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Naturopathy for horses with sweet itch

The Natural Way - specialized in itching and skin complaints and the natural treatment of horses with sweet itch, mud fever and CPL. 

In this blog series 'Alternative therapies for sweet itch' I would like to give the stage to experts who provide holistic support to horses with sweet itch.

In this article I introduce naturopath Celine Schiks by From Nature To Health speaks.

Celine Schiks - From Nature To Health, Naturopathy for summer eczema and itching in horses, The Natural Way Laura Cleirens

© Celine Schiks - From Nature To Health


Sweet itch is a well-known and common condition that affects the quality of life in more and more ponies and horses. It is a seasonal condition in which severe itching occurs annually, caused by an allergy to the saliva of the Culicoides mosquito.

The intense itching causes the horses to chafe a lot, especially in the warmer periods of the year. This causes abrasions and bald spots around the base of the tail, mane, ears and head.
This broken skin makes the mosquitoes bite even more quickly, causing you to end up in a vicious circle . Due to the intense itching, the wounds will not heal quickly and secondary bacterial infections often arise, which make the itching even worse. Sweet itch is an allergic reaction, which actually means that the body's immune system shows a strong reaction against certain allergens. In the case of sweet itch, the allergens are found in the saliva of mosquitoes.


There are diverse approaches and views in naturopathy.

The most important thing, in my opinion, is finding and removing the cause of the complaints: removing the imbalance that is present in the body. This is not always (immediately) feasible, especially in horses that have had sweet itch for a long time, you see that the symptoms have become stronger every year.
If it is not - or not entirely - feasible to find/remove the cause, you can also treat the symptoms with naturopathy. One of the remedies that can be used to combat symptoms are essential oils against itching and to repel insects.


There are many different factors that can play a role in the development of sweet itch. That is why it is difficult to give one-sided advice. The naturopathic method is always based on searching for the cause and seeing the animal as an individual. Every treatment plan for a horse or pony with sweet itch is different. Mental, energetic and physical health are always included.

Naturopathy for summer eczema and itching horses, Celine Schiks - From Nature To Health, Laura Cleirens - The Natural Way

© Celine Schiks - From Nature To Health


Below I list some causes that I see more often in my practice:

- Stress/anxiety can arise from various causes.

This may, for example, be related to inappropriate living conditions, loneliness, too little challenge, too little exercise, stress on the part of the owner, pain, etc.
When we look at the living conditions of wild horses, freedom and contact with others of their own kind (which provides a safe feeling) are central, often in contrast to the horses in our stables. Here it is no exception to the rule that the animals are alone in a stable for a large part of the day, and are only allowed to experience more freedom for a few hours a day. If there are already other horses in the area, there is often no opportunity to build a social group culture with them.
In addition, horses in nature also have freedom with regard to food intake, so a horse walks many hours a day and they eat 'one bite at a time'. This is also something that is often taken away from horses.
It is clear that not every horse that no longer lives in its natural habitat is sick or gets sweet itch. In any case, this always has to do with heredity, character and other matters that I will discuss below.

- Pollution in the body
Pollution can also have various causes, including: residues from medication, exhaust fumes/factory emissions in the air, growth promoters, pesticides in food, deworming, vaccination, operations, pollution in the water, pesticides/fertilizer use.
It is clear that sweet itch often develops later in life and also increases in severity every year. The pollution of a body logically also increases every year. Lately there have also been many younger animals (from age 2) who develop sweet itch. In practice, these often turn out to be animals whose mother or foal was given a lot of antibiotics themselves.

It is important to clean the system of ourselves and our animals in the summer and autumn. This can be done with many different agents, including chlorophyll and/or green loam. It is wise to always do this under the guidance of a naturopathic therapist, because this can temporarily worsen the complaints.

- Heredity
Over the past 60 years, pollution has increased enormously in all areas of our lives. We as humans, but also several animal species, have not yet had sufficient evolutionary opportunity to adapt to this.

The words of Margriet Dudok van Heel are : 'The extent to which the individual – through evolution – has already been able to adapt to the amount of pollutants that enter the body is important in whether or not sweet itch will develop. and other allergic conditions.'

- Gut health
When the intestinal flora is out of balance, digestion will not proceed optimally. This may also leave residues from the digestive process that contribute to 'pollution' in the body. Under the guidance of a naturopathic therapist, the intestinal flora can be brought into balance. There are various natural remedies for this, such as essential oil from Tea Tree and Lemon, organic herbs such as dried/fresh daisy, peat drench, etc. These remedies all restore the intestinal flora/the intestinal mucosa in their own way.

- Overload of the liver and kidneys
Often occurs largely due to the many chemical waste products in the body that must be constantly removed.

