Homoeopathic Therapeutics for Colitis
By Tanya Nolte

Colitis, or Rudiosa disease, is seen chiefly in adult equines. It can be most frustrating to both veterinarian and owner alike as it is a challenge to both treat and manage. Veterinary science has not been all too familiar with this condition in horses until fairly recent times and there is still a lot to be learnt about it. Homoeopathic treatment can be effective in acute cases but veterinary advice should be sought if any worsening of the condition occurs or persists.

Colitis is an acute inflammation of the large intestine that can lead to decreased blood flow throughout the circulatory system. It causes weakened intestinal linings, disrupts intestinal motility, and reduces the ability of the colon to absorb water and store faeces, which causes frequent diarrhoea, often with mucous or blood. Bacteria from the compromised intestinal tract leaks into other parts of the body and leads to fatal toxic shock. An acute, fatal diarrhoeal disease of unknown cause is termed as colitis-X.

Early signs of colitis are depression, reduced appetite and a discolouration of the conjunctivae of the eye. The inflammation will be of sudden onset and symptoms will vary only a little with the cause. There can be patchy sweating, an elevated pulse, restlessness with kicking at the belly, and looking around at the flanks registering bowel pain similar to what is seen in a case of colic. Foul smelling diarrhoea will accompany these symptoms unless it is a per-acute case where there hasn't been the time for it to develop. Stools will vary from semi-formed faeces to liquid with an increased frequency of defaecation and small faecal volume, often with mucous or blood. Tenesmus (ineffectual and painful straining) after defaecation is also often seen. Blood tests may demonstrate a low blood protein. The case will be described as chronic if it has persisted for longer than 1 month. Dehydration will also present a danger with metabolic acidosis and electrolyte loss occurring as the horse deteriorates. Necrotic lesions in the caecum and colon occur with blood leakage.

Some causes include allergic responses to dietary proteins, uraemia, high doses or prolonged usage of NSAIDS (Phenylbutazone), trauma such as a foreign body or abrasive material, infectious or parasitic agents such as Giardia (uncommon in horses), coccidia, Cryptosporidium, salmonella, E. coli, Clostridium (more common in foals), and Ehrlichia (equine Erhlichial Colitis or Potomac Horse Fever). Stress factors such as surgery, long distance transportation, new lodgings, a change of feed, or a concurrent disorder such as colic can leave the horse susceptible to an invasion of colitis-causing organisms.

Maintaining your horse's health in a balanced state with constitutional homoeopathic treatment will reduce the susceptibility of the horse to acquire such conditions as colitis. However, should the horse contract this disorder, some acute aid can be offered with one or more of the following remedies according to the symptom picture displayed. These are not the only remedies for treating colitis. Complex acute or chronic cases should be referred to a classical homoeopath or homoeopathic veterinarian. Your homoeopath may also enlist the use of certain nosodes such as E. coli, Salmonella, and the bowel nosode Sycotic Co during the course of treatment as an intercurrent remedy (a remedy used between other remedies) where indicated. Please remember that if the imbalance worsens or persists that veterinary advice is most important.


Aconite 30c - for signs of fever in the early stages of disease and sudden onset of symptoms. The horse is anxious and is worse with exposure to cold, dry winds. Given every half to one hour for 3-4 doses.

Note: Aconite is frequently used alternated with Belladonna for flare-ups of chronic complaints where there is a suddenness of symptoms, violence of symptoms, fever, bounding pulse and shining eyes, or when a relapse occurred after cold, dry winds, or with anxiety as may be seen in a sudden onset of colic.

Aloe socotrina 200c - when stools look lumpy and jelly-like with rectal bleeding. The horse passes faeces without effort. Often bloated and flatulent, and may have tenderness over the liver region. The patient is worse for heat and after eating or drinking. Given 2-3 times daily for 2-3 days.

Arnica 30c - for passing of bright coloured blood in the faeces accompanied by signs of colic and much straining. May have undigested stools. The patient acts as if hungry but then rejects the food. Given every half to one hour for up to 4 doses.

Arsenicum album 200c - when the horse is restless and doesn't wish to stay in one place. The motions are watery, pale, tinged with blood and cadaverous smelling, being worse around midnight. There may be excoriation around the anal area and back of legs from the bowel movements. The abdomen may be drawn in though the liver and spleen may be enlarged. The patient feels chilly with the pains being better for warmth, is thirsty but sipping water in small amounts, is anxious or fearful and tends to cling to others for help, needs company. Given every hour for 3-6 doses.

Belladonna 200c - the horse is acting distressed with a sudden digestive tract disturbance, has an elevated bounding pulse, and dilated shiny pupils with discoloured conjunctiva. Patient may have a sensitivity to light and may be seen hunching over (like Colocynthis) or the reverse by slouching the back in attempts to relieve pain. Thirst is prominent with colicky pains. Given every 2-3 hours for 3-4 doses.

Baptisia 200c - when there is low-grade fever, distension of the abdomen especially of the right side with tympanitic signs (drum-like sounds when using a tapping technique against a body surface), dark and watery stools. The system becomes septic. Muscle lethargy, offensive breath with increased salivation and flatulence may be evident. Given 2-3 times daily for up to 2-3 days.

