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Vet Nick Thompson describes how homeopathic intervention saved the life of a seriously ill horse
Jazz was perhaps the most gentle, unassuming and easygoing mare I'd encountered in a long while. But sadly she was far from well and presented with a veritable catalogue of health problems. These included autumn and spring parotiditis (where the salivary glands swell), longstanding neck and hock arthritis, allergic respiratory disease and a recent sudden onset of polyarthritis (an immunological condition where all the joints are inflamed). Her parotiditis was worse in autumn, but became aggravated more on damp days, as were her various arthritic problems.
Conventional medicine had done well. Since she was three years old Jazz had had treatment for these and numerous other complaints. Without it she would not have survived. But in September 2007 her vets were left shaking their heads when confronted with Jazz’s latest list of problems. And as the summer warmth receded and the early autumn weather became increasingly damp, Sarah, the horse’s owner, was getting more concerned by the day.
Although Sarah was a dedicated, loving and caring owner, she had reluctantly come to the conclusion that if her horse’s joints or its glands flared-up again she would have no alternative other than to put Jazz to sleep. But Sarah is not the quitting kind and, possibly as a last attempt to save her horse’s life, she contacted me by email.
Reading through Sarah's 3,616-word email (I told you she was dedicated) I became familiar with Jazz's history. Impressed by her commitment to her horse’s health – and because I could see very strong factors affecting the animal’s condition – I decided to see if homeopathy could help.
I considered the case: worse for damp, worse in autumn and spring, worse for cold, worse for standing still. This indicated to me that Rhus toxicodendron would be a good first medicine while I thought about the complexity of the case. Then I added a blood auto-nosode which is a homeopathic medicine derived from the patient’s own substances in accordance with homeopathic guidelines, in this case blood taken from Jazz and potentised to 30c. Rhus tox 200c and the auto-nosode were given twice daily for the first two weeks.
The blood autonosode is an interesting therapeutic option. I was first introduced to it when working for Mark Elliott MRCVS (Member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons) in Chichester in the mid 90's. I use it where the patient appears to have a viraemia, a medical condition where viruses enter the bloodstream, and where there are non-specific or variable complications of a disease. Dressage and event horses are often subject to immense athletic pressure and very restrictive management (little turnout, high cereal feeds, frequent competition stress, frequent vaccination) and frequently present with chronic fatigue symptoms. These include persistent lethargy, poor exercise tolerance, anaemia and longstanding abnormal white blood cell counts. Conventionally these cases are very difficult to treat. Nevertheless, I have found that blood nosodes, supported by homeopathic medicines to treat the symptoms of the illness along with medicines prescribed in accordance with the patient’s psychological and physical characteristics (constitutional prescribing), can turn them around remarkably.
We saw this with Jazz. Within seven days she was noticeably brighter in herself and her salivary glands and fetlock joints were less puffy. Sarah, to her amazement, even saw Jazz cantering when turned out into the school arena (we had to be careful of her access to grass). Even her wheezing was reduced.
In November we decided the improvement in Jazz’s health had plateaued using the Rhus tox 200c. Although her improvement had stopped, her condition was not regressing. We increased the potency of the Rhus tox to 1M and added Dulcamara 30c, as it became apparent that dampness was major aggravating factor for her symptoms. Using this combination of homeopathic medications, Jazz continued to improve throughout in winter. From this point on, she didn’t look back. She suffered no significant aggravation the following autumn and went from strength to strength.
Today Jazz is able to do light work, hacking out and even has the flexibility and musculoskeletal integrity to do some schooling. She has had mild flare-ups of parotiditis, but these are resolved with a modification of the homeopathic treatment or just increasing frequency of her treatment during these periods.
For me this case is a really striking example of how relatively simple homeopathic medicines can transform complex, chronic polysystemic disease. The prescription was easy: the results were miraculous. And Jazz continues to charm all who meet her, human and equine alike.