Case study of a dog with a spinal condition (Part 4 of 4)

In the previous 3 posts I’ve shared what happened at a recent zoopharmacognosy (self selection) session with a canine client of mine, Willow.  The session was offered via Skype by Rachel Windsor-Knott of My Animal Matters.  Having asked Willow’s owner to fill out a detailed consultation form Rachel then sent a box of samples and, during the call, described how to offer these to Willow.  Rachel’s selection of herbs and oils was spot on, and Willow worked with everything in the box.

Rachel also recommended that Willow’s owner offer her Coconut oil in addition to the remedies to make sure that she was choosing the macerates for their herb content, rather than for fats (see further information in Part 3).  Willow proved to be very keen on this and her owner realised that it has also been helping her skin.  (Willow had had a tendency to lick at her paws causing redness and broken skin but this has now cleared up.)

Rachel added Spirulina to Willow’s selection of remedies.  This is helpful in cases of anxious behaviours and joint problems.  It is detoxifying and helps to stimulate the immune system.  It’s also a great supplement for senior dogs or those who are a little run-down as it is rich in protein and nutrients.  Willow proved to be very fond of this too!

Following the initial session, Willow’s owner continued to offer the remedies, particularly the Peppermint, Marjoram Sweet and Violet Leaf oils, the Comfrey and Arnica macerates and the Rose water.  To these she then added the Coconut Oil and Spirulina.  She shared this message with us when her box of remedies arrived:

Willow was so excited when your parcel arrived and was ripping off the bubble wrap with me! She’s loving the arnica, comfrey, violet leaf (rubs on side of head with it and mouthing/chewing the cloth) and marjoram on her back, more than the others… She is much more relaxed and softer… 

Rachel had included small sachets of Devil’s Claw and Barley Grass which Willow took for a few days. (Devils Claw is good for arthritis, inflammatory pain and musculoskeletal issues.  Barley Grass supports animals with anxious and hyperactive behaviours and those with skin conditions.  It is rich in nutrients, particularly magnesium). Her owner then sent us this message:

Not keen on devils claw today so offered barley wheat grass … then offered spirulina… Lucky I put a towel down, specks of green everywhere! … Still wanting marjoram on her back and generally sleeps with either violet leaf/peppermint. 

Willow is twitching now, she hasn’t done that for a while.

Throughout this whole process I was also offering Reiki to Willow to help her body enter into it’s Rest and Repair mode.  She can tend to be an anxious dog who is always on the alert so the Reiki helped her to relax so that her body could heal and so that the oils and other remedies could work effectively.  Several of the remedies she chose were also supporting her on this emotional level.  This is a picture of Willow after one of our Reiki sessions:

In our fifth session, Willow’s owner said that had she not seen it for herself she would not have believed the change in her dog over the last month.! From having been very wobbly on her back legs and walking with a rather odd, wide-legged gait, scuffing her toes, Willow now almost looks normal when she walks.  She had lost some muscle tone but is slowly building this up again as she regains strength and feeling.  She now knows when she needs to go outside for toileting and so there have been no further accidents in the house.  Her owner is overjoyed!  When she’d first been given the diagnosis from the vet she had thought she might soon have to say goodbye to her beloved dog whereas now it seems that Willow has been given a new lease of life!

If you’d like to know more about how these therapies could be used to support an animal in your life please get in touch:

07980 669303

For Reiki and META-Health information you can see my website:

For information on Zoopharmacognosy (self selection) see:


(You can read the whole article here)


Case study of a dog with a spinal condition (Part 3 of 4)

In the last 2 posts in this series I’ve described a zoopharmacognosy (self selection) session offered by Rachel Windsor-Knott of My Animal Matters to one of my canine clients, Willow.

Having offered all of the remedies that Rachel had sent – of which Willow accepted every single one – we then put each remedy on the floor and watched to see what she would do.  She lay down with her jaw parallel to the Peppermint oil.  Throughout she had kept returning to this cloth and Rachel suspected that, as she was inhaling rather than licking, she was using it for it’s clearing properties, more than as a pain killer.

