Herbs for Lung Support
Most people associate Exercise Induced Pulmonary Hemorrhage (EIPH) with racehorses, but the condition can, in fact, occur with nearly any type of performance horse.
EIPH occurs when blood vessels in the lung break as a result of intense exercise. Usually, only small blood vessels are involved. The blood enters the airways and moves up the trachea (windpipe), where in most cases, it’s swallowed and never seen. However, in a smaller number of cases, larger blood vessels rupture, and the amount of blood is too much for the horse to swallow. This causes blood to appear in the nostrils (epistaxis), and this form of EIPH is more serious.
Researchers believe EIPH may have a number of causes, ranging from increased blood pressure during exercise to respiratory disease or even heart problems.
According to research, EIPH affects between 40-80% of all racehorses (though some sources say nearly all racehorses experience EIPH), 45% of barrel horses, 30% of polo ponies, and 13% of eventers. In most cases, the incidence and severity of EIPH increases with age.
While mild bleeding likely has little to no effect on performance, moderate to severe EIPH will negatively impact performance. Repeated episodes of EIPH cause scarring and irreversible damage to the lungs, so identifying and treating the condition early on is crucial.
Chinese Herbs for EIPH
Yunnan Paiyo is a blend of herbs which has long been used as a hemostatic and blood coagulating agent in both human and veterinary medicine. Clinical studies have shown Yunnan Paiyo to speed blood clotting and reduce inflammatory response.
Giant puffball is another herb (mushroom) known to have hemostatic effects and is particularly beneficial for oral or nasal bleeding. Urn orchid (bletilla striata) reduces swelling, decreases bleeding, and promotes new tissue formation. This herb is often used to treat chronic cough, tuberculosis, and bronchitis.
EIPH should never be taken lightly, and veterinary management is recommended. However, Chinese herbs can offer support for normal and healthy lung function in horses. Please consult your veterinarian before using any treatment for EIPH.