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  What is Sweet Itch ?
  Culicoides midge - the culprit
  Which animals are affected?
  Where does it occur?
  Causes of Sweet Itch
  Sweet Itch Symptoms
  Is there a cure?
  Insecticides & Sprays
  Rugs & blankets
  Comments & Reviews
  Stress in Horses
  Equestrian Links
  Equine Vets, Horse Vets
  Sweet Itch News & Research
  Sweet Itch Pictures

As there is no cure for Sweet Itch in Horses once lesions have appeared treatment falls into two clearly defined categories:-
Homeopathy by Chris Day

1. Sweet Itch Prevention - keeping the midges away with insect repellents and insecticides, avoiding midgy places, and using barriers such as Sweet Itch rugs. For more on prevention please go to the relevant section, refer to The Culicoides Midge - The Culprit, Insecticides and Sprays, Rugs & Blankets and News.

Re:picture above please refer to Chris Day's Homeopathy Treatment for Horses below.

2. Therapies to releave the itching or correct the immune response. These are discussed below:-

(a) Immunotherapy.
"Treatment of disease by inducing, enhancing, or suppressing an immune response
Sweet Itch is caused by the incorrect response of the immune system to the midge saliva which it perceives as a threat followed by an autoimmmune reaction whereby it tries to rectify this mistake. It is referred to by scientists as 'dysregulation' of the immune system. According to John Stanford of BioEos Ltd the ulceration and thickening of the skin results from the autoimmune reaction.

BioEos Ltd have developed a capsule-based treatment which has shown definite improvements in symptoms. In 70% of horses there is a 50% improvement.In 10% a 90% improvement. The cost of 40 capsules for the season is £235.Contact Jennifer Greaves on 01352 771718

This treatment is very welcome news to owners with horses which have Sweet Itch, and is going in the right direction. But this technique of ameliorating the condition has to be compared with other itch-reduction methods both in price and efficacy.

(b) Homeopathy.
Homeopathy for Horses"Homeopathy for Horses is a holistic treatment for healing horses based on the use of highly diluted natural substances to trigger a healing response in the horse's body" - Equine Therapy Net.
Only vets may prescibe a homeopathic treatment for your horse in the UK. We don't have any statistics to amplify the degree of success with this treatment. More information may be obtained from Tim Couzens - his book is above left - at The Holistic Veterinary Medicine Centre, East Sussex. Mr Couzens'book, Homeopathy for Horses, may be had from Amazon Books.

Chris Day's book 'Homeopathy'
is available from Amazon Books too. See picture at the top of the page. Mr Day's www.alternativevet.org in Oxfordshire.

(c) Steroids.
Steroids are sometimes used by vets to suppress the immune system in extreme cases of Sweet Itch sufficiently to relieve the symptoms, but steroids have side effects such as making a horse more prone to Laminitis, so should be avoided if a less risky treatment is available.

(d) Herbal Mixtures.
For many horses the most cost effective and satisfactory treatment for Sweet Itch is to combine good stable management, a good Sweet Itch Rug with an itch-reducing herbal formula. Some herbal products also have fly-repellent properties. The ideal may be to combine the two

To weigh the options please visit our sponsor GLOBAL HERBS here. Alternatively, click here to send for a catalogue Head your email 'SWEET ITCH' and include your full postal address

(e) Flaxseed aka Linseed in UK
A lot of research has been done on the affects of adding crushed flaxseed to the diet of Sweet Itch horses and the management of the condition. It appears to quieten the allergic response. Discuss with your veterinary herbalist on ways of adding it to your horse's diet. In the meantime if you want to acquaint yourself with the original research go here. Flaxseed (Linum usitatissimum) supplementation.

How to feed flaxseed to your horse by Liz Goldsmith - a personal view - click here.

Watch out for Chia Seed - Click here. More info shortly

(f) Anti-histamines - popular for dealing with human allergies - are believed to be ineffective treatment for Sweet Itch horses.

An article in Horse.com says this "the role of antihistamines in horses with IBH has not been adequately explored. To better define the impact of the antihistamine cetirizine in IBH, Olsén and colleagues conducted a double-blinded, placebo-controlled field study in 89 horses from 32 farms. Forty-five horses were treated with cetirizine (0.4 mg/kg) orally twice daily for three weeks, while the remaining horses received a placebo.

Key findings of the study were:

There was no difference in clinical signs of dermatitis between the treatment and control group after three weeks.

Horses that were blanketed and stabled overnight had a significant reduction in dermatitis severity compared to horses that were blanketed only, stabled only, or neither blanketed nor stabled.

The findings indicate that cetirizine was of no apparent benefit in treating IBH at the dose rate tested,"

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