"Healing is a process that always starts with stabilisation. Until the body's stable it cannot heal. The body then needs to detoxify and remove the roadblocks. The body also needs to get the nutrients that it needs to repair itself. When you have this combination in place the body can truly being to heal."
Dr Nuzum, Toxicologist, Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine, Doctor of Indigenous Medicine
Planet Earth was created perfect. And so were we.
Then came all the things we created in the name of progress and a bright future, which turned out to to be not so good. Things like carcinogen-filled foods, dangerous air pollution levels, radiation-emitting technology, toxic farmlands ... the list goes on.
The leading health experts all agree. The fact is, we’ve poisoned Eden.
An organism, i.e. us, our horses, our dogs, were perfectly designed to handle a normal amount of natural toxins, but the massive amount of man-made toxins we’re exposed to today in our modern world is far too much for our bodies to manage. According to the Environmental Working Group, there are nearly 85,000 man-made chemicals currently approved for use (!) in our western world, and this number is rapidly increasing.
So, toxins build up throughout the body and the disease process begins. This is something even mainstream medicine admits - you've probably heard of carcinogens, toxins that have been confirmed to cause cancer. However, all toxins will contribute to a toxic body, whether we like it or not.
Here are some current (human) statistics:
- Breast cancer is linked to heavy metals such as cobalt, lead, and tungsten.
- A child’s risk for leukemia can increase by 70% if a home is within 200 yards of power lines.
- Exposure to pesticides, herbicides, certain dyes, petrochemicals and other toxins increases the risk of pancreatic cancer.
We won't often hear this because the corporations that emit these disease-causing toxins will do anything to keep us from hearing these statistics, Monsanto for one. In a recent lawsuit against Monsanto, evidence was uncovered that Monsanto bullied scientists to keep quiet about the fact that their herbicide, Roundup,aka Glyphosate, causes cancer - it's Glyphosate that's sprayed extensively over agri-crops grown for animal feeds ☹.
It's alleged that company emails were found showing Monsanto was silencing reports about their product’s link to cancer, with the plaintiff’s legal team even finding proof that Monsanto was having research results twisted to allegedly 'prove' that Roundup is safe. (Source - The Truth About Cancer, Ty Bollinger)
Of course, irrespective of the dastardly greed-deeds out there, herbicides and pesticides are just a drop in our world’s toxic soup, but they're very relevant to why our horses' health is compromised, because they - like us - swim in it every day.
There's good news here though - there’s a simple way to fight back against our modern toxic world. There's an amazing little-known all-natural mechanism that’s hidden in the body - a built-in, and very sophisticated, detoxing system that directly protects the body against toxins. Meet the liver, kidneys and lymph nodes, or as I call them, the '3-Amigos'. All we have to do is activate it 😉
Imagine what your home would be like if you didn't clean it for weeks on end ...
If mine's anything to go by with dogs, cats (and their feathered, furry and frog gifts), free-range chooks who wander indoors whenever they feel like it, plus the yard detritus that stealths its way in via my boots, it doesn't bear thinking about what state my house would get into if I didn't get the Dyson out - even then I find it hard enough to keep on top off.
It's the same for our bodies, whether human or horse, but thanks to the 3-Amigos it's like having our own internal Dyson installed. The 3-Amigos - the liver, kidneys and lymph nodes - are the body's three amazing filtration organs which together make up the natural detox system. Without us even knowing, they're busying away behind the scenes like Santa's elves, doing the body's natural clean-up, filtering out all the bad stuff then sending it off and out forever through the body's elimination routes, the bowel, skin, breath and bladder.
Brilliant, you'd think. Now to the real world and that dark cloud of toxicity out there, waiting to hit us and our horses like a wrecking ball. Undesirable toxic waste usually gets into our horses via feed and forage, i.e. chemical sprays - pesticides, herbicides, fungicides - in hay and grass if it's sprayed or near to sprayed fields. Then there's the rest - excess sugars and starch, lactic-acid in the intestines, moulds, water contamination, and let's not forget veterinary meds. Excessive training also brings its own toxicity, especially lactic acid, that need to be eliminated.
