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Veterinary Homeopathy

Constitutional Homeopathy for Colic in Horses

Colocynthis is the first remedy to think of in a colicky horse with strong spasms that come and go in episodes. The pains might be quite violent with severe cramping. This pain makes the horse want to twist and look at or bite its flank.

Wednesday is the day that I often do not get to the barn due to my work schedule, but one morning in July I drove up to see my two month old foal and to give a bit of grain to Wasabi, my six year old Oldenburg gelding. Wasabi was lying down in the soft rice hulls of his stall which was not an unusual sight for this big relaxed horse. Seizing the opportunity to lie down with my horse I found some carrots and quietly entered the stall. Wasabi did not get up but turned his head away when offered the carrots. This was NOT normal behavior for my horse. I noticed that there was hardly any manure in his stall, another unusual finding. I urged him up and put his halter on to see if he would eat grass. Once outside he ignored the grass and started pawing the ground in preparation to lie down again or roll. I now knew for certain that he was in pain and suffering from the beginning stages of colic.

I called my trainer and she began to look for a vet. Meanwhile I listened for gut sounds, which were present and sounded extremely bubbly. Then I began to walk Wasabi around. He followed reluctantly with his head down and a lusterless saddened look in his eye. As I made laps around the barn I grabbed my homeopathy emergency kit and began to consider a remedy for him. Because of the tight and drawn-up appearance of his flank and the visual muscular cramping that I could observe, I gently placed a capful of Colocynthis 200C in his lower lip. Within about three minutes and halfway through our next circuit around the barn, he stopped and released a large pile of manure. Immediately thereafter his step seemed a little lighter and more alive than before. My trainer then called and suggested that I offer a bucket of water laced with molasses. Wasabi is generally an enthusiastic drinker but he showed no interest in the sweetened fluid so we walked a few more laps.

About 20 minutes after the first dose of medicine Wasabi seemed to be returning to his internalized and slower pace. I placed another dose of Colocynthis in his cheek and as we passed the water bucket he perked up and showed interest and drained about a third of its contents. Now his body seemed to relax and his walk became more ground covering. He was given three doses of the remedy before the vet arrived. She confirmed that he appeared to be having intestinal symptoms but found no impaction of manure and decided just to administer some electrolytes and wait to see how he did. Before I left the barn, about an hour and a half after I arrived, Wasabi seemed fully relieved and began to munch on his breakfast of hay. The colic event was over and there was no return of symptoms. The homeopathic remedy helped to normalize the condition gently and speedily and is compatible with veterinary care.


ABDOMEN; NOISES; rumbling; bursting bubbles, as from
ABDOMEN; PAIN; General; gastric disorders, from
ABDOMEN; PAIN; General; lying, while; amel.
ABDOMEN; PAIN; General; rolling on the floor amel.
ABDOMEN; PAIN; General; stool; amel.; after
ABDOMEN; PAIN; cramping, griping; morning
MIND; ANGUISH; pain in; abdomen, with
MIND; AVERSION; everything, to
RECTUM; CONSTIPATION; colic, cramps, with

Colocynthus – Bitter Cucumber

Primary use: Colic with spasms

This is the first remedy to think of in a colicky horse with strong spasms that come and go in episodes. The pains might be quite violent with severe cramping. This pain makes the horse want to twist and look at or bite its flank. The horse might throw itself on the ground, hunch up or try to get into a position where it is able to double over, bending to compress its stomach. Compressing the abdomen brings some relief from the gassy distention. The horse’s abdomen will feel full, tight and distended. The Colocynthus colic makes the horse restlessly search for a position to alleviate the pain. He might try and lay down to roll, arch the back or he might gnash his teeth. The horse can be quite irritable with this kind of painful spastic colic and might prefer to be left alone. The horse can be worse from cold, damp weather and drinking cold water after overheating

Dosage: Give one dose and repeat as frequently as every five minutes to reduce the extreme pain and spasms. As the horse is becoming more comfortable the doses can be spread out. Stop when you see notable improvement and do not repeat again until symptoms recur.

Nux vomica

Primary use : Colic or indigestion from bad food or water or overeating often seen with irritability irritable temperament.

Horses that need Nux vomica have an irritable and sensitive temperament. They might be overly sensitive to noise, light and other stimulus. When in pain they are jumpy, angry, or they can be depressed and resentful and not want to be touched.

