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A new, natural treatment for laminitis

By Susan Rogerson
The main laminitis season is here – the time when many horse owners start monitoring grass growth and checking their horse’s feet for signs of the dreaded disease. 
I used to be one of those people. Now I no longer worry because I have found a simple, natural and highly effective treatment which stops the disease in its tracks – full-fat dairy cream. This might seem like a bizarre quack remedy, but the science behind it is compelling. My theory is that it works as an anti-inflammatory by lowering levels of prostaglandin E2 and leukotriene B4. I also believe it lowers thromboxane – a powerful vasoconstrictor. This theory is backed up by other published evidence. I have found it far more effective than bute, which often doesn’t work and can make the condition worse.   
It was after a previous laminitic horse failed to respond to conventional veterinary treatment that I began to look for an alternative. After much research, close observation of my own horses and making connections to things I’d read about cheese, I formulated the dairy cream theory. Sadly, this horse died before I quite figured it out, but less than two years later my remaining horse got laminitis. He became my first guinea pig.
He was Obel grade three and reluctant to walk. I stabled him and fed him double cream in a bran feed with ad lib hay. The following morning he had already improved slightly. By day three he was walking easily. He was allowed out to graze for a short period each day and when I opened the stable door on the fifth day he trotted into the field with just a slight limp. I then turned him out 24/7 and he was completely sound within a few weeks. I didn’t give him any drugs or cryotherapy and his grass intake was only restricted for a few days.
The treatment was not completely without problems though. Initially, I fed the bran dry as I thought the combination of wet bran, lush spring grass and cream might give him diarrhoea. I also fed his usual broad-spectrum vitamin and mineral supplement. His droppings were normal but he did suffer mild tympanitic colic (gas). He also had fluid retention, drank twice his normal volume of water and urinated copiously. These side-effects were later alleviated by feeding the bran as a damp (but not soggy) mash and omitting the supplement.
After a second bout of laminitis that same year which was again successfully treated with double cream, my horse became sound and remained so for the next eight years. Then, in spring 2012, he had a third attack – the worst ever. Again the double cream worked – five days later he had only a slight limp. A friend then tried the cream on her pony, also with favourable results.
The full results have now been published in the journal ‘Open Science Repository Veterinary Medicine’, which is available open access. This paper includes a full discussion of my findings, along with references which support my theory. And since publication, two more horses have been successfully treated with double cream.
Unfortunately, despite my best efforts, the veterinary establishment is not interested. They have dismissed the idea completely without even bothering to test it out. So I am left in the frustrating position of having found a potential cure for laminitis, but having no way of validating it. Of course, that needn’t stop other horse owners from trying it out for themselves if they so choose. If it works on other horses then eventually the vets will have to sit up and take notice.
But here I must add a caveat. Laminitis is a serious and complex disease. If anyone wants to try the double cream treatment, but is inexperienced in dealing with the disease, or has any doubts at all, then it would be best to try it under the supervision of a vet – one who is open-minded enough not to dismiss the treatment out of hand – if such a creature exists!
Please also remember it is your decision. I am not a vet; I cannot legally (nor would want to) offer specific treatment advice for individual animals. All I can tell you is what worked for my horse and three others. Owners must decide for themselves whether double cream is an appropriate treatment for their own horse.
But if anyone does try it, please send me the results. If it cures enough horses then perhaps it will be accepted as a valid alternative to the current, hopelessly inadequate treatment.
My own horse has been laminitis free for over a year now. There is no guarantee that he won’t have another attack, but if he does I won’t be unduly worried. I’ll just put him back on the double cream.
For me, the fear and dread associated with laminitis has gone. It is my biggest hope now that other horses might also benefit, and that laminitis will lose its deadly grip over all of us.
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