Then there's a ton of other environmental waste that gets into us whether we like it or not. We have GMO waste, industrial waste, plus phone-mast radiation and more; our rivers are sick, our trees are dying, our air's filled with chemtrails and pollution, and don't even get me started on the plastic garbage trail in our oceans (see our Eco-Friendly Packaging Pledge).
It’s estimated that there are literally hundreds of thousands of chemicals in the environment alone, never mind the approved ones, and not to put too fine a word on it, collectively they all build up in the body and silently start to cause potentially threatening conditions, because the 3-Amigos simply can't cope with the overwhelming onslaught of it all anymore.
Perfect preventation makes perfect practice
Ever been behind a door trying to get out and the exit's blocked? A perfect analogy for why a cleanse is so important; toxins need to get out of the body's exit routes, but if the exits are blocked, they'll stay in the body.
In a healthy body, the natural - and very sophisticated - process of detoxification runs smoothly. However, when the body's in-built detoxification system becomes overwhelmed and overloaded, the body will try to compensate for as long as it's able, until it no longer can. This is why supporting the body's detoxification system is a vital component of full-body health.
Disease and illness simply can't exist inside a clean, nourished, nutrient-rich body, so it makes perfect sense to practice perfect prevention. Performing a regular internal clean-up, aka a 'detox', ideally in autumn before we head into winter and again in spring, is a pivotal part of the process in overcoming chronic disease, because toxins can shut down a body quicker than a quick thing.
We’re bombarded with toxic materials from every front, and once in the body – and be assured they’re going to come in – they're stored in tissues and cells, right down to molecular level throughout the body, and they'll affect every one of the body’s systems, including the ones that life depends on - immune, digestive, nervous and circulatory systems.
Here's the cycle
As toxins start to build up in the body, they begin to tax the immune cells. Gut health starts to erode, becoming permeated - leaky gut syndrome - allowing the toxins to leak through the gut wall and into the bloodstream, causing the immune system to become locked in overdrive while trying to fight the toxic overload.
The bloodstream is now overburdened with free radicals (toxic mutant cells); the lymphatic system - the body's waste drainage system - becomes blocked and sluggish; the liver and kidneys are desperately working overtime trying to process the sheer volume of toxicity from the lymph and blood; and the exit routes - the bowel, bladder, skin, lungs - become clogged, forcing much of the toxic load back into the body to be reabsorbed all over again, instead of evacuated out and gone forever.
Even if we’re feeding the right feeds, maintaining good movement and managing stressors, toxic sludge in the body will still be doing its best to sabotage our best intentions to keep our horses healthy. And this goes for us humans too.
Simply put, the body doesn’t function well when it’s loaded with toxins. FIrst up, cue inflammation - an inflamed leaky gut and worn-out immunity leads to a compromised metabolism, bringing on allergies, lumpy skin, laminitis, puffy-leg oedema, ulcers and so on. All leading the way to chronic disease.
Now we have pain in the picture, which leads to misery, anxiety, loss of appetite, loss of weight and condition, and eventual meltdown.
Detoxification is the first step to get health back on track and reinstate homeostasis, to help our horse function happily again.
Doing it naturally
Did you know that for millions of years, plants have protected themselves against their own foreign invaders? Mould, bugs and harmful microbes - no problem! Plants have their own inbuilt defence system of powerful phytochemicals, and being a herbivore, our horses have evolved by grazing on those same plants and grasses; utilising those same natural phytochemicals means they can also reap the same benefits for their own optimal immunity protection.
This is where our C.A.R.E. programme comes in, and specifically our OptimaCARE three-stage, full-body clean-up programme for our horses:
- Cleans and eliminates gut irritants and toxins, and the vital organ immune system.
- Activates healthy digestion and the integrity of the intestinal gut lining.
- Restores health with essential phytonutrients.
- Enhances immunity, energy, strength and vitality.
Before we get onto the actual clean-up side of things, let’s look at how herbalists view it all, and how it might differ from a more conventional western drug approach.
