Verrucous sarcoids ("fleshy warts") are often misdiagnosed tumours that can be found all over a horse's body, but most often around the face on the eyes. Although they are benign, it is best to treat them as quickly as possible. To prevent any necessity for surgery, you may use herbal remedies to relieve your horse's symptoms.
What Are Verrucous Sarcoids?
A sarcoid is a tumour that begins as a wart-like growth and eventually becomes scaly with potential bleeding. Verrucous sarcoids are dry and typically golf ball-sized lumps (though size can vary from case to case). These will often occur on the head, and sometimes on the chest, shoulder, and under leg. This type of sarcoid does not typically have hair and is relatively easy to spot. Sometimes these sarcoids are confused with fibroplastic sarcoids, occult sarcoids, and other growths of the skin.
Since there are many potential growths that could be confused on a horse, it is important to know the proper signs. A verrucous sarcoid is usually grey, scaly, or warty and the lesions tend to be coalesced into one large lesion. The hair near the lesions will be thinned out and the skin will lack flexibility and crack easily. Sarcoids are not painful, but they may expose red, fleshy tissue underneath if there is ulceration. Other conditions that verrucous sarcoids are often confused with are ringworm, alopecia areta, pemphigus foliaceus, cheloids, and marks from rubbing or trauma.
Bloodroot is a spring wild flower that can be found growing in eastern North America and originally found its use as a skin stain for war dances and rituals in Native American culture. Its major active ingