Saturday, March 17, 2012

Chaste Tree Berry

Drifter's studiness isn't a huge issue - Heather says he's about as well-behaved as a well-trained stud.  But he is easily distractable, particularly by the presence of other horses, and it probably makes him a bit more of a tester - he's always trying to see if he can test the limits, both of people and of horses he's turned out with, although of course some of this is learned behavior.  Our vet/chiro had suggested that we might try him on a low dose of depo-provera - she's had good luck with that in treating studdy geldings.  An alternative (very inexpensive), suggested by my trainer Heather - she's had good luck with it - and confirmed by our vet/chiro, is Chaste Tree berry.  This affects pituitary function, and can have a beneficial effect for horses like Drifter, allowing them to be a little less mentally scattered and reducing some of the studliness.

Chaste Tree berry is also often used in horses with Cushing's, often with good results (based on what I've read and what our vet/chiro says - I have no personal experience with it).  Interestingly enough, Drifter has been very slow to shed out and his coat is still very thick and a bit curly, and he drinks a very large amount - often a sign of an issue with pituitary function.  Pie's been shedding for a month and Dawn's well on the way, but not Drifter, despite our very warm weather.  Drifter is young enough (he's 10) that real Cushing's is unlikely, but our vet/chiro says that the EPM organism does have pituitary suppression effects in certain cases, so it could be that this is a lingering effect of the EPM.

In any event, the chaste tree berry is ordered, and Drifter will be started on two teaspoons a day.  We'll see how he responds to that - it's worth a try.

16 comments:

  1. Glad you found a non pharmaceutical option for the studiness. It's super interesting that the suppression of pituitary function is a symptom of EPM, and that Drifter is having Cushings like symptoms.

    Keep us posted about how the Chaste Tree Berry works. I have a (supposedly) Cushingoid dog - Sweetpea. We tried the usual prescribed meds for three months and all of her symptoms worsened. I took her off of the meds, upgraded her nutrition and quit using plastic bowls, and her next bloodwork was nearly normal. The vet was mystified.

    I'm going Chaste Tree Berry for dogs. Thanks for the tip.

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  2. IME with chaste tree berry, and based on several recent studies (I've done a lot of Cushings research since I live with several Cushings horses) Chaste tree berry gives the illusion of helping with Cushings b/c it seems to impact the hair coat. Most studies indicate if any effect from chaste tree berry is seen it is reflected in better shedding and improved coat quality. However when blood testing is done to see if it is actually affecting the hormone levels no change is noted. Rambling point is it may very well help speed along the shedding.

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  3. nice thing about stuff like that is it may help , but if not it will not hurt him either . Hope it works

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  4. Melissa - I have no idea if it will help with the shedding or studiness, but it's worth a try. We'll see and adjust accordingly.

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  5. Kate

    We spoke once when I was investigating Paradigm (sadly they were full, but you and I had a nice conversation).

    I would strong suggest watching this video series, even if Cushings wasn't on the near-term radar screen. Although it is titled "laminitis," it has some of the best information I have ever seen on the topic of Equine Metabolic Syndrome and Cushings.

    Heather

    Equine Laminitis 2012 Update - YouTube

    http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL0C0448D242E0B546&feature=view_all

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  6. anonymous - thanks! I'll check it out.

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  7. Very interesting. I will be curious to hear how the herb works with Drifter.

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  8. I have known two such geldings, one we owned. Luckily, our guy was not an extreme case. We had to deal with insulin resistance with him which can precede Cushings. A couple of our current horses have the same issue so maybe I will look into Chaste Tree Berry. We have had good luck with holistics so I look forward to see how it works with your gelding.

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  9. I've been using Smartpak's Easy Mare Gold for two months. (I'm also feeding Smart Mare Plus to help with her spookiness) The changes are subtle, but it IS making a difference. (As is the Smart Mare Plus!) My mare can be very pushy toward our gelding and she's been much less so since about the second week she was on this. The product info says it can also be used for studs or stud-ish geldings and I'd believe it! FWIW, I'm usually pretty skeptical about using this kind of thing, but I figured I didn't have anything to lose by trying it. I'm glad I did! I plan to keep her on both products for now. I sometimes give her the weekends off, though. Good luck and be sure to keep us posted!

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  10. Have you tried using Flax seed for helping them to shed out??
    I use a lot of herbal products rather than pharmeceutical, and I find they work very well!!
    There is a company out of BC that sells only herbal products, if you have problems getting stuff, let me know and I will send you their info. Good luck, and keep us posted on how it is working!!!

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  11. Never heard of it but it sounds like a good option. I'll be interested to know how he does on it. Our Mellon (who is much older) but doesn't have Cushings, he's been tested, is having a really hard time shedding out this year. He looks like a yak. Hope it works on his studly behavior too.

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  12. Your timing on this post is so perfect for me. I've been really worrying the last couple of days about Silk. We're doing the blood test next week to see if she has Cushings, but in the meanwhile, I just ordered the chaste berry from this website. I've been trying to find someplace that I trust to get it, so thank you very much! Do you feed it 3 weeks on and one week off? I keep hoping that this strange warm weather is the cause of her unusual coat and shedding. There do seem to be a lot of horses having similar problems right now.

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  13. Victoria - my vet said to feed 1 teaspoon 2x per day.

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  14. Thanks, Kate. How is Lily doing on the pergolide?

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  15. My 24 year old gelding was diagnosed with Cushing's five years ago. My vet suggested Pergolide and told me the side affects. I decided to check the web and found good information on Chaste Tree Berries. I grind them myself and give him one heaping tsp twice a day for three weeks and one week off. His original blood test wasn't positive for Cushing's Disease but the vet said that was the only reason his hair coat grew long and spotty. Now he looses hair in the winter which isn't a big problem in Arizona and in spring starts to grow a winter coat. He is body clipped before taking him to the mountains for the summer. Now it appears I gave a dog with Cushing's.

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    1. Barbara - chaste tree works for some horses, for a while, to stave off or mitigate the effects of PPID. (Cause/treatment in dogs isn't exactly the same.) But most horses with PPID eventually need pergolide, which is very effective. Please look at the top of the side bar - there is an excellent primer on Cushings/PPID from Paradigm Farms. Lack of appetite is the major issue and can be managed by introducing the medicine very slowly and increasing dose over time. Good luck!

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