In the first place, if we think of herbs as gourmet, selected, specific, concentrated, healing foods, it’s a much better way of understanding what we’re doing here compared to a drug delivery system. Agreed, for the best part of the last 100-years most drugs were made from plants anyway, but todays' drugs have moved on - they're one specific compound, sometimes the same as what was in the plant, but without the added synergy and buffering chemicals that a plant has.
Today's drugs take that one specific compound and chemically mimic it, so straight away it's synthetic, and modified, and it can overwhelm the body’s systems because, basically, that's what it's designed to do.
That said, it usually does what it does very well - thank all the goddesses for Morphine, say all my bones I've broken in the past - but as we know, while powerful, they're synthetic, they can cause side effects, and they leave toxic residue behind. The body is better able to use medicinal plants in a more gentle way because their natural chemicals spread across many metabolic pathways, the body recognises them, knows what to do with them, and uses them where they’re needed without risking side effects.
What actually is a 'detox'?
All of us have heard the word over the last decade or so; it’s become quite a fad approach to health. And as happens with new diets etc., there can be a lot of misinformation out there that could probably be dangerous or at the very least stall the detox journey if the wrong advice is followed. So let’s ask the question ... what actually is a detox?
We already know the body has its own natural, inbuilt, clean-up mechanisms, and while the critics will say that the body naturally detoxes every day (which is absolutely true) so therefore we don't need to 'do' a detox, what we’re looking to do is assist that process, especially considering the extra environmental toxic burden, let alone what's in our food that we're eating.
Agreed, generally the main filtration organs function very well on their own. Thing is, when the body gets sick the questions should be, are they functioning well enough, and what might we have done to overwhelm them? This is what tends to be the issue in our modern world today.
The body’s eliminative systems, i.e. the liver, kidneys, large intestine, don't function as well as they could with our modern environment and modern food systems, so it makes sense to assist the natural process and 'detoxify', in order to remove the waste material from the cells. But - unless it's done right, the waste won't get out.
We know what the signs are when the body needs a clean-up. However, before we focus on the filtration organs, we need to focus on those output channels and get them 'open' and functioning properly, otherwise it'll all end up as a wasted effort. If the toxic waste can't get out, it's reabsorbed and recirculated back into the body, causing a state of 're-toxification, as in an overload reaction because the body isn't able to eliminate the toxins quickly enough.
Most people are doing it backwards, going in hard with no routes open for the waste to get out. This is where herbalism comes in - and it can make a huge, wonderful, positive difference.
So how do we do it? Detoxing deconstructed
The body uses four of its systems to naturally detoxify itself and keep everything clean.
- the Gastrointestinal Tract removes the solid waste.
- the Liver, the most complex and hard-working decontaminating organ, metabolises literally everything the body ingests, whether through breath, food, water or skin absorption.
- the Kidneys remove water-soluble toxins.
- the Skin, the body's largest purification organ, with the miracle that is 'sweat'.
Now to the four primary exit-route friends to keep life good.
- first and foremost, upon which all the others depend - the Bowel region (large intestine, cecum, colon, rectum and anus), considered the Mother of all Organs; eliminates solid faecal waste matter and fat-soluble toxins sent across from the liver.
- the Urinary Tract - eliminates water-soluble toxins passed on by the kidneys.
- Skin/Sweat glands - integumentary toxins (dead epidermal cells) and some excess minerals.
- the Lungs - carbonic gas and pleghm.
Now trust me when I say a very simple rule applies - if the bowel's blocked up, the waste that's been queuing up to get out is reabsorbed back into the body, which means the other exit routes are in trouble because they've now got to pick up the slack.
In order to get each exit clear and working properly, an effective clean-up must be done in the correct sequence. Everything starts with the gut - the main player, as this is where 70-80%- of the immune system is created via nutrition, and it's directly connected to the main exit route, the bowel region, so we start here first.
After cleaning up the gut and the bowel region, the next stage is to clean up the liver - the primary decontaminating workhorse - which sends fat-soluble toxins to the large intestine, then the kidneys which send water-soluble toxins to the bladder region.
