Understanding Your Horse Liniment
Horse liniments seem to be a common subject asked about from my clients and readers. I wrote the post Effective Essential Oils Liniments for Horses to respond to these questions. Now it seems the question has evolved to “What is the difference between essential oil liniments and the ones on the market?” So I thought I would share different information to explain why natural liniments whether herbal or essential oil-based are a more effective option for promoting horse health, then the seemingly popular chemically-based choices.
Popular Chemically Based Horse Liniment Ingredient Breakdown
Menthol is one of the most commonly used ingredients in a majority of chemically-based horse liniment options. Wikipedia gives the perfect definition: “Menthol is an organic compound made synthetically or obtained from corn mint, peppermint or other mint oils.” It is considered organic whether it is made synthetically or obtained from the plant itself. If you have read A Simple Analogy to Clear Confusion About Essential Oils you understand my concern here. Synthetically made chemicals may resemble the plants’ organic chemical makeup but it does not deliver the same benefits in a therapeutic sense. So to achieve the therapeutic benefits of a plant to increase horse health and well being, you are better off using herbs or essential oils.
Can chemical liniments reduce heat and increase circulation? Yes. Both the true organic source and the synthetic menthol will topically stimulate the skin and act as an analgesic. But that is only “treating” the symptom or increasing circulation. Not necessarily supporting horse health and wellness, which is not enough result for me when I am looking to support clients horses that are hard-working athletes or retired horses that suffer from injuries or are just worn out. I expect healing and therapeutic results without added toxic chemicals!
Chloroxylenol is the next ingredient I would like to breakdown. It is added as an antimicrobial. Here is an interesting description to think about: though Chloroxylenol is not significantly toxic to humans and other mammals, it is practically non-toxic to birds, moderately toxic to freshwater invertebrates and highly toxic to fish. It is a mild skin irritant and may trigger allergic reactions in some individuals. Again not a personal pick for me for improving horse health, or the health of our environment in general.
Acetone- I don’t believe this one needs an explanation and yes it is in a couple of major selling brands of liniments. It is listed as an inactive ingredient so I guess it makes it okay? No thanks.
Plant Extracts- You will see plant extracts added to many products especially those who claim to be natural. Understand again that the therapeutic results you are looking for are not going to be found in extracts. Plant extracts are often used for cooking or for aroma purposes, but not to get a therapeutic effect. Essential oils are extracted from plants but will not be listed as plant extracts. That being said even if the ingredient list mentions essential oils they are rarely therapeutic grade. One way to know is often by price and in some products, you can tell from the aroma.
Natural Horse Liniment Options
Herbal– I often get asked why I focus more on essential oil therapies over herbal. Part of it is that personally I have had many allergic reactions to herbs and find them hard for me to use. I do believe they are an effective alternative and a much better option to chemically based, synthetic products.
Essential Oils- For this particular post on liniments I would say essential oils are my pick because they can cross the blood-brain barrier and absorb into the skin. They do not just sit on the skin they go to work, promoting health and wellness to the body.
“Because of the tiny molecular structure of the components of an essential oil, they are extremely concentrated. One drop contains approximately 40 million-trillion molecules. Numerically that is a 4 with 19 zeros after it: 40,000,000,000,000,000,000. We have 100 trillion cells in our bodies, and that’s a lot. But one drop of essential oil contains enough molecules to cover every cell in our bodies with 40,000 molecules. Considering that it only takes one molecule of the right kind to open a receptor site and communicate with the DNA to alter cellular function, you can see why even inhaling a small amount of oil vapor can have profound effects on the body, brain, and emotions.”~ Dr. David Stewart Ph.D, D.N.M.
My choices for my clients’ horses and my personal horses are Ortho Ease and Ortho Sport Massage Oils.
Ortho Ease Ingredients Include:
- Fractionated Coconut Oil (distilled from pure coconut oil).
- Wheatgerm Oil is rich in vitamins B and E.
- Grape Seed Oil is an antioxidant and is very good for supporting healthy skin.
- Olive Oil contains squalene, an antioxidant, and supports healthy skin.
- Almond Oil is high in phytonutrients and supports healthy skin.
- Peppermint Essential Oil- one of the most highly regarded herbs for supporting normal digestion, including promoting healthy intestinal function and gastrointestinal system comforts.
- Marjoram Essential Oil- relaxes tense muscles after exercise, and is supportive of the nervous and
- Vetiver Essential Oil – A very grounding and balancing oil.
- Thyme Essential Oil- supports the immune, respiratory, digestive, nervous, and other body systems.
- Wintergreen Essential Oil- contains the same active ingredient as birch and is beneficial in massage for soothing head tension and muscles after exercising.
- Lemongrass Essential Oil- a great support to connective tissues like tendons and ligaments.
- Eucalyptus Globulus & Radiata Essential Oils- A great support to the respiratory system, as well as to soothe muscle discomfort after exercise.
- Juniper Essential Oil- known to be beneficial to the skin, and supportive to the urinary system.
My goal with this information is that you can see the health-promoting benefits of each ingredient and can see a better picture of why I choose options like Ortho Ease or Ortho Sport instead of the ones available at my local feed or tack store. The ingredients to Ortho Sport are very similar to Ortho Ease. If you would like a break down to Ortho Sport, please contact me I would be happy to send it to you.
You can find more information related to horse liniments and promoting tendon health on the links below.
To be successful in improving your horse’s health it is crucial to put your focus on Nature’s approach to health and care for our horse. This may sound simple and common but in this day and age, it’s not. So much time and attention is put on the problems and concerns instead of the solutions.
You can get started on supporting your horse to vibrant health right now, by grabbing your copy of my book Healthy as a Horse and discover the forgotten framework of care that can transform your horse’s health. Click here to reserve your copy now.
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Life is better when you’re horsin’ around!