Keep Current on the Wonders of Alternative Therapy for Horses
By Nikki Alvin-Smith
Our horses deserve our due diligence when it comes to keeping their health in order and as busy horse owners it is often difficult to keep abreast of all the effective treatment modalities that are available.
At a recent webinar I attended hosted by leading media giant AIM Equine they shared survey results that indicated most horse owners rely on their veterinarian as their ‘go to’ resource for sourcing good therapy options which is logical enough, right? However, many practicing veterinarians are focused on providing modalities that they have learned in vet school; lobbying pharmaceutical representatives that attend the AAEP events and call at their clinics; and the reading materials that pop through their email door. Vets are busy too and don’t always garner first hand experience with all the options out there to treat the health issues our horses experience.
Just as you would take the time to look at alternative options to advocate for the health of your spouse, child or parent, it can also pay dividends to do the same when it comes to alternative therapies for horses.
Here’s a look at just some of the time-proven and newer therapy options that are available. See what you think.
MicroCurrent therapy is the surface application of a very low-level electrical current to effect healing of tissues. It mimics the electrical exchanges that occur at the cellular level in the body operating at just a slightly higher level. This modality is not new, it has been around since the 1800’s in one form or another. More recently it was successfully implemented in the 1970’s although even at that time the machines were cumbersome to use.
One of the best things about microcurrent therapy is not just that it is effective in healing health issues in horses but it is also non-invasive and F.D.A. approved.
It is also not the same as TENS treatment which is a common misconception.
TENS treatment operates at a much higher electrical current and is used for pain control, not healing.
So just how does it work? When injury or inflammation damages body tissue the cells’ balanced electrical charge becomes unbalanced. The body recognizes this and just leapfrogs over the damaged tissues and creates a new route. Left behind, the damaged electrically unbalanced cells are useless and cannot function as they are supposed to do. When you apply a microcurrent directly over the affected damaged or inflamed area, this current resets or reboots those cells so their electrical balance is restored and the pathway is reconnected. As an added benefit the current accelerates the body’s own healing process further, by increasing the release of ATP by 500%. What is ATP you ask?
Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) is considered by biologists to be the ‘currency of life.’ It is used by the body for everything from muscle contraction and protein biosynthesis to nerve transmission. So you can see it is a pretty important component to body healing and function. ATP is a reservoir of energy in every cell in the body so when the level of ATP is increased by the use of microcurrent application, the body is aided in its own healing processes. Your horse feels better faster, and is better faster.
If you’d like to channel your inner research scientist check out the book “ The Body Electric,” authored by Robert O. Becker, M.D. and Gary Selden. It provides a great insight into the science behind this therapy.
Specifically healing is achieved by the following methods:
• Nerve repair and healing without scar tissue
• Improved circulation and dilation of blood vessels to aid healing
• Increases the amount of oxygen carrying red cells
• Elimination of toxins and wastes with increased excretion of fluids by the kidneys
• Stimulates lymph circulation further clearing toxins and radicals
• Actually lengthens connective tissues, reducing or preventing adhesion and reduces the danger of fibrosis
What kind of health issues can microcurrent solve?
• Tendon injuries
• Hoof conditions
• Annular check ligament injury (puffed up ankles/stocking up issues)
* Suspensory ligament injury
• General body soreness
• Boosts the immune system
• Heals wounds
• Speeds up the healing process
• Helps resolve bowel impaction colic
• Helps resolve EIPH (bleeders)
So just what is a microcurrent device and how is it used?
There is a range of devices available on the market so we consulted with expert Deborah Powell, the founder of Matrix Therapy products and one of the leading manufacturers of microcurrent products in the horse and dog market to find out just what we should look for before diving in to buy one.
“We offer a myriad of products, from hand held highly portable devices such as the latest from our Best-Vet Series: The Matrix Best-Vet III which is a microcurrent therapy unit, to sound wave and laser therapy devices and an array of massage gloves, rollers, combs, back pads and more. When you look for an excellent device it is imperative to know that each unit, whatever its modality, has varying specifications. So you must match your device selection with your animal’s specific needs. The unit should offer a trackable bio-feedback feature so that the patient body’s response to the device’s action can be monitored to aid in diagnosis of where there is soreness or injury.”
We asked Deborah what was special about their BEST units.
“BEST stands for biofeedback electrical stimulation technology. BEST devices surpass all other microcurrent units on the market in form and in function. Think of it like upgrading to a smart phone from a basic phone! This is because our BEST technology recognizes deficient tissue and helps correct it with the continuous dynamic biofeedback. Horses love it. Owners love it. “
In fact the use of these devices can be a great help in diagnosis for the veterinary community too. If you want to aid your vet in identifying the area where treatment is needed the use of a device such as Best-Vet III can bring great added value to your time spent with your vet, saving your vet valuable time in locating the source of the horse’s discomfort.
Microcurrent therapy also has a useful role to play in the prevention of injuries. When you locate a sore point or weak point in the horse’s tissue you may be able to avert injury to your beloved equine by providing maintenance therapy that keeps the cells electrically balanced and ATP charged.