As Willow was lying there she began to twitch gently, as if she was dreaming, and she did appear to be asleep. (During the session she had also shown blinks, yawns, licking, chewing and stretches as she worked with the oils, processing and releasing).

Rachel recommended continuing to offer this selection to Willow, particularly the Peppermint, Marjoram Sweet and Violet Leaf oils, the Comfrey and Arnica macerates and the Rose water.  She also suggested adding rice bran oil and / or coconut oil* to Willow’s diet to ensure that when she chooses the macerates this is done solely for the herb content rather than the fat.  (Fat is essential for nerves so she might be choosing these remedies for this as well, particularly as she’s on a dry food diet which can result in low levels of healthy fats.  Coconut oil is also antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral so helps with infections.  The vet had said that this is a possible cause for the lesion in Willow’s spine so this oil might be beneficial in this way too.  It is also good for the skin and coat, and supports the thyroid.)

The day after the session Willow’s owner posted this message:

Hey! Just wanted to say – Wow!! Willow’s legs have improved dramatically! After only one session! So I’m very hopeful and can’t wait to continue on with it. 

Less collapsing … she also seems more relaxed and affectionate and her muscles are softer. She is always tense and alert being the alpha dog and protects the house… this morning seems a bit tense/back to normal but no collapsing yet, plus she told us she needed to go outside for a poo (she has been having a lot of accidents so we have to make sure she goes out regularly) so she is definitely feeling her back end and legs again. 

Thanks again! 

Rachel replied: 

That’s amazing. Which makes total sense with the peppermint in particular as it’s able to stimulate new nerve pathways.

Next week I’ll share further information on how things have been progressing for Willow since this session.


*Please note that fats should not be offered to dogs who suffer from pancreatitis


(You can read the whole article here)

Case study of a dog with a spinal condition (Part 2 of 4)

Last week I started sharing a little about a recent zoopharmacognosy (self selection) session with a canine client of mine.

Rachel Windsor-Knott, of My Animal Matters, sent a box of samples to Willow’s owner and, via Skype, talked us through how to offer them and what signals to watch for.

Having offered some essential oils, we then moved on to the 2 macerates that Rachel had thought would help Willow: Comfrey and Arnica.  Willow devoured these, lapping up all that Rachel had sent.  (Comfrey – also known as ‘knit bone’ – is good for fractures and also helps in cases of soft tissue damage.  It eases inflammation of the stomach, too, so can be helpful in easing the side effects of pain killing medication.  Arnica helps with bruising, muscular injury and inflammatory pain.  It is also an immune system stimulant.)

Rachel then suggested offering the Rose and Valerian Root waters.  Willow licked and chewed at the bottles so her owner poured some out and again she lapped these up and wanted more.  She seemed to have a slight preference for the Rose water.  (Rose is used in cases of anger and resentment, hormone balancing, feelings of rejection and emotional wounds, trauma and unwanted memories.  Valerian root is a muscle relaxant and sedative which helps in cases of anxious behaviours.)

We then moved on to Marjoram Sweet.  This was on a cloth and again Willow showed interest.  Her energy come up and she appeared quite playful.  She approached her owner which made Rachel think she might want to have the oil applied.  Rachel gave instructions for Willow’s owner to rub the cloth on her hands and offer these to Willow.  Willow accepted this so her owner gently rubbed her hands first on Willow’s chest, then her neck and shoulders and on down to her back.  Willow then turned  round and presented her rump and back for the oil to be applied there too!  (This oil is an antispasmodic, helps to ease stiffness in the muscles and is also very comforting in cases of grief.)

Lastly there was a cloth with Violet Leaf oil.  Willow showed great interest in this, chewing at the cloth.  (This oil is very supportive when there is anticipation of pain.  It is comforting to the heart and helps those of a nervous disposition.)

Next week I’ll talk about how we drew the session to a close and how things progressed for Willow.


(You can read the whole article here)

Case study of a dog with a spinal condition (Part 1 of 4)

I’ve recently been working with a canine client, Willow, who has been experiencing loss of strength and sensitivity in her hind legs.  The vet diagnosed a lesion, within her spinal canal but outside of the spinal cord, causing compression at the T7 vertebra and resulting in weakness and loss of sensation.

Over the next 4 weeks I’ll describe how Willow’s owner, another therapist and I have worked together to support Willow and I’ll also share how she’s doing now.

I began by taking a history of Willow’s condition and reading the vet report.  Having done a basic META-Health analysis I felt that, in addition to the Reiki that I would be offering, she would benefit from a zoopharmacognosy (self selection) session and so I recommended Rachel Windsor-Knott of My Animal Matters, particularly as she now offers consultations via Skype.

Willow’s owner went ahead with this straight away, contacting Rachel, filling in the consultation form and booking in a session, which I was also able to attend.

Rachel had put together a box of oil and herb samples that, having read the vet report and Willow’s information, she thought Willow might find helpful.  She started by asking the owner to offer the Ginger essential oil (warming, soothing and analgesic).  Willow sniffed and accepted the oil – a gentle ‘yes’.

Rachel then moved on to Peppermint and Birch (on cloths) both of which Willow sniffed, seeming to favour the Peppermint.  (Peppermint is an anti-inflammatory, a digestive stimulant – often selected by animals taking strong painkillers – and helps in cases of nerve damage as it is clarifying and stimulating.  Birch is good for inflammatory pain, muscular aches and trapped nerves.)

Next was German Chamomile which Willow again accepted.  (This oil is good in cases of anxiety and tension and can help to support inflamed tissues.)

Next week I’ll cover some of the other remedies that Willow selected including macerated oils, flower water and some more essential oils.


(You can read the whole article here)

Forage Walk at Horse Haven UK – 11 September 2016 (Part 2)


All forms of this plant are edible – including the white and red dead nettles which are part of this family

The family can be identified by the fact that they have square stems with leaves growing on opposite sides and a space in between each set on the stem.  Also the flowers all have 2 petals


  • Ÿmint can be good for digestion
  • Ÿhorses might prefer varieties with less menthol, eg spearmint



Cow Parsley


  • Ÿnot to be confused with Hemlock which is poisonous
  • Ÿthe leaves of Cow Parsley are a lighter green
  • o its stems are ribbed and have a groove running along them – like celery
  • o the flower heads are more lacey
  • ŸHemlock has smooth, non-hairy stems that are more oval in shape and they have red spots
  • o the flower heads are bigger and more ball-like in shape


  • aids digestion
  • has calmative properties
  • speeds the healing process




  • diuretic therefore good for cleansing blood
  • Ÿgood for inflammation





  • flies dislike the smell of the leaves therefore hang bunches or rub them on your horses skin as a deterrent




Young leaves are edible but it’s generally the root that is used medicinally


  • good for kidneys, blood and lymph cleansing therefore can help in cases of arthritis
  • good for skin and eyes (taken internally)
  • helps balance blood sugar levels

burdock-flowers burdock


Dog Rose


  • high in vitamin c
  • good for horses with breathing problems



This plant is great for growing on a track, or at gateways into fields, as it helps to hold soil in place


  • high in antioxidants therefore helps ‘mop up’ free radicals
  • If your horse is a little overweight, or has fatty pads these can be a source of free radicals and so chickweed and other sources of antioxidants will be of benefit




The leaves are edible and when young are good in salad or steamed like spinach


  • high in iron therefore of benefit if your horse is deficient (can happen for some laminitics as some of the bacteria involved can steal iron)
  • high in vitamin C




