My first experiences of trying holistic ways to help my horse Tara were with physiotherapy and herbal remedies. But after a while, I also discovered aromatherapy – at first I was a bit sceptical, can smelling something actually make a difference? As I discovered, yes it can make a difference – IF it’s the right smell! Not only is choosing the right selection of essential oil vital, but also the quality and purity of the oil makes a difference too.
So is it right for animals to be offered aromatherapy?
In the wild, animals have a natural ability to self-medicate and would find the most appropriate aromatic substance to improve their wellbeing. So yes, aromatherapy is a natural thing for many animals to do.
How does it work?
Animal aromatics involves finding the correct essential oil to help and is non-invasive. In the wild a horse (or dog) would find and select plants and herbs to help itself for a variety of behavioural and injury reasons. Therefore it’s important that the animal chooses the oil – ie. do not force any essential oil upon the animal, you should offer a selection.
How to make sure your animal receives the right essential oils?
For your animal to benefit from aromatics, it is best that you either use a qualified practitioner (such as a member of the International Society of Animal Aromatic Practitioners or a Veterinary Surgeon who’s trained in holistic therapies) or complete a training course yourself to understand the complex nature of essential oils.
Essential oils are concentrated, volatile extracts from the fruits, roots, seeds, gums and herbs of aromatic plants and trees. They possess many properties including those that are thought to restore balance and promote physical, psychological and spiritual wellbeing.
Anything to be worried about?
Essential oils are usually only for inhalation and topical application only, and some oils may not be suitable to use with horses prior to competition as they maybe classed as a prohibited substance (a trained therapist or your Veterinary Surgeon will be able to confirm).
Zoopharmacognosy has featured in the national newspapers too! Check out this article http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2868348/Do-animals-SELF-MEDICATE-Dogs-elephants-chimps-parrots-use-natural-remedies-treat-digestive-problems-induce-birth.html
Has there been any research?
Yes there has – lavender doesn’t only have an unique aroma, but it’s also known by many to help calm. Research has taken place to prove that this is the case – see this research about how aromatherapy can help calm stressed horses http://www.kplctv.com/story/21297137/msu-researchers-find-aromatherapy-calms-stressed-horses
Remember as with anything – if your animal is unwell, or has any ailment, or is already taking medication, then DO speak to your Veterinary Surgeon first before trying aromatherapy with your animal. Any professionally qualified zoopharmacognist will want your Vet’s permission before working with your animal.
I’ve also discovered that aromatherapy can have many uses for both human wellbeing and around the house too! Do you use aromatherapy for either yourself, house or your animal? If you do, please post in the comments below, or contact me via social media, or email email@example.com
Until next time
Director, Taranet Complementary Therapies for Animals (Business Consultancy, Social Media Training and Forever Business Owner)
Animal Health Info Online: www.taranet.co.uk
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