As spring approaches in most parts of the country, we have to turn our thoughts to the flush of spring grass. For many of us, that beautiful spring green has become a curse as our horses gain weight and consider foundering or becoming Insulin Resistant (IR). We spend hours researching the latest information and wind up more confused than ever. The Harmany Equine (http://www.harmanyequine.com) website is at the forefront of safe, credible information and will be updated this spring with more information.
Here is this week's tip. Cinnamon is an herb that has received some press about its effectiveness in treating obesity and IR. Many supplements now contain cinnamon, some contain large amounts. Lets try to understand this herb, its actions and where it is useful and where it is dangerous. Just because an herb is "natural" does not mean it is safe.
Herbs have many properties that determine how best to use them. Some herbs, such as Chamomile, are relaxing, some are stimulating such as green tea. Some herbs are cooling such as peppermint, while some are warming, such as cinnamon. Think about a cup of hot cinnamon tea or hot chocolate with cinnamon. In the winter that sounds fantastic, but if i offer that to you on a hot summer day, you would think i was nuts. But you would drink that peppermint tea.
Internally some of run warm–think about the spouse that always turns the heat down or the horse that always removes his blankets. Some of run cold–think about your grandmother who has the heat at 90 and is wearing a sweater, or the horse (often an older one) who shivers easily and really loves his blankets. And herb that is appropriate for the warm horse may be inappropriate for the cool horse and vice versa. In fact, the inappropriate herb may actually be bad for the wrong horse.
This is where information about cinnamon is important. Yes, there is research that shows it helps IR. But, the problem lies in identifying which horses are cool, where cinnamon would helpful and which are warm, where adding more warmth could precipitate a case of laminitis. I see this happen on a regular basis in my practice, someone buys a supplement with cinnamon, feeds it to an already warm horse and the horse founders. It could be 2 weeks, it might not be for 6 months. The people most qualified to determine a horses internal temperature are acupuncturists and vets trained in Chinese medicine. You cannot take your horse's temperature to find this out, it is a Chinese medical diagnosis.
This idea of warm and cool also applies to other herbal products, especially Chinese herbs sold through the internet. Chinese herbal formulas are very specific in their actions, while western herbal products are less so.
Look for IR updates and tips to keep you out of trouble this spring. The safest basic IR formula is OB Formula form Harmany Equine (http://www.harmanyequine.com/shop/index.php?cPath=4).
Enjoy the warmer weather.