  • good for arthritis
  • inflammation of stomach lining
  • lungs
  • externally:
  • o       a poultice can be made from the root and applied to areas with muscle, tendon or ligament damage to support healing

*Comfrey should not be taken internally over long periods of time as toxicity can build up in the liver


Flea Bane


  • used to be used for dysentery
  • can be burnt to keep fleas  / flies away


St John’s Wort


  • helps to stabilise mood
  • pain relief, eg for arthritis
  • great for use as a macerate (ie soaking the herb in oil until it absorbs the plants oils)
  • o       (turns red)


Forage Walk at Horse Haven UK – 11 September 2016 (Part 1)

This fabulous walk was hosted by the lovely Suzie and Mike of Horse Haven UK and led by Stuart Attwood of Total Contact Equine Solutions.  Part of Stuart’s role is advising horse owners on natural herbal choices for their horses and so he was sharing his knowledge on the wonderful plants available for free in our hedges and pastures.

Here are some of the plants we covered:

Sow Thistle

This plant can be identified by its hollow stem and the white latex that oozes out when the stem is cut.


  • high in vitamin C
  • good for digestion, especially in the hind-gut





  • anti-inflammatory
  • arterial dilator, therefore helps to lower blood pressure
  • strengthens heart muscle
  • helps to convert Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) to High Density Lipoprotein (HDL), ie ‘bad cholesterol’ into ‘good cholesterol’ therefore helping to prevent the build-up of plaque in the coronary arteries

cut and allow to wilt then leave for the horses to nibble on as they choose


Blackberry / bramble

These two are effectively the same.  They cross pollinate within their family resulting in variations but all have the same benefits.  They are related to roses, as can be seen by their serrated edged leaves, and share many of the same properties.


  • anti-inflammatory
  • high in vitamin C
  • astringent, therefore can be used to stop bleeding
    • crush the leaves and apply to the cut





  • help to remove uric acid from the joints and therefore are good for arthritis and other inflammatory conditions
  • blood cleanser
  • help with balancing sugar levels in the blood and therefore can be useful in cases of laminitis




This plant comes in two forms – a broad leafed variety and one with a narrower leaf – but they both share the same properties


  • dried leaves are good for gastric ulcers
  • the small, young leaves are good to eat (can be added to salads)
  • good for digestion (the broad leafed variety is better)
  • seeds are good for adding to soups / stews / breads / salads
  • they are very good at relieving the sting / itch from bites and stings – even better than dock leaves





  • antiseptic / antiviral / antibacterial / anti-inflammatory
  • astringent – good for stopping bleeding, as with blackberry leaves above
    • particularly good with metal cuts so useful if your horse cuts itself on wire out in the field
  • acts as a gentle, background wormer. If it is available horses will nibble on it from time to time keeping their worm burden low throughout the year
  • good for gut inflammation




The whole of this plant is edible and its young leaves can be added to salads or cooked like spinach

If using the roots, soak them in water or milk first to remove the bitterness.  These can then be peeled and roasted like parsnips


  • the latex within the stems can be used to treat warts
  • acts as a diuretic therefore supports the kidneys and can be used to help relieve urine infections



Common Hogweed


  • Not to be confused with Giant Hogweed! However the Giant variety is truly huge, growing up to 9 feet high with flower umbellifers like massive dinner plates, so when fully grown it is obvious which is which.
  • causes photosensitiviy, particularly if picked during hot sunny days


  • good for digestion
  • seeds (taste a little like cardamom) can be calming



Split Willow


  • leaves are good for digestion
  • bark is good for pain relief (we get aspirin from the bark of the Willow tree)




This comes in 2 forms, a larger, white flowering variety that tends to grow upwards in hedges and a smaller, ground level plant with more pinkish flowers.


in small quantities this can

  • help to balance blood sugar levels as it contains inulin
    • this also helps to remove visceral fat (ie the fat that surrounds our organs)
  • act as a calmative

bindweed    ground-bindweed

Herbs and other plants for horses


Comfrey – this is a fodder plant in some countries and so can be offered to your horse as a treat

