When selecting homeopathic remedies for your horse’s skin conditions, deciphering the nature of his symptoms is key.
Conventional medical treatments are disease-based. Homeopathic treatments are symptom-based. This difference in approach can make choosing homeopathic remedies seem confusing. And with issues related to your horse’s skin, the differences between remedies can be subtle indeed! For instance, there is no single remedy for hives because hives can present with a wide range of qualities. In order to set them apart from each other, we need to pay attention to how symptoms are aggravated or relieved, what the overriding qualities of the remedy are, and the horse’s behavior.
Hives, stings, bites and swellings
Apis Mellifluca – Honey bee poison
Apis is useful for the itching and swelling reactions caused by insect bites and stings, scorpion stings, and spider or snake bites, particularly when there is rapid swelling that produces hard welts. Apis can also be used to treat hives and swellings of other origins. These eruptions are sore and sensitive and the skin is dry and hot, often forming dry scaly scabs.
Apis skin issues are characterized by burning, stinging and intolerable itching. They can be sensitive to the slightest touch, though the horse may find many opportunities to rub and itch, sometimes abrading the skin to a point where it becomes visible through the coat. When this happens, the skin will appear shiny.
Apis skin issues are characterized by burning, stinging and intolerable itching.
Apis reactions are aggravated by heat, touch and pressure. They are soothed by cold, such as cool air, cold bathing and uncovering. The “keynote” qualities to look for in this remedy are burning, stinging pains, swelling and hard welts.
The horse who is hardworking and willing, as well as “bossy”, will have a tendency to these types of swellings. These horses will be oversensitive to pressure and very restless and irritable when symptoms are present.
Arsenicum Album – Arsenic trioxide
A horse that needs this remedy will present with burning and itching swellings that are similar to Apis; however, these swellings are better with heat, hot applications, and/or warm wraps. Ulcers may form with foul-smelling discharge and the skin may look seared and dry, often leading to hair loss and peeling skin tissue.
This horse will be quite restless, seem anxious, and may even tremble. He might also demonstrate a heightened level of fearfulness with an increased tendency to avoid being alone. He may be hungrier and thirstier than usual.
Rhus Tox – Poison ivy
This remedy is also useful for hives and skin eruptions with swelling and itching. The skin is bumpy and can look thickened and stiff, as well as dry and scaly. As with Arsenicum, the symptoms are better with heat. Hot or warm water can relieve itching; cold water will worsen it. You may also notice a marked increase in urination. A “keynote” feature of this remedy, that may or may not be present, is “eruptions forming upon eruptions”.
Rhus Tox symptoms are characteristically better with continued motion, so getting the horse moving can offer some relief. Stiffness is a hallmark of this remedy (Rhus Tox is often used for treating arthritis); look for other signs of stiffness and rigidity to help determine if this remedy is appropriate. This horse may seem depressed, with increased irritability and restlessness at night, resulting in morning weariness.
Ledum Palustre – Marsh tea
Ledum is classically known for its application in treating and even preventing reactions to insect bites. Look for a general lack of heat in the body, along with wounded parts that are cold. Despite this lack of heat, wounds feel better from cold applications.
Ledum is also good for puncture wounds, particularly when the muscles tend to twitch around the wound. Scorpion stings also respond well to Ledum.
Ledum is classically known for its application in treating and even preventing reactions to insect bites.
Warts, tags, tumors and sarcoids
Thuja – Arbor vitae
Thuja is useful for treating sarcoids, spongy tumors, warts, skin tags, styes, skin eruptions, ringworm, and ailments from vaccinations, including swellings at the injection site. Some of these growths may cause hair to fall out. Thuja can be a successful remedy for treating sarcoids that are wart-like, and also works well for systemic ringworm as well as rain rot.
Symptoms in these horses are worse at night, in cold damp weather, and following vaccinations; they are improved with warmth, including warm wrappings, warm air and warm wind. Motion and touch, such as stretching and massage, can bring relief.
Thuja is characterized by a sense of “splitting” or duality, in which the personality may seem to encompass both fragility and hardness at once. Look for signs of “splitting” in other places, such as splitting hooves or splitting of the skin. This horse may appear especially weak and “burned out”.
Silicea – Silica, pure flint
This remedy is helpful for the nodular type of sarcoid. It is also helpful in treating abcesses, ulcers and boils accompanied by offensive-smelling pus. These injuries tend to fester, and Silicea can be used to prevent infected or septic states.
Horses that need Silicea are sensitive to intrusion and tend to move away from those who enter or pass by their stalls. In addition, they will seem notably awkward or clumsy, often stumbling through doorways and across thresholds.
The homeopathic approach
In homeopathy, each horse is viewed as a unique individual. Remedies are selected based on a horse’s specific symptoms, level of health, and behavior.
Homeopathy operates under the concept of “like cures like”. This means that a substance that may cause certain symptoms can alleviate those same symptoms when given in homeopathically-prepared form.
Homeopathy is a complementary therapy, and is not a replacement for veterinary care. However, it can be a helpful approach to giving your horse relief from the symptoms of many skin conditions. Considering the unique nature of your horse and how he experiences his symptoms will help determine the most appropriate remedy.
Susan Guran is a Homeopathic Practitioner and Therapeutic Riding Instructor living and working in Vermont. HomeopathyHorse.com