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Herbs Horse Owners Need to Know About - Chaste Berry

April 18, 2014

Chaste Berry

Vitex agnus-castus

 

Why You Should Know About it:

     Chaste Berry has been shown to be effective for Pituitary Pars Intermedia Dysfunction (PPID), also known as Equine Cushing’s Syndrome.

 

     PPID is a progressive condition that often presents with an abnormally long coat that does not properly shed, depression, increased thirst & urination, excessive sweating, recurrent or chronic infections, muscle wasting, abnormal fat deposits, and more. It is also associated with complications such as insulin resistance, laminitis, and blindness.

 

     In a healthy horse, the pituitary gland releases hormones that regulate metabolism, stress, pain, behavior, water balance, reproduction, growth, coat, skin, weight, and other functions and states of the body. The hypothalamus releases dopamine-producing neurons into the pars intermedia of the pituitary, signaling it to stimulate or inhibit hormone production. In horses with PPID, these neurons progressively diminish, and the pars intermedia of the pituitary divides and enlarges. This leads to excess production of hormones in the pituitary – up to 100 times as much as a healthy horse would produce.

 

     Chaste Berry’s effectiveness for PPID is contributed to its dopaminergic effect, in that it stimulates dopamine production in the hypothalamus.

 

     Chaste Berry can help reduce your horses symptoms, and prevent serious complications such as laminitis. In some horses, you may begin to see results in as little time as 2 weeks. However, Chaste Berry only addresses symptoms, and not the root of the disease. The underlying issue of hormone imbalance is attributed to overexposure to stressors such as nutrient deficiency, high sugar/starch diets, pain, boredom, over vaccination and deworming, etc. Chaste should be used in conjunction with other therapies, primarily nutritive therapy to provide the body with what it needs to naturally produce dopamine. Serious reduction in non-structural carbohydrates (NSCs) in the diet, adequate intake of protein and low NSC grass hay, supplementation of magnesium, chromium, omega-3 fatty acids (ground flax or chia seed), and iron. Other supportive therapuetics can be beneficial as well, such as minimizing the horse's stress however possible, acupuncture, and others.

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How to Use It

     If your horse is receiving no grain or beet pulp, Chaste Berry can be fed with moistened hay pellets (alfalfa pellets are a great option for picky eaters).

 

Part Used: Fruit

Form Used: Dried, freshly powdered

Dosage: 15 g or 2 - 3 tbsp (for an 1,100 lb horse)

Herbal Actions: Hormone regulating, emmenagogue, vulnerary, warming,drying

Caution: Do not use in pregnant mares.

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