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rachel
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Dear Dr Deb and everyone else, I'd love some help with my moral dillemma I am having.

I have my beloved horse, a 11 yr old, 14hh, Qh/Paint that is a pleasure to ride and own. However he has some problems that are at odds with what I think I want.

I want a horse to ride, I want him to enjoy being ridden, and to be an enjoyable ride. He is good to ride.

The problems are he is blind in one eye, and has impared vision in the other. I can tell this as he runs into things in his paddock like his stable, or if the car is in there for any reason etc. He also trips often on uneven ground, and over sticks, rocks etc, and they dont have to be big. He is however very quiet and when in work does not act blind when ridden on even ground, like roads and paths.

Another problem we have is he seems to tie up, or colic or both after enforced excercise, and does spend a lot of time lying in his stable after a ride, sometimes up to a day and a half, only getting up to get a drink or toilet. He is not ever locked in the stable.

I have had a good vet check him for EPSM, PSSM etc, changed diet, excercise, other management and nothing has been found, he does not appear to have sand, and a rectal has not found any signs of entroliths. I havent had him ultrasounded.

He had a bout of colitis and salmonella poisoning last year, and I nearly lost him, and since has had no solid poos at all, they look like cow pats. Nothing has so far worked to cure that either.

He has cost me a lot of money with a good vet, has had almost every test known to man to no avail, is it time to give up, or do I just ride him anyway? My vet says he should be ok to ride as I dont ride him hard, and he enjoys it, but everytime I do he has something go wrong, sometimes it is tye up, and he is only on grass or grass hay ( a change of diet didnt help) or he gets colicy, either full blown cost a lot, or mild. Other times he has just lain down and doesnt get back up for hours. I find it hard to do to him.

It doesnt seem to have any correlation to length of ride either, sometimes a short ride will do it, or a brief lunge, or a longer ride. It just seems to happen every time excercise is enforced.

I do not have the room to keep him as a retiree, or the money for two horses, should I call it quits with him and give him a dignified end, continue to ride him and accept his limitations or something else? I have had him semi retired in my yard for two years and would love to ride again rather than just look at him.

DrDeb
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Rachel, to begin with: you need to have the pH (acid-alkali balance) of the water that your horse drinks tested. Go get a good pH test kit, the kind that has strips that turn colors and then you match the colors to numbers; or else an electronic tester. If your horse drinks from buckets, test the water at the source from which you fill the buckets. If he drinks from a tank, test the water in the tank that he drinks from.

Then report back here as to what the results are. When horses are compelled to drink water that tests acid, they will have difficulty absorbing minerals and electrolytes from the gut, as well as certain nutrients and vitamins. This unbalances many body systems, and will commonly result in cow-flop poos and other problems such as you describe, including the tying-up and exercise intolerance/fatigue after exercise. On the other hand, water that is too alkali can also be harmful. 

What you want is for your animals to be drinking water that pH-tests just a little on the alkali side of neutral. Neutral pH is 7.0, so you want the water to test from 7.25 to 7.5 on the pH scale.

If you water tests acid, you will want to restore it to the proper pH by adding bicarbonate of soda to the water at its source, or else in a big tank if the horse drinks from a big tank. Bicarbonate of soda is ordinary baking soda (NOT "baking powder"), which you can buy for $1 per box at the grocery store. You'll add the soda bicarb a little at a time to the tank until the tank tests at the right pH. You'll need to test repeatedly to get it just right. Once you know how much soda bicarb it's going to take to neutralize whatever sized container you have, then you'll need to return every time the tank is "refreshed" with new water from the source, and add more soda bicarb to make it the ideal pH again. You'll work out a schedule over time where you treat the tank every few days, so as to maintain an "average" pH that's about right.

This initial step should be taken immediately -- certainly before you give up on a horse you've cared about and that is such a good ride.

You also want to make sure you know how much salt your horse is eating. You'll do this by getting a brand-new salt block and weighing it on a scale before placing it in his enclosure. Leave the block where the horse can lick it but in a place where it won't get rained on. After one month, weigh the block again and report the difference to us here. What you want to see is that your horse is eating at least 2 tbsp. to 4 tbsp. of salt (sodium chloride, NaCl) per day.

Further, you should immediately get your horse on a magnesium supplement. Magnesium oxide will work, although magnesium chloride appears to be better. You can buy commercially-prepared "calming supplements" that contain MgO, but since many of these contain other substances, you might be better off simply going down to the grocery store or discount store and purchasing magnesium pills meant for humans. Get the kind that are powdered MgO in gel-caps or gel-coated. Each of these pills contains 400 mg. of MgO. Break open one capsule and give it over lightly dampened bucket feed once per day. Since your horse already has diarrhea, we can't apply the usual test for when the dosage of MgO is right (i.e., just less than it would take to provoke diarrhea), so what I'll suggest initially is that you just leave the horse on 400 mg./day for a month and then report to us how he's doing.

Alternatively, you can get magnesium chloride (MgCl) by going to http://www.ancientminerals.com. Buy a container of what are sold there as "bath crystals" and administer 1/4 tsp./day over lightly dampened grain. Yes, the stuff is sold as for external use, but the product is quite pure and can be taken orally.

Magnesium supplementation will greatly assist your horse not to tie up, will increase his overall energy levels, and will help heal the chronic enteritis that is probably behind your horse's ongoing diarrhea.

You don't mention in your letter whether you've had the vet examine the horse for periodic opthalmia (so-called "moon blindness") but this sounds likely to me. So ask your vet whether they feel testing for this would be worthwhile, and/or whether an empirical trial of anti-helminthics might do some good. Alternatively, is the animal an Appaloosa? There is an inherited blindness due to nerve-degeneration in Appys. You will in any case need to determine exactly what is causing your horse's difficulties with sight, and only your vet can do that, beginning with a thorough eye exam.

There are many people who have had satisfying relationships with moon-blind and/or outright blind horses. If it proves that your animal's vision problems are untreatable and/or progressive, this again is hardly reason to give up on him. It sounds to me like you are somewhat pining for a more exciting ride and/or a sounder horse. That's valid, but you don't need to just throw in the towel. What you do instead is look for alternative work for him -- someone who needs a quiet horse to act as an "uncle" for newly-gelded colts, for example, or a handicapped riding program that could use him, or a mature person who just wants a quiet horse for the occasional trail-ride.

But first let us know how the water-testing goes.

And Pauline, if you read this, your comments would certainly be welcome. -- Dr. Deb

 

rachel
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Thank you Dr Deb for that awesome advice! I will test the water tomorrow and get the other stuff and try it and let you know how it goes.

I actually didnt want to give up on him, just couldnt see how it was fair to cause such discomfort for my pleasure.

His blue eye is the blind one, and my vet didnt think it was a problem because he is so quiet and agreeable. His other eye hasnt deteriorated, it was always suspected low vision. My vet did do a lot of testing on him over the years, and he didnt tell me it is anything to worry about.

I purchased him for $1/kg as an unhandled 4yr old stallion, that had never seen a vet or been wormed. He was an absoloute bargain and the best purchase I have ever made, except for my dog.

The local disabled riding cant have him because of his blindness, and if I gave him to someone who only occasionally rode I can certainly keep him for myself!

I have tested the ph; with the ph test strips it is 6-6.5, with my fish tank ph tester it is 6.5 to 7. I will take a sample to work on sunday to test with the calibrated electronic tester to confirm. Thank you!

Last edited on Fri Apr 13th, 2012 09:21 am by rachel

Pauline Moore
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Hello Rachel

To give you some background to this issue, around this time last year I started looking into the significance of drinking water pH for horses as I had been tracking the urine pH of my own three horses. Although all were fed the same diet, two of the horses consistently had a urine pH of 6.0 while the third horse had a urine pH of 8.5. Textbooks suggest that pH 7.9 is normal for horse urine. The horse with the higher urine pH has no problems of any kind while the two horses with lower urine pH each had significant health issues. Both have a tendency towards fungal skin infections, one severely so, while the other has Cushings and has been highly susceptible to laminitis. I wanted to know if this was just co-incidence or if there was some correlation with overall body pH.

Rainwater is naturally acidic due to the dissolved carbon dioxide content acquired from the atmosphere prior to precipitation. The global average is around pH 5.6 and can be as low as 3.0 even in pristine areas. This should not be confused with the ‘acid rain’ of polluted industrial areas. Freshwater from ground sources such as lakes, wells or deep bores is commonly slightly basic as it has been buffered through layers of rock and vegetation. Most town water supplies appear to be close to neutral or slightly alkaline.

Blood pH is very tightly regulated by the body’s own buffer systems which means that ingested acids from food or water have to be neutralized or eliminated through feces and urine. Like all living creatures, individual horses can vary in their ability to neutralize acids. It appears that some horses may not be able to efficiently neutralize the carbonic acid in rainwater on a longterm basis, perhaps because there would have been little need throughout their environmental history if they were drinking water that was predominantly slightly basic from running streams, ponds or lakes.

I was astounded at the changes in some horses when sodium bicarbonate was added to acidic water supplies. My own rainwater tests at pH 6.0 so I add enough bicarb to bring the pH up to about 7.2. One of the two horses who initially had urine pH of 6.0 slowly came up to pH 8.0 over a couple of weeks. The other came up to pH 7.0 over the same time period, and then up to 7.7 when 20g of bicarb was added to his feed twice daily. His severe fungal skin problems immediately cleared and have not returned, although he is still susceptible to insect bite allergy. The third horse who had tested at pH 8.5 remained at that level despite drinking the alkalized water. For the past year my horses have had a choice of plain rainwater or bicarb-added water. They all show a consistent preference for the bicarb water despite each consuming over 60g of unrefined sea salt daily.

Another horse located not far from you, Rachel, showed dramatic changes after 3 days of having bicarb added to his pH 5.0 drinking water, plus 20g to his feed. This horse had shown many of the exercise intolerance signs that you are describing in your horse. He had numerous tying-up episodes over many years, after very light exercise, had a braced body posture and was aggressive to both humans and other horses. Supplementing with magnesium eliminated the bracing and the aggression but he did not become exercise tolerant until the bicarb was added in to his daily diet about a year ago. There has been no recurrence of any of his former problems.

Doing an accurate water pH test with the electronic probe will be good. At one point I had 4 brands of pH strips on my kitchen bench, all showing a different result when immersed in the same glass of water. I now use a brand that has two reagent patches on the one strip with mostly 0.25 unit graduations.

Would you be able to do a urine pH test also? That will give us a better idea of how his body is handling whatever acidity may be in the water and/or food. If you can do a urine pH test, it’s important to do so before you start giving him any magnesium oxide. MgO is very poorly absorbed by the body (around 4%) so the residual will affect urine pH , giving a higher value than would otherwise be seen. Ditto for any mineral supplements being fed, or processed feeds that contain inorganic calcium or magnesium.

Although magnesium chloride is a much better form of magnesium for most horses, I think you would be better starting with the MgO as Dr Deb has already suggested. His gut may be irritated from the constant loose stools of the past year so the MgO may be easier for him initially (MgCl should not be given to horses with any sort of pre-existing GI tract problem such as ulcers, it will irritate those tissues in the same way that salt does). His extreme lack of energy may indicate a magnesium deficit as magnesium is an essential element of the basic ATP energy molecule in every cell.

Loose stools can indicate magnesium deficiency as well as excess, so it is important to monitor him closely when you start giving him magnesium. Cowpat stools can also be a sign of disrupted gut flora, maybe from the salmonella incident, and could also be a cause of low energy - have you tried giving him a probiotic such as Protexin?

The MgO in capsules for human consumption will likely be pharmaceutical grade which is unnecessarily expensive. You can buy MgO from most produce stores in 25kg bags at around $1/kg. Ask them to get one that is ‘fine mesh’ ie the consistency of talcum powder rather than the granular form of some brands – it will be easier for him to digest. Start with 1 tsp (5g) per feed for a few days, then increase it slowly if there is no deterioration in his stool consistency. I used MgO at high dose (200g/day) for years before discovering MgCl, with very good results. You are welcome to the half bag I have left if you have trouble sourcing some and feel like a drive up the Range.

I don't know if any of this is relevant to your horse but please let us know what happens.

Best wishes
Pauline

rachel
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Hi Pauline, Thanks for the clarifications and more info. First is the easy one, he has had an entire bottle of liquid protexien, a tube and a jar, all at or slightly above the reccommended dosing rates for the full course. I also gave him tuffrock when he showed no improvement from the protexien, and then I tried yogurt, and then yackult. Nothing worked. He also had his bacteria in his manure tested, and we have tried lots of stuff with the vet, but really it seems to keep adding to the cost and no improvements have been seen at all.

He has not been bracy or cranky. When I was riding him he was lovely, and he seemed to enjoy his lessons, when we had them. The rest of the time I had a very nice, quiet well mannered for the most part very adorable pony that I used to trail ride. That tied up, or coliced, that I would often have to tie to a tree to walk home and collect the float for.

He loves people, and the children in my street come and visit with carrots as they walk to and from school.

I am on the Gold Coast now, and as such the water is town water, and seems acid and soft. I forgot my sample to test it today :( but will test it tomorrow.

Meiko still has his original pink salt block, brand new hanging in his stable, that he has not licked, in years. I do hose the dust off it, so it has shrunk, but he hasnt consumed any. When it was in his feed bin he ate around it and left what was touching it.  With his in mind am I better getting a different salt lick, or putting salt directly into a hard feed? The two supplements I have for him are below, and the dosages and chemical availabilitys are also.

He gets a supplement that contains Pink Pellets Each 15g dose contains 1000 IU vitamin E, 1mg organic selenium, with 26mg vitamin B1 and 1.6g Magnesium and the electrolites are copied below.

Directions for Use:
50g (2 measures) daily mixed with the feed, or diluted in drinking water. ( When he gets a hard feed, which he hasnt for months, I also havent mixed it in his water for months either.)


Composition:
Sodium chloride:  277g / kg
Sodium bicarbonate: 267g / kg
Potassium chloride: 198g / kg
Sodium sulphate: 45.5g / kg
Magnesium sulphate: 19.8 g / kg


I hadnt noticed any change with just this in the past, is this salt replacer ok for the purposes of the test? with the water at a better ph?


 

Last edited on Sat Apr 14th, 2012 08:41 pm by rachel

Pauline Moore
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Hi Rachel

Magnesium deficiency can manifest in many different ways depending on the inherited strengths/weaknesses of any individual horse. Some horses become muscularly braced but not spooky or aggressive, some become spooky but not body braced or vice-versa. Some show no signs other than poor hoof structure or itchy skin etc. It could be possible that your horse shows only lack of energy and disrupted gut function as signs of magnesium deficiency. It is also possible those same signs are totally unrelated to magnesium status, but it seems you have nothing to lose by trying.

One of my 3 horses will not touch the pink salt blocks but does accept 30g of Olsson's Macrobiotic Sea Salt in his feed; most horses love the flavour imparted by the trace minerals. It's available in 20kg bags for horses via your produce store but you might find it easier initially to try the 500g pack sold in most Health Food shops. If you mix this into a feed (start with half tsp), ensure you do not give him anything that is naturally high in calcium, eg lucerne, or has added calcium as this will inhibit absorption of magnesium.

I would not feed the Pink pellets, for several reasons. Unless your horse is showing distinct selenium deficiency signs, it could be dangerous to give him a selenium supplement - some areas of the Gold Coast have soils that are high in selenium. Most horses on pasture are already battling high levels of potassium so do not need more. Magnesium sulphate is commonly used as a laxative because it irritates the bowel into emptying; I would never feed this to a horse.

If you are using town water, it may turn out to be OK for pH, in which case you will not need bicarb, but let's see what the test reveals.

We can take probiotics off the list, and maybe bicarb too, so that looks like we are left with magnesium for a trial.

Best wishes
Pauline

rachel
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The pink pellets were for the PSSM theory, but after the muscle biopsy, genetic testing and diet change and no diagnoses I still have the supplets, and a horse that still ties up. My vet had suggested them, or equijewel, I have tried both.

So, I will change the salts, and not use the electrolyte mix, I admit I was lazy and picked up the bucket when it was suggested I try that last year, I will go get the Olsens salt.

With regards to the calcium, can I feed the Magnesium in copra? that way I will get him to eat the salts regardless, as it seems to be his favorite food.

I have also tried the this:

Mineral Mix Composition (/kg)



Calcium 127 g       Iron (ferrous) 2792 mg      Phosphorus 88 g      Manganese  596 mg    Magnesium  47 g     Cobalt 4 mg      Sodium 107 g      Selenium 8 mg      Potassium  38 g    Iodine  4 mg      Chloride 139 g     Vitamin A 250,000 IU    Sulphur 7.4 g    Vitamin E 1250 mg   Copper 945 mg     Vitamin B1300 mg    Zinc 2020 mg    Folic Acid 100 mg 




 


I have left all the product names off. ( except for one feed)

Last edited on Sun Apr 15th, 2012 02:05 am by rachel

Pauline Moore
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Yes, copra is an excellent feed.

The Mineral Mix contains several elements that will reduce magnesium uptake, eg calcium, potassium, zinc, and maybe some of the others also.

Contrary to current popular ideas on mineral ratios, my practical experience with many horses in various parts of the country has been that most do not respond well when supplemental calcium is included in the diet. My own horses, and others, have received large amounts of magnesium with no additional calcium for many years. Radiographs confirm there has been no adverse effects on bone.

Pauline

rachel
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Pauline Moore wrote: Yes, copra is an excellent feed.

The Mineral Mix contains several elements that will reduce magnesium uptake, eg calcium, potassium, zinc, and maybe some of the others also.

Contrary to current popular ideas on mineral ratios, my practical experience with many horses in various parts of the country has been that most do not respond well when supplemental calcium is included in the diet. My own horses, and others, have received large amounts of magnesium with no additional calcium for many years. Radiographs confirm there has been no adverse effects on bone.

Pauline

Thank you!

rachel
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I have tested the ph of my water taken last night around dinnertime, so it should be a representative sample: 7.65. I do believe the test strips are not as good.

DrDeb
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Rachel: OK, that's what good testing is all about -- we need to have accurate data before anything else is going to make sense.

Magnesium supplementation still looks like it's needed for your horse, as the tying-up-like syndrome and other signs match those of other horses who have benefitted from this supplementation. So please do all in that direction that Pauline advises, and I would encourage you to go visit with Pauline as she has invited you, if it is at all possible.

It might be just as well to begin with "one thing at a time", i.e. MgO, as you seem to have pretty thoroughly tried quite an array of things up until now. Please keep us posted as to what you do and what the results are -- your horse is important for our growing files containing "anecdotal evidence". -- Dr. Deb

rachel
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Thanks Dr Deb, did you want me to try the olsen's salt at the same time as the Magnesium, or to keep them seperate for a few weeks?

Edited to note: I'd love to go meet Pauline, it's a plesant drive.

 

Last edited on Mon Apr 16th, 2012 04:24 am by rachel

DrDeb
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No, I think you should do the Olsen's salt at the same time. What I meant was -- STOP doing any other therapies, so that we can get as clean and direct a result as possible; i.e. so if you're doing another magnesium supplement or another salt or salt block, you should remove those for the time being. And yes -- go see Pauline. You'll be impressed by all that she can tell you, and all that she has done.

Write me an EMail at office@equinestudies.org, and I will forward a PDF of Pauline's magnesium paper to you (and to anyone else who wants it). -- Dr. Deb

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I have started Meiko on the magnesium supplement, MgO at 1 teaspoon a day so far, and a table spoon measure of salt. He did eat it in his copra, I think he is rather excited to get copra again istead of just pasture and pasture hay.

So he is getting a meal a day of .5kg copra, with a teaspoon of MgO and a table spoon of salt, plus grazing, plus 3 slices of pasture hay.

The grazing is Rhodes grass, barn grass, barb wire grass and wallaby grass, tiny amount of crab grass and cooch. The paddock has also been planted with prairie, but that wont be up for another couple weeks/months. It is nearly weed free, but none mentioned as bad in the poisonous plant book are in there.

See how we go.

DrDeb
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Rachel, check this with Pauline but I think your amounts are off. The "teaspoon" of MgO should be more like the teensy teaspoons that one gets to stir tea with, i.e. about 1/4 of a culinary teaspoon. I can't find above where Pauline suggested any more than that.

And as to the salt, you'll want to gradually increase that to 4 tbsp./day, the amount a normal horse would take in. -- Dr. Deb

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I thought it was a standard measuring spoon! Now I am starting to panic.

Quoted; Start with 1 tsp (5g) per feed for a few days, then increase it slowly if there is no deterioration in his stool consistency. I used MgO at high dose (200g/day) for years before discovering MgCl, with very good results.

Salt was suggested to start at a half a spoon a day and build up to between 2-4 tablespoons a day. I just did a full measure in the dark this morning.



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Hi Rachel & Dr Deb

Magnesium oxide is approximately 60% elemental magnesium, so 1 (5g) teaspoon of MgO will provide approx 3 grams of elemental magnesium. However, MgO is very poorly absorbed, most sources suggest only 4% is actually available for uptake into cells and even that depends on ideal digestive conditions such as sufficient stomach acid. Four percent of 3 grams = 120mg of elemental magnesium available to the horse from that 1 teaspoon of MgO.

This is a tiny amount (even for a human), but is a good starting point for a horse with pre-existing digestive problems. Our priority is to make sure we do not make anything worse for your horse so I am suggesting more caution with both the magnesium and the salt than I would usually. For horses with normal manure I would suggest starting with 1 tablespoon of MgO.

As mentioned briefly in an earlier post, one of my own horses needed over 200 grams of MgO per day to fix his feet which equates to nearly 5000mg of supplemental elemental magnesium per day as a permanent part of his diet. All of the inorganic forms of magnesium need to be fed in much higher amounts than the organic forms such as when bound to an amino acid, eg magnesium citrate. The difference is not so much the overall magnesium content as its absorbability.

One other point I don't think I mentioned previously is that for most horses, dividing the daily magnesium amount over 2 or more small feeds will usually produce better results than giving it all in one feed. Even if you could just mix some MgO into a handful of copra to give him at other times of the day would be helpful, especially until we can establish if this approach is showing any signs of working.

Everything else is sounding very good.

Best wishes
Pauline

DrDeb
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Ahh, OK, my confusion stems from the fact that what I have been using with my own horse is an organically-bound form, which indeed is fed in much smaller amounts.

Rachel, no need to panic either way -- just do as Pauline suggests; she is the expert in this area, and I'm learning about it too, just like you. -- Dr. Deb

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 lucky I am wearing brown triple strength corderouy undies.

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Hi Rachel

Have you had a chance to go and see Pauline?  You will be amazed at her wealth of knowledge.

I have had my horse Maggie on MgCl now for about 1 year and along with appropriate stretches and riden excercises she has started to really come along. We still have along way to go but it is exciting, as a year ago I was at a loss as to how I was going to help her both physically and mentally. 

You have done so much for your horse that he certainly will benefit from trying the MgCl.

Lets us know how you go.

Cheers

Dorinda

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where do you get the magnesium chloride? Seems like this would be a better way so suppliment than magnesium oxide, since chloride is lost in sweet. What was your rational for using the cloride, rather than the oxide or sulfate?

Roger Ward

DrDeb
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Roger -- what do you mean, "lost in sweet"?

The rationale for using chloride is that the chloride ion is better for the horse than the oxide, and way WAY better than some of the more commonly available "organic" forms, i.e. citrate or aspartate, which are actually dangerous not only to horses but to all mammals.

The downside of chloride is that the flavor is bitter so that few horses will readily eat it. You have to mix it with something sweet -- we have one friend who feeds it in bread-rolls because her horse likes bread. To get it into most other horses, you would probably need to mix it with molasses or honey -- but if you have an IR horse this might not be good, depending upon how much sugary stuff he can tolerate, if any. This is therefore why people feed the oxide and aspartate forms -- they are essentially tasteless. As I said, oxide is OK; aspartate should be avoided.

For human self-administration, transdermal is a pleasant way to uptake MgCl. The place where Pauline gets her supply is http://www.ancientminerals.com and you buy the bath flakes. Do not mix according to their directions, which are aimed at getting the consumer to buy as much of the stuff as possible. They tell you to mix several cups into a 5-gallon bucket; what you actually do is put in 4 tbsp. Have the water at about 100 to 110 degrees -- right warm, but not boiling hot -- and pour it out into a deep pan and have yourself a little footbath for a half-hour while you sit and read a book. This will get more Mg into your bloodstream than you can absorb by taking a daily MgOxide pill, and has the advantage of bypassing the digestive system -- it goes straight into the bloodstream, and therefore can be immediately used by your body.

Pauline tells me that she has not, unfortunately, found a practicable way to administer MgCl trans-dermally to horses, but feeding it is practicable as outlined above and via Pauline's previous posts in this thread. -- Dr. Deb

 

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I have read that more chloride ions are lost per unit of sweat than sodium ions. So providing salt to a working horse will make up the chloride, but will result in a surplus of sodium. Potassium chloride is often used in electrolyte recipes, but magnesium chloride could also be worked in to the recipe. In addition, the ionic chemical bond is not as strong as the valence bond on MgO. That sounds like something that would make the magnesium from MgCl more bio-available.

Where can MgCl be purchased?

Roger Ward

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Hi Roger

I don't have a conclusive explanation for why MgCl has produced results far in excess of MgO or other forms of magnesium I have tried over the years. It could be simply the superior bioavailability and compatibility with our own body fluids, or could also involve the action of the naturally occurring trace minerals also present, or some other unknown function.
Wherever the truth might lie, I can vouch for MgCl having made quite dramatic changes in the majority of horses I've seen or received reports about. I've used it for my own horses for more than 18 months and find I no longer need to supplement with any commercial vitamin/mineral products. My old Cushings horse has never looked better and now has strong, sound feet that have not deteriorated in any way through the past two wetter-than-normal summers (despite his history of laminitis and weak feet).

Dr Deb has already given you a link to an online source for the Ancient Minerals brand of MgCl which is distributed internationally; it is mined from the salt deposits of the ancient Zechstein sea located below Europe. For those of us in Australia, we can access a similar product from pristine remnant seas high up on the Tibetan Plateau; this is available from http://www.ElektraLife.com.

MgCl is commonly used for industrial applications so care should be taken to find a Food Grade source that is certified as free from heavy metal contamination. Industrial or Technical Grades are often produced from coastal ocean water that is contaminated by industrial pollutants. I have seen MgCl that is sold and approved for livestock use, but the accompanying analysis shows a considerable lead, cadmium and arsenic load; even worse is that mercury, the most likely contaminant, is not listed at all.

Best wishes
Pauline

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$33 a Kg seems like a rip off. Some one is making exorbitant profits. I am disappointed in this recommendation. Reminds me of recommendations to purchase selenium yeast from platinum performance for $21 a pound, when you can buy it in 55 lb sacks from Altech distributors for $3 a pound.

Roger Ward

DrDeb
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Roger, rather than taking an antagonistic, contentious, and judgmental tone, why don't you supply the address and other contact information -- if you have it -- for a cheaper and/or superior product? In other words, I am asking you to figure out what your negative tone is actually all about, or what purpose it serves.

So if you know something that would benefit everyone, then tell us about it. And while you do that, you can also express thanks to Pauline for all the work she has done and all the research to bring us the excellent information and help that she provides.

Let us see how you respond. -- Dr. Deb

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Dr. Deb you mentioned that aspartate is dangerous to horses (and mammals) - why is that? I have seen it described as the rolls royce of magnesiums. Quite worrying as I know several folk that give it to their horses.

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Hi Delly

For a thorough explanation of why aspartate and glutamate are so potentially dangerous, I highly recommend neurosurgeon and clinical assistant professor Russell Blaylock's book 'Excitotoxins, The Taste That Kills' (Health Press, 1997, ISBN 978-0-929173-25-2). This book is just about guaranteed to send everyone scurrying to the pantry to scrutinise package labels.

Dr Blaylock is a contributing author to medical textbooks dealing with neurological disorders such as MS. In his private practice over a couple of decades he has treated patients with Parkinson's, ALS, Alzheimers and other neurodegenerative diseases. He is convinced that aspartic acid and glutamic acid play a significant role in the development and progression of these conditions, and are especially harmful to young brains.

Glutamate is commonly used as a taste enhancer in processed foods and aspartic acid is used as a component of artificial sweeteners. Both aspartic and glutamic acids form naturally in the body as neurotransmitters, and the brain has several mechanisms to protect itself from any naturally occurring temporary excesses. When these substances are consumed regularly, the body may be unable to protect itself from the continual excess. The term 'excitotoxins' is descriptive of how these acids can destroy brain cells; the mechanism involved is that glutamate and aspartate are able to cause brain calcium channels to remain open. Calcium then floods into brain cells causing over-stimulation, literally exciting the cells to death.

Dr Blaylock's book has a lot of information about how calcium and magnesium work, including the need for adequate magnesium as an essential part of the brain's protective systems. This provided the background that enabled me to arrive at an understanding of how magnesium deficit may be involved in 'BigHead' in horses grazing oxalate pastures, and why my own horse did not get any bone loss or BigHead as briefly mentioned in the Digital Cushion thread.

Best wishes
Pauline

Last edited on Fri Jun 1st, 2012 12:04 am by Pauline Moore

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yes, it is an excellent book.

You can also find a lot of his (very detailed) research papers on the internet dealing with the same and related topics.

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Pauline thank you for this valuable information - I will get hold of Dr. Blaylock's book.

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Hello Pauline

I found a product in the US that came from Australia, called CoolStance. It contains coconut meal and other minerals which I will list towards the bottom here. Is this the same as what you call Copra? I have been using it to supplement my MgCI (the bath flakes from ancient minerals) I started both of my horses on it one week ago , they get 1/2 tsp mixed in 1 cup of the meal, morning and evening. I dissolve the MgCI in 3/4 cup of water. I have seen quite a change in just one week with both of my horses. The first one has extremely tight muscles(touching his body feels like touching a board) and he has a high head carriage and short choppy gaits. His body, back and muscles have really softened up alot. He is quite calm now and not as aggressive and not biting. The other one is not as energetic and would hang his head alot and is now holding his head up more and showing some spark in his eyes. I think I am on the right track but just wanted to see if this meal product is one you know of and recommend. I am not quite sure how to decipher the feed analysis label of the minerals in it. Its in percents. Is this a good balance of minerals?

Crude protein(min) 20%       Potassium(min) 1.75%     Crude fat(min) 8%

Magnesium(min) 0.22%        Crude fiber(max) 20%       Sulfer (min) 0.24%

Calcium(min) 0.07%              Calcium(max) 0.09%          Selenium(min) 0.2ppm

Phosphorous(min) .05%        Dry matter 90%

Also, would you know where I could find the Ollsons Macrobiotic Sea Salt in the US? I am having a little trouble finding it. I know that one week on the MgCI is just the start of this regimen, and I am surpised that I see such a difference. What amount of MgCI should I go up to? I am not seeing any soft or change is stool?

Thank you for all of the wonderful information thus far on this subject. Appreciate any advise.

Linda

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Hi Linda

The CoolStance product is excellent, the brand I buy myself when I can, as I know it is produced and handled to very high standards. It's also available in the UK but didn't know it is in the US now, so that's great. The business was formed by Dr Tim Kempton who has a PhD in nutritional biochemistry and originally developed the use of coconut meal for livestock feeding a couple of decades ago. Other brands may be fine also, look for a product that has a pleasant, toasty-coconut odour, a mid-brown colour and is free-flowing. Some cheaper brands are lumpy, a dark brown colour and have an unpleasant burnt smell.

You'll note from the analysis that coconut is naturally high in magnesium compared to calcium. Another advantage is that it is also a good source of copper and zinc. I've been feeding copra coconut meal for more than 12 years and have nothing but praise for it as a basic feed. Most horses love the flavour.

The Olsson's salt is made in Australia and I don't think they export to anywhere. Celtic Sea Salt is nearly as good but may be expensive if it is imported into your country from Europe. Both are excellent sources of trace minerals and both contain far more magnesium than calcium.

So far, I've not found an equivalent in the US but think there would have to be producers of an unrefined sea salt somewhere. Meantime, you could try Redmond's Rock Salt (http://www.redmondequine.com/redmond-rock). Like the popular Himalayan pink salt, Redmond's has good range of natural trace minerals, but both have far more calcium than magnesium, so are not ideal. If you ever find a US producer of a Celtic Sea Salt equivalent, please let me know.

You've had a very good response to the MgCl already, so just keep slowly increasing the amount until you see some slight softening of the stool, then reduce to the previous level where manure is normal. Horses do quite often start to respond very quickly like yours have, others may take several weeks depending on the degree of deficiency. You may be able to reduce the amount of MgCl you give during winter months when pasture nutrients that reduce magnesium absorption are less.

Best wishes
Pauline

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Thank you Pauline, I'll keep doing what I am doing with the horses, and keep searching for the right salt. I did check my well water ph and it is at about 7.2. The ph is good but my well water has a rusty smell and taste to it. This is the same water in our house and I do know that it stains the toilet and bath tub an orange color. Probably too much iron? I will have the water tested for metals. Hopefully it won't be too hard to remedy.

Thanks again

Linda

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I recommend mag. to 8 out of 10 of my clients...  Through some digging, I've found that mag. seems to be one of the easiest minerals to be depleted in the soil (and thankfully one of the easiest to re balance within the body).  I also found that to high of iron can block (so to speak) the bodies ability to utilized mag. 

The best combination for restoring Mag. within the body (that I have found so far) is: Di Mag. Malate - one of the most bio available forms of mag.  and Red Rasp. Leaves...  After researching the different Mag's I put my husband on this one (yup straight from my horses stash) and his muscles are now much softer and he feels way better... MagRestore is the name of the product and can be found on line.  It is a single ing. supplement (which I love) so you can really tinker with how much works. 

I also like to put apple cider vinegar (the real stuff) into their water, I do admit, I've never tested the ph and should, but it is supposed to alkalize the ph levels as well.  It is very high in Potassium and helps with arthritis issues as well... if a horse had HYPP you wouldn't want to use it though due to the Potassium being high.

Another mineral to look into is MSM (form of sulfur).  I started taking this myself (I am my own test dummy for my animals =D) and could not believe the difference.  My muscles are able to heal (keep up with my work), my joints do not feel inflamed and I have much more energy because I am not bogged down by being achy.

You can use Mag. Chloride as a wash.  Wet your horse down and then mix up a bucket with water/mag. chloride (about a cup)... then sponge it onto your horse.  It should absorb into the skin and soft tissue, and help flush out lactic acid as well as other toxins... You can also do a heavy medal detox with Calcuim Bentonite - have had great results with it when doing mineral re balancing.

Also I have had great success with free choice minerals (basic ones like cal/phos, salt, kelp, azomite)... lots of research out there on these topics =D

Anyways, just thought to throw a few ideas out there that have worked for me...

Sarah

Last edited on Sun Jun 17th, 2012 09:20 pm by sarahmorloff

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Sarah, vinegar of any type contains high amounts of acetic acid. Therefore if you put it into either feed or water, what it is doing is acidizing (i.e. making it more acidic), not more alkali (i.e. less acidic).

I do appreciate your suggestion, though, about "MagRestore" and will go look it up to see what it's all about.

Pauline, you will find this interesting too: I've recently asked my M.D. and my vet both, to look me up a source of Mg gluconate. In the U.S. there is one over-the-counter human product which contains a mixture of Mg gluconate and Mg Oxide, but the doc and the pharmacist have both told me that pure Mg gluconate is not available either over the counter or by prescription. This is interesting as Blalock prescribes it and suggests dosages in his "Excitotoxins" book. I am interested in Mg gluconate as being probably as tasty -- or perhaps we should say tasteLESS -- as the Mg aspartate and equally bio-available. My next step is to go back to my doc and see if he'll contact a compounding pharmacy, as opposed to the chain-type drugstore where the pharmacist works.

Can you comment on Sarah's idea that the malate form of Mg is highly bio-available? Would it be safe, or fall into the same category of toxicity as Mg aspartate?

And Sarah, I also want to say that yes, MSM is a commonly available and frequently used supplement intended to relieve arthritic symptoms. However, I myself personally, and I think also many other people as well as horses, are allergic to it. The underlying cause is that MSM, like glucosamine sulfate which is the powdered form commonly available, are bound to or contain sulfur. I also cannot safely eat dried apricots or dried peaches, because they coat them with sulfur-powder to inhibit their getting moldy during the drying process, and it is the sulfur to which I am allergic. Glucosamine sulfate and MSM actually make my joints swell. Further, there is only weak evidence that either MSM or chondroitin have any positive benefits -- MSM being perhaps a little better than chondroitin, probably because it is a little more digestible. Glucosamine hydrochloride however is another matter. It can be fed as a liquid or also given as an intramuscular injection, and particularly when injected -- because this bypasses the digestive tract -- it has demonstrable positive effects both short-term and long-term.

I would further be very VERY cautious about using calcium derived from bentonite. "Calcium bentonite" is not a substance in the same way that "magnesium chloride" is a substance, i.e. in the latter example the magnesium and the chloride are chemically bound together to form a single molecule. "Calcium bentonite" is a manufacturer's term meaning that the calcium in the product is derived from a form of bentonite in which calcium is the dominant atom. Bentonite is a mineral -- indeed, it is the mineral or "earth" from which we get aluminum, i.e. it is aluminum ore. Therefore, you cannot feed "calcium bentonite" without also feeding aluminum. Aluminum is a poison and should not only never be fed, it should not even be allowed to come into contact with the skin (I believe research that says to avoid, for example, deodorant products containing any compound containing aluminum).

And while we are on the subject, let me also mention that I know there is widespread belief in the benefits of ingesting silver or salts of silver. This is just as nuts as ingesting salts of aluminum or mercury: they are poison. Gold is safer but we don't see too much of that particular fad lately, do we, considering the stuff is now over $1600 per ounce. Most people have probably got more value in their dental fillings these days than they do in their retirement account.

Finally as to free-choice minerals....they are also a waste of money, effort, and time. Good experimental studies have shown that horses will preferentially lick whichever of the trays happens to contain the most sodium chloride as either an additive or a contaminant. NaCl is what they need the most of, by far, and this is what their senses can detect. There is no known mechanism by which either human or horse can detect a need for magnesium, iron, or chromium, for example; this is why many people today have gotten critically low on magnesium, because they didn't rush right out and get themselves a big salad of rhaspberry leaves as soon as they started to get low on magnesium. But when the weather is hot, you'll see everybody in your local diner or truck stop using that ol' salt shaker -- nobody told them to do that except the innate instinct to replenish NaCl.

So Sarah, this is not to negate your efforts as a counsellor which I think are sincere and well-intended, but I would not follow most of your advice, and I would repeat to you again in particular, that you need to improve your knowledge and education before you make suggestions regarding herbs, additives, supplements, or diet. Come here rather, Sarah, to learn from Pauline.

What I would like to encourage is that any type of supplementation (1) be based on the real needs of the animal, as far as possible demonstrated by careful survey of the existing pasturage and feeding regimen; and (2) that any changes that are made are absolutely the minimum, and done one at a time, so that either positve results, negative results, or lack of results can be documented. What to AVOID is the shotgun approach in any form.

"Supplementation" is in fact a recent fad, of which all horse owners need to beware, and beware of the "pusher" who comes in the form of the massage therapist or "lifestyle counsellor" who is no better-trained than the "chiropractor" who hangs out behind the rodeo chutes performing spectacular, expensive, and destructive high-velocity long-lever "adjustments". It is true that our soils are no longer as rich as they once were, but depletion varies a great deal from one area to another, so that good horsekeeping is more specific to each region today than ever. -- Dr. Deb

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Dr Deb – You can buy magnesium gluconate in either capsule or powder form from a company based in Oregon: http://purebulk.com/magnesium-gluconate-gelatin-caps

Magnesium malate, magnesium citrate and magnesium gluconate are all forms of magnesium that are bound to an acid, ie malic acid, citric acid or gluconic acid. All are considered to be highly absorbable, safe, forms of magnesium. The gluconate form is thought to be less potentially irritating to the gut so more can be ingested. I’m not aware of any toxicity issues with any form of magnesium other than aspartate and glutamate/glutamine. For myself, I take mag citrate (because it’s easy to pop a pill) and also use mag chloride transdermally.

Your comments re colloidal silver are echoed by Dr Robert Thompson who warns against all colloidal minerals because they cannot enter cells. He also does not recommend chelated minerals, except for certain short-term use, as it is much easier to overdose on a mineral that is chelated to an amino acid.

This is one of the reasons I like to use magnesium chloride for the horses; it is in ionic form so the body can easily excrete any excess. Another advantage is that mag chloride also contains the full range of trace minerals naturally found in seawater (as explained on today’s new thread about unrefined sea salt).

Sarah - the list of substances that can reduce magnesium absorption is almost endless, which is one reason why our horses are deficient. Along with excess calcium, potassium is a big problem. Some pasture grasses accumulate very high levels of potassium in cloudy weather so the last thing any horse needs is more potassium from ACV, regardless of their HYPP status. For horses drinking excessively alkaline water, adding ascorbic acid (vit C) could be a safer way to bring water pH closer to neutral. Water pH should be tested over several days to get a consistent reading before altering pH in either direction.

What is your reference for using red raspberry leaves as a magnesium source, other than being green? All of my reference books cite this herb primarily for use in last trimester pregnancy and first week of lactation, and possibly for hormonal disturbances in mares. It is also listed as being high in iron and calcium so may not help with magnesium absorption if fed continuously.

Best wishes
Pauline

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Pauline - I really love all your info on herbs/stretching as these are things I practice in daily life with myself and for my clients... From what I have gathered on Rasp. Leaf (first when having my own kids then onto horses), it provides a rich source of iron, calcium, manganese and mag. (also several vit.).  It is helpful in the last trimester due to being helpful in strengthening the uterine muscles so that during a contraction, the muscles work together and recover quickly etc...  Upon doing research (via, books, internet, herb teachers), I started to apply this logic to my own horses... People buy "Mare Magic" which is only Rasp. Leaf, for hormones, moody/uptight mares.  I have seen raving hormonal mares come back to earth within 2 weeks, I've had rock hard horses soften with a loading dose, we've had suspected ulcers (suspecting the cal for this one) go away...  So for me beyond researching it, the proof is in the horse =D... of course I completely agree that anything can be "over done" too much of a good thing is still too much =D

DrDeb -
I have my own believes when it come to offering free choice minerals... a salt block is after all "free choice".  I just prefer them to be separated. I always offer my salt (loose trace mineral) separate (much like people would with a pure white block), for most of the horses I've seen on these systems they leave the salt alone but a good lick and then go after the others seasonally.  I don't like fillers and don't like salt mixed with the minerals exactly for the reasons you mentioned. 

Thank you for the info on MSM being a possible allergen for some.  I have heard of Glucosamine causing reactions but not Menthylsulfonymethane.  I am wondering if it is the same form used for dried fruit... or if it is just similar enough?

As for the Clay... After months of searching, I cannot find one place where it states that we can actually absorb the aluminum that is inside of it (as that is a huge deal breaker for me)... I did find several explanations to this that I will put into quotations (sorry they are so long, I tried to narrow it down but didn't want to change things)  I also, try to find articles/research that are from people that are not extremists or selling things or from Holistic vets / Dr.s...  I have also learned a while back that it is used in grains (binders), make up, pills, water filters, to clarify wines/oils etc. so I would think we'd be absorbing the al. from those products already if we were (?).  Also that it has been documented that undomesticated animals will search, dig and eat it if they have gotten into trouble with something toxic/poisonous.  I would love to read about dangers other than constipation/indigestion (when used wrong), as I really cannot find scientific documentation that we absorb the al.  Also, would like to clarify that I would never recommend this as a mineral source, but strictly for heavy metal toxicity and def. ONLY short term.

“Elements on the periodic table, including aluminum hydroxide, lead, copper, chromium, mercury, strontium, etc., in the natural form, are totally different than these same elements after they are transformed by industrial processes for manufacturing and commerce.  The molecular rearrangement of these elements in the refining process isolates aluminum molecules for example, to make airplane parts or frying pans for commerce. This refining procedure changes the original natural elemental molecular structure by industrial processing through rearranging the natural elemental form to an isolated man made form. As a result of this process, many times this alteration of elements transform them into elements that are sometimes harmful or toxic to life forms.
Certain edible clays and soils  in the natural and unaltered form are inert and safe for life, like food and water (H2O). Water is a natural compound and if one were to separate the hydrogen molecule from water by the refining process, it could be used to fuel cars of the future or make bombs and therefore is not only harmful and toxic but lethal. If one were to take a spoonful of earth from their own back yard and have it chemically analyzed, they would find many of these same elements. When chemically rearranging these elements by the refinement process,  they also become harmful or highly toxic. The elements on the periodic table may be altered by many industrial processes through molecular isolation (separation) and further combined with other elements and chemical procedures to make products. An example in metals, alloys area among the most common combination for things like tool steel in knifes and machines.  Many factory or man made drugs also fall into this group. Many times both are harmful  or even toxic to plant, animals, humans as well as the environment itself.”

