Cushing’s disease, more formally known as hyperadrenocorticism, is caused by an overproduction of corticosteroid hormones by the adrenal glands. The disease occurs in horses and dogs, with a higher rate of occurrence in animals at the midpoint of their life or beyond. Homeopathic and conventional treatments of the disease are most successful if the diagnosis is made early.
Horses suspected of having Cushing’s disease should be diagnosed by a veterinarian. Symptoms generally include loss of hair and general loss of conditioning. These same symptoms can also be associated with thyroid problems, aging and other maladies.
Hair loss can also occur with horses on steroid treatment for other health problems. Only blood tests will determine what condition the animal has.
Once a diagnosis of Cushing’s disease is made, the cause must be known to determine the proper treatment.
There are two principle types of Cushing’s disease in horses. The overproduction of corticosteroid may be caused by diseases or tumors of the adrenal glands. A more common type of Cushing’s disease occurs when a tumor, usually benign, occurs in the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland secretes hormones that are the controlling agent of the adrenal glands. If the hormone output of the pituitary gland is affected, the output of the adrenal glands will also change.
There are several options for homeopathic treatment of Cushing’s disease and similar conditions. The proper treatment course will be indicated by the diagnosis.
If the hair loss is not caused by Cushing’s disease but rather is a side effect of a steroid treatment, simply adjusting the dose or, if possible, suspending the treatment may remedy the problem.
Another option, homeopathic formic acid, may be effective in the treatment of Cushing’s disease in its earliest stages. It is also effective in treating hair loss when a diagnosis of Cushing’s disease is negative.
For cases where a pituitary gland problem is diagnosed, homeopathic pituitary is indicated. This treatment is usually done in low doses over a long period of time and should be monitored by a holistic veterinarian.
Other holistic options include tinctures of a variety of medicinal herbs including garlic, rosehips, nettle and milk thistle.
Homeopathic options do exist for the treatment of Cushing’s disease and other related health issues. The best course of action is to define and understand the health problems facing the horse and work with people knowledgeable in holistic health treatment.