Finally, the circulatory systems - the lymphatics and blood. The lymphatics drain waste from the brain, skin and lungs into its own circulatory fluid, lymph, which filters everything through the lymph nodes, where billions of lymphocytes - the killer army immune cells - lie in wait to destroy infection/virals, basically any pathogen microorganism.
Whatever's left over at the end of the lymph journey gets dumped into the bloodstream. The blood then filters itself through the kidneys first to dump off the water-solubles, then the liver for the fat-solubles and for it's own quick clean-up, before heading off to restart its circular journey around the body again, nutrifying on its outbound journey before picking up more lymph waste on the inbound sector.
So, to restore health and immunity, we have to work upstream, starting with the gut system and the main exit route, then moving on to the next organ and exit route upon which the next one relies, and so on.
Step 1 - The Digestive System, the first line of defence
This is the first place to start; it's where the whole process of digestion occurs, where the nutrients are assimilated and absorbed, and where the main waste-disposal chute resides.
The whole bowel region could be thought of as the Long Road Home. It's a much bigger picture, though - let's not forget that digestion starts from the minute the horse puts food in its mouth. Chewing releases saliva which mixes with the chewed food and forms a bolus, which travels down the oesophagus and into the stomach (foregut).
Certain digestive enzymes begin the protein and starch pre-digestion process, and the stomach muscle wall begins churning, breaking down and liquifying the bolus before it's 'disinfected' by the acid and turned into a soupy mix, chyme, so it can pass easily into the small intestine (SI).
Now we get to where the real business starts to happen - the SI is where true digestion starts to take place. Other digestive enzymes now step into the mix busily breaking down the starches and fats, and it's where the nutrients get assimilated - minerals, vitamins, amino acids, essential fatty acids (the omegas) - ready for absorption through the gut wall into the bloodstream.
Finally, what's left, as in the plant fibre, arrives at the large intestine, generally known as the hindgut region, which is a huge fermentation vat where billions of friendly fibre-digesting bacteria reside in readiness to ferment the fibre and create the horse's 'energy'. The final stage is in the small colon, where the remaining waste material is formed into faecal balls, which head off into the rectum for evacuation through the anus. (Of course, this is all covered properly in our Gut System section)
Job done. Smiley face. But only in the perfect world ...
Enter toxins/inappropriate foods, and Boom! Cue almighty digestive havoc, creating dysbiosis/SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacteria Overload) - when that very fragile microbe balance within the gut microbiome environment is disrupted and the biome ratios are not what they're supposed to be anymore, basically an overpopulation of the very unfriendly, pro-inflammatory, pathogenic gut microbiota - which kill off the friendly beneficial gut bugs who do all the assimilating of the nutrients and fibre fermenting, without whom the fuel/food won't be being processed properly.
The result is a mess of undigested, toxic, compacted matter being pushed into the intestines. (Just for fun, some of those bad bugs (Lactic-Acid bacteria) also create lactic-acid as their 'waste' (they literally 'burp' it out), which creates gas where it's not wanted, which very uncomfortably blows up the gut like a balloon and tears open the fragile intestinal wall membrane, creating leaky gut syndrome, allowing the putrid, festering part-digested, toxic matter to leak into the bloodstream and wreak its own autoimmune havoc).
This compacted waste can take much longer to travel through the intestines - the intestines are designed to ‘absorb’ so the longer this undigested solid waste sits in the intestines, the more it’s going to ferment and rot even further and continue to impact upon itself, until eventually the digestive system grinds to a murky standstill.
A quick 'blockage' heads-up
There are three areas in the large intestine that are ripe for obstruction. For the cecum content to pass into the colon, it must travel through the cecocolic orifice which is just 3-4cm wide. Then, as the left ventral colon reaches the pelvic area, it narrows at the pelvic flexure, another common place for blockage to occur. Finally, because of the narrowing of the transverse colon, this is another prime blockage spot. Just a bit scary. (And another scary fact - if we took the bowel contents and injected them directly into the bloodstream it would be instantly lethal.)