“Smectite clays comprise 99% of all clays used for health purposes today.  Smectites are unique in that they swell while absorbing and adsorbing positive charged ions.  It is the favored clay for health and dietary use as well as for many industrial applications.
Smectites are more complicated clays and have a higher exchange capacity than the other six family groups of clay.  It has the unique ability to adsorb and absorb toxins at a greater rate than any other group.
Within the Smectite family there are hundreds of different types of clays, each consisting of between 8 and 145 minerals.  The most common sub family is Montmorillonite.  Further along the Montmorillonite family tree are the various Bentonites. It’s from the Smectite family tree that we find the broadest spectrum healing modality on our planet – Calcium Bentonite Clay.
Montmorillonite Clay was named after the town of Montmorillon in France where it was first identified.  Its common name today is French Green and you will see it packaged under several different brands today and available in many health food stores. Your green swelling clays are known for their remarkable healing properties.  Not to say that non-swelling clays are not good also but due to the molecular makeup the swelling clays have a greater drawing or detoxing potential.”


 Oils/Food Markets: Bentonite is utilized in the removal of impurities in oils where its adsorptive properties are crucial in the processing of edible oils and fats (Soya/palm/canola oil). In drinks such as beer, wine and mineral water, and in products like sugar or honey, bentonite is used as a clarification agent.
Agriculture: Bentonite is used as an animal feed supplement, as a pelletizing aid in the production of animal feed pellets, as well as a flowability aid for unconsolidated feed ingredients such as soy meal. It also is used as an ion exchanger for improvement and conditioning of the soil. When thermally treated, it can be used as a porous ceramic carrier for various herbicides and pesticides.
Pharmaceuticals, Cosmetics and Medical Markets: Bentonite is used as filler in pharmaceuticals, and due to its absorption/adsorption functions, it allows paste formation. Such applications include industrial protective creams, calamine lotion, wet compresses, and antiirritants for eczema. In medicine, bentonite is used as an antidote in heavy metal poisoning. Personal care products such as mud packs, sunburn paint, baby and facepowders, and face creams may all contain bentonite.
Detergents: Laundry detergents and liquid hand cleansers/soaps rely on the inclusion of bentonite, in order to remove the impurities in solvents and to soften the fabrics.


Sarah =D

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You notice, Sarah, that many of the quotes you present relate to stuff that is certainly not meant to be eaten, i.e. laundry detergent, calamine lotion, and so forth.

And yes, bentonite is widely used in the animal feed industry; less so in the human food industry. And yes, we DO absorb aluminum from these "binders", as well as transdermally i.e. in deodorants, makeup, and powders.

It is precisely to avoid such binders and adulterants that Pauline is telling people here to get the unrefined sea salt -- because it does not contain bentonite as an agent to prevent the salt crystals caking. -- Dr. Deb

 

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I guess that now after all this time is is time for me to report in.

Meiko the pony still hasnt been ridden, alas I havent had anyone home at the same time in daylight hours as a safety number, so my observations are all subject to change when I ride him next. ( I want the safety number in case he or me has a problem after such a long break, taking into account his very low vision in one eye and blindness in the other)

Meiko is active, runs and bucks, rolls and carries on like a real horse! He also still runs into the trees, and his stable, but so far hasnt done any damage worse than pride. So my observations are that he is much more active, with less time spent recovering on the floor of his stable. He hasnt been stiff either, except when he has flipped or fallen over some inconsequensial thing that may or may not have tripped him.

I have found he did not like the increase of salt to 2 table spoons a meal, at all and refused to eat the feeds with the increased salt, but did happily eat one tbsp a feed. He loves the copra and can smell it inside the garage 200 mts away when I am wetting it.   His stools have also improved. I think it may be because he is currently in lock up with a consistent big bale of grass hay, from the same supplier, so it may actually be my pasture that is causing that problem, mind you he has had a couple squirty days even on the hay and hard feed only.

I have tentatively arranged an understanding friend to be my safety number for the next fortnight when both our schedules and the weather suit, and am looking forward to it. Recently the ground has been far too slippery to ride at home.

Thank you for your time Dr Deb and Pauline!

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Good news!

My beloved pony is back in work, and sound. Thank you to everyone here who has helped on my journey with Meiko. I am so glad for the advice not to give up yet, thank you!

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Hello Pauline / Dr Deb

Apologies if I have missed this in the tread (new to forums) but how much and how would you use / administer magnesium chloride to a horse -

thanks Tem

 

 

 

 

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Tem, EMail office@equinestudies.org and we will send you Pauline's paper on Magnesium, which will get you started on this. -- Dr. Deb

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I think another thread already discussed the problems caused by horses drinking water that is too acidic.  Here Pauline says "For horses drinking excessively alkaline water, adding ascorbic acid (vit C) could be a safer way to bring water pH closer to neutral. Water pH should be tested over several days to get a consistent reading before altering pH in either direction."

I live in Central Texas where the water is very alkaline.  My water tested 8.4 with the pool test strip, while rainwater tested 6.5.  We all drink this same water.  I'm curious about the types of problems it may cause.


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Hi Lynn

There is a very good Acid-Base tutorial on the Anaesthesia Education Website at this link: http://www.anaesthesiamcq.com/AcidBaseBook/ABindex.php

You will be able to read about the different types of acidosis and alkalosis – metabolic and respiratory. It’s a very complex subject, made no easier by opposing viewpoints from numerous biochemistry experts; The Great Trans-Atlantic Acid-Base Debate, summarized at the end of the tutorial, has been running since the mid-1960’s without resolution.

Human blood has to be maintained within a very tight range, pH 7.35 to 7.45, while horse blood has an even smaller range, pH 7.42 to 7.45. Trainers of racehorses are very much aware of this requirement, and the rapid drop in athletic ability if blood pH is permitted to become too acidic or too alkaline.

The article below is written by a veterinarian who treats metabolic problems in endurance horses, and includes a good description of one form of alkalosis:
‘Metabolic Diseases In Long Distance Performance Horses’ http://www.albertaequine.com/caret001.asp

As I understand it, to maintain blood pH within such a tiny range, the horse must not allow ingested food and water to pass through the intestinal wall into the blood without first being adjusted to the appropriate pH. Acidic substances are initially neutralized by bicarbonates secreted in the stomach and duodenum. The kidneys also play a vital role in maintaining acid-base balance in the body. Water with a high pH will usually contain high levels of alkaline minerals, often calcium. That excess alkalinity cannot be allowed to raise the blood pH, so the minerals must be excreted via the kidneys and urine. It is hard work for the kidneys to be constantly having to neutralize excessive acids or alkalis from food and water.

I have seen several horses respond quite dramatically when their acidic drinking water is neutralized with sodium bicarbonate. I don’t see quite so many horses in this area who drink highly alkaline water so can’t be certain of the effects other than suppressing magnesium uptake if the alkalinity is from calcium. Just a few days ago I was chatting with Jenny Paterson about this matter; she believes some of the problems frequently seen in NZ, such as head-flicking, are due to alkalosis from high pasture potassium. We’d both like to have a clearer understanding of exactly what’s happening as it has not always been possible to replicate results.

As with every other aspect of our horses' diets, I don't think it is possible to adopt a rigid formula based on generalised information. Many of the people who contact me for help have already been down the path of micro-analysing every mouthful of feed, but still have lame horses. Better outcomes can be obtained if we can learn to really 'look' at our own horses, and listen to what their bodies, feet and movement are telling us.

Best wishes
Pauline

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Well, first post.  This has been a great thread for me.  We have an IR horse with chronic laminitis.  Dr. Deb had advised us to test our trough water for acidity, and peruse Pauline's magnesium paper.  We've now done both (water was not acidic), and my wife has ordered MaCl.  From reading this thread, I have answers to a couple questions, but am seeking reassurance that I've read and interpreted correctly.  We currently feed a product that has magnesium oxide and magnesium proteinate, and the dose we use provides 28g of magox and 4g of mag proteinate, along with some chromium.  Pauline's paper states that the MaCl flakes she uses contain 156 mg of elemental Ma per 1g of flakes, and that a relatively heavy dose would be 60g flakes, or 9360 mg of Ma.  My first question was why the 28g of MaOx and 4g of MaProteinate wasn't a good high dose, but reading herein I see that it may be due to both the percentage of elemental Ma (60%) times the absorption rate (4%), or that in essence we are only feeding about 768mg of elemental Ma.  Correct?

Secondly, we were thinking of stopping the current product when starting the MaCl, but also in Pauline's paper, she suggests that feeding some MaOx at the same time can be beneficial, so we will think we should not stop with our current product when we start the MaCl.  Correct?

DrDeb
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Gee: Correct on all counts. Commercial products, especially if mixtures, frequently do not provide an effective dose. This is very much true for glucosamine supplementation but also true for many other things.

You could, of course, increase the amount you're feeding of the commercial product until you got to the effective dosage that Pauline recommends -- that would be easy enough to calculate. However, since it is a mixture you'd not only be increasing the Mg but also the Cr, which might exceed safe limits (I don't know that it would, because I don't know what the safe limits or toxicity threshhold for Cr is).

Increasing the amount of the commercial mixture you're feeding might also not be cost-effective; you can also figure this out. Is it more expensive to feed enough of the commercial mix to get a therapeutic result, or would it be cheaper to buy MgCl flakes?

Another consideration is bioavailability, i.e. what the absorption rate actually is. For MgCl it's pretty high, for MgO it's not (that's why MgO so easily produces diarrhea, which again is why it's the primary ingredient in products like 'Milk of Magnesia').

In my own discussions with Pauline, but also with Marit Arana who is our local Ph.D. nutrition advisor and an old friend of mine, they tell me that there is also special benefit in feeding the chloride ion, i.e. that the Mg is bound to Cl and not to aspartate, citrate, oxide, or what-have-you.

And speaking of that -- you should also actually monitor your horse's NaCl intake, i.e. how fast he eats his salt block. It was easy for me to do this with Ollie because he lives alone in a private pen. If you have yours in with other horses, you'll have to take an average I guess. Weigh a brand-new salt block before you put it in there, then let 30 days elapse and weigh whatever remains, if any, then divide and find out what the average daily consumption has been. 4TBSP is NOT what "any horse" will eat; what one horse eats per day of ordinary salt varies enormously. This may be one thing at the root of the apparent intractability of your horse's hard crest and tendency to easily become laminitic, despite your persistent and intelligent efforts --- he may not really be eating much salt, and if that's what you determine, you'll have to do as our friend Jenny Paterson in New Zealand does, and salt his feed.

Pauline, can you jump in here on this query? I've seen this guy's horse and I kid you not, you'll never see such an IR prone horse in your life. They're already doing a lot of the right things but the crest is still hard as a board and he teeters continually on the brink of laminitis. He lives not in a drylot per se but out on the local prairie-top in a paddock with a couple of others equally founder-prone -- the paddock contains literally nothing this time of year but sunburned wild oats (about like straw, cows starve on it) plus a low percentage of totally inedible weeds, which they do not eat. There is nothing toxic that I could see. What's to do?? -- Dr. Deb

 

Last edited on Thu Jun 13th, 2013 08:49 pm by DrDeb

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Hello Gee

Since writing that article late 2010, it has become ever more apparent that optimizing the benefits of magnesium for adult horses is directly dependent on minimizing the amount of calcium in the diet. As calcium inhibits magnesium absorption, dietary calcium from any source (feed, supplements, water) will reduce the effectiveness of any magnesium supplements fed.

If your horses’ drinking water is not acidic, then it is likely whatever degree of alkalinity is present in the water is coming from calcium. As your horse appears to have severe signs of IR, it may well be that he is severely magnesium deficient. Dr Lawrence Resnick and his research team at Cornell established in the 1980s that ‘low cellular magnesium causes metabolic syndrome’ and that ‘insulin increases magnesium loss’. It may pay you to get a water analysis to determine the calcium content, and even consider switching to rainwater if that is possible.

It will also be essential for you to eliminate all excess calcium from feed sources. Look closely at any processed feeds you are using, scrutinize labels for added calcium or limestone and do not feed hay that is high in calcium, eg alfalfa or clover. Similarly, beet products are naturally high in calcium so will not be helpful even if low in sugar. Also be wary of any feeds based on soybean or soy hulls because of the thyroid-suppressing effect of soy isoflavones. The last thing any IR horse needs is an underactive thyroid. Can’t tell you how many stories I hear about horses improving dramatically once soy has been eliminated from the diet.

Whilst these suggestions may sound extreme, evidence from many horses indicates their importance in achieving the desired result. Time and again, horses do not fully respond to magnesium supplements until calcium has been minimized. As little as 20g per day of a calcium supplement can be enough to cause significant regression in a horse that was doing well on magnesium only.

Having reduced calcium as much as possible, it is then easier to get the most out of whichever magnesium supplement is used. Magnesium chloride has a high bioavailability because it is already in ionic form; it is not dependent on efficient gastric function for breakdown in the stomach as is magnesium oxide. There is no way to pre-determine how much magnesium your horse will need as every horse has different needs. Of my own 3 horses, the one who weighs the least is the one who needs the most magnesium.

I would not recommend using alkaline magnesium oxide for your horse as excess gut alkalinity may already be a problem if your water is high in alkaline calcium. This is one of the factors that can be involved in enterolith formation. Mag oxide could be useful for other situations where excess acidity is an issue.

Chromium is important but can be toxic in excess, so I’d suggest finding a plain chromium supplement that you can feed independent of anything else. Salt also is important as Dr Deb has already explained.

Best wishes, Pauline

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Hello Pauline,
Do you have any more thoughts on the feeding of bran, a traditional feed in the UK that has fallen greatly out of favour in the last few decades as it is reputed to block the absorption of calcium. The bran available now in the UK is usually wheat bran. Many thanks, Ruth

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Thank you Pauline and Dr. Deb.  We are awaiting our MaCl order, and will start that slowly as suggested.  We were never considering simply inreasing the current product containing MaO, as wife is aware of Chromium worries.  Forage fed is limited to teff grass; we sent some in for sugar/carb testing just yesterday.  We've stopped letting him out on even the poor pasture Dr. Deb described.  I'll get the water fully tested.   Only rain water might be a project, but could be done (if we get rain) - I have a big tank I pump "seaonal creek" water into, that is later used to sprinkle arena.  I could move one of those closer to barn, and fill trough from that if that water tests better. Currently the vet has him on L Thyroid or L Thyroxin, have to look at canister to remember which one.  Supplement also includes LMF NCS stage one, 8 ounces/day, which does contain some soy product, and some calcium.  We'll chack into other options there.  I will write back once some time has elapsed and we've done the MaCl.

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Ruth

Bighead disease (nutritional secondary hyperparathyroidism) is also known as 'Bran Disease' because the phytates in bran bind to calcium and other minerals, making those minerals unavailable to the horse. This is similar to the effect of oxalates in tropical grasses - a common problem here on the east coast of Australia.

I am not wanting to prevent absorption of calcium or any other mineral; the horse needs an adequate supply of all minerals including calcium. The problem I have found is with an excess of dietary calcium that reduces the amount of magnesium the horse can absorb, thus adding to a functional magnesium deficiency.

