Recognizing Healing and the Direction of Cure

By Marcia DuBois, DVM

John Cylde
John Clyde at work, doing a job that would have been very difficult with only one eye.

My staff and I get many cases in which traditional veterinary medicine has failed, and we are the very last hope. This article is aimed at educating you, the compassionate horse caregiver, about what to look for during the progression of treatment - whether your horse is being treated by a traditional veterinarian or a non-traditional veterinarian. Understanding how the body heals is important and will help you decide on an appropriate treatment option.

I want you to be able to look at your horse and the care he is receiving and decide if it is a good course of action for your companion. In homeopathy we have belief in “Hering’s law of cure”.  The basic premise is that disease processes move from the outside or superficial layers of the body toward the inside more critical areas. In other words, the immune system will attempt to keep diseases on the outside of the body away from vital organs. Although these external manifestations of disease - such as ear infections, upper respiratory disease and skin problems - are uncomfortable and unsightly, they are not life threatening.

As the animal’s immune system becomes weaker, however, the disease process is allowed to move inward: the upper respiratory infection then becomes life-threatening pneumonia. There is a very logical, observable progression of the disease.

Curative reactions occur in exactly the opposite direction. The disease moves from the deeper layers of the body to the external layers of the body. That deep-seated pneumonia becomes a nasal discharge. What we generally see is an increase in discharges from the eyes, ears, skin, rectum, etc., but the animal feels better. You will notice an increase in appetite, energy level and a return to his/her old behavioral patterns.

I want to also discuss the effects that medications, whether allopathic or holistic, can have on the body. There are only three reactions that can occur: cure, palliation and suppression.

Cure is the gentle and complete resolution of symptoms. The key hallmarks of cure are that the symptoms all resolve, in the direction of Hering’s law of cure, and remain gone even after the medicine is stopped. The key is that not only is the symptom gone but the horse feels better overall. Cure is not achieved through the use of traditional drugs, which merely suppress symptoms while allowing the disease process to progress.

Palliation occurs when the symptoms resolve in the direction of Hering’s law of cure, and the animal feels better but the symptoms return when the medication is stopped. In some chronic diseases, such as cancer, palliation may be the best that we can do.

Suppression is defined by resolution of symptoms in the opposite direction of Hering’s law of cure. In other words, the symptoms resolve but the animal feels worse! This is very common with the use of western drugs. For example, steroid use may suppress diarrhea or itchy skin, but frequently results in the development of a more severe disease state: Cushing’s disease, joint problems and or diabetes.

Once you can identify what is actually occurring as far as treatment is concerned you can take control of your horse’s healthcare. You need to be able to recognize when a treatment option is suppressive and talk to your veterinarian about other options that may be available.

Let’s discuss a case example.  I recently met a wonderful driving horse named John Clyde who was scheduled to have his eye surgically removed in an attempt to cure his chronic uveitis (moon blindness). The owner had noticed a cloudiness in the left eye and observed that John Clyde was holding his eye half shut in the sunlight. She took him to her local equine vet for treatment.   

While at the veterinarian’s office, the staff noticed that John Clyde was past due for vaccinations and went ahead and gave a full course of vaccines. The one thing I want you all to always remember is never vaccinate a horse showing signs of illness. (It even says so on the label.) Vaccinating unhealthy animals is too often a common practice in veterinary clinics. Following the vaccinations, the eye became much worse. The conjunctiva became red and angry looking. The eye was more cloudy and was discharging a large amount of hot watery tears. It was also quite painful.

The traditional course of treatment was started with antibiotics and steroids. The symptoms would resolve but always returned when the treatment was discontinued. John Clyde was also beginning to lose weight, and was mentally depressed.  This is a clear indication that the treatment was suppressive. 

- The one thing I want you all to always remember is never vaccinate a horse showing signs of illness.
- The key hallmarks of cure are that the symptoms all resolve, in the direction of Hering’s law of cure, and remain gone even after the medicine is stopped.

Having exhausted all the options available to an allopathic practitioner, the vet decided to just remove the 'problem'. This is a poor decision on two levels. The first level is that such a 'treatment' causes a permanent loss, and most likely a permanent disability  –  John Clyde had a job that was not compatible with losing an eye. The second problem is that from a homeopathic standpoint, the uveitis is only one symptom of a bigger disease process, and removing the eye does not cure the disease. Removing the eye will simply force the disease to manifest in a different, deeper way, like forcing the disease to manifest in the remaining good eye. I hope you are following this train of thought and are learning to ask questions of your veterinarian.

When John Clyde, who still had both eyes, arrived at our clinic, we did a full osteopathic work up and discussed his full history. One important finding was that John Clyde’s gut was heavily parasitized. Parasites in the gut of a horse decrease his ability to eliminate toxins and other waste products, putting a strain on the liver and kidneys and promoting inflammation. Our first order of business was to get his gut healthy. We dewormed him.and started him on a Cell Tech product, Original Essentials, that provides high quality nutrition, digestive enzymes and probiotics. I have seen horses started on this show remarkable changes in their haircoat and hoof strength within 3 weeks of starting the product. I also started him on a second product called Super Sprouts and Algae. This is a potent source of natural antioxidants that inhibit inflammation and promote healing.

During the history taking, we discovered that he had suffered head trauma following an accident at a competition. I performed cranio-sacral therapy in order to remove any blockades present in the bones of the skull that would prevent proper blood flow and nutrition from reaching his left eye. (In osteopathy, blockades result in terrains, which are areas of weakness that allow disease processes to take hold.)

Based on his history and symptoms, I prescribed a homeopathic remedy, which produced no noticeable changes. In homeopathy, there are 3600 remedy choices and choosing the right one takes training and experience. I took a second look at the case and changed remedies. I am happy to report that this new remedy is working and that the eye is becoming less inflamed, and John Clyde’s appetite and attitude have all improved.

So, the symptoms are abating and he feels better overall. This is indicative of a curative reaction.

John Clyde has continued to improve. Although he appears to have some permanent vision loss, he has returned to competition. His owner reports that his attitude is better than ever and they are working well together. She is very happy with the outcome of the case.

I hope you will now be able to better determine which direction a treatment is sending the disease - inward or outward - and whether the treatment is suppressing disease symptoms, palliating them, or curing the individual. Choosing a suitable treatment option will then be easy.Hoofprint

About the author:

Dr. Marcia DuBois is a 1990 graduate of Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine and is certified in Veterinary Acupuncture by the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society. After practicing traditional allopathic medicine for 10 years, she became frustrated with its limitations. Searching for a safer and more effective approach to healing, she began studying acupuncture, homeopathy, energetic medicine and herbal therapies. She is the owner of Well Being Center for Animal Healing in Houston, TX - a holistic practice that treats small animals, exotics and equids. Her practice philosophy is "less is more".