial Mexico. Considered by many as a “whole food,” Spirulina is a powerful immuno-stimulant and anti-inflammatory with strong anti-allergy effects. It is ideal nutritional support for horses prone to allergic skin reactions. It enables the body to be less reactive to allergens and external irritants. One-half to one tablespoon daily is the recommended amount.
Huo ma ren (Fructus cannabis) is Chinese hemp seed. Chinese hemp seed is rich in oil, promoting hair growth while nourishing the skin. Huo ma ren is high in omega 3 and 6 oils, is anti-inflammatory and helps reduce itching. I recommend using a mix of fresh ground flax seed and/or wheat germ in addition to Huo ma ren. One-fourth to one-half cup of this mixture per day is ideal for supporting hair, hoof and skin.
Da qing ye (Folium isatidis) means "big green leaf" in Chinese. We know the big green leaves of Da qing ye as indigo. Over the centuries, indigo was highly prized a dye in Asia and Europe. From the TCM perspective, Da qing ye is a bitter and cold herb. As such, it clears heat (inflammation) and eliminates toxins (allergens). It is antimicrobial and anti -inflammatory. Da ging ye, like the supplement MSM, contains natural sulfur. Sulfur has a long history of use in skin remedies dating back to biblical times. Sulfur is often prescribed homeopathically for skin conditions as well.
Applied topically, a solution of strong Da ging ye tea mixed with a few drops of tea tree oil is very effective in the treatment of fungal skin infections, fly bite allergies, weepy hives and scratches.
Note of caution: Da ging ye should be used internally with caution. Horses with sulfur allergies or sulfonamide antibiotic sensitivities or deficient individuals prone to diarrhea or with weak digestive systems should avoid internal use completely.
I also recommend eliminating sweet and heat producing foods from the buckets of horses suffering from skin allergies. From the traditional Chinese medicine perspective, feeds containing molasses, sugar or corn create a condition of internal dampness and heat which aggravate itchy, inflamed skin.
Springtime Tune-up with Herbs, Exercise, and Acupressure
By Gloria Garland L.Ac, Dipl. Ac. & CH.
The lengthening daylight, warming temperatures and upward growth of tiny green shoots serve as a reminder that it is time for our horses' annual spring tune up.
Spring signals the body's sleeping yang energies to rise and shine! Spring Qi energy moves upward & outwards. Horses often express the awakening yang in outbursts of exuberance, playful bucking and romping, aggression and moody shifts, and mares resume cycling.
From the Chinese medicine perspective, spring is associated with the wood element, the liver and gall bladder meridians, tendons, ligaments, hoofs and the eyes. Its color is green, like the new shoots of spring, and its flavor is sour.
We can support our horses' wood element, its organs and tissues with herbs and acupressure. By following the wood element's correspondences and affinities, we can provide our horses with spring time assistance.
Not surprisingly, green foods, including high chlorophyll plants, nourish and support the liver. Spirulina (Spirulina platensis) is just one plant ideally suited to the task. Spirulina is a variety of blue-green, micro algae. High in natural beta carotene, vitamins, minerals, protein, amino acids and essential fatty acids, it is hepatoprotective (liver protective).
Spirulina is especially effective against free radical damage and useful in the prevention and treatment of respiratory allergies and sweet itch. Both conditions can follow the warming spring weather.
A short course of Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) and Globe artichoke (Cynara scolymus) can be utilized in a gentle spring liver tonic. Both herbs are trophorestorative, protecting and restoring liver function especially if there has been damage from toxins.
The liver likes the sour flavor, so a few tablespoons of vinegar is a great spring time addition to our horses' feed bucket. I like to use rice vinegar, but apple cider vinegar is fine also.
Spring time workouts should include long warm ups and gentle stretching to encourage yang Qi energy to the tendons and ligaments, thus preventing injuries.
The golden, yang warmth of autumn naturally transitions into to the cooler, yin season of winter. This seasonal shift alerts our horse companions to don their furry winter coats in perpetration for the cold. For me this is the signal to start my winter preparations around the barn. Along with filling the barn with hay, I begin my equine winterizing routine with the herb He Shu Wu.
