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.