It is estimated that 20 to 30% of all horses over 16 years develop Equine Cushing’s disease or Equine Cushing’s Syndrome (ECS) and that it might be a disease of civilization. Considering the underlying mechanisms of ECS or Pituitary Pars Intermedia Dysfunction (PPID) it is important to understand how the disease develops as to be able to choose the right herbs. There are different stages found according to how far the dopaminergic cells have been destroyed and in each stage a different set of herbs should be applied.
In Traditional Chinese Equine Medicine the different stages are described by symptoms, the quality of the mucous membranes and the pulse. Progression of the syndrome can be followed in TCM terms and requires treatment specific to presenting symptoms.
When using western herbs these conditions should also be considered and herbs should be applied accordingly. Therefore, it makes sense to choose herbs according to the horse’s condition and the underlying defect.
One severe complication in these horses is endocrinopathic laminitis. It is shown that vasodilation of the capillaries is diminished. To counteract this dysfunction western herbs, which are able to act as vasodilators, can be used as well as Chinese recipes, which can diminish the pain as well as reduce inflammation in the hooves.
Treatment of ECS can be challenging and every piece of information needs to be considered and taken into account to choose the right combination of herbs. Only then it is possible to slow the disease down and to increase the horses’ quality of life.