Equine Sarcoids can be the most mis-managed problem for horses and their owners. They can start as a pea size bump and lay dormant for years and then explode overnight into a large ugly growth. Sarcoids can render an otherwise sound horse unusable. It is the most frequently diagnosed tumor in horses. Surveys have estimated the predominance of sarcoids at 20% of all equine neoplasms and 36% of all skin tumors. They occur at any age but are more common in young adult horses. Sarcoids will typically appear anywhere on the body including trauma areas or old wound sites. In recent years we have seen more aggressive sarcoids appear close to the eyes, face and genital areas.
When talking about sarcoids it is important to take a few minutes to discuss how to identify a sarcoid. Unfortunately some can be mis-diagnosed as proud-flesh or “Ring Worm” and treated with a topical crème with no effect. Sarcoids come in all shapes and sizes. We have listed the six different “types” of sarcoids below along with their description.
- Occult sarcoids - These are flat, hairless, lichen-like, slightly crusting, dark patches. They often have a smooth, dark hairless area around them.
- Verrucose sarcoids - These are raised, nobbly, dark areas that often spread into poorly defined margins. They can also be ulcerated on occasions
- Nodular sarcoids - These are firm and nodular skin lumps which may have normal skin over them.
- Fibroblastic sarcoids - These are often ulcerated, weeping, raised sore lesions that may become pedunculated and cauliflower-like.
- Mixed sarcoids - Sarcoids are commonly a mixture of two or more of the forms described above.
- Malevolent sarcoids - These are rare, invasive sarcoids that invade deeper tissues beneath the skin..
What can a horse owner do when confronted with a Sarcoid? Typically they ask two questions. How did they get it and how do I get rid of it? The answer to the first question is the underlying cause of Sarcoid tumors is the Bovine Papilloma virus. Yes a cow virus..that is transferred by flies.
The answer to the second question is a little tougher. The traditional treatments may include banding with rubber rings, surgical excision, cryosurgery, injection with Bacillus Calmette-Guérin as an immunomodulator and topical or injected chemotherapy Cysplatin, Fluorouracil (5-FU). None of these “traditional” treatments address the virus issue and typically have a high re-occurrence rate and will return more aggressively. What some owner don’t understand is when using some of these treatments like Fluorcil or Cysplatin it will compromise their horses immune system for months after the treatment.
Owners often ask are there “natural” products available to remove the Sarcoid? There are “Blood-root” products (zinc chloride) like Xxterra or Black Salve, Indian Mud or Liverpool Crème. Bloodroot based products burn the sarcoid off similar to Wart Be Gone. Very painful to the horse and it burns the sarcoid and hair follicles to the point that hair will not return to the effect area. These products do not address the virus issue either so you have a high re-occurrence rate.
While we are here let’s address the toothpaste debate. I’m sure you have seen the reports of using Crest Toothpaste to get rid of sarcoids claiming it’s the “fluoride”. I am sorry to disappoint y but the active ingredient that effects the sarcoids is Sanguinaria Canadensis also known as bloodroot. Sanguinaria Canadensis is included in toothpaste and dental hygiene products as an antibacterial or anti-plaque agent. They include a minimal amount that it will have little effect on the sarcoid and no effect on the virus.
Another alternative therapy would be Mushroom Matrix a supplement and Thuja oil. Both of these are used as a “cancer” therapy. It has been our experience that for Equine Sarcoids it is extremely slow in producing measurable results.
There is another natural option for treating sarcoids – Over the past 12 years Balanced Eco Solutions (www.balancedecosolutions.com) has developed a Sarcoid Treatment Protocol. It is a holistic approach that is 100% natural. What is unique about the program is it treats both the sarcoid and the Bovine Papilloma virus. Because they treat both the sarcoid and associated virus they have a high success rate (85%-95%). Another feature of the program is there are NO bloodroot based products. That means no burning or causing your horse any discomfort.
The #1 question people ask about the program is “How long will it take?” There are three factors that come into play to answer the question. First how long has the horse been suffering from sarcoids from the onset? Second is what previous treatment has been done? Finally how is the horse’s immune system? From these questions we can give a rough (very rough) time estimate.
The program is based on a two prong approach of treating the sarcoid at the surface level and internally by using an immune supplement. The treatment protocol consists of two main products that are the workhorses of the program. Ancillary products are added as needed to complete the healing process.
In the 7 plus years that Balanced Eco Solutions has been treating sarcoids no two sarcoids react the same. The clients are provided a detailed treatment plan that outlines all the steps in the healing process. Everyone is started at the same level and then the plan is changed based on how the sarcoid and virus are reacting to the program.
Balanced Eco Solutions is unique in that they have several Holistic Vets on staff with a combined total of over 80 years’ experience in traditional and holistic veterinary medicine. If a client is not responding to the program a “case review” is scheduled. A case review includes an in-house holistic vet, the equine nutritionist and two product specialists. If needed the client will provide a hair sample for analysis. The report will outline any other issues that could be compounding the problem or highlight mineral imbalances.
What to do if your vet comes back with a sarcoid diagnoses? First and foremost take a breath (several would be good). Your vet will outline the traditional options based on the sarcoid and its location or they might have a wait and see attitude. The “wait and see” is really a non-starter in that by waiting the virus has the opportunity to build resources and will take longer to clear away. Next take time to do your own research. You are your horses health advocate so be informed of all your options both traditional and alternative. Know the risks and complications that can happen. If you have questions on traditional vs alternative therapies Balanced Eco Solutions provides an 800 number (866) 501-6416 to speak with a specialist and who will offer suggestions specific to your case.