So there we have it. The root of where health goes bad. Of course, the nutrients in feed play a huge part as well. I know I say this a lot in this website, but in theory, a healthy body will have a strong immune system, created by a healthy gut, and won’t get sick. If the body’s sick, the immune system is sick.
The only permanent way to good health is via the microbiome, which manages the immune system, and nutrition gives the immune system the firepower to keep the body well. However, the nutrition we feed to our horses has to be effectively digested, assimilated, absorbed and shuttled off to where it’s needed, and only a healthy gut system can do this. And a gut can only stay healthy, and build a healthy immunity, if those 3-Amigos, the major filtration organs, are working together in sync on the other side; they all rely on each other to function like perfectly oiled cogs in a wheel.
Step 2 – Liver, Kidneys & Urinary Tract
Now we get to the two main filtration organs, the liver and kidneys, responsible for cleaning up the body. They need to work in harmony, each playing their essential part like an instrument in an orchestra. Both have to be firing on all cylinders to sort the bad stuff from the good, before shifting the bad stuff off and out for elimination. The two circulatory systems, blood and lymphatics, rely entirely on these two organs for their own cleansing.
When there's digestive havoc, i.e. inflammation and toxin build-up in the GI tract, the movement of toxins between the liver and the GI tract becomes overburdened, so everything gets shuttled over to the kidneys. Unless that liver/GI path is clear, the kidneys end up being overloaded with toxins they're not meant to deal with. So, once the gut and colon are cleaned up, a liver/kidney cleanse is the next stage to help restore the natural dominant detox liver/GI pathway, so the pressure is taken off the kidneys.
The Liver - the workhorse of digestion and detoxification
While the hindgut is the largest digestive organ in the body, the liver is the largest digestive gland, and it’s the absolute workhorse of the immune system.
Liver cleansing alone can boost liver production and efficiency by up to 15% and is one of the most effective ways of boosting the body's own natural detoxing mechanism. When the liver is under too much stress it struggles to process the toxins out of the body, so they keep on moving around the body creating inflammatory havoc.
The liver is responsible for performing a number of essential decontaminating functions, including purifying the blood - the condition of the blood throughout the whole body is mostly reliant on the health of the liver. The liver needs to actively clean the blood each and every circulatory cycle in order to support nearly every system within the body.
It has so many other jobs as well, from aiding hormone production, to releasing glucose into the bloodstream to provide steady energy, and creating ketones for brain fuel (another subject I'm a bit of a fan of but that's another story), and - because the horse doesn't have a gall bladder, it's responsible for releasing a steady, constant trickle of bile - the master fat-digester - into the small intestine. You can see why poor liver function can create so many problems.
The Kidneys - the body’s environmentally friendly recycling system
This awesome duo take on the water-soluble waste from the lymphatic system. The lymph collects toxic waste from the brain, skin and lungs and filters it all through the lymph nodes, before finally passing anything left over into the bloodstream, which continues the waste-deposit journey onwards to the kidneys. The kidneys filter out the non-recyclable water-soluble waste and toxins, then they pull water from the body to add to the mix to make urine (another reason why it’s so important to keep hydration levels up) which is then sent off to the bladder for elimination.
As if this isn't awesome enough, they also manage production of Vit. D from the sun's UVA rays which is essential for bone and muscle health, and regulate blood pressure.
Step 3 – The Circulatory Systems: Blood & Lymphatics
There are two circulatory systems in the body; the blood, and its lesser-known cousin, the lymphatics. The main difference between the two are that the lymphatics lack a pump; whereas blood has the heart, there's no pump to push the lymph fluid through its system so lymph relies entirely on the activation of the entire skeletal musculature via movement, hence why a long-term stabled horse is at risk from developing lymphangitis or worse, CPL - chronic progressive lymphedema.
Blood - literally the life force of the body
Blood has to maintain a healthy flow round the body, to feed nutrients where needed on the outbound journey and pick up lymphatic waste on the inbound, before heading back to the liver for another clean up and starting its journey round the body all over again.
