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MY THOUGHTS ON MEDICATION, ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE AND THOROUGHBRED HORSE RACING

Opinion Article Written by Robert S. Fox in 2002 Especially for this Website

Since I have opinions on many things among which is medication in our industry, I have decided to voice my opinions on my website.  Medication for horses is an ongoing and important issue in the thoroughbred business.  I feel that it is important for me to stimulate those who offer commentary on this vital issue to learn as much as possible about the issue.  I feel that the more informed that those vital people and those interested trainers and owners are in the various aspects of performance enhancement, the better off the well being of the thoroughbred will be.  A higher the intellectual level in addressing this issue is very important.

As I have gotten older, I have become dependant to some extent on medication.  I have high blood pressure and with that comes a formula of various medicines in various dosages. The result is that my blood pressure is under control and close to normal.

In these times of scientific approaches to sports medicine and non-invasive treatment of patients through drug therapy, I find that my position of three decades ago has changed. A book entitled "Performance Drugs in Sport" by Dr. Philip Swann published in 1990 which is over a decade ago, discusses the use of drugs to treat sickness and injury and those drugs used to establish and maintain fitness.  Dr. Swann indicates at that time that there are 60,000 drugs in common use and 400,000 drugs which have been tested on animals in laboratory and research situations.  It is a reasonable presumption that in today's world a few hundred thousand drugs are now in common use and a few million drugs have been tested on laboratory animals.  Hence, drugs are a big part of our world.

Tremendous advances of drug sciences are having a massive impact on performance drugs.   We are all aware that there is a strong link between human and equine performance drugs, since the same drugs are used on both athletes and racehorses in order to alter performance in many cases.  There are of course both similarities and differences regarding humaestic and wild animals, veterinarians are now using the same alternative therapy used in humans, such as acupuncture, homeopathy, nutrition, vitamin and mineral supplementation, herbs, electroacupuncture biofeedback testing, and chiropractic, to directly stimulate an animal's immune system, strengthen its vital life force, and alleviate any disequilibrium in the body.

Christopher Day, M.A., Vet. M.B., M.R.C.V.S., Vet. F.F.Hom., who runs an alternative animal clinic in England says, "Medical alternatives such as homeopathy, acupuncture, herbs, aromatherapy, Bach flower remedies, and chiropractic provide a vast therapeutic armory that not only outweighs modern conventional medicine in scope, but also in capability. At our clinic we very rarely need to resort to modern drugs, and then only to provide symptom relief. Alternative medicine provides the key to cure, whereas conventional drugs tend only to suppress."

Our veterinarians are hard at work on dealing with the world of alternative medicine as is evidenced by the website of http://www.alternativevet.org/ which deals directly with this area of veterinary medicine. 

Let us continue with with Acupuncture which is already being used by many trainers for their horses.  Using the excellent slogan, "You've got options.  All I really want to do is remind you that suffering need not be one of them," I offer the website of  http://www.acupuncture.com as an interesting reading source that discusses not only acupuncture but also, Chinese herbal medicine, dietetics, and even Tui Na Message and much more. 

I want to encourage all of my readers here at my website, to use the Internet to examine and learn more about medication.  The topic is timely with all the baseball scandals presently in the spotlight and our own Milkshake scandals.  Do some reading about various performance enhancing drugs to include the areas of Blood Doping and Anabolic Steroids.  Drug terminology such as endogenous drugs, designer drugs, optioids, stimulants, depressants, anti-inflammatory drugs, pain killers, anesthetics, narcotics, hormones and on and on are now somewhat familiar terms to trainers and owners in this new era of sports drug enlightenment.

There has always been it seems, an on going discussion on drugs in the thoroughbred business.  It is time to accept that the drug era has arrived and is here to stay.  However, it is important that drug information be made available to the betting public.  It seems that the underlying principle of horse racing is for the best equine athlete to win a race and not the horse who is a drug addict.  Fan confidence is essential to our business.  Of course, any drug that is found or thought to be harmful to well horses must be eliminated from the equation. 

There is the tremendously important subject of alternative medicine and its related topics.  Of course, the Internet is a great provider of information on these topics. So I am going to discuss and provide, which means provide some of my comments as well as the comments of others, and provide links to enable you to easily go around the Internet to find out more. 

One of the most comprehensive Internet websites you can find is http://www.alternativemedicine.com, which will tell you more than you ever wanted to know about Alternative Medicine, even if you are a doctor or a veterinarian. Consider that the principles of alternative medicine are as applicable to animals as they are to human beings. Alternative veterinary medicine is directed toward maintaining natural good health. Animal treatment and healing are achieved using gentle yet effective methods, to treat not only symptoms, but to cure their underlying conditions.  On this interesting website you will find informative comments including some by veterinarians. 

"There is nothing in conventional medicine today that treats degenerative conditions as successfully as holistic therapies."
-Joanne Stefanatos, D.V.M., President, American Holistic Veterinary Association

Veterinary medicine has been revolutionized in the past decade. Research is ongoing and is having a very strong effect on our horses, some of which are very positive and some of which are very negative.

A listing of various food for thought sites around the Internet might prove interesting and enjoyable.  I do have one client that like to run his horse in accordance with Astrological compliance.  So here are some other ideas to consider.  Many are human medicine sites but have correlation to equine medicine.

Lots of interesting medicine including Homeopathy which has been around since the Biblical times :    http://www.healthy.net

Gemstones, Feng Shui, Aromatheraphy/Esential Oils and much more might interest you: http://www.gems4friends.com  

Bee Venom Therapy (Apitherapy has everything you need to know, even has a veterinary section) : http://www.beevenom.com

Bach Flowers (Flower Essence can certainly apply to horses) : http://www.bachflower.com

Telepathic Communication (Your trainer says horse is not mentally ready...works for cats and dogs) : http://www.petinsight.com

It seems that there is a veritable plethora of approaches when it comes to treatment for horses.  We just neeed horsemen to select from those that are legal and non injurious to the horses.