The Chinese herb He Shu Wu (polygonum multiflorum) is a warm, tonic herb ideally suited for the task. He Shu Wu can enable our horse friends to make a smooth seasonal transition into winter.
Winter, from the Chinese perspective, is the season of the kidney and water. I encourage all my patients, both horse and human alike, to take this seasonal opportunity to warm, recharge and enhance kidney qi.
Kidney qi is considered the “Root of Life”. It is the foundation for all the qi energies of the body, responsible for birth, growth, reproduction, bone development and longevity. Strong kidney qi can be compared to the charge in your car battery. When we keep the battery well charged it starts right up, keeps the headlights lit and runs all the other systems.
He Shu Wu, a key ingredient in many Chinese tonic formulations, has been used as a longevity tonic for centuries. Its gentle warming nature is ideal to help the body stay well charged, resist infection, and resist the chills of winter. Additionally, modern clinical studies have shown it to reduce cholesterol, stimulate the development of red blood cells, and to act as an antibacterial.
He Shu Wu is ideal for the older horse that has a difficult time maintaining condition or body weight during the colder months. I recommend feeding one half tablespoon of ground He Shu Wu daily throughout the winter, discontinuing it in the spring as the days begin to warm and lengthen. Avoid use in individuals that are prone to hypoglycemia or loose stools.
Chinese herbal supplements should be used properly and thoughtfully under the guidance of a licensed Chinese herbalist. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), used properly, is an adjunctive therapy and, therefore, complementary to veterinary treatment. Information presented here is not intended to replace proper veterinary diagnosis or treatment and should not be used for that purpose.
Living and practicing Chinese medicine in the central California foothills allows me a first-hand look the seasonal/environmental changes that directly influence our horses’ health as well as our own. Learning to read the local seasons has deepened my appreciation for the ancient practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and their keen observations of the natural world. They observed that the season and environment directly affect the various systems of the body and that seasonal shifts leave the body more vulnerable to external factors like cold, mold, dampness and dryness. As the year gradually moves from yang to yin and passes through the five elemental phases/seasons, allergies (seasonal/elemental sensitivities) accompany those shifts. Understanding these shifts and what they represent can help us manage and cope with equine allergies.
The Chinese observe five seasons, including late summer. Each element corresponds with a season: wood/spring, fire/summer, earth /late summer, metal /autumn and water /winter. Additionally, each season has a corresponding organ/meridian system. For example, autumn is the season of metal. The lungs and respiratory system, which are associated with the metal element, are more vulnerable during this time. I know that in the dryness of autumn, after the full baking heat of the California summer, I will be filling herbal prescriptions for all types of respiratory related conditions - from dry coughs and runny noses to seasonal heaves.
Typical of seasonal-related problems I see in my practice would be an older appaloosa gelding whose uveitis flares up in the spring (wood is associated with the eyes) when the cottonwood tress in his pasture are budding out, a filly that starts wheezing and develops a clear nasal discharge in the dusty autumn (metal - lungs) and a mare that develops itchy skin in the height of summer (fire - blood). All are examples of a seasonal element under stress manifesting as a sensitivity, reaction or allergy.
We can expect to see allergic responses when the seasons shift. Unfortunately, most of us call for help only after our horse is in acute distress with full-blown symptoms; western methods of treatment as well focus more on treatment of disease symptoms. By contrast, key emphases of Traditional Chinese Medicine are prevention and strategies for maintaining wellness.
If we can learn to watch for seasonal changes and train ourselves to think ahead, we can help our horses avoid or reduce seasonal allergies. Ideally, I like my patients to act ahead in anticipation of allergy season. I consider this a preemptive, wellness intervention. In other words, in advance of allergy season, start a prevention program well before the symptoms become an issue.
Fires, Floods, Tornadoes-Real and on the Rise Although the number and severity of weather related disasters is on the rise, according to a recent Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) survey, only 39 percent of respondents have developed an emergency plan. Learn how to protect your horses.
The severe fires throughout California have exposed humans and animals to unhealthy air containing wildfire smoke and particulates. These particulates can build up in the respiratory system, causing a number of health problems including burning eyes, runny noses and illnesses such as bronchitis. They can also aggravate heart and lung diseases such as congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema and asthma.
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