It supplies essential substances and nutrients such as glucose, ketones, oxygen and hormones to the body's cells, while also removing the body’s own dead cells that are dying off all the time. If the blood cells aren't cleaned up and become overburdened with junk, the killer army of white cells - the infection-busters known as lymphocytes - become depleted, which risks the body becoming susceptible to toxic influx, leading to disease and illness.
The Lymphatics - the body's critical drainage-canal system
The lymphatics are the brain, skin and lungs' clean-up crew; these vital organs rely entirely upon the lymphatic system to drain congestion and remove waste, including infection, via the lymph fluid, which then filters everything through the lymph nodes.
Lymph is like butter; the warmer it gets, the softer and more fluid it gets - the colder it gets, the harder it gets. Move, get a bit warm and it’ll keep moving and clean faster and more efficiently. Don't move (i.e. a stabled horse), and it slows down and solidifies, aka what we know as puffy leg syndrome.
Another important fact - when the lymph nodes get swollen and hard, this is them doing their job - the same as how when we get the beginnings of a cold, we can feel those swollen throat glands in our neck. This is the body working as it should be - these are the lymph glands filtering the waste, swelling up as they absorb the bacteria, viruses etc., while triggering their stored lymphocytes - remember, the infection-busting white cells - to seek and destroy. Once dead, the residual waste then filters back into the lymph to continue its journey to dump it all off into the bloodstream and start again, circulating back round the body to pick up all the junk.
TaDah! And there we have it. Detoxing deconstructed.
Detoxing is a marathon, not a sprint
Detoxing the system in sequence, from the inside out, helps reboot the immune system to restore homeostasis to the body. More energy, more stamina, better digestion, better balance. However, it won't happen overnight.
In the perfect world, a clean-up works best when it’s done regularly, gently, and daily - we do this with a selection of gentle, yet effective, proprietary nutrient-rich, tonic herbs . Depending on the toxin overload, a deep clean-up can typically take anywhere from 1-12 months, sometimes longer, which is why once the system is cleaned up, a daily tonic will continue to support the whole body on an ongoing basis as a preventative. Think of it as you or I taking a multivit every day.
The body also needs to have natural breaks for the body to naturally strengthen by functioning by itself – my method of choice with my horses is 1 day per week (Sunday, so I can have a bit of a lie-in). Some prefer to do 1-week out of 5 - whatever works.
However, if your horse's system is heavily overburdened and needs a deeper whole-system clean, we have our C.A.R.E. range, each blend dedicated to each major organ. Within our C.A.R.E. range we also have our full-body, deep-clean programme, OptimaCARE, which works through the gut, liver/kidneys, circulatory systems sequence in order.
For an overall, full-body deep cleanse, our 3-stage full-body programme, OptimaCARE, works in sequence from the gut upwards, over 30 days, and fed in powder form for swift digestive efficacy.
With each stage fed over 10-days, and with a 1-day break between each stage, Stage 1 addresses the gut system; Stage 2 is all about the liver (and by default the blood) and kidneys; Stage 3 completes the programme focusing on the lymphatic system. Each stage is wrapped separately for ease of use.
The synergistic combination of each stage of our OptimaCARE formula can help bring a healthy balance back into your horse's immunity, detoxing and eliminatory systems. Once the course is finished, allow a week off so your horse's body can realign, strengthen and function by itself; this will also gives you the chance to assess how your horse is.
You should now have a restored blank canvas to work with, so any presenting issues thereafter can be dealt with effectively, without having to struggle through an overburdened exhausted system.
That's it - we're pretty much done - you'll find our CARE range in the links below.
Alternatively, if you think your horse is otherwise fine, and you're happy with your feed regime (see our Feeding Our Horses section off the main menu above), very often many of the well recognised issues, i.e. skin or respiratory, can be helped by giving your horse a targeted support by way of an appropriate 4-week tonic - see the individual categories in our Herbal Nutrition section above.