Pauline

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Pauline, this seems the perfect place for me to jump in here with a new idea, or at least a new question, that your previous post prompted.

Obviously, it's not a question of your telling people to totally eliminate calcium from the horse's diet; for good health, there has to be a balance of calcium and magnesium and also phosphorous and potassium salts for that matter, along with the "normal" sodium salt. It is with IMbalances in all of thse that both you and Jenny Paterson have been working.

As to Geedubya being able to totally eliminate calcium -- he will not be able to, no matter what he does, because where we live out here in this desert -- or what WAS a desert a century ago before they put the irrigation system in on my particular patch, and what still IS a desert twenty miles west of here where Geedubya lives because the irrigation system does not extend that far -- calcium dust blows in the very air, every time the wind blows, and it will settle onto the surface of any water such as in a livestock tank, and then become dissolved. In addition, we can ask Geedubya whether they have to scrub their coffee pots and cooking pots with vinegar, or whether they use a lime-and-rust remover when cleaning their toilet bowls, or if there's a limy crust that tends to build up around the bases of all the faucets in the house, from their well water (that Aussies call "bore water"), which around here is just about universally hard (that is, contains calcium and other salts). Or maybe Geedubya has a water-softener so they don't get the limy crusts and so their clothes washer will work better.

Now, here is something that has recently dawned on me, and I'd like to hear any comment that you can make on this. A few years ago I sent you a copy of the water-quality report for my village, so that you could review it for the sake of general interest and comparison with conditions where you live near Brisbane. Since that time, several changes have occurred in our local area that have caused the water-table to drop and thus the wells that supply the water to my village are drawing from deeper levels and a wider underground "cone", and as a result our more recent water reports indicate that the level of aresnic in our water is now marginally over what the U.S. and California governments consider safe.

As the local authorities still consider the water safe to drink, despite elevated levels of dissolved arsenic, I continued to drink the tap water, and I now think that this was unwise as leading to chronic (rather than acute) arsenic poisoning, which causes the following problems in humans:

(1) Hair thinning and loss (I have never in my life seen so many women as there are in this local area with baldness, particularly affecting the fore part of the scalp and the hairline over the forehead; in the worst cases the woman will have the whole top of the head bald and be as wispy-haired as a 90 year old, despite being in her 40's).

(2) Exacerbates symptoms of arthritis and promotes "systemic" arthritis, i.e. pain and inflammation about equal in all joints and irrespective of whether the person is obese or thin, athletic or sedentary.

(3) Exacerbates insulin resistance and promotes the development of Type 2 Diabetes.

(4) Characterized by muscle cramping, i.e. "restless leg syndrome" after one lies down in bed, but also unexpected and sudden cramping of any muscle in the body upon only mild exertion; or a general feeling that the muscles are "sticky"

(5) Interferes with/reduces blood flow to the extremities (probably contributes to restless leg syndrome, but also may affect "feeling" in toes and fingers or make it very easy for arms or legs to "go to sleep" after sitting or lying in one position for any length of time, i.e. watching TV with your arms resting on the arms of a chair).

(6) Has deleterious effects on kidney function and promotes the need to get up multiple times during the night to urinate (this is not like a bladder infection where there is a strong urge to pee but very little urine, rather, the quantity of urine is voluminous and its quality is thin and watery). This leads in turn to a feeling of almost-continuous thirst, and as with the need to urinate, this is similar to what occurs in diabetes.

I myself began to notice many of these symptoms in myself, beginning a number of years ago, before the water report noted elevated arsenic levels (arsenic levels prior to that time were fairly high, but not over the government-recommended maximum). In the last few years, however, concomitant with increase in the arsenic levels, my symptoms got worse.

Now, when I had back trouble last autumn, I spent a whole month in Los Angeles getting the necessary treatment and then recuperating at the home of friends who live there. Both while in the hospital and while at their home, I drank water filtered by reverse osmosis, which removes 99% of arsenic. And guess what -- after a couple of weeks down there, I found that I did not need more than 1 magnesium pill per day to stave off the muscle cramps and "restless legs", and the need to urinate at night also cleared up almost entirely.

This effect lasted for about two weeks after I returned home and once again began drinking the local tapwater. But then, gradually, I began to need more magnesium again, until back to the original fairly large dosage.

Now, I noticed this but chalked it up to my having been on painkillers and other necessary drugs while at the hospital -- I figured they had altered my metabolism somehow. But! when I read your post to Geedubya, the thought absolutely clicked as to WHY switching horses to rainwater works. Because I know for sure that Geedubya's rainwater contains plenty of calcium. However, it does not contain arsenic!

I am now thinking that we have been missing an important factor -- since arsenic is a component, and an increasingly problematic component -- of drinking water worldwide. Anything pumped out of the ground is liable to contain it, and as greedy agriculture and greedy politicians conspire to create policies that suck the water table down ever lower, the arsenic levels are likely to rise. What I think we have been doing -- Jenny in particular since she sometimes has to supplement with really large amounts of magnesium -- is using the magnesium to either outcompete arsenic in terms of cellular uptake, or else to counteract, and thus mask, the effects of chronic arsenic poisoning.

Now here is another thought. Andrew Weil, and other M.D.'s with a knowledge of herbology, have stated that eating 1 to 3 cloves of raw garlic (or the equivalent amount of active garlicin taken in the form of an 'odorless' garlic tablet) is materially helpful -- slower, but ultimately as effective as chelation treatment in a hospital -- in removing arsenic from the body. Unlike mercury and lead, arsenic binds to the sulfur compounds in garlic and in bound form is much easier for the kidneys to excrete.

Based on this, I wonder if part of the efficacy of the supplement 'MSM' -- which is largely composed of sulfur compounds -- isn't due to the same effect in removing arsenic from the horse's body (or the human's, as people take MSM also).

It's early days yet, but I can report this as to my own self-treatment: a week ago, I decided to entirely stop drinking the tap-water in my village. I went out and bought distilled, reconstituted water (i.e. water that has been purified by distillation, so that it does not contain any arsenic; but that has had calcium, magnesium, and other salts added to it to give it flavor and so that it is properly osmotically balanced, i.e. it is dangerous to drink pure distilled water as it contains no electrolytes). This is the best I can do on a short-term basis. If this experiment proves to eliminate most of my symptoms, I will have a reverse-osmosis system that is guaranteed to remove arsenic installed in my house, like the one my friends down in L.A. have.

Further, I have begun taking a fairly high dose of odorless garlic daily. What I can report so far is a noticeable lessening of symptoms, but let us see what the situation is in another month. I am scheduled to be in Kansas for most of July, and there too I intend to stay on purified, arsenic-free bottled water, and continue to take the garlic, so as to continue the test.

Ultimately, although I am of course interested in helping my neighbor Geedubya, I also have to think here of Alex, whose horses' symptoms are also fairly noticeable and seem somewhat intractable. I sure would like it if Alex could have sound horses, as she has worked so hard to breed good ones!

Let me know what you think! -- Dr. Deb

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Dr Deb - your post got my attention big time. I spent a couple hours reading up on heavy metal toxicity. I am very curious if this is the key to one of my horses being not quite right. Physical issues/neurological issues. Vets all scratching their heads.

My question is how to go about testing for potential heavy metal toxicity. Blood test? What about hair analysis? Hooey or credible test?

 

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Evermore - The link below contains a discussion (p. 16) on the negative and positive aspects of testing for arsenic toxicity by hair sample analysis. Came across it this afternoon while searching for background on As toxicity treatments etc.

http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/dwq/arsenicun4.pdf


Dr Deb - Fascinating!
I've been known to rant on at length about the potential dangers of heavy metal contamination in cheap brands of magnesium chloride and also in kelp and seaweed products, so you won't have any trouble persuading me you could be on to something here.

More later.

Pauline

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Great, Pauline, I'd be interested to hear anything you come up with on this.

As to Evermore's question, here is a dub from Dr. Andrew Weil, M.D.'s newsletter -- I consider Weil to be a very reliable source of information and recommend his online newsletter to everyone. Despite the use of hair analysis for arsenic poisoning in numerous detective novels and on TV, the presence of arsenic in smaller amounts can come from many sources, external as well as internal, which makes hair analysis problematic and the results difficult to interpret. Ultimately, I think we will find that we need to rely upon the city or county government's regular testing procedures to find out what the arsenic levels are in drinking water, and then upon blood tests for its presence in the body. See what Weil says:

"I've written about another type of hair analysis on this site in the past. Some "alternative" practitioners recommend these tests to assess mineral levels in the body and then prescribe dietary supplements on the basis of the results. However, the only accurate way to get this information is by measuring levels in blood. Exposure of hair to substances in shampoos or hair dyes can distort results. Furthermore, some mineral levels can be affected by your hair's color, diameter, growth rate, the season of the year, your geographic location, and your age and gender.

Furthermore, normal ranges of minerals in hair have not been defined, and no correlation has been established between levels in hair and other indicators of nutritional status. The concentration of a mineral in your hair could be high even though you may actually be deficient in it. Or vice versa.

Finally, there are no standards for hair analysis of mineral status, which means that it's likely you could get different results if you sent hair samples from the same person, taken at the same time, to more than one laboratory.

I would be suspicious of any nutritional deficiency or disease diagnosed via this method alone. If you suspect that you might be deficient in some vitamin or mineral, check with your physician. A blood test can set your mind at ease or demonstrate any need to increase your intake of specific micronutrients."

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Thank you Pauline and Dr. Deb.

I ran across some information that I thought I would throw out. The article discussed the benefits of MSM on heavy metal detox - forgive me, not sure if MSM was part of this thread - the article also stated that rainwater contains MSM. The sulfur in MSM, as with the garlic, helps to alleviate or detox the body of heavy metals.

Pauline, did you write earlier in this thread that your horses prefer rainwater? Could the advantage of the MSM in the rainwater be another contributing factor to the improvement in the horses health?

Interesting thread. As always I keep learning coming to this forum. Thank you.

 

 

 

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Dr Deb - As with many other toxic elements, it appears to be the inorganic form of As that is the problem. It seems that organic As can be excreted from the body quite easily and is therefore considered harmless, although maybe that depends on the efficiency of each person’s or horse's own body.

Much of the research is coming from India and Bangladesh as As poisoning via groundwater is widespread. The report linked to in my previous post is a review of recent research worldwide, prepared by Dr D N Guha Mazumder of the Institute of Post Graduate Medical Education and Research in Calcutta. It seems that blood is not a sensitive biomarker of exposure to As via drinking water; urine giving a better indication. It’s a long report but worth reading, although it is rather pessimistic about treatment outcomes.

Selenium is mentioned in several sources as a means to remove arsenic from the body. Here’s one example that also looked at calcium and magnesium, finding that selenium was the most effective:
http://www.degruyter.com/view/j/aiht.2010.61.issue-2/10004-1254-61-2010-1993/10004-1254-61-2010-1993.xml

"Protective Effects of Selenium, Calcium, and Magnesium Against Arsenic-Induced Oxidative Stress in Male Rats"

Perhaps you are right about your own need for magnesium being influenced by As exposure, but selenium might be worth looking into, although it also can be toxic in excess. I would not want to give a horse selenium without first doing soil and forage tests to determine their current intake.

Another approach you may want to consider is homeopathics. Found a BBC news item reporting that Professor Khuda-Bukhsh and colleagues at the University of Kalyani tested a homeopathic remedy on mice that had been exposed to arsenic. They found that a drop of Arsenicum Album three times a day reduced arsenic levels in the mice dramatically in just 72 hours.
"The potentised homeopathic drug Arsenicum Album not only has the ability to help remove arsenic from the body, but these drugs in microdoses appear to have the ability to detoxify the ill-effects produced by arsenic in mice"
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/3208528.stm

Before you go to the expense of installing a water filtration system, I’m going to play Devil’s Advocate and suggest we also need to differentiate between the effects of As toxity and simple excess calcium relative to magnesium need, or other unknown factors.

As I understand it, if magnesium intake does not meet the body’s needs, then calcium will be relatively in excess (regardless of how much or little is ingested) and therefore the effects of calcium excess will be present. The greater the consumption of calcium, the greater the need for magnesium.

Most of the items on your list of As toxicity signs can also be signs of excess calcium/low magnesium. For example, restless leg syndrome, muscle cramping and ‘sleepy’ extremities are all associated with low magnesium. I also occasionally experience episodes of each when I get slack about my own magnesium intake – I drink only rainwater, and have done for nearly 20 years. Changes to urination can be caused by magnesium-deficit induced IR and fluid retention. Excess estrogens, relative to progesterone, can lead to fluid retention, and also hair loss, as can hypothyroidism – once again low magnesium can be involved as Mg is important for hormone balance.

We now know from Alex that her town water supply tests at less than 1 ppb for As, well within the 10 ppb limit currently considered acceptable by most government agencies. The water analysis for that area also does not appear to be abnormally high in calcium - yet some of her horses have had issues with IR and consequent hoof problems. However, in a state of magnesium deficit even tiny amounts of additional calcium seem to have a disproportionate affect on the horse, so maybe some humans can also be that sensitive. I often refer to the horse ‘Hopper’ whose story is included in the Digital Cushion thread. Just 20g of a calcium supplement per day was enough to cause physical regression is this 600kg horse. I'm wondering if drinking low-calcium water in LA and now at home, is enabling you to get the full benefit from whatever magnesium supplement you are using, thus reducing the amount you need?

Best wishes
Pauline

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Evermore

My horses have always drunk rainwater so whatever MSM may be naturally present was not enough to help my TB, Rory, through the many years when his feet were weak and tender. Some of his story is documented in the Digital Cushion thread.

I am now giving Rory MSM daily, starting about 6 months ago. The main reason is that he is an old horse, and I figure a non-drug anti-inflammatory has to be a good idea for him. He is a little less flexible than he used to be but does not show any signs of arthritic problems, and is now finally fully sound after sustaining a severe hoof injury some 18 months ago.

In terms of palatability, most horses show a preference for water that is slightly alkaline. The more acidic it is, the less they like it.

Pauline

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Hi Dr. Deb, Pauline, and everyone,

just wanted to comment that homeopathic treatment could indeed be very helpful in such a situation. They have since done several follow up studies showing very good results in treatment of people chronically exposed to arsenic contaminated water in India.

You can read the first study here:
"Can Homeopathic Arsenic Remedy Combat Arsenic Poisoning in Humans Exposed to Groundwater Arsenic Contamination?: A Preliminary Report on First Human Trial"

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1297497/

and a recent follow up study here:
"A Follow-Up Study on the Efficacy of the Homeopathic Remedy Arsenicum album in Volunteers Living in High Risk Arsenic Contaminated Areas"

http://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2011/129214/


As always, it is important to note that it is best to be treated personally and specifically by a fully trained and very experienced classical homeopath to find the best treatment for a person's own unique symptom picture. This is especially the case in chronic cases with a complicated symptom picture. Dosing and repetition of remedy, reaction to remedy, etc. all need to be very carefully monitored by someone who knows what they are looking for.

