Just like humans, horses can suffer from depression, anxiety, PTSD and other mental health problems. In many cases, homeopathic remedies offer a natural way to help them cope and heal.
A horse’s state of being is inseparable from his environment and those around him. When major environmental challenges arise, you may see signs of withdrawal, anxiety, grief or heartache. If these reactions are prolonged, they can profoundly impact the horse’s physical and mental health. While there are a number of ways to treat these issues, homeopathic remedies are a great place to start.
The mind/body connection
All homeopathic remedies are capable of addressing aspects of mental health in some way. The metaphorical nature of homeopathy shows us that depression remedies and heart remedies often overlap, and that anxiety is closely related to depression. Below are a handful of remedies that, in my experience, were relevant to treating symptoms of depression, grief or anxiety alongside the physical issues present in some of my cases.
Because emotional states are so influential in the development of physical symptoms, homeopathic remedies emphasize mental/emotional symptoms first and foremost. This offers us the opportunity to treat an individual before certain physical symptoms have a chance to fully manifest.
Mind symptoms, as they are called in the Materia Medica, give us the most accurate picture of the remedy’s overall flavor and are integral to differentiating one from another. Mind symptoms are of primary importance because the mind and body are interconnected.
In early follow-ups, we determine how well a remedy is working by noting changes in demeanor, since these changes take place most rapidly and distinctly, particularly in horses. The resolution of physical symptoms happens more slowly over time.
Homeopathic remedies for mental health
Aurum Metallicum is beneficial in treating symptoms that arise in the later stages of Lyme disease, when issues with the heart are often present. In some of these cases, you will find a literal “heaviness of heart” that is associated with deep depression (see case study below). The overall expression of a horse in need of this remedy is a sense of heaviness. It is often associated with grief from the loss of a loved one and is a remedy that comes up for consideration when treating states of depression.
Silicea is another remedy called for in Lyme disease, in which there is an obvious state of withdrawal. It is associated with despondency and depression. Movement takes great effort for these horses, so they stumble a lot. They don’t enjoy being touched or being near others, and there is a clear message sent out that says “leave me alone.”
Digitalis is a heart remedy that can be used in cases where a deep chronic cough is present. This symptom can easily divert one away from the remedy because it seems unrelated to its primary association. However, in examining the dynamics of the horse’s everyday life, you will find that he has no filter for absorbing the anxiety of those around him, and will seem firmly planted in a state of perpetual worry, concern and resulting depression or sense of hopelessness. It will seem as though he cannot “unplug” from others. In general, Digitalis is associated with guilt, which in a horse appears as a sense of responsibility for the feelings of those around them. Physical symptoms can include both an excess buildup of fluids as well as an excess loss of fluids through perspiration or urination.
Baryta Carbonica can be used in cases of grief, depression and despondency. You will find a massive state of energy conservation associated with this remedy, in which the animal has no desire to move at all. It is also associated with swellings and enlargements and some form of rigidity, hardness or inflexibility. A horse in need of this remedy might seem shy and unwilling to engage.
Thuja is a remedy that’s commonly used for horses overall. It is associated with many expressions, including cancer, rapid weight loss, and a general state of despondency. Individuals who need Thuja seem to be missing in action amid their own story. There is a spooky lack of presence and character and a sense of both fragility and rigidity at once. Thuja is a great preventative treatment for vaccine injury and can be given solely for that reason following vaccination.
Staphysagria has become one of the most common remedies for the treatment of horses that are shut down. These animals have often been asked to do too much without their consent or adequate support. It is a remedy associated with resentment, which in horses presents as quiet yet formidable resistance. An animal might need Staphysagria if he appears to be very tolerant, but ultimately tolerates too much and ends up feeling overly imposed upon. The result is a deficient state that may appear as an overall dullness and disassociation.
Nitric Acid is associated with depression, anxiety and grief. While it can be helpful for horses who display weakness and fatigue, it’s most beneficial for irritability and oversensitivity. If a horse “discharges” often – including energetic discharges that are super-charged and explosive – Nitric Acid might be in order. Similarly, if an animal has some kind of tissue destruction, such as decaying teeth or discharges that destroy the surrounding tissue, or if he has an element of despair, this remedy may help. The despair will manifest as snappishness and oversensitivity to outside stimulation – wind, noise, light, touch, etc. The horse will close off emotionally as a form of self-protection.
Symptoms of depression and anxiety alert us to the horse’s state of mental health and his need to be regarded holistically in mind, body and soul. If we pay attention to his emerging mental/emotional state, we can treat him homeopathically before physical symptoms become advanced. Treating proactively on this level makes the best use of homeopathy’s full potential for curative action.