Meanwhile, here are some other factors that might be useful to keep the toxic burden down:
- ‘Let food be thy medicine.’ (Hippocrates) Reduce toxic load via real food - natural, species-appropriate, nutrient-rich food to nourish the body, not shiny feed-bag brands containing poor quality, pro-inflammatory, inappropriate ingredients.
- Balance energy I know this sounds a bit hippy-wafty but it's really important. Keep energy flowing properly with quality rest and sleep - this is where the immune system reboots each day, and when cells repair damage and restore tissue, as well as being when the body tops up its levels of lymphocytes, the valuable killer-army, infection-busting, white blood cells.
- Reduce stressors Get some happy time in and stressors out.
- ‘Look well to the spine for the cause of dis-ease.’ (Hippocrates again) The how, when and why of the immune system's natural response is controlled by the nervous system, and the spine protects and surrounds the spinal cord, through which the brain communicates with the body. The spine is designed to have a very specific structure, and any deviation directly interferes with the nervous system’s ability to adapt to, and respond to, stress. Everything we do impacts the nervous system so we need to look after it. Nerve impingement creates tension, which creates an adrenalin-fuelled survival fight/flight state - and trust me when I say when we wear out the adrenal glands during permanently switched-on fight/flight, we hit chronic stress and exhaustion, which isn't pretty. See our Stress page for the full story.
- Teeth Teeth have a huge impact on health - numerous locations in the jaw are directly connected to the body’s organs. Each tooth socket has a ligament which holds the tooth in place; following any dental work, if toxins remain in the mouth (which in our horses's case is rarely cleaned properly afterwards), this can lead to infection which affects the tooth socket, the ligament and the jawbone.
That's it! Wishing your horse the very best of health 😉
Meet the Herxheimer Reaction, commonly referred to as ‘feeling worse before feeling better’. This can mean a rare, but occasional, short-term (as in a couple of days) detox reaction in the body, aka 're-toxification'.
Herxing, as it's commonly referred to, was first observed in syphilis patients by dermatologists Adolf Jarisch and Karl Herxheimer in the late 1800s/early 1900s, who noticed that sufferers receiving treatment often got worse before they got better. The phenomenon was dubbed the Jarisch-Herxheimer Reaction, and has since been shortened to Herxheimer Reaction or simply, herxing.
The classic explanation of a Herxheimer Reaction is that when certain bacteria are killed off by an antibiotic, parts of dead bacteria called endotoxins are shed. These endotoxins then circulate throughout the body and cause an fairly intense, but short-lived inflammatory reaction, which temporarily makes the war against the toxins that’s already going on inside the body feel worse.
Simply put, it’s an overload reaction - it’s basically an immune system reaction where, as the body detoxifies, an overload of toxins overburden the blood supply while stuck in the queue waiting to be eliminated.
In general, Herx reactions are more common and more intense with conventional antibiotic use than with use of herbs. With herbs, the bacterial die‐off is more gradual and the immune response is less intense.
While there’s no clinical research on the prevalence of herxing, it's not uncommon to witness ill-at-ease symptoms, anything from joint/muscle pain, itching/scratching, sweating and gut imbalances amongst other symptoms. In humans, chronic headaches are a common sign.
This is a perfectly normal - and even healthy - reaction that indicates that the parasites, fungals, viruses, bacteria and other impurities are being effectively killed off. Although it may appear that the detox isn’t working, a noticeable Herxheimer reaction is a sign that a healthy, positive detox is taking place. Worsening symptoms don't indicate failure of the detox - just the opposite.
I’ve only had one client who reported concernable agitated behaviour from her usually very calm, sweet, elderly chap who turned into a fire-breathing dragon. He was half way through Stage 2 (liver/kidneys) and no doubt experiencing a tough time, but understandably his owner decided to pull the plug as she was really worried at the 360-degree character change, plus any potential injury risk.
Other than this one instance, I’ve not had any client report any noticeable side effects at all, only beneficial improvement - see the testimonials on the product page.
Naturally, if your horse experiences a touch of Herxheimer's and you need some moral support, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Warning - Do not detox horses during onset laminitis due to the risk of re-toxification.