Camphora 30c - when the horse has been passing dark watery stools, is exhausted and threatening to collapse with a failing pulse and a cold body. Give once every half to one hour for up to 4 doses.

China officinalis 30c - for profuse watery stools, dehydration and debility, a bloated abdomen that feels cold, and the horse is better from movement. High debilitating fevers with much sweating and diarrhoea. The patient will have bad days alternating with good days and appear depressed and taciturn, be sensitive to touch, and worse if caught in a draft of air. Given 3 times daily for 2-3 days.

Colocynthis 200c - the horse is demonstrating signs of colic with agitated actions, a hunched over appearance, and wants to lie down. Stools are jelly-like and slimy. The patient may be worse eating and drinking, and can be irritable and prefer to be left alone. Given once every hour for up to 3 doses.

Croton tiglium 6c - for copious, watery, expulsive, diarrhoea brought on by the least amount of drinking water. Much urging is apparent with gurgling sounds in the intestines, which can be worse after eating or drinking. The patient may display alternating diarrhoeas with skin eruptions or bronchial chest conditions. Given twice daily for 1-2 days

Ipecac 30c - for amoebic dysentery with tenesmus, expulsive and constant. Faeces green and frothy containing a large volume of mucous, shreds of mucous lining and whole blood that is usually bright red. The horse can be sensitive around the navel with pain, has no thirst and is worse for heat or cold. Episodes of colitis can be periodical in nature. Given 2-3 times daily for 2-3 days.

Mercurius corrosivus 200c - when stool is slimy with mucous and tainted with blood, pronounced tenesmus which is not relieved by passing stool, cold sweaty patches, and possibly increased salivation. Colicky signs may be apparent. The patient may be very anxious, thirsty and restless. Symptoms are mostly worse from sunset to sunrise. Given once every 2-3 hours for 4 doses.

Podophyllum 6c - for chronic cases where passing of faeces is painless, profuse, watery, gushing and offensive with jelly-like mucous. Symptoms are worse before, during and after stools, in the morning or hot weather. These patients may grind their teeth at night, especially in the early morning. The sphincter is relaxed and a prolapse of the rectum may occur. Given 3-4 times daily for 3-4 days.

Pulsatilla 30c - when the character of the stool changes frequently, e.g. at one time it may contain mucous sometimes yellow to green in colour, at others the mucous will be bloody while at others the stools are watery. Abdomen distension and colic are present with symptoms often worse at night, when beginning motion, and with rich feed. The patient can be more comfortable in cold air and is thirst-less. Given 3 times daily for 3-4 days.

Veratrum album 6c - for abdominal pain preceding diarrhoea, with watery diarrhoea forcibly expelled, but the pain is better after stool. Followed by prostration or threatening collapse with a cold damp body and bluish gums. The patient is hungry and thirsty, is better after eating, worse for motion, worse from cold and changes of weather, and may have swings of mood from sullenness to erratic excitability. Given 3-4 times daily for 2-3 days.

This list is an adequate but not necessarily complete guide that presents various symptom pictures, which can help you tune up your powers of observation and become familiar with the kinds of information your homoeopathic practitioner will find useful when selecting a remedy to suit your horse. Colitis can be debilitating to the horse and very frustrating to the caretakers. Supporting the body in its struggle to correct this problem, rather than trying to suppress the diarrhoea, will ensure a better outcome. The use of homoeopathy is supportive - not suppressive, and works with the body - not against it. With timely and appropriate homeopathic treatment and proper professional guidance, the horse owner can greatly help the situation.

This article is for educational purposes and in no way replaces veterinary advice or treatment. Always call your veterinarian when serious events arise. If you desire to follow a holistic path then I would recommend that you obtain approval from your veterinarian to seek the professional services of a qualified classical homoeopath or other certified holistic health practitioner.

About the author:
Tanya Nolte lives in NSW, Australia where she keeps a number of horses and also an interesting array of other furry animal companions. Tan is a veterinary nurse of 7 years and a classical homoeopath of 6, conducting consultations at the veterinary clinic, a human clinic, and privately. She has completed a full 3-year Diploma in Homoeopathy and 2 years in the Medical Sciences of Anatomy and Physiology, Biochemistry, Pathophysiology, Symptomatology and Differential Diagnoses. She is a professional member of the Australian Homoeopathic Association, the official Australian Registrar of Homoeopaths, and the Holistic Animal Therapy Association of Australia. Tan is available for distance consultations via phone or email.

For more information, and to find a homoeopath near you:

Tanya Nolte, Classical EquiHomoeopath.
Whispering Horse Therapies
PO Box 22, Nimbin
NSW 2480, Australia
Phone 02 66897296

Australian Homoeopathic Association
PO Box 396 Drummoyne
NSW 1470, Australia
Phone 02 97192763

Holistic Animal Therapy Association of Australia
PO Box 202, Ormond, Melbourne
Vic 3204, Australia
Phone 03 59688100

The Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy
751 N.E. 168th Street
North Miami Beach, FL 33162-2427
Phone 305-652-1590

National Center for Homeopathy
801 North Fairfax St., Suite 306
Alexandria, VA 22314

American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association
2214 Old Emmorton Road
Bel Air, MD 21015