WHY I USE LIQUID HERBS FOR MEDICINE
The Greek Physician Hippocrates (370 – 440 BC) known as the father of medicine famously said “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”.
In this day and age this is not so easy, and when it comes to herbs for horses, owners need reliable information. So here it is ….
All natural feeds play an important role in providing preventive nutrition, which is what my VF Natural Diet is all about, but I don’t class this as medicinal. But using certain feeds, for example Rosehips, then you are providing the equine body with a lot of essential nutrients needed for growth, maintenance and REPAIR. So this helps to prevent illness by keeping the immune system in top working order, and should an injury occur, recovery will be faster and better than if the body had not received the benefit of preventive nutrition in the first place.
So the feeds I have been using in my VF Natural Diets for the past 20 years provide a balance of essential nutrients in raw food form, which are much more easily digested and absorbed compared with processed feeds and synthetic minerals and vitamins, just another advantage of this way of feeding.
So the Rosehips in the diet are provided in dried form which is very convenient to add to the feed. So in this form they are a feed, but because of their properties and constituents, they are also a medicine.
I always prescribe & dispense herbs in liquid form for medicinal purposes, which are syringed into the horse’s mouth.
VIVE LA DIFFERENCE
The difference is that liquid herbal extracts syringed over the tongue go straight into the bloodstream via the liver, which has huge advantages. This process is very quick, and it doesn’t have to go through the digestive tract which is much slower, and is a big advantage if the equine gut in question is compromised for any reason and not operating optimally. In any event going through the digestion process to get into the blood stream is always going to have individual influences depending on the health of the gut. So there is no point in putting a liquid herbal extract into the feed, it is just a waste of money.
The other huge advantage is that I use small dosages of liquid herbal extracts which are very effective, so a herbal prescription which often contains from 5 to 8 herbs is a small dose of 5 – 10 ml depending on the horse concerned. An equal amount of water or honey or molasses water is added to dilute the dosage before syringing.
Compare this with trying to put 5 – 7 herbs into the feed all at once. It just isn’t going to work, not only is it not palatable, it is a really bad idea to make such a drastic change to the feed at the one time. We all know or should know that feed changes should always be made gradually.
Because I am a qualified human herbalist I have access to practitioner only products, which are the liquid herbal extracts I have talked about here, and they are of guaranteed provenance and quality.
Horses really enjoy receiving their herbal medicines in liquid form, and my clients always tell me that after a few days their horses open their mouths for the syringe, and don’t even need a halter.
Horses are attracted by the aroma of the herbs, so if they are introduced to oral syringing gently and slowly, there are seldom any problems.
In this way you also know the horse has received the full, correct dosage.
HERBAL FORMULAS FOR COMMON PROBLEMS
I have a range of herbal formulas for common problems (made from the human medicinal quality herbal extracts I have been describing in this blog) covering Joint, Digestive, Respiratory and Immune Health.
You don’t need a consultation to access these formulas and I am happy to help you with selection by phone or email.
Read about them on my shop at www.victoriaferguson.com.au/product-category/herbal-blends
JUST-IN-CASE FORMULAS FOR EMERGENCIES
My Just-in-Case formulas are also made from liquid herbal extracts, for use in emergencies where first aid needs to be administered fast.
Such as the Release Chamomile & Valerian Formula which also contains Peppermint and is indicated for colic, where it has been seen to act very quickly.
Having this on hand, along with other formulas for emergencies, gives peace of mind, especially if you can’t get the vet in a hurry, which is all too common these days.
There are a lot of dried herbs on the market for horses and usually the recommended feeding rate is one tablespoon. This really is ridiculous, because a tablespoon of dried chopped root could weigh 30 grams while a tablespoon of a leaf or flower could only weigh 5 grams. Also the size of the horse or pony is very important, clearly a Shetland pony will need a great deal less than a Clydesdale. Furthermore some herbs require very low rates while others need to be given at high rates.
There are circumstances when I do recommend dried herbs in the feed, and this is usually for maintenance after they have completed a course of medicinal herbs or as part of a VF Natural Diet.
The reason most dried herb sellers promote these for medicinal purposes is because they do not have any professional qualifications and therefore do not have access to practitioner only liquid herbal extracts.
So as a horse owner or manager, you need to be very clear about why and how you are using herbs – as a feed and/or a medicine.