A look at the life cycle of parasitic worms and why herbal deworming methods are an option worth pursuing.
Knowledge is key to eliminating the need for chemical wormers. Due to the toxic nature of these products and the way they interact with parasites, they often don’t have the effect that horse caretakers hope. Herbal deworming products that contain organic ingredients, on the other hand, have proven very effective in many cases when administered correctly.
The life cycle of parasitic worms
Horses that are infested with parasites host adult worms. The female produces eggs that pass through fecal matter into the pasture, and then develop into varying larvae stages. From there, they affect grazing horses by entering into the alimentary canal, producing a new generation of adult parasites, both male and female.
Typically pastures utilize shared grazing and many are often smaller than what is ideal for the number of horses. Horse owners and barn managers alike should monitor their herd regularly, and be alert to horses that are shedding a lot of worm eggs. When this happens, other horses in the paddock are likely to become infected.
The problem with chemical wormers
In most cases, chemical worming products do more harm than good. Most of them contain neurotoxins, meaning they are designed chemically to shut down the central nervous system of the parasite. But the chemicals will also have a negative effect on your horses’ overall health.
Worms can also develop resistance to worming drugs. If the worm is resistant to even one of the chemicals in the group, they can then develop a cross-resistance to all chemically similar drugs. When this happens, the worms are not killed and the health of the horse is compromised from the chemicals.
Taking the natural route
How can we effectively and healthfully prevent or eliminate worms in our horses?
The answer is with love, organically!
Some of the herbs that are proven to be highly effective at expelling or preventing infestation of parasites are peppermint, chamomile, anise, thyme, dulse, neem, elecampane, cinnamon, and garlic.
If you don’t have the resources to enlist the help of an herbalist, look for a pre-formulated herbal deworming product that contains these ingredients. Equine Herbal Wormer, for instance, is a certified organic wormer that works to create an environment in the gut and digestive system that is uninhabitable to parasites. It works to expel any existing parasites, and prevents their development when used monthly from early spring through the fall in timing with the lunar cycle. When fed regularly, resistance to parasites increases and will provide your horse with constant protection all year round.
The role of the lunar cycle
In many parts of the world including the United Kingdom, the traditional worming treatment of farm animals is to administer two days before the full moon, (the moon waxing), on the day of the full moon, and two days after the full moon (the moon waning). This protocol dates back hundreds of years, and has demonstrated consistently good results.
Typically, the concentration and presence of parasites is highest during this time. The female worm ovulates between the new and full moon, and the parasites are then suspended – the worms detach from the walls of the organs and lining of the intestines in order to breed and lay their eggs. Therefore this is the perfect time to administer your herbal wormer as it disrupts the egg-laying cycle.
Unfortunately, you cannot stop your animals from picking up parasites. But you can prevent them from settling and creating damage! Time your deworming regimen in accordance with the lunar cycle and, whenever possible, reach for certified organic herbs – the safest, most effective way to keep your horse healthy.