Equine Cushings disease is caused by a tumor in the pituitary gland,
which is responsible for the production and regulation of hormones.
Symptoms include a long, shaggy coat that does not shed, excessive
drinking and urination, laminitis, a tendency for recurring infections
in the hoof (foot abscesses), and a loss of muscle mass, especially
along the topline and rump.
At Eye of the Storm Equine Rescue, we’ve discovered what appears
to be a cure for Cushings disease in horses. We’re not licensed
nor are we doctors, but we know what has worked for our horses and
for lots of others, so we wanted to share our experiences in case
it helps cure your own horse of equine Cushings disease.
While looking through a nutritional healing book at Debra’s Natural
Gourmet in West Concord, Mass., I came across a sentence that said
“Chasteberry feeds the pituitary gland.” Chasteberry in recent times
has been used mainly for “women’s complaints.” I know it works because
it beats the crap out of PMS, you feel better in 20 minutes. “Hmm,”
I say, “I like chasteberry, let’s see what it can do for our two
Bess, our 26 year old Shetland had obvious symptoms: long hair that
didn’t shed and she was a sway back. Not as bad as some, but still
obvious. I couldn’t wait for the vet to take some blood to find
out her “numbers.” The results were positive for Cushings. I put
her on one teaspoon twice a day, three weeks on and one week off.
Though she began to shed her coat of “buffalo” hair almost immediately,
she never was a very slick pony. But I was determined to keep her
on the chasteberry one year before testing her blood again. If I
saw results then, I would tell the world.
One year later, after Bess’ test results came back, the vet said,
“I don’t know what you’re doing, but keep on doing it.” Bess’ numbers
were down 33 points! I don’t know exactly what these numbers represent,
but evidently this never happens in real life! After one year of
feeding her pituitary gland, had I managed to reverse her Cushings
disease? I was very excited as this ailment affects the lives of
millions of old (and not so old) horses in so many negative ways.
This disease is more common now than it has ever been in the past.
No one really knows why, though I have my theories. That is another
tale for another day.
I was getting whole chasteberry in one pound bulk bags from Natural
Gourmet and running it through a coffee grinder. The seeds are very
hard and I figured it would come out the other end the same way
they went in, unless we knocked the shells off them. You run the
grinder until most of the pinging of hard berries can’t be heard
anymore. You cannot grind them up completely, but that’s okay. Horses
are made to digest roughage. They handle the chunks just fine. You
should have a grinder for this purpose only, as your coffee might
taste funny if you use the grinder for both.
Right around the time I was ready to tell the world about this “cure,”
another product came on the market called Hormonize. It is a liquid
and costs around $45 per liter and lasts two weeks for your average
size horse. That’s $90 per month to treat the horse. The developers
of this product found it to be effective not only on mares in heat,
but it also did some impressive things for Cushings horses, too.
It is sold for this purpose as well. It is an all natural herbal
remedy. A bit pricey, though.
I checked out the ingredients. It is a tincture of chasteberry!
I think they call it vitex or monks pepper on the back. I’m not
sure. It greatly saddens me that the treatment for such a devastating
disease sells for so much.
Horses don’t need herbal tinctures. They can and do digest some
pretty coarse stuff (have you ever tried to eat dry timothy hay?).
They can not only digest the herb, but utilize it in that form beautifully.
Bess, unfortunately, died at age 28 when she decided her mission
was accomplished, so we never got a third blood test from her. We
have two other Cushings horses, and all of our older mares are on
chasteberry as well. Junebug, who is 8 years old, was tested last
year and we’ll test her again soon to see where her numbers are.
Snowdrop was never tested, but all her symptoms have disappeared
and she is doing well at 24 years old.
If any of you out there would like to try chasteberry, here’s what
to do. Go to your local health food store and special order one
pound bulk bag whole chastetree berry from the Frontier herb company
(please mention Eye of the Storm Equine Rescue when you do). You
might want to order more than one bag so that when you’re down to
one you can reorder. One bag will cost you less than $20 and will
last a couple of months per horse.
Run the berries through your coffee grinder and feed one teaspoon
twice a day with feed. We give the same amount to horses and ponies.
It works on both mares and geldings. Give it to them three weeks
on and one week off all year round. It will even keep the mares
from being quite so crabby in the spring.
We also give them all vitamin E in the evening, vitamin C in the
morning, and MSM. No sugars or carbohydrates (not even a carrot).
There are feeds out there that are low in both, such as Blue Seal
Racer and some of the senior feeds (do some research). All in all,
chasteberry is the answer. Even our two 30-year old mares don’t
have Cushings, only Bess, Junebug, and Snowdrop, who came to us
with the disease and it appears to be reversed. I never had horses
of my own get Cushings. I have every horse in town that has Cushings
on chasteberry and they’re all doing great! This is a cheap, easy,
healthy remedy for Cushings disease.
About the Author
Nina Arbella is founder and
president of Eye of the Storm Equine Rescue of Stow, Massachuetts.
Contact Nina and visit the rescue center’s website at http://www.equine-rescue.com.