It is also great for bruises, tendon / ligament damage and broken bones (applied topically to the affected area). In fact its common name is ‘knit-bone’


Lemon Balm – calming; lifts mood; supports digestion; insect repellent 



  • Allergies:Mint plants contain an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent
  • Respiratory problems:Mint contains menthol, a natural aromatic decongestant that helps to break up phlegm and mucus
  • Digestion:Mint is a calming and soothing herb that has been used for thousands of years to aid with upset stomach or indigestion.
  • Gastric ulcers:could help in preventing gastric ulcers associated with regular use of painkillers.
  • Pain relief:Applying peppermint extract externally has been found to increase pain threshold
  • Skin:When applied topically in oil, ointment or lotion, mint has the effect of calming and cooling skin affected by insect bites, rash or other reactions.
  • Oral health:Mint is a natural anti-microbial agent and breath freshener.


Borage: Omega 3, 6 & 9

supports the adrenal glands and is rich in minerals


Milk Thistle – liver support:

use after:

  • antibiotics,
  • medication,
  • vaccines,
  • chemical de-wormers,
  • steroids

in fact any time the liver is under stress.

Supports repair and regeneration


Chamomile – Chamomile can help with:

  • rheumatic problems and rashes.
  • respiratory issues
  • Relieve restlessness.
  • Relieve allergies
  • Aid in digestion
  • Speed healing of skin ulcers, wounds, or burns.
  • Treat gastritis and ulcerative colitis.
  • Be used as a wash or compress for skin problems and inflammations, including inflammations of mucous tissue.
  • Promote general relaxation and relieve stress.
  • Treat various gastrointestinal complaints.


Parsley – High in vitamin A, B and C, protein, iron, potassium and magnesium. Anti-inflammatory and diuretic properties. Relieves flatulence, anaemia and improves iron intake.


Fennel – The health benefits of fennel include:

  • relief from:
    • anaemia,
    • indigestion,
    • flatulence,
    • constipation,
    • colic,
    • diarrhoea,
    • respiratory disorders
  • benefits in eye care.


Calendula – promotes healing. Calendula has anti-inflammatory and weak antimicrobial activity. It is most often used topically for lacerations, abrasions, and skin infections; less commonly, it is used internally to heal inflamed and infected mucous membranes.

Good for the skin



These following herbs are quite powerful, containing volatile oils which have anti-inflammatory, antibiotic and anti-parasitic properties.

Horses would only very rarely choose to eat small quantities of these plants, as and when necessary.


Yarrow – A versatile plant that can be used to treat coughs, colds, aid digestion, stop diarrhoea, stop bleeding, heal bruises and rashes, and prevent headaches


Thyme – Antiseptic and expectorant properties. Helps to loosen phlegm from colds and flu, soothe infected skin and soothe aching muscles


Rosemary – relaxes the digestive tract. Also used to improve concentration, memory, reduce anxiety and mild depression. Additionally used to treat dandruff.


Lavender – Wide range of calming effects, assisting in the relaxation of muscles, reduction of anxiety and enhancement of sleep. Eases irritability and aids digestion. Also helps with minor skin irritations and can repel insects.


Wormwood –  Used as a tonic to improve liver and gallbladder functioning. Also increases the production of bile and stomach acid, easing digestion and preventing bloating and gas. Serves as an excellent insect repellent.


Sage – Treats colds, coughs, tonsillitis, sore throats, inflamed gums and mouth ulcers. Also used as a memory enhancer, diuretic and digestive aid.



Hedgerow plants 


  • a valuable lymphatic tonic and diuretic therefore useful in treating conditions like skin problems and arthritis, which benefit from purifying the blood.
  • Softens skin when applied topically
  • Reliable diuretic used to help clean gravel and urinary stones and to treat urinary infections
  • also helps with swollen lymph glands
  • In studies cleavers helped lowered blood pressure without slowing heart rate or having any health-threatening side effects.
  • The young leaves can be eaten like spinach.