That said, if I was in a situation where I could not find experienced help, I might try several doses of Arsenicum Album in low potency (preferably 30C) and then carefully observe what happened. Personally, I would use 2 globules (the small white pills) stirred into an 8 ounce glass of water, taking one teaspoon three times over the course of two days. If I noticed an amelioration I would wait to repeat the dose as long as that lasted (several weeks to months even). If I were very sensitive to medications, I would stir a teaspoon of water from the first medicated glass of water into a second glass of water and dose from that.

I would also likely go ahead and investigate / treat my water further, as contaminated water would be considered a "maintaining cause." Good constitutional / chronic homeopathic treatment can make a person less susceptible to such influences, but still better to avoid it where possible. This could be an important factor if you happen to live on or near an orchard or land that used to be an orchard. Probably true for intensive agriculture in general as well, but orchards especially were intensively sprayed with lead arsenate for decades.

I think it is reasonable that magnesium could partly be ameliorating the effects of chronic low arsenic exposure. For instance, arsenic is known to compete with phosphate in several biochemical reactions. I think the ATP (adenosine triphosphate) cycle could well be affected, and ATP needs to be bound to a magnesium ion to be active. You can find a good overview of arsenic toxicology here:

http://toxsci.oxfordjournals.org/content/123/2/305.full


Anyway, just wanted to post the studies in case anyone finds them helpful. They are interesting reading as well.

Best wishes.

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Hello again, I'm updating info relative to my posts.  Hay test results came back after three weeks! - hay is 12.27% sugar, 1.69% starch - this was an over the phone conversation with the Vet; we'll see the actual report Monday, 7/15, when we take our horse in for a follow up appointment.  Water tests - I had one sample from the trough, filled by hose from our well, and one from tanks I fill with a pump from a seasonal creek that runs in the winter.  Results, all in ppm, are:  trough, Na-17, Ca-12, Ma-4, NO3-25, with a pH of 8.9.  Creek, Na-3, Ca-5, Ma-2, NO3- 9, with a pH of 7.1  We are now feeding all horses MaCl, with the one with laminitis up to 40 ml twice a day of a solution comprised of 1 tbsp per 100ml of water.  Still slowly increasing dose every 4-5 days, as stool not clearly soft.  Will we also notice a softening of the crest?  Horse has been kept in stall on vets orders, and does not appear stressed (the calmness from Ma may be at play?), and shows no distress on front feet. He has glued-on wood shoes, that do not extend to his toes.  He is still on the L thyroid.  I'll post again after vet check, and when we have MaCl dose at best level according to stool appearance.  If cleared, we will make sure horse has exercise.   Thanks again all.

Last edited on Thu Jul 11th, 2013 04:11 pm by geedubya

DrDeb
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Hello, all -- This is Dr. Deb writing from the University of Kansas Museum of Natural History, my usual home-away-from-home for a month each summer.

Wanted to give you all another idea on this. As you know from reading my previous post in this thread, like many people I suffer from night-time leg cramps. These are relieved by taking a dose of magnesium (citrate, oxide, glyconate are the compounds readily available at the pharmacy or health-food store -- any will work).

While I've been here, of course, I've needed to go get some sundries at the grocery store, Walgreens Drugs, Wal-Mart and so forth. While cruising for shampoo at Wal-Mart, I also needed some rubbing alcohol and there, on the same shelf, was a product I'd not seen before: "Morton's Epsom Salt Lotion". The bottle says, "all the benefits of an Epsom Salts bath -- without the bath."

Remembering that Pauline had mentioned that Mg is readily absorbed trans-dermally, I thought, h'm, let's try this. So, before turning in that evening, I slathered on/rubbed in a generous dollop of this lotion, onto the calf muscles which are those generally affected by cramps. And, deliberately, I did not take the Mg pill that I would usually have to take before retiring.

And lo and behold! Not a single muscle twinge all night long!

This is not only good news for those who suffer from "restless leg syndrome", it's also a suggestion for geedubya....maybe another way to get Mg into the horses would be to stand 'em in a warm Epsom Salts bath, i.e. just buy a bag of Epsom Salts and mix with water in a big flat rubber feed tub, and have the horse stand in it for five or ten minutes. The soles of their feet should uptake the substance readily. This would be better, I think, than trying to give the animal a bath with it.

Would enjoy hearing your take on this, Pauline. Cheers (they're growing corn out here this year but it's still hot, so I am only too glad to be in the nice cool Mammals laboratory during the day) -- Dr. Deb

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Hi Dr Deb

Did I ever tell you about the informal little trial I organised a while back to see if transdermal application of MgCl would have any noticeable effects on horses?

For humans, absorption through the skin is a much more efficient way to absorb just about anything - think nicotine patches and hormone creams. Good book on the subject: Transdermal Magnesium Therapy by Mark Sircus. I use a MgCl cream made by the same company from whom I buy MgCl flakes.

The downside is that anything bad we put on the (human or horse) skin will also end up in the body - think endocrine disrupting substances in personal care items, cleaning chemicals and fabrics. Scary book on this subject: Slow Death By Rubber Duck by Rick Smith & Bruce Lourie.

Two people kindly volunteered to follow my trial protocol which involved sponging a warm 30% solution of MgCl over the horse's topline muscles immediately after they were worked daily, covering with a light rug for half an hour to limit drying, and then rinsing off to avoid irritation to the skin.
One person was a racehorse trainer who was not feeding MgCl. The other person had pleasure horses in light work and was already feeding MgCl. Both volunteers reported a visible improvement in their horses, indicating the magnesium had been absorbed through the skin.

While the results were good, the whole procedure is not practical for longterm use. Messy, time-consuming and expensive in terms of the amount of MgCl that is needed. Mag sulphate would be cheaper but may not be as effective. Friends who have tried soaking in a MgCl bath and also a MgSO4 bath tell me the MgCl soak gives much better relief to sore muscles.

I've wondered about getting horses to stand in buckets of warm magnesium water as I personally have found a foot-soak very effective. I've not been sure how much the horse would absorb through the soles and hoof wall, but then if a horse can get laminitis from standing on black walnut shavings, maybe the soles are porous enough to absorb magnesium. Do we know if black walnut is absorbed through the hoof itself? Or could vapours from the shavings be inhaled by the horse in the reduced air-circulation of an enclosed stable?

Regardless, the skin around the coronet appears to be highly vascular so would be a good region for transdermal absorption if the horse is standing fetlock-deep in buckets.

I agree this would be another tool to get much-needed magnesium into an acutely footsore horse, although I would not soak for more than 15 mins as softening the sole may increase the discomfort for a horse who is already thin-soled/foundered/laminitic.

Now I have something else to report which is quite exciting. Liaising with a vet, it seems that injecting magnesium sulphate intramuscularly shows great promise in quickly helping horses with acute laminitis or founder, and also weak-footed horses who are unable to tolerate large amounts of magnesium orally.

One Welshie pony (about 350kg) foundered in both front feet a couple of months ago; there was no sole penetration but it would have come close given the convex profile acquired by the soles. The pony was completely unable to move. She was given 2 ampoules of MgSO4 on alternate days; each ampoule contains about 2.5g of MgSO4 and was mixed with saline solution. Two weeks later the pony was galloping around with her herdmates as though nothing had happened (without shoes or boots), despite the obvious distortion remaining in the hoof capsules.

Two of the large horses who participated in some of your clinics in Australia this year have also responded very quickly. These horses had not foundered and were probably not 'laminitic' in the usual sense of the word, just had weak and/or deformed feet. Progress has been much faster since commencing with the IM MgSO4. One of these large horses (around 700kg) was given 2 ampoules twice per week, the other was given 3 ampoules 3 times per week. This amount is still considered to be low even for a 70kg human, so should be well within safety ranges.

If Geedubya or anyone else is interested in this approach, it must be done with a veterinarian's supervision. This is an 'off-label' use for MgSO4, so a vet may want the owner of the horse to sign a disclaimer.

More work needs to be done in this area but it's certainly looking hopeful.

Pauline

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Dear Pauline: Exciting news indeed. Really, people should be talking with their vets to bring the vet up to speed (if she or he isn't already) on the content of this thread, and on appropriate background reading. The book you recommended to me, Pauline -- I've forgotten the author and I'm a thousand miles from where the book is lying in my office at the present moment -- but the title was something like 'The Magnesium Book" and the author was a woman. If you realize what I'm referring to, please post the author and title here because I think this book, being written by an M.D./researcher, would have more impact and seem more credible and convincing to a veterinarian than any other.

As to off-label use: well, if the vet is convinced that it works and it's safe, there shouldn't be a problem. The problem will be for the client to find a veterinarian who is on board with this. MIght help also if we inform the veterinarian that this is the exact treatment -- although the dosage per pound is much higher for the human -- that M.D.'s use to treat pre-eclampsia in pregnant women who are about to give birth. A shot of good old Epsom Salts stops the uncontrollable muscle cramping that could otherwise kill both the mother and the baby.

As to absorption through the soles of the horse's feet: This should be the absolute ideal location for transdermal application of anything in a horse. The soles are extremely porous -- vis., one will have noticed the 'sweat marks' from the soles of the feet that any horse leaves after standing for a short time upon dry cement. Plus, as you point out, not only the coronet bands but the entire internal interlaminar surface, which is yards and yards of tissue if it were pulled out flat, is very highly vascularized. Uptake should therefore be very efficient. And yes, it is through the soles of the feet that the horse who stands on walnut shavings takes in the alkaloid toxins that will kill him from standing on such bedding.

If Geedubya wants to go with Epsom Salts, they're cheap and available anywhere. He could also get the pure MgCl flakes and soak 'em in that. I agree about not longer than 15 minutes, but that amount of time should be plenty. Cheers, and thanks, Pauline for your input -- Dr. Deb

 

 

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The Magnesium Factor
Mildred S Seelig, MD, MPH
Andrea Rosanoff, PhD
Avery Books


Associate Professor Mildred Seelig was both a practicing physician and researcher who devoted some 40 years to investigating magnesium. She was a President and Executive Director of the prestigious American College of Nutrition and founding editor of its Journal.

This book has a wealth of information about the role of magnesium in human health. For those who like to see the detail, there are 75 pages of references. The chapter on 'Metabolic Syndrome X, Diabetes and Magnesium' includes reports on the research done by Prof Lawrence Resnick and colleagues at Cornell who concluded that a low magnesium ion inside cells causes metabolic syndrome.

Quote from p.41:
"As a cell's magnesium ion level falls, the calcium ion level rises. The result is a low magnesium/high calcium cell ratio. This affects the functioning of various kinds of cells in ways that bring on syndrome X"

A chart then follows that lists the consequences of low magnesium/high calcium for cells in the pancreas, fat tissue, muscle, blood-vessels, blood platelets, heart muscle, adrenal glands, nerves, liver and kidneys.

My thought is that hoof lamella cells could be added to the list as low magnesium/high calcium may disrupt magnesium-dependent ATP production, resulting in a weakened lamella connection. This may be a different pathway from what is conventionally thought of as 'laminitis'.

Pauline

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Hi Pauline and Dr. Deb,
I have been thinking about the foundered pony that was injected with MgSo4. I am wondering how the MgSo4 (or anything short of an anesthetic) could relieve the pony's pain if it's feet remain damaged. If no x-rays were taken at the beginning, it would seem valuable to see exactly what was happening after it became sound.

So my question is whether you think there was some healing/improvement in the pony's feet, or is there some blocking of the pain?

I'm sure you are working to sort this out, and I am probably premature in asking these questions, but this is an amazing result. I am the owner and maintainer of an IR Morgan which has not foundered- but I know the danger is there, so any information is of interest to me.
Nancy

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Nancy - I'm leaving tomorrow for an overseas trip so will have to wait 'till I get back mid-August to answer this.

Pauline

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Hi Dr Deb & Pauline.

This is very topical for me at the moment as I have been massaging MgCl into the coronet band for a few months now to the front feet of a horse that was riden as an endurance mount and although massaging would have helped the hair around the coronet band has significantly put on growth. When I started it was looking like someone had cut it straight. Evidence of the pink concussive bruising has also deminished. Please find attached a photo taken last month. The hair is sticking out which indicates some sinking, but it hasn't got any worse.

Cheers
Dorinda

Attachment: RF cranial.JPG (Downloaded 550 times)

Dorinda
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Okay for a comparison. Here is a photo taken last year. You can see the bruising and that the hair growth is minimal.

Cheers
Dorinda

Attachment: RFcranial view copy.jpg (Downloaded 548 times)

Pauline Moore
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Nancy

The short answer to your question is ‘I don’t know’, but I do not think the MgSO4 was involved in pain relief.

Regrettably we may never know for sure as, to date, specific controlled research regarding magnesium’s action in maintaining/restoring hoof function has not been done. Research dollars are scarce in most academic institutions these days, and as magnesium is a naturally occurring substance it does not provide the promise of a patented product to justify commercial investment funding.

If you’ve been reading Dr Deb’s Forum for some time, you’ll know I’ve been experimenting with the use of magnesium privately for several years. Results with hundreds of horses (and they’re just the ones I know about) have been outstanding. I cannot think of any horses where there has not been at least some small improvement to hoof integrity, weight control, or overall health. Many dedicated owners have been struggling for years to find solutions for their weak-footed horses, and can hardly believe the rapid, visible changes in hoof form that start appearing within a couple of months of switching to a diet that optimizes magnesium intake. Simply adding magnesium to an existing diet rarely produces a positive change; it is essential to limit elements that disrupt magnesium absorption. Owners of overweight or IR horses often report seeing the disappearance of localized fat pads and cresty necks within a month or less, followed by an overall weight loss in following months. Some of those horses have even been able to return to fulltime grazing, or at the very least, extended grazing time.

Having seen many of these horses myself, I know the hoof changes are occurring faster than simply the growth of new, stronger lamina, so ‘something’ else has to be happening.

As mentioned previously, my hunch is that the ‘something’ involves cellular ATP energy. As I understand it, ATP (adenosine triphosphate) is the life, the energy, inside every cell, hoof lamella cells included. We can think of every living cell having a little energy factory inside, like a battery, that provides the energy for the cell to do it’s own particular job. No ATP energy inside the cell is like having a flat battery, nothing works. The connection with magnesium is that ATP must be bound to a magnesium ion in order to be biologically active, therefore no magnesium means the battery is still flat.

I am speculating that inadequate dietary magnesium may lead to a shortage of magnesium in the body; magnesium is essential for multiple metabolic processes, more than 350 separate biochemical reactions. The body’s use of available minerals seems to be prioritized, with the brain and central nervous system usually being top of the list; essential internal organs are likely to be high up on the ‘list’ also. Depending on individual genetics, hoof lamella may be further down the list, having to make-do with whatever magnesium is left. If the body does not consider hoof lamella a priority when magnesium is in short supply, perhaps there is not enough magnesium to bind with all ATP molecules in hoof lamella cells. The result of low cellular energy in hoof lamella could be lamella that are weak and less able to maintain the strong interface between the dermal and epidermal cells. We well know the consequences of a weak lamella bond; footsore, weak-footed horses, laminitis or even the total failure of founder.

