Tuesday, November 30, 2010

"Allergies" - breaking the inflammatory cycle with a proprietary blend...

I don't often reply/post on many of the on-line groups I'm subscribed to as I'm not often able to get back to follow-up. But recent discussions on "allergies" and herbal remedies (for "allergy" and other inflammatory conditions) on the EC/IR group and other groups caught my attention.

The discussions on allergies made me think of my asthma - I really think many horses are not "allergic" but simply get caught up an inflammatory response - if the inflammatory cycle can be stopped, the "triggers" will cease to cause problems (or not as much). I didn't initially understand why I wasn't "allergic" to all the stuff that caused breathing problems, red eyes, runny nose and itching - my allergy tests were all negative. But, working with the allergist, I learned that "triggers" are not the same thing as allergies and I found these triggers (ranging from perfume to dust to cold to kitties to pollens, etc.) don't affect me as much if I take care of the baseline anti-inflammation stuff - like taking my
magnesium and Singulair (which is very similar to Spirulina in the way it acts), staying hydrated, getting enough rest, eating a balanced diet. If I do all these things I can stay off the inhaled steroids. In fact when I really pay attention to what I eat and drink and get enough rest I can actually pet and play with the barn kitties without turning into a mass of itchy red eyed sniffles.

Flax, spirulina, chondroitin etc (in addition to the baseline mineral balanced diet) all help improve the inflammatory threshold so the horse doesn't respond to triggers by mounting a major inflammatory response. But once an inflammatory cascade is started it seems more and more things will act as triggers until our horse is in a bubble of inflammation - with many systems affected. It can take something fairly significant (such as steroids and antihistamines) in large enough doses taken for a long enough period of time to stop the inflammatory response spiral and hold it off long enough for the immune system to regroup.

I think this is why some of these herbal concoctions are successful - if you put a large enough variety of herbal ingredients with anti-inflammatory properties in a high enough potency to stop the inflammatory cascade plus some adaptogens to help improve circulation, etc., something's bound to work. The "proprietary blend" or, IMO, "kitchen sink" approach.

If someone uses one of these blends and it works, the cost and accompanying rhetoric is irrelevant and we become a fan. Few of us actually take the time to figure out what made it work. If it doesn't work, we tend to just walk away and start searching for something else - we rarely go somewhere to discuss the downside - that it may have gotten in the way of appropriate diagnosis and resulted in the wrong treatment for the wrong thing.

At times some people have seemed to feel that the main Equine Cushings list is "anti-herbal". It isn't but the group has always advocated:

  • Knowing and understanding what you're giving your horse; what it is and what is it meant to do.
  • Being responsible for what gets put in your horse's body.
  • Understanding that any herb or homeopathic that is potent enough to effect change is potent enough to possibly produce side effects or toxicity, the same as any other "medicine".
  • Understanding that "natural" does not equal "safe".
  • When you give "kitchen sink" mixtures, you have no idea what worked and what didn't.
  • If it looks like magic, there's probably some sleight of hand involved, especially if it costs a lot (this is my personal opinion).
  • Any medications - western, non-traditional, herbal, energy modalities, etc. need to be administered after a sound nutritional base is established; often the appropriate balanced nutrition provides a sound base and some conditions that previously required medication are eliminated.

It's necessary for the EC main list to remain tightly focused so in depth discussions that aren't directly related to EC/IR are referred to EC Horsekeeping - that doesn't mean they are "anti-xyz", just that it may be distracting for many newcomers.

There are a lot of herbal resources on-line and in bookstores - where you can look up an herb, see its properties and what it's expected to do and determine if this is something appropriate for your horse. You don't need a pharmacy or medical degree to decide if you want or need to give your horse something that will cause him to pee more or make his liver work harder or if a mild anti-inflammatory will make him more comfortable after work - many of these decisions are simply common sense; you may want some guidance to determine if you want to give your horse an immune stimulant or something that supports his immune system (a vast difference).

If you really want to get a handle on changing the course of the inflammatory cycle, check out Dr. Kellon's Nutrition as Therapy course.

5 comments:

  1. Well said Patti (as always!)

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  2. Great explanation, much appreciated the way you have set out the difference between an allergic response and the inflammatory threshold.

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  3. Angie B. in MS2/23/2011 8:53 PM

    I love the way you put this "inflammatory" response as I have seen and experienced it myself and family members-human and equine:
    "Flax, spirulina, chondroitin etc (in addition to the baseline mineral balanced diet) all help improve the inflammatory threshold so the horse doesn't respond to triggers by mounting a major inflammatory response. But once an inflammatory cascade is started it seems more and more things will act as triggers until our horse is in a bubble of inflammation - with many systems affected. It can take something fairly significant (such as steroids and antihistamines) in large enough doses taken for a long enough period of time to stop the inflammatory response spiral and hold it off long enough for the immune system to regroup."

    I really hope that my heavy horse is "regrouping" this winter. I have her on Hydroxyzine and it seems to be a better antihistamine than Trihist. Breathing is much improved. Now if I can get the feet and hind end inflammations under control...

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  4. Hey Angie ~ what's going on with the "feet and hind end" - is this an EPSM horse? Dr. Kellon has developed some good strategies for working with these. Email me at desertequinebalance@gmail.com.

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  5. Thank you for the wonderful article. Two of my horses suffer from allergies from goodness knows what, weeds or bugs,, I am not sure. Does the flax/spirulina/chondroitin come together or do they have to be bought separately. I would love it if you could email me. jeanene@tremoulet.com

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