I had someone ask me about Colitis yesterday. It is becoming more prevalent in certain areas.

Colitis: A natural perspective
It isn’t something I’ve come across very often, but the few cases I’ve treated have totally recovered from it.
Colitis is the inflammation of the lining of the colon. The inflammation usually occurs in the lower part of the colon but can affect the whole of the large intestine. Micro-ulcers can occur where the inflammation has destroyed the cells lining the bowel. The ulcers bleed and can produce pus and mucous. Chron’s disease is another digestive disease which is very rare in horses. It causes inflammation throughout the whole thickness of the intestinal. It produces deep ulcers. Chron’s disease usually occurs in the small intestine but can occur in the large intestine. In rare cases a horse may have both Chron’s disease and Colitis.
Causes: Colitis may be caused by a variety of things.
Diet: Excess protein and not enough roughage (hay and long grasses) is one suspected cause of some colitis.
Keep the horse’s diet as natural as possible. Feed chaff, hay and  a natural mineral supplement. It is good to have your horse on large paddocks with a variety of grasses to graze on. Check your paddock is free of any toxic grasses. It you need to add protein to your horse’s feed consider soaking or boiling oats or barley.
Medications: Antibiotics such as clindamycin and lincomycin and pain relief (NSAIDs) such Bute can cause Colitis.
Bacteria: e.g. Clostridium perfingens, Clostridium difficile
Allergic reactions, toxins and heavy metal poisoning
Stress: particularly after surgery or transport.
Symptoms – short term: Colitis causes cramping and pain in the abdominal area. There is usually diarrhea which might or might not have blood in it. There may be dehydration, fever and chills and the horse may appear to be lethargic. A horse may also lose weight and have a decreased appetite. There may be discolouration of the conjunctivae of the horse’s eye.
Symptoms – long term: Ulcerative colitis may cause long-term problems such as arthritis, eye inflammation, liver disease, skin problems. These occur when the immune system trigger inflammation in other parts of the body.

Treatment: Treatment of colitis depends on the cause.
Conventional treatment: Often your veterinarian will do a complete blood count, maybe electrolytes, kidney function and inflammatory marker tests. Sometimes a bacterial infection with disappear by itself. A vet may prescribe antibiotics in some cases. In cases that don’t respond to antibiotics then corticosteroids may be added to the treatment.
Herbal and natural treatment: Consider using some of the following herbs and supplements:
Sweet potato: ½ two times daily in feed. It is considered to be a prebiotic.
Slippery elm bark powdered: ½ a cup two times daily in feed. Add this after wetting the feed down. Some of this may be syringed as well.
Marshmallow root powder: ½ a cup two times daily in feed. Some of this may be mixed into a paste and syringed as well.
Fenugreek powder: 1 tablespoon daily in feed.
Wei gon ning
Aloe Vera: Find a good quality aloe Vera and give a dose of 30 – 40 ml twice daily. Warren laboratories produce and excellent product. I have seen horses improve with that product that were on other aloe products that didn’t help. It doesn’t mean it is the only effective product on the market, just one I am aware of.
Chamomile: 1 cup of flowers twice daily. This can be made into an infusion by putting it into a jug and pouring boiling hot water over it. Allow this to cool and put the whole lot in the feed.
Bowsellia: Useful to help with the diarrhea and with the inflammation. 30gm twice daily in feed.
Liquorice root powder: 1 – 2 tablespoons in feed twice daily.
Wheat grass: 1 – 2 tablespoons of juice syringed twice daily.
Turmeric: 1 tablespoon twice daily
Psyllium: ½ a cup twice daily
Gingko biloba: 10 gm twice daily
Raw natural unprocessed honey: 1 – 2 tablespoons daily
Moxibustion: Used daily around the stomach area and on the hind legs and along the stomach meridian. One study indicated that moxibustion was more effective than Sulfasalazine.
Consider acupuncture or acupressure

Homeopathy: Consider the following:
Aconite 30 c – signs of fever at the beginning.
Arnica 30 c – when the blood is bright in the stools and there are signs of colic.
Argentum nitricum 30 c – for diarrhea with mucus and blood and excessive gas.
Arsenicum album 200 c– foul smelling diarrhea, more frequent stools at night.
Mercurius corrosivus – bloody foul smelling diarrhea. Pain lingers after defecation
Phosphorus – bloody painless and profuse diarrhea.

One study done in comparing herbal medicine to prednisone found that the herbs had an 84% effective rate compare to the prednisone group that has a 60.5% success rate.

I am not saying to use herbs and natural therapies instead of conventional veterinary medicine but perhaps herbal medicine and natural therapies could be considered in conjunction with conventional veterinary medicine.