Supplying extra dietary magnesium to these horses invariably initiates the growth of a stronger hoof form, but this delivery method is dependent on the efficiency of the digestive system. For acute laminitis/founder episodes I have suggested giving the horse multiple tiny feeds around the clock, each with a small amount of magnesium added, so that the horse will have absorbed more magnesium in a 24-hr period than if he was given only one or two feeds. This has worked quite well but can still take many weeks before the horse is comfortable without intensive hoof support. My idea about injectable MgSO4 was that the digestive system is bypassed so the full benefit of the magnesium would be instantly available for cellular uptake, as is the case when it is injected IV in hospital emergency rooms.

I am thinking that the pony may have recovered so quickly because the IM magnesium was available for use by lamella cells to restore ATP energy, and therefore lamella function was restored even with a distorted hoof capsule. I do not know if the damaged lamella connection was repaired, although I’m aware this is thought to be not possible.

I cannot prove any of this; it is purely my own conjecture. However, there is some precedent in that neurosurgeon Russell Blaylock describes the importance of maintaining cellular energy in order to protect neurons from exposure to toxic substances, and the role of magnesium in limiting cell damage from the influx of excess calcium.

As you know, there has been a lot of research into the connection between insulin resistance and laminitis, with high-fructan pasture grasses often being singled out for blame. I have always queried this assumption as here in Queensland our predominantly warm-season C4 grasses do not contain fructan (energy is stored as starch not fructan) yet laminitis and/or distorted feet are just as common as in cool-season regions.

Recent research by Prof Richard Johnson indicates that both fructan and starch can be metabolised to fructose by gut bacteria, suggesting that it is fructose that is ultimately the cause of weight-gain and obesity in both horses and humans. The rapid breakdown of fructose by the enzyme fructokinase in the liver, small intestine, caecum and large intestine etc causes ‘cell shock’, a brief period in which the cells become depleted of ATP energy. This leads to the production of oxidants, and systemic inflammation via bacterial products entering the blood, and could be implicated in the cascade of biological events that lead to founder. Prof Johnson’s book ‘The Fat Switch’ is highly recommended.

It would be interesting to know if supplemental magnesium is able to assist in reducing or preventing that depletion of ATP energy consequent to the action of fructokinase on fructose that has been produced in the gut from ingested fructan and starch. Some work has already found that dietary magnesium may prevent fructose-induced insulin insensitivity, for instance this study: 'Dietary magnesium prevents fructose-induced insulin insensitivity in rats' http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8206589

If proved to be correct, this could perhaps explain why horses grazing C4 fructan-free grasses that accumulate starch appear to be just as vulnerable to laminitis and hoof problems as horses grazing C3 fructan accumulating grasses; they both have the potential to be metabolised to fructose by gut bacteria.

Numerous sources report that magnesium deficiency results in insulin resistance. Some studies have been done to investigate the role of insulin resistance in magnesium transport, concluding that insulin resistance and magnesium depletion ‘may result in a vicious cycle of worsening insulin resistance and decrease in intracellular Mg(2+) which may limit the role of magnesium in vital cellular processes’. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8861135 'Magnesium transport induced ex vivo by a pharmacological dose of insulin is impaired in non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus'.)

Whichever way I look at this whole issue of countless domestic horses with weak, sore feet, laminitis, or IR, magnesium deficiency keeps popping up as a possible contender. Added to that is the anecdotal evidence from very many horses who have quickly improved when their diets are changed to allow maximum absorption of magnesium.

Pauline

Last edited on Tue Aug 20th, 2013 12:14 am by Pauline Moore

GoldPony
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Pauline,

Thank you for your in-depth answer and dedication to finding alternative ways to deal with the issues of IR horses. It's too bad that the financial bottom line leaves many new treatments and cures undiscovered, for both humans and animals. I have requested a copy of your "Magnesium Paper", I hope it is still available.

My horse is not obese or lame at this time, but has the crest and tailhead fat deposits. She is on dry lot with grass hay, 1 lb of low-starch pellets a day and I have recently started adding a small amount of CoolStarch copra to her feed. She is not very fond of it but I think she will adjust over time. I am planning to only replace about 25% of her pellets with the copra because of the fat content - I don't want any weight gain. Oh, and she also is on her second Redmond salt rock and has abandoned the commercial mineral block.

I hope you and your veterinarian will continue with the magnesium trials, maybe a research institute will take note.

Nancy

Last edited on Wed Aug 21st, 2013 01:09 am by GoldPony

Pauline Moore
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Nancy

You might be interested to look at some general information about the benefits of coconut oil on this link to the research of acknowledged authority on fats and oils, Mary Enig, PhD. http://coconutoil.com/coconut-oil-research/

Contrary to common belief, coconut oil is not fattening, due to its effect in increasing metabolic rate. The following quote is taken from physiologist Dr Raymond Peat's article on coconut oil:(http://raypeat.com/articles/articles/coconut-oil.shtml)

"In the l940s, farmers attempted to use cheap coconut oil for fattening their animals, but they found that it made them lean, active and hungry. For a few years, an antithyroid drug was found to make the livestock get fat while eating less food, but then it was found to be a strong carcinogen, and it also probably produced hypothyroidism in the people who ate the meat. By the late l940s, it was found that the same antithyroid effect, causing animals to get fat without eating much food, could be achieved by using soy beans and corn as feed"

If you go to the Stance Equine website you'll find numerous information sheets and articles written by nutritional biochemist Dr Tim Kempton specifically about the benefits of coconut oil for horses.

Pauline

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Checking in.  We stopped increasing the MaCl dose at 12 tbsp per liter, giving 50 ml of that solution twice a day, as the manure seems plenty soft (no diarrhea, but green, and no resistance at all to a mash by the manure fork).  Our guy is still on his thyroid meds, and we do not have a follow up appt with the vet for another 4 weeks, for xrays.  He has front shoes set back from the toes, with some kind of rubber-epoxy padding under the heels.  Farrier was called in by the vet, so we've stuck with her until this course in complete.  Our horse shows absolutely no distress, and while kept on flat, bare ground, trots eagerly, and has no problem putting weight on the forehand.  My questions are:  are we right to stop the doseage increase now, and what next - how do we know the MaCl is "working" to prevent future laminitis?  I ceratinly don't want to "test" it by leaving him out on a green pasture.

Pauline Moore
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We definitely do not want the horse to scour, so the slight softening you have seen indicates MgCl should not be increased further at this stage. You may even need to decrease a little if the stools are softer than would be considered 'normal'.

If MgCl is having the desired effect, you should soon see the new hoof growth just below the coronet. Look for a change in direction of that new growth, ie more vertical than the old hoof wall below. You may notice a distinct horizontal line across the hoof wall that would be consistent with the commencement of MgCl supplementation. The new hoof growth may also be a different texture - smoother, firmer.

When the new growth has got to ground level at the heels, and about halfway down the wall at the toe, you may find your horse is able to revert to normal shoes, or even go without shoes. Your vet and farrier will be able to advise you if this is appropriate for your horse. Once the horse has reached that stage (several months usually) you could try introducing short periods of green pasture grazing (start with half an hour) but closely monitor his weight, any hardening of his crest, and any difference in the way he moves, eg a shorter stride.

Pauline

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Thanks Pauline. We will do as suggested and check back in after some time. Perhaps I can post a picture of the new growth on the hoof.

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Hi Pauline,
I'm glad I found this forum as I first found out about your studies on magnesium when your name was mentioned at an Andrew Bowe clinic earlier in the year. Since I've started taking magnesium myself it reminded me of you.

I currently use magnesium gel along with magnesium citrate tablets and wondered if the gel would be suitable to use on my horses rather than feeding it? Here's a link to the gel I currently use:
http://www.echolife.com.au/products/australian-magnesium-gel-with-organic-aloe-vera.html
It's in an aloe vera base so I'm assuming that would be ok? And if so how would I determine how much to use? The website says its 850mg per teaspoon. Would a transdermal application cause a softening of the manure like feeding would? Would the best application be on the hoof sole or around the coronet area?

Sorry for all the questions in one go, but I have 3 horses on C4 grass on North Coast NSW and it's just turned spring :) One suffered laminitis some years ago, another I got from a friend who didn't want him anymore and I'm still trying to get his hooves comfortable. I've always been told to feed a calcium supplement due to where we live but I wonder now if that is just adding to the problem.

Your advice would be much appreciated, and yours too Dr Deb :)

regards
Ali

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Hi Ali

There would be no harm to your horse to use the magnesium gel topically, but it might harm your wallet - that's a very expensive way to get magnesium into a horse!

You can make a magnesium 'oil' by dissolving magnesium chloride hexahydrate flakes in water. It is highly soluble so you could try using 150g of flakes per 100ml of hot water. The resulting solution feels 'oily' on the skin, hence the name, but it is not an oil. You could then massage some of the 'oil' around the coronet, or paint on the sole. Check for skin irritation with continued use; I've always found horse skin is more sensitive than our own.

It is unlikely transdermal application alone would be sufficient to meet the horse's total magnesium needs but every horse is different and has differing needs. I'd certainly be interested to know what happens if you decide to try using just topical application.

It's not possible to answer your question about manure softening with transdermal application of magnesium as there are no precedents for what may happen. In terms of human usage - some people using magnesium foot soaks find their gut tolerance for magnesium is then reduced, others do not get that response despite soaking in whole baths of magnesium water. I suspect the same variation would be seen with horses.

Whatever delivery route of magnesium is used, it's very important to monitor the horse closely for any possible adverse reactions (although I've not yet heard of any). Even though magnesium is considered to be a very safe, non-toxic mineral, we are wanting always to use as little as possible; only as much as it takes to eliminate deficiency signs, without disrupting gut function. All the work I have done with magnesium is experimental, and is contrary to conventional nutritional wisdom, but the results speak for themselves.

The question of calcium and oxalates is a big issue. Please go to my website http://www.gravelproofhoof.org where you will find subpages devoted to calcium and oxalates under the Diet main heading. You will see photos of a pony with severe Bighead disease (of several years' duration) whose facial swelling reduced to near normal after only 4 months of a high magnesium/low calcium diet. This pony had previously been fed large amounts of calcium and DCP with no improvement. Also read the story of my own horse, Rory, who has excellent strong bone and no Bighead disease despite grazing high-oxalate setaria for 8 years and consuming a low-calcium diet. These two examples do not prove anything but may give you a different perspective on the subject.

Best wishes
Pauline

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Hi Pauline and Dr. Deb,

I've been following this thread with great interest. My mare has been on magnesium supplementation now for a few weeks and I've seen a great change.

Does magnesium deficiency show up in blood results? There are two horses that I work with that have some issues and I'm wondering if magnesium might be helpful for them. The vet ran bloodwork on both horses about a month ago, and both horses have healthy magnesium levels according to the vet. Based on that, could we conclude that these horses don't have a magnesium deficiency and so would not benefit from magnesium supplementation? Or is magnesium level in blood not the best indicator?

I'm also reading all the information on salt and have ordered celtic sea salt for my mare, she doesn't touch her redmond salt at all.
But a question keeps coming up for me. When a horse is in need of salt, and has access to free salt in the form of salt licks, will he not seek and lick the salt by himself? Just like when it's hot and we're sweating a lot, we love the taste of something salty, because we need it? I understand the need for unrefined sea salt instead of a regular salt lick when you're supplementing with magnesium (to have salt with lower calcium). But in a case where magnesium is not an issue, should a horse be supplemented 2-4tbsp of salt even when it has access to free salt licks?

Thank you for explaining,

Martine

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Hi Martine, I cant tell you about other horses, just mine. Meiko ( the original "star" of the thread) had low magnesium show up in his blood tests, and after that was resolved he also then had low phosphate, ( I get his bloods tested yearly with his dental, and if any adjusting is needed I also get a follow up one a couple weeks later until the deficiency is resolved.) so he is on a mag- phos supplement.

He will not eat salt free choice, I still have the original pink salt block from the start of the thread, unlicked, reduced only by humidity, and if there is too much in his feed he wont eat his feed either. It also shows on his bloods as deficient when it is, so I often have to be creative in my methods of getting it into him. Please dont assume your horse will know what it needs automatically, there are too many variables.

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Hi Pauline,
Thanks for your advice. I realised that I probably wouldn't be able to tell just how much magnesium the boys would need if I only did it transdermally so I decided to give it to them in feed twice a day (also turns out to be quicker when short on time).

At first I was giving them the Ancient minerals brand of mag chloride but discovered that there only seems to be about 8mg of mag per gram. Very low when compared to the Electralife brand at 156mg per gram. So now I'm using that brand as they would obviously be getting more mag per dose (currently they're handling 30g per day).

A friend of mine has found a liquid mag called Nupafeed MAH which claims to be a highly absorbable form of magnesium. Have you heard of this brand? I've just emailed them to find out how much mag per mil as I would be curious to see if it is more cost effective than mag chloride.

Thanks again,
Ali

DrDeb
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Let me pause this discussion for a moment here to interject just a word of caution. While Pauline's research, as well as her results, have been excellent, everyone needs to remember that each horsekeeping situation, in other words the "background conditions" for horsekeeping in their area, are different.

Australians typically provide their horses with rainwater to drink rather than what they would call "bore water", i.e. well water. Rain water almost universally has a somewhat acid pH, which makes absorption of minerals in the horse's hindgut much less efficient -- therefore requiring much higher amounts be fed to, or injected into, the animals in order to obtain therapeutic effect.

Geedubya's situation in California is similar to Pauline's because he lives in a non-irrigated area where the groundwater table is very deep and therefore pumping expensive. His horses therefore also are largely fed rainwater.

Although I also live in California, and in fact less than thirty miles from Geedubya, my horse is on irrigated land which has been carefully managed over the past century so that the groundwater table remains high. My horse therefore drinks well water, which is on the alkali side. So, although he is of related bloodlines, and is metabolically similar to, Geedubya's mustangs, Oliver requires much less Mg. He also continues to get 50% of his hay in the form of alfalfa/lucerne, and yet continues to be founder-free, insulin-normal, behaviorally calm, with a crest which is erect yet soft and floppy. His hooves are of excellent quality and he's 98% sound, which is to say as sound as he's ever going to be given the damage which occurred to his feet before he came into my ownership.

The old recommendation in all the textbooks, which is still the recommendation that you hear from feed companies and medical doctors, is that the ratio of Ca to Mg in the diet should be 2:1. Pauline's work has demonstrated that when circumstances demand it, this ratio can be much higher, as much as 1:1 or even higher.

The question then is: how do you tell 'when circumstances demand it'? Pauline's recommendation that you can feed Mg (in whatever form) until you provoke a diarrhea is fine -- HOWEVER it may not be necessary to go that far! We need to remember that the purpose of feeding the Mg was not to find out how much of it we could feed before a diarrhea is provoked in any given horse. Rather, what we need to see is:

(1) That the crest remains soft, so that it feels soft like soft foam when squeezed, and so that if you push the crest from side to side it moves freely.

(2) That if the feet had been warm or hot all the time, that this stops.

(3) That if the horse had been "off" as if from sore feet, that this improve.

(4) That if the hoof quality had been shelly, that it improve so that the hoofs feel like a hard rubber hockey puck.

