The Respiratory System and Allergies

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Body Detoxification Process:

Healthy detoxification is largely dependent on a healthy, balanced relationship between the exposure to external toxins, the production of internal toxins from normal metabolism and the ability of the body, in particular the liver and the kidneys, to process and remove them.

Multiple stresses caused by exposure to preservatives, pesticide and herbicide residues, insecticides along with high-sugar, high-starch, highly processed feeds can also contribute to sluggish elimination and detoxification processes.

These environmental and feed related toxins which cannot be eliminated efficiently can result an overloaded immune system particularly affecting the skin and respiratory systems of the horse. Intolerances and allergies can provoke symptoms such as coughing, breathing difficulties, poor coat and hooves, skin rashes and poor performance.

What happens in the horse?

The immune system is extremely complex in the horse, but in a true allergic response the horse becomes hypersensitive to particular allergens, for example pine pollen can cause coughing and asthma attacks when ever the horse is exposed to this particular allergen. Immunity involves activation of specific lymphocytes that combat a particular pathogen or foreign substance.

The body system that carries out immune responses is the lymphatic system.

Equine herbalist Victoria Ferguson writes in her book ‘Horse herbal’ that antibodies circulate throughout the body in the gamma globulin portion of the plasma in the blood. In allergic reactions portions of the antibodies attach to mast cells which release histamine when the matching antigen is encountered.

True allergy lasts forever because antibody levels never completely disappear from the body, ready to circulate and act again upon allergen exposure.

Horse Respiratory System:

Dr Eleanor Kellon, VMD and Horse Nutritionist writes that the first line of defense of the respiratory system is a mucus layer on all surfaces. This traps potential irritants and is a barrier to invaders. There is a rich antioxidant system to both combat incoming problems and protect the tissues from immune system responses. The local immune system is robust but may also be triggered to have strong reactions against irritants and potential allergens.

What to Feed:

The following specific nutrients can support healthy toxic processing and elimination to provide support for the detoxification systems, support the respiration and lung function.

DL-Methionine, the sulphur containing amino acid, is an effective detoxifier of arsenic.

MSM supports healthy detoxification processes, kidney and liver function and oxidative reactions.  It is also effective at improving arsenic elimination.

Magnesium supports cellular energy production, healthy glucose metabolism and acts as a buffer for the acids from toxic exposure and elimination.

Acetyl L-Carnitine is essential in the healthy processing of fatty acids as a source of energy, contributes to healthy endocrine balance and aids in the detoxification of the most common environmental pollutants.

A full vitamin mineral supplement containing:

Niacin (B3), Calcium Pantothenate (B5), Thiamine (B1), Pyridoxine (B6), Riboflavin (B2) and Vitamin B12 support healthy liver function, energy production, metabolic balance, stress recovery and detoxification.

Mixed Tocopherols including Vitamin E support healthy cellular function, help reduce excessive oxidative stress and protect against free radical damage.

Vitamin C is a major antioxidant in the lung and known to be in high concentration in lung tissues and secretions.

Zinc and Copper have synergistic roles in helping combat environmental toxic effects, reducing excessive oxidation and supporting tissue integrity.

Chromium supports normal, healthy glucose metabolism and energy production.

Selenium directly supports healthy detoxification mechanisms, supports liver function, helps fight the effect of environmental toxins and exhibits a cellular protective benefit.


A prescribed herbal mix by an equine practitioner for a full 12 weeks along with a formulated diet is often the best defense when dealing with viruses, allergies and the immune system.

Some useful herbs include:

Echinacea the researched and proven antiseptic, immune system boosting herb that is a prophylactic to prevent infection from contagious viral and bacterial infection. Also, a detoxification of resistant infections.

Euphorbia is used for allergic rhinitis and upper respiratory allergies as it is anti-asthmatic and anti-spasmodic to the bronchi.

Antiseptic herbs such as Elecampane or coltsfoot and thyme for respiratory viruses.

Liquorice is an extremely effective expectorant and also an adrenal booster to help energy levels. This is a particularly for horses whose allergies need to be managed by cortisone, as it stimulates the body’s own production of cortisol.

Chamomile is a safe and gentle antispasmodic, calming herb.

Yarrow for tissue repair of damages lungs or airways.

Grindelia stimulates bronchial cilia to move normally thus reducing breathing difficulties it is also a mucous expectorant.

Gingko is an antioxidant, anti-allergy, anti-histamine, anti-inflammatory, circulatory stimulant that improves blood flow though the capillaries.

Jiaogulan (Gynostemma pentaphyllum) has many health promoting properties. Assistance in maintaining relaxed, open airways.

Natural nutrients:

Spirulina is a fresh water, nontoxic, blue-green algae with some unique properties. In addition to excellent antioxidant capacity, Spirulina helps maintain balanced immune function and antibody production as well as stability of the mast cells which store histamine.

MSM and Grapeseed meal and extract are also potent antioxidants in the respiratory system, while citrus bioflavonoids both help bolster antioxidant defenses and contribute to the health of the fragile network of capillaries where gas exchange occurs.

Co enzyme Q10 is also a powerful antioxidant, capable of regenerating other antioxidants, such as vitamin E and vitamin C. In horses, certain forms of CoQ10 are absorbed well and supplementation has been shown to increase CoQ10 levels in serum and muscle.

DL Equine 22 December 2019