The type of colic that responds to Nux vomica is often brought on by overeating, or eating bad food or water. There might be strong spastic contractions, and urging without the ability to pass manure. The bowels might be blocked and strong spasms and straining are the result. In addition there might be intestinal rumbling and gurgling. The intestines can also be bloated. Constipation, nausea, retching, diarrhea and intussusception (the dangerous telescoping of the bowel) all are symptoms that might be helped by Nux vomica.

The horse that needs Nux vomica is often in a bad mood and is very sensitive to any kind of stimulus including touch, noise and light and strong odors. They often walk around slowly, are restless and might want to press their heads against the wall of their stall. Others might lie down and look repeatedly at the flank. Think of this remedy if there is restlessness, sensitivity, and indigestion. Another Nux vomica scenario might occur in show or performance horses that are given a diet of rich grains and then confined to a stall for long periods.

Nux vomica is also a good remedy for exposure to toxins, poisonous plants, or drugs. Generally these exposures will result in the typical Nux vomica picture of spasms, sensitivity and irritability.

Impaction colic in horses; spasms of the gut with rumbling and gurgling; constipation or straining to make stool. Nux vomica also helps reverse negative effects from drugs or drug overdose. Can be useful after over exertion.

Dosage: Give one dose every 5 to 30 minutes if symptoms are severe. Reduce dosage to one time a day. Stop when you see improvement and do not repeat again until symptoms recur.
Arsenicum album – White Arsenic

Primary Use: Gastrointestinal disorders such as ulcers or colic, especially when accompanied by anxiety and mental or physical restlessness.

The symptoms of pain in the GI tract, typically a burning sensation, are very close to the pain that horses with ulcers experience, and Arsenicum is a very useful remedy in the treatment of ulcers. Arsenicum is a remedy that corresponds to food poisoning. The type of colic that responds to Arsenicum may be brought on by eating contaminated or poor-quality feed as in ” moldy feed enteritis”. The colic often comes on suddenly.

The horse that needs Arsenicum gets up and down and frequently changes positions. If the horse is in an advanced Arsenicum state he may be weak and down on the ground, but still making small movements of the limbs and head (the restlessness is so typical of this remedy). The abdomen might be drawn up. Arsenicum symptoms are generally worse from 11:00 PM to 3:00 AM. Horses that need Arsenicum can be very anxious and are calmed by the presence of people or other horses. They do not want to be alone. They are comforted by help and attention from others.
Aconite – Aconitum napellus – Monkshood

Primary use: First stages of colic after a fright, or after exposure to cold dry wind.

Aconite might be indicated in the first stages of a painful illness such as colic and it is especially useful in illnesses that come on after exposure to cold dry wind. Characteristically there is a sudden onset of symptoms. The horse might also be sweating and thirsty with a rapid pulse and restlessness.

Aconite is the first remedy to think of for fear and shock. If a horse is frightened by distressing situations think of Aconite.

Dosage: Give one to three times daily at the first hint of illness or for fright or trauma. For severe acute conditions the remedy can be given every ten to fifteen minutes. Stop when you see improvement and do not repeat again until symptoms recur.

Review of the Visual Signs of Equine Colic

* Lying down more than usual
* Getting up and lying down repeatedly
* Standing stretched out
* Standing frequently as if to urinate
* Turning the head towards the flank-horse looking at his belly
* Repeatedly curling the upper lip
* Pawing at the ground
* Kicking at the belly
* Excessive rolling

The symptoms of mild colic include:

* Lethargy Horse appears too tired
* Loss of appetite-not finishing food
* Fewer droppings (less manure or too dry manure)
* Stomach ache
The symptoms of a serious colic are

* Groaning or rolling
* Shallow breathing
* Sweating and swelling of the abdomen

To learn more about classical homeopathy you can refer to the following websites: The Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy

About the author

Karen Cohen

Karen Bilgrai Cohen D.C., CCH has been a certified classical homeopath and Chiropractor in private practice in Santa Cruz, CA since 1982. She has also worked as an assistant midwife and studied cranio-sacral therapy. Karen studied homeopathy extensively with Ananda Zaren and Henny Heudens-Mast and specializes in working with infants and children. She has also developed skill in treating horses with homeopathy.
Visit Karen at her website:

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