  • hips: when ripe – rich in Vitamin C
  • some horses like to eat the young shoots



  • mild, but effective anti-inflammatory used to treat arthritis and other aches and pains.
  • leaves and flowers contain salicylates, compounds that are converted by the body to aspirin.
  • Meadowsweet is especially helpful for horses with inflammation of the stomach lining as it can be taken for pain relief without upsetting the stomach
  • Treats stomach disorders such as gastritis, indigestion and heartburn.
  • Helps reduce severity of headaches, as well as inflammation of the joints


Dandelion – excellent detoxifying and diuretic properties. It also possesses vitamins A, B, C and D as well as potassium and calcium. It has been used to treat high blood pressure, cleanse the liver and treat skin problems.


Pineapple weed – Pineapple weed is in the same family as chamomile.  When you pinch on of the flowers you will smell the sweet, light sent of pineapple, hence the name. It is used for a verity of ailments. It is a sedative herb that mainly acts on the digestive system. It is good for relieving insomnia and nausea,


Self Heal:

  • effective in healing wounds and sores.
  • soothes the digestive tract during or following an attack of diarrhoea.
  • Can be bitter so try offering just the leaves initially


Common Plantain – Applied to a bleeding surface, the leaves are of some value in arresting haemorrhage.  The fresh leaves are applied whole or bruised in the form of a poultice. Rubbed on parts of the body stung by insects, nettles, etc., or as an application to burns and scalds, the leaves will afford relief and will stay the bleeding of minor wounds…


Nettle – Topically, it has commonly been used to treat sore muscles, skin issues such as eczema and also anaemia.  In modern times, nettle is used to treat urinary tract infections.

On top of all that, nettle is highly nutritious, containing ample amounts of nitrogen, calcium, silica, iron, phosphates and vitamins B, C, and K.

For horses, feeding dried nettle can help with the following specific issues:

  • respiratory ailments;
  • allergies;
  • laminitis;
  • liver or kidney disorders; and
  • lactation issues.

Nettle tea or extract can also be applied externally to help with arthritis.


Red Clover – High in isoflavones and phytestrogenic compounds


Blackberries: a great source of Vitamin C to support your horse through winter.




Horses often forage from trees.  These are a few that your horse(s) might like: 

Silver Birch – The sap from the birch tree contains vital vitamins, minerals, and sugars, mainly glucose and fructose. It is rich in minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, phosphorous, iron, sodium, and amino acids. It is also rich in vitamin C and B-vitamins like thiamine.  The buds of the birch tree contain antibiotic and diuretic properties while the bark contains digestive, diuretic, and anti-pyretic properties.


Ash: the bark and bark of the root have astringent properties, and have been used in decoctions to help in fevers, to remove obstructions in the liver and spleen and for rheumatism and arthritis. The leaves are diuretic and diaphoretic, so promote sweating. Traditionally the ash tree’s bark, roots and leaves have been used to treat cancerous growths that are external, as pain killers, anti-inflammatory for rheumatism and arthritis, and to get rid of intestinal worms.


Willow The salicin in Willow bark, which has similar health effects as acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin), is converted into salicylic acid after it is absorbed by the stomach, therefore, it may not cause stomach irritation like aspirin and can be a great option for treating minor to severe ailments.


Hawthorn Traditionally, the berries were used to treat heart problems ranging from irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, chest pain, hardening of the arteries, and heart failure. Hawthorn contains antioxidants – substances that destroy free radicals, which are compounds in the body that damage cell membranes, tamper with DNA, and even cause cell death. … Antioxidants in hawthorn may help stop some of the damage from free radicals, especially when it comes to heart disease



Caution – if you would like to use any of these plants medicinally, please consult a qualified herbalist