(5) That if the horse had been insulin-resistant, or showing signs of this problem, that the signs abate and/or blood work becomes normal.

(6) That if the horse had been tense and spooky all the time, that he becomes calmer.

You need to feed only enough Mg, in whatever form, to obtain these results.

Can you feed TOO MUCH magnesium? Yes, and if you do, you will provoke the opposite condition, which rather than being "hypomagnesaemia" (too little magnesium), you will then have "hypocalcaemia" (too little calcium). An excess of Mg ions drives out Ca ions, just as an excess of Ca ions drives out Mg ions. In other words: in many physiological reactions, especially involving nerve and muscle tissue, Mg and Ca can freely substitute for each other, and the problem is to get them into the right ratio for the situation and the individual horse.

If you go too far with Mg supplementation, there are two possible (and rather large) possible negatives: one is that the horse will become exercise intolerant due to cardiac problems (Ca is necessary for normal heartbeat); and two that he may more easily break bones -- especially small, thin bones that nonetheless bear a good deal of pressure, such as the coffin bone and/or navicular bone. It is certainly true that the incidence of "idiopathic" coffin bone fracture is much higer in geriatric horses, just as the incidence of broken hips is much higher in older people -- the same more or less minor tumble that wouldn't have hurt a teenager or a forty-year-old in Grandma results in a serious injury that takes a long time to heal, if at all. This is because old mammals (whether they be humans or dogs or horses) lose the ability to efficiently uptake minerals in the hindgut. Thus an older horse may need BOTH Ca and Mg, or at least to avoid excessive Mg supplementation.

Another red flag is cast up by human bulimics who not only force themselves to vomit after eating, they also tend to over-use laxatives. The commonest laxative sold worldwide is Milk of Magnesia -- i.e. magnesium oxide. Chronic, long-term use of mag ox at dosages high enough to provoke diarrhea sends many of these people to the emergency room with heart palpitations and joints that suddenly crumble.

I've conferred with Pauline about this and she tells me that she knows of zero reports of such bad outcomes for horses that have been supplemented with the low-power Mag chloride from the Zechstein Sea, nor with Mag Ox at the rates she has been recommending. Recently in the U.S. however, Mag citrate has become widely available as a human supplement and I can tell you from personal experience that this form of Mg is, exactly as advertised, far easier for the body to absorb and therefore more effective. One therefore must be MUCH more careful not to overdose with it -- I find that for myself, I absolutely must take Mg citrate with a glass of milk or else in a pill formulated to the 2:1 Ca:Mg ratio. If I don't, I immediately start having heart palpitations and sore joints.

The other aspect that everyone should be aware of is that the gut becomes adapted, over time, to even fairly high doses of Mg Ox, so that a low dose that would initially have resulted in diarrhea will not, after a year or so, have that effect. Therefore the "diarrhea sign" of when you should stop increasing the dosage will gradually become unreliable.

The bottom line is this: you need to aim for the LEAST supplementation that gets the therapeutic effect you're aiming for. More is not always better, and in this case I think could be dangerous. It may (or may not) be true that Mg in a more highly-absorbable form would be more cost-effective; what is certainly true is that the more potency your supplement has, the more careful you will need to be with it. -- Dr. Deb

 

 

 

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Dr Deb
Thank you for adding your voice to an issue that has come to my attention also. In private correspondence with hundreds of horse owners, I’m often asked how much magnesium they should be giving their horses. My reply is always that I have no way to predict what any individual horse needs as ‘there are no rules, every horse is different’. I have learnt that what is obvious to me is not necessarily obvious to everyone else (funny, that!) and had assumed that if all signs of magnesium deficiency had disappeared prior to seeing any slight softening of the manure, then no-one would have any reason to continue increasing the amount of magnesium being fed. Incidentally, I have never suggested anyone feed magnesium to the point of provoking diarrhea – cowpats are for cows. I have reworded the updated magnesium article on my website so I hope this point is now clear to all.

There are a couple of other matters that need clarification.

It is my understanding that minerals are absorbed primarily through the small intestine, not the hind gut. Food is initially broken down in the stomach by a process involving hydrochloric acid and enzymes, the strong hydrochloric acid also acting as an anti-bacterial agent. The horse produces between 10 – 30 litres per day of highly acidic (pH 1) gastric juices. The resulting acidic ‘chyme’ is then delivered into the duodenum where alkaline juices from the pancreas return the chyme to a neutral pH. This is an essential part of the process as acidic fluids cannot be allowed to enter the bloodstream; blood pH (around 7.42 – 7.45 for a horse) has almost no tolerance for changes in either direction.

My thoughts about acidic drinking water were that the 30 or more litres of water consumed daily by a horse would also have to be neutralized by the horse’s body; water with a pH of 5 or 6 cannot be allowed to pass into the bloodstream. This is in addition to the burden of having to neutralize up to 30 litres of acidic gastric juices. I do not know what, if any, role magnesium plays in the entire process of neutralizing acidic stomach chyme, but given magnesium’s involvement in thousands of biochemical processes, I’m guessing there’s at least a minor role in there somewhere.

Continuing with the ‘every horse is different’ theme, I would think that Ollie and Geedubya’s horse are simply showing just how different two outwardly similar horses can be. In most instances here in Australia where horses are drinking alkaline bore water or grazing pastures growing atop chalky substrate, need for magnesium tends to be higher. Farriers working in those areas state the horses’ feet are generally worse than in other areas of the country.

We humans are also very different from each other, as illustrated by the contrast between you and I. Just a couple of months ago I myself experienced many signs of magnesium deficiency, ie lack of energy, night leg cramps, sore neck muscles, deepening facial lines, yet nothing had changed in my diet or magnesium supplementation. I eventually remembered that I had started taking a vitamin C supplement as a bit of insurance against the Australian flu season, and looked on the label to find it was providing 200mg per day of calcium from calcium ascorbate. I couldn’t believe such a tiny amount would override my magnesium intake from food and supplement but stopped the vit C anyway to see what would happen. Within 2 days my energy was back, the cramps stopped, skin cleared and neck relaxed. Still hard to believe in someone who does not drink milk and rarely eats cheese etc.

Strangely enough, my own old horse has a similar sensitivity to calcium (I sometimes wonder about these ‘co-incidences’). At 23 he has exceptionally strong bone, all the more remarkable given his history, up to age 19, of laminitis, weak feet, and Cushings. He grazed high-oxalate setaria for 8 years whilst consuming a low-calcium diet. Even a small amount of calcium from food sources or supplements quickly elicits signs of magnesium deficiency despite his daily intake of magnesium chloride. Another good example of how ‘different’ he is from other horses.

By the way, magnesium chloride is not ‘low power’. A 2001 study by Firoz & Graber ‘Bioavailability of US commercial magnesium preparations’ found that magnesium oxide does have a meager 4% bioavailability, whereas magnesium chloride was equivalent to magnesium lactate and magnesium aspartate. Mag aspartate is often referred to as the form of magnesium with the highest bioavailability. As we have discussed previously, I do not use magnesium aspartate as I do know of a couple of horses who have reacted badly (gone crazy) within minutes of being given a mag aspartate supplement. More particularly, I also know of several people who develop signs of severe magnesium deficiency when taking magnesium aspartate supplements. An advantage of magnesium chloride is that it is fully ionized, therefore not dependent on stomach efficiency for breakdown and absorption; it also contains a wide range of naturally occurring trace minerals, as does unrefined sea salt. These factors may or may not have some bearing on the consistent results from using mag chloride, and lack of negative effects that might otherwise be expected from such high rates of usage in some horses.

I no longer recommend the use of magnesium oxide, especially in large amounts, as the very poor absorption rate means there is a lot left in the gut. Magnesium oxide is alkaline and may therefore over-alkalize the gut, one of the contributing factors in enterolith formation.

I’m currently looking at a simple way of improving stomach efficiency to reduce the amount of magnesium needed by the horse, and at the same time dealing with the multiple instances of gastric ulcers in horses. Both magnesium chloride and salt are irritating to ulcerated tissue, so whilst the horse might need both, neither can be used in a horse with ulcers. Early results are excellent, with several horses halving their magnesium intake, but I need to collect more information on this before making it public.

Pauline

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Updating.  Our MaCl feeding has not been a truly controlled experiment, but - since the time we began feeding the solution, our horses diet has not changed.   The only additions to the diet were intitally a gram of bute, on vet's orders.  Also on vet's recommendation we fed a thyroid med daily.  The bute was stopped after 5 days; the thyroid med just ran out last week.  The horse had angled, wood shoe/pads glued on at the first vet visit, since then we've had two more shoeings about 6 weeks apart, with angled pads, the toes cut back some.  At the last vet check, xrays showed the coffin bone rotating back up,  hoof sole getting thicker.  Crest is still not "foamy" soft, but not rigid.  I don't know the units of measurement, but insulin has gone from over 400 to 172 as of 10/12.   Vet cleared the horse for walking and trotting work (which seemed to overjoy both the horse and my wife), and horse shows absolutely NO indication of any discomfort on the front feet.  He thinks he's ready to canter, run and buck.  We will be continuing the MaCl at present dosing, and should receive the lab reprot on minerals any day now - hoepfully I can look at Ma realtive to calcium.  Thrilled with what we view as great success feeding magnesium.

PS horse happily stands with forefeet on drum, looking quite proud of himself.

Last edited on Mon Oct 21st, 2013 05:56 pm by geedubya

geedubya
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We are still happy with our horses condition, and the vet had called and said element levels were in normal range.  Yesterday we received a copy of the trace elements screen.  It shows the horse at 130 parts per million (ppm) calcium, and lists a "ref. range" of 100-130 ppm.  Magnesium is 19 ppm, within the ref. range of 18-35 ppm.  

Pauline and Dr. Deb, I have a few questions:  Are the "ref. ranges", which I assume the vet uses to determine "normal", what just "is" in Calif., or are they what "should be"?  Googling "normal trace elements for horses" did not provide any useful info.

It seems we could continue to increase the macl, but it seems that getting to a 1:2 ratio of calcium to magnesium would require huge amounts of magnesium.   Is even a 1:1 ratio a realistic target?  I figured to go slow and watch the manure and his crest as my guide.

We do not have a baseline lab report to know what the magnesium blood levels were before we started feeding the macl.  My wife commented that they must have been very low, but will the horse use what he needs, and excreet any excess?

Thanks,

George

 

Last edited on Fri Oct 25th, 2013 04:13 pm by geedubya

Pauline Moore
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George

Thanks for letting us know about your horse’s good progress.

Blood tests measure only the elements present in the blood which is quite different to measuring cellular levels of any element. Hyper- and hypo- calcaemia or magnesaemia refer to high or low levels of calcium or magnesium in just the blood. The body generally puts a lot of effort into maintaining blood levels of most elements within a narrow range, but as only 1% of the body’s magnesium is in blood it is possible for a blood test to show ‘normal’ levels of magnesium while the rest of the body is deficient.

Historically, magnesium has been readily available to both horse and human, hence neither ever had the need to store magnesium. Conversely, calcium was generally in short supply so ways for the body to store calcium were developed. In our modern world, the exact opposite is now the norm; magnesium is in short supply globally and calcium is over-abundant, but our bodies have not caught up to these changes in the supply-chain. This is explained simply by Nan Kathryn Fuchs PhD in her article ‘Magnesium: A Key to Calcium Absorption’ http://www.mgwater.com/calmagab.shtml

Without any way to practically test cellular levels of magnesium, the next best option available to us is to monitor each horse individually for signs of deficiency and signs of excess.

My understanding of laboratory ‘reference ranges’ is that they are a reflection of what is commonly found, not necessarily what should be considered as ‘normal’.

Pauline

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Pauline, this is just to report in with good news.
My horse, and a friend's horse who is his field-companion, are doing well on just 15grams x twice a day of MgCl flakes from the Zechstein seabed - the brand that you kindly recommended, that's available here in the USA, so I don't have to order it from Australia.
The visitor is an awesome mare who'd been through some unfortunate times before my friend got her. When the mare arrived she had ten or twelve of those rings around her hooves that Pete Ramey says show metabolic upset.
The new growth, since starting the magnesium three months ago, is markedly different: tight, smooth, and straight. Her owner is delighted and will start giving it to all her horses. The mare has also calmed down and is no longer high-headed - you list this too as a possible sign of Mg deficiency, though I realize it could also be due to offering her some clear (and loving) handling that's different from what she endured in her bad patch.
I had gradually increased the dose up to 45grams x twice a day, but when the manure first softened a little as you describe, I couldn't tell whose it was... so I maybe overreacted, and busted them both back down to a do-thy-patient-no-harm maintenance dose.
However, I've been adjusting the dose to 30grams x twice=a-day, for a few days, each time it rains after a dry spell and the grass in their field spikes sugar.
 I do understand from your research - and your explanation that cellular magnesium is not really measured in a blood test at all - that this is not an exact science, and that it's a matter of observing the horse and using a little informed intuition.
Thank you very much for your wonderful help.
And as always thank you Dr.Deb for attracting creative people like Pauline to your Institute to help us all help our horses.
Cynthia

Last edited on Sun Oct 27th, 2013 11:59 pm by Ride A Grey Horse

snowdenfarm
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Cynthia,

Do you get the flakes in the US through Ancient Minerals?

Thanks,

Cheryl
SE PA

Last edited on Mon Oct 28th, 2013 01:35 pm by snowdenfarm

geedubya
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Thank you Pauline.  I will continue to moniter his crest, manure and feet.

George

Ride A Grey Horse
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Yes Cheryl, exactly - Ancient Minerals. From that paleozoic seabed that I think is under today's Denmark. Very best, Cynthia

DarlingLil
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The website mgwater.com has a book by Dr.Seelig that you can read online. I believe it is called Magnesium and Disease.

geedubya
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I have one more question.  It's finally rained a bit, enought to give the grass some new growth.  The horses are kept confined to a small area with very little grazing.  We have read that night-time grazing might be OK, as less sugars in the grass at night.  Is this true, and would we be taking an unnecessary chance leaving the horse out in the big pasture all night? 

AdamTill
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Grasses store sugars over the course of the day which they use over the night period. As such, sugars are likely highest right at nightfall a lot of times, so turning them out right before bed is not a great plan (except maybe to avoid bugs). Turning them out in the morning is probably a better bet, or in the middle of the night lol.

Jeannie
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Except if it's frosty, then they will eat popsicle grass!

  Pauline, you mentioned Rory was diagnosed with Cushings. Have you ever given him Pergolide, or have you just treated him with the supplements? Does Cushings go away, or just the symptoms?
                                                  Jeannie

Pauline Moore
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Hi Jeannie
I have not needed to use Pergolide for Rory. For over 6 years his Cushings symptoms have been controlled with the spice Chastetree Berry plus all the other supplements I use for most horses. I do not think of it as a cure, just management of his symptoms.

The only remaining sign of Cushings is a slight curl to his winter coat a month or so before it starts to shed.

Pauline

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Hi Pauline, thanks for the information. Since my horse is in his 23rd year, I think I will have him tested, and I know the vets recommend Pergolide, but I've heard good and bad things about it. I like to know my options.
                                                Jeannie

DarlingLil
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Good one here. Paulines info.




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