On my last post I started talking about cure, palliation and suppression of symptoms. This post continues that post.
Palliation – This is what happens most often when treating symptoms. We have been conditioned to expect this most people don’t mind giving medicines long term as long as they get rid of symptoms. Many horse joint supplements are a perfect example of palliation. Joint supplements can help heal joints if the joint is injured from overwork or injury. More often, however, joint problems occur because of poor nutrition, bad confirmation or secondary to chiropractic issues. Unless these underlying problems are addressed higher doses or additional help will be needed to keep the joints comfortable.
Palliation can be fine when cure is not possible. To continue the example of joint pain, if a horse has bad confirmation or is working the joints harder than would normally be expected, joint supplements can extend the horse’s useful career and keep him comfortable into old age. A perfect case is our donkey, Lady, who I recently put down. Lady had terrible confirmation but we kept her comfortable for years with ever increasing levels of joint relief products such as Ani-Motion and a stem cell support supplement.
I do not like the idea of starting all young competitive horses on “preventative” joint supplements. I would rather support their joints with good nutrition including feeding whole food supplements such as packets of algae, probiotics and enzymes and products containing high levels of anti oxidants such as noni or Xango. Good whole food nutrition is much more likely to be curative than formulated supplements.
Single nutrients can be paliative. One example is large amounts of magnesium to control insulin resistance. I understand the need for magnesium if it is deficient in the diet but large doses should not be needed if the horse is able to properly assimilate minerals. CoQ10 is a powerful anti oxidant that can be therapeutic given in high levels for short periods to reverse out of control inflammation. After the inflammation is controlled, however, maintenance levels of this nutrient should be adequate and it may not be needed at all it the diet contains a wide range of nutritious foods.
Suppression This is much more dangerous. Symptoms that are suppressed will come back as deeper more severe disease. Drugs that are strong enough to suppress symptoms often have serious side effects that may be worse than the original symptom. Chemotherapy drugs are a classic example of suppressive medications with serious side effects.
Steroids are often suppressive. Steroids are often given to horses for allergy symptoms. An example of steroid suppression would be a horse that has a sinus infection which responds initially to treatment but each year becomes more severe and eventually the horse develops severe lung damage and COPD.
Used incorrectly, homeopathy has the potential to suppress and that is why it should not be used other than for first aid without guidance from a professional. Strong medicinal herbs can suppress symptoms. Just because something is natural does not make it safe. It is important to know at all times when treating a horse if you are palliating, suppressing or getting a true cure. How do you know if you are getting a cure?
More to come on this subject.