How We Heal – The REAL Way

vet clinicA large part of my practice is devoted to health issues in animals. I am trained in herbalism and 1st aid homeopathy so get lots of referrals, even from veterinarians, of cases where everybody is stumped as to what is going on with an animal. Of course I never, ever, ever “diagnose” or even suggest that any particular disease or malady is at the seat of things — I am not medically trained. What I do is ask the animals things like “where does it hurt,” “what does it feel like,” “when do you think this started.” Stuff like that. Sometimes the animals themselves can give the best clues as to where to go next with treatment options.

Being holistically oriented, I have learned that not much healing can take place unless the body has the basic nutritional building blocks it needs. And it always does best if allowed to do as much of the work as possible on its own rather than simply responding to chemicals and drugs, which in itself takes lots of energy.

The following is a column written by one of the most cutting-edge holistic horse veterinarians of our time, Dr. Madalyn Ward. In it she discusses the various levels of treating symptoms and why they don’t always lead to a “cure.” Her column is written specifically for horse people but the principles apply to all of us animals, 4-legged and 2-legged. The column is reprinted here with Dr. Ward’s full permission.


When your horse gets sick, do you find that your first instinct is to “fix it”? Do you feel the need to make the symptoms go away immediately so that both you and your horse can feel better right now? This is an understandable reaction, since none of us want our horses to suffer if we can help it. But while the “quick fix” often makes us feel better about our horses, it can actually be detrimental to our horses’ overall health. The quick fix is a poor choice for horse health care.


When it comes to horse health care and coping with your horse’s symptoms, you have three options:

–    palliation
–    suppression
–    cure

Let’s take a look at each of these three options, and their overall effect on your horse’s health.


Palliation means alleviating your horse’s symptoms with some form of treatment. With palliation, the symptoms will most likely return as soon as you stop treatment. An example of palliation is using Bute to lessen arthritis pain. Your horse feels better when he’s on Bute, but will have painful joints as soon as you take him off the medication. Palliation reduces symptoms but does not address the root cause of the problem.

In this case, the joint fluid has been damaged by an excess of circulating free radicals, which prevents it from properly nourishing the joint cartilage. The cartilage then begins to break down faster than the body can replace it, creating instability in the joint. The body’s response to all of this is to deposit calcium around the joint in an effort to stabilize it. Giving your horse Bute will in no way slow down or stop the process, which allows permanent damage to eventually occur. As you can see, palliation is not the best long-term horse health care option.


Suppression is similar to palliation in that it makes your horse’s symptoms disappear. However, unlike palliation, with suppressive therapy your horse’s symptoms disappear and do not reappear after the course of treatment. Unfortunately, rather than solving the problem, suppressive therapies drive the problem deeper into your horse’s body, worsening his overall health.

For example, a common therapy for treating allergic skin reactions is to give steroids. These drugs will stop the rash but will likely bring about an undesirable change in behavior as well. As a result, your once-friendly horse is now aggressive and hateful. This is a side-effect of suppression. The skin rash was a sign of a liver imbalance, and when this expression of the imbalance was blocked by steroids the body was forced to express itself at a deeper and more serious level. In this example, besides serious personality changes, the energy of the disease will also eventually manifest again physically, but in another, more serious way than a skin rash. The usual result is liver damage.


Cure is, of course, the best solution because it both relieves the symptoms and removes the root cause of your horse’s health problem. However, when it comes to horse health care, the problem with cure is that it’s no quick fix. It can take quite a bit of time and patience.

With cure, your horse’s system must be strengthened, the obstacles to cure must be removed, and the overall systemic balance must be restored. This involves an in-depth look at the nutrition, management, and personality of the patient — a comprehensive approach that is not considered in a conventional
treatment of symptoms alone.

In the arthritic horse, for example, I would give the horse the nutritional support it needed to help the cartilage heal faster. I would also investigate the source of free radicals that were causing damage to the joints. If I found the source to be external, I would remove it and probably add appropriate
supplements to the diet to combat the existing free radicals.  If the source was internal, I would use a healing method such as acupuncture or homeopathy to bring the body back into balance.

With cure, not only do symptoms disappear but the vital force comes into full expression. The hair coat shines, the eyes brighten, and the playful spirit returns, even in older animals.

Horse Health Care: The Road to Cure

As a holistic veterinarian, I am often called in to treat horses
with severe symptoms that are the result of long-term palliation
and/or suppression. Unfortunately, bringing these horses back to
a state of true health takes much longer because their systems
have been so weakened by palliative or suppressive approaches.
It’s much easier to treat a disease in the early stages using
holistic methods aimed at producing cure, even if it means seeing
your horse suffer through some temporary symptoms like painful
feet or itchy skin. These are simply ways your horse’s body uses
to express what’s wrong. If you can learn to “read” these
symptoms and address the root cause rather than reaching for the
quick fix, you’ll have a healthier happier horse in the long run.


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