Strangles, Noni Juice, and a Jolly Old Elf
Jan 23, 2013
About 10:30 one night I got a call from what sounded like a very old Amish man. He explained; "my name is Joseph Miller and I own the health food store in town, my horse is awful sick, can you come out and see him?" I didn't feel too bad about going out on the call. The football game I was watching was going badly for my team, besides it was a very nice December evening.
It just started to snow as I pulled into the driveway. Large, fluffy flakes floated leisurely from the sky. A hunched over little man with a long white beard sprung from behind the barn door and ran to my truck. The pipe he smoked had a long wooden handle and puffs of gray smoke fluttered from the bowl. Maybe I was caught up in the season, but I thought this hunchbacked little man with the long white beard, standing outside smoking a pipe while large snowflakes fell atop his head, looked very much like Santa Claus.
As he ushered me into the barn he pointed the handle of the long wooded pipe at me, cocked his head, and with a knowing grin whispered; "If I could give you a potion that would cure all your patients, you'd be interested wouldn't you?" I have had people offer me magic cure- all concoctions before so I politely said, "sure" without much interest and began to examine my patient.
It didn't take long to diagnose strangles in this three-year-old buggy horse. When I pulled the thermometer it read 105.1 degrees (a normal horse temperature is around 100 degrees). His head was hanging nearly to the ground. He had no interest in his surroundings, and his eyes were lifeless. This horse was indeed "awful sick".
The little man persisted, "My medication is wonderful stuff". "Why it cures cancer, kidney ailments, asteria, liver ailments, lameness, colic, infection, consumption, and fever." "Wow", I replied noncommittally, and continued to work on my patient.
When I looked under the jaw I saw what I expected, two tell tale swollen lymph nodes. It was strangles all right. Strangles is an upper respiratory disease that affects young horses. The lymph nodes under the jaw get extremely swollen and filled with pus. Like this horse, most horses with strangles get very depressed due to extremely high body temperature. The disease is called strangles because of the enlarged lymph nodes. It is said that the lymph nodes can become so enlarged that the horse will "strangle to death". I have never seen a horse "strangle to death", usually if you can break the fever and establish drainage of the lymph nodes, the horse starts to feel better and will recover quickly.
While I treated my patient Mr. Miller informed me that just four years ago he could barely walk due to "the cancer in his legs". I don't know what he was like four years ago but on that night he was bouncing off the walls. Then he asked "young man, do you know how old I am?" Without waiting for a response from me he answered, "I am 84 years old". "I'm 84 years old and I look like I'm 60, I no longer have cancer, and I am no longer lame" he stated proudly. "I have one medicine to thank for it; Noni Juice!" he pronounced.
The little man went on to explain that Noni juice was a tropical juice that could cure any human or animal ailment. It had cured him and he had many testimonials from others that had been similarly cured. He was of the opinion that if I would start using Noni Juice in my veterinary practice that I could stop all equine suffering.
I continued to treat my patient. I established drainage of the lymph nodes. I also gave him flunixin meglumine to reduce the temperature. I felt confident that after my treatment this horse would feel better soon. While I was explaining this to Mr. Miller he suddenly interrupted me. "I think a lot of this horse", the old man mused, "he deserves some Noni Juice".
I could see that this man really wanted me to give his horse the wonderful potion. Well I reasoned, what could it hurt? I passed a nasogastric tube and poured a bottle of Noni Juice directly into the horse's stomach. I then packed up my equipment, said good bye to Mr. Miller, and went home to bed.
The next day I stopped by the Miller Farm to check on the young horse. As expected he was doing much better. Mr. Miller burst into the barn cackling; "see; see I told you the Noni Juice would cure him!" I was informed that just one hour after the administration of Noni Juice my patient was improving. I thought, but did not point out, that it was also one hour after my treatment when the horse started feeling better. "Yes, yes", I said, "He is much better."
The jolly old fellow pointed his pipe at me and tried to convince me that I should throw away all the "old fashion" medications that I was currently using and start using Noni Juice exclusively. I doubt the "amazing medication" helped. Many times I have seen horses with strangles make remarkable recoveries when I administered the exact same medical treatment without the Noni Juice. I don't know if Mr. Miller was just a health food salesman or if he was a jolly old elf, but despite the spry man's assertions, I think I will stick with my more traditional treatments.
If you would like more information about strangles or how to prevent strangles in your horse CLICK HERE.
Robert H Koontz DVM
Conley and Koontz Equine Hospital