Horses also often have a physical back blockage . As soon as there is a blockage in one or more of the vertebrae, the energy can stagnate here. Each part of the back is connected to an organ/part of the body. You often see that the energy of the liver is blocked from the back in this way. There are various medicinal herbs that support the liver/kidneys, these can be used, but it is also always important that, if there is a blockage in the back, it is resolved by, for example, an osteopath .

- Overstimulated immune system
This may, among other things, be related to mental overstimulation by sounds/emotions/light/smells/other animals/other people/energies. Mentally, an animal is constantly busy filtering sounds and stimuli, what does the animal let slide and what does it respond to? This is an unconscious process that partly has to do with how grounded the animal is.
If an animal is well grounded, it stands firmly on the earth, feels safe and will not be easily frightened. If an animal is poorly grounded, it will be more wary, will respond more quickly to small sounds and will have difficulty releasing stress/fear/tension. In nature you also see that animals start running/shaking fast after they have experienced an intense situation in which they felt stress. They immediately release the stress through movement, which we often deprive our animals of, especially when a horse is being ridden and is startled by something at that moment.

Why is this so connected to the immune system? Mentally, animals are constantly filtering which stimuli they should respond to and what they can let slide. The immune system in our body does exactly the same. The immune system is constantly scanning whether a substance that passes by is foreign and dangerous, or known and harmless.

- Mental imbalance
And as I mentioned above, we also see that the living environment of many horses is anything but natural and that we have lost sight of how a horse likes to live/eat/rest/move in its natural habitat.
Because this causes some animals to become out of balance, exercise too little, experience too many stimuli in the environment, etc., a mental imbalance is created, which automatically makes the animal more susceptible to diseases in any way. Bach flowers can be used for this.

Naturopathy for summer eczema and itching horses, Celine Schiks - From Nature To Health, Laura Cleirens - The Natural Way

© Celine Schiks - From Nature To Health


In my practice I approach the mental imbalance from the Bach Flower Remedies, which were discovered by Dr. Edward Bach. He was convinced that in all diseases the state of mind should be treated first, and not the disease itself. There are 38 different character types from Bach Flower therapy. This largely explains why one horse develops complaints, while another horse, with perhaps the same care, does not develop complaints. Every character type is different.

Each type is more difficult to recognize when in balance than when he/she is in an imbalance, because then the pitfalls/'bad' qualities become more apparent.

For example, the Aspen type, a type that is extremely sensitive and also anxious and expectant. If this type is 'in balance', it is especially careful, extremely empathetic, can sense what other animals/people need and likes regularity. But when this type is out of balance, there is a lot of fear, often intense fright.

Margriet Dudok van Heel describes it very nicely in her book: 'This horse is always suspicious during grooming and can then react very suddenly to brushing a spot that otherwise would not provoke a reaction.'
And furthermore , 'the Aspen horse rests better when there is light in the stable and quiet music continues. While sleeping you may suddenly get a violent start.

You understand, of course, when you are dealing with this character type, that the sensitive character and the fact that stimuli/sounds/energy/light hit the animal hard must be taken into account. If this horse is in a very busy stable, or it is used as a riding school horse, you can imagine that it will become completely overstimulated.

Unlike another type of animal, for example the Oak type. These are hard workers and natural leaders. They never give up and have powerful endurance. This is a horse that is very stable, both in the stable and during a ride outside, as well as in the pasture. They are patient types. The pitfall with an imbalance is that they show too late when they are in pain or tired, because they keep going. This type is very likely to become overstimulated much less quickly and end up in an imbalance in a busier stable.


I have briefly explained above what my view on health and illness is, and especially what my view on sweet itch is.
Again, naturopathy is never a quick fix. It is and always will be digging deep, searching with the owner for all the different options and causes. This is different for every animal and the character is inextricably linked to this.
Nutrition also plays a major role in this, but I have not covered this part in this guest blog.

I hope I was able to give you a little glimpse into my thought process and that you enjoyed reading this article!
I really enjoyed writing this for you.


- Bach remedies for dogs & horses - Margriet Dudok van Heel
- Bach Flower therapy theory and practice - Mechtild Scheffer
- Horse types - Eric Laarakker
- Essential oils for dogs & horses - Margriet Dudok van Heel
- Natural remedies for dogs and horses - Margriet Dudok van Heel


Discover our 100 % natural Zomereczeem lotion, Mok olie, CPL olie, Natuur Shampoo and OERVOER (E-book) about healthy nutrition for itch-sensitive horses HERE.

This article was published on The Natural Way by
Laura Cleirens - 2022.04.06
Last updated: 2023.12.28

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