If like me, you are an advanced competitor or coach, you know that it is much better to avoid the injury and training time lost when you have a major event competition or training goal you have set for your horse’s career. Diligent, pro-active care for your equine athlete, means a happier horse and a more successful outcome when you hit the event course or arena. We ask a lot of our equine counterparts and ensuring they are operating at optimum health is the very least we can do.
For example, perhaps your horse is not performing in his dressage work as well as he used to and you are worried about saddle fit as his back has developed and is changing due to the higher level of work. Reviewing your horse’s back health with a Best Vet unit, can pinpoint any soreness issues that may exist and a back pad can be applied and treatment given to ensure any soreness is resolved, while you track down a saddle fitter and have the saddle adjusted.
There are times when we need to apply medication to our horses in order to promote healing or reduce inflammation and Microcurrent therapy offers a super solution for delivering medication to specific areas of the horse in a non-invasive manner through iontophoresis, which is the method of transferring medications through the skin using electrical current.
You simply apply special patches with veterinarian prescribed medication added, and then activate the patches with small amounts of electrical current. Iontophoresis is noninvasive and provides diffused delivery of medications. There is no risk of infection from needle use, and no risk of tissue damage.
Laser Therapy ~ Light Solutions
Red and infrared lights are absorbed by the skin, muscles and bone and also work at the cellular level and raise white cell counts. So the use of a laser to close wounds and heal skin is extremely popular.
“We designed a super lightweight SL-50 that has an affordable price point and as a class 3R laser you can use it independently between red and infrared or both together and switch from pulse to steady application. While we humans may use lasers to remove wrinkles the horse loves them less for cosmetic reasons and more for pain relief, reduction of scar tissue and quick wound healing,” said Deborah.
Talking of light, Matrix Therapy also offers a Rainbow Meridian LED/Laser. What’s that about?
Well apparently it’s not just red and infrared wavelengths that the body enjoys. All the colors of the rainbow offer numerous health benefits via the combination of frequencies to affect the meridians of the body. When you follow the Chinese meridian system (used in acupuncture for example), each meridian has different colors and the connection or flow between these meridians can be improved by the application of energy provided by the different color wavelengths that the body receives.
“ A lot of people are interested in this topic but find it intimidating,” Deborah explained, “ So we include a book by Bambi Doré, who helped us design the Rainbow Meridian LED/Laser, called The Equine Acupoint Manual, The System of Three. It provides a great introduction for the neophyte energy body worker.”
Low-frequency (infrasound) therapy is used by professional horse folks to soothe sore muscles and reduce swelling and pain in their equine athletes, and has been a popular treatment for decades. As there is no forced contracting of tissue with acoustic soundwaves, as in the use of high-powered PEMF units, the soundwave massage unit that Matrix Therapy has developed with its ultra low soundwave output offers a safe alternative that works in holistic harmony with the horse. Horses love it. As with most Matrix Therapy devices, this unit is very user friendly.
While sound wave vibration is not recommended on or near bone fractures, its use is valuable for providing treatment of acute injuries that are often very painful and cannot withstand the application of direct contact.
Its use offers solutions to a variety of issues your horse may experience such as:
• Relief of tight or sore tissue
• Encourages the release of endorphins
• Relieves arthritis pain and soreness
• Increases blood circulation to aid healing
• Improves tissue quality and helps reduce scar tissue
• Dissolves hematomas and shrinks edemas
• Relieves joint pain
• Relieves sore feet and symptoms related to laminitis
Talking of sound, did you know you can also use Tuning Forks to release muscle tension? Tuning Blades for myofascial restriction relief?
“Yes, that’s true,“ explained Deborah. “Matrix Therapy offers tuning forks with special handles for ease of use so that two forks can be held on the horse and they will vibrate longer due to the special design of the attachment. The delivery of pure frequencies to the body releases tight muscles and induces relaxation. It’s amazing to see how the horse responds so positively to them. They are often used at the start and finish of a ‘spa day’ for your horse. The T-Blade is lightweight and well balanced so you can use it for myofascial restriction release without having to hold a heavy piece of metal.”
Additional use of soundwave therapy includes relief from respiratory distress such as COPD, asthma, heaves, bleeders to name but a few.
Deborah Powell explained how the Vibra VM can improve performance of your horse in general through its help with healthy lung function as well as tackle successfully the many lung diseases and issues horses suffer.
“We developed the Vibra VM to address all respiratory issues, and it delivers soundwaves with specific frequency ranges to reduce inflammation in all airway passages and clears mucus from the lungs. You can use a stethoscope to listen to the lungs and observe the changes in breathing and improvements that occur in just one treatment. We recommend you work with your vet on diagnosis of your horse’s condition and for follow up. “
As with many treatments we give our horses, they tell us if we are listening how they feel about those treatments. If you’ve ever seen a horse that has been given repeated treatments with a high PEMF device hiding in the corner of his stall when he clearly wants no more such treatments and sees his ‘therapist’ coming, versus a horse standing quietly, half asleep dozing in the aisle-way receiving a low frequency microcurrent treatment then you know which your horse prefers!
There are electrodes, probes, gloves, surcingles, tape, ear clips and just about anything you might possibly need to heal your horse holistically available from Matrix Therapy. With education front and center, their new website also provides many articles and references that can help direct you to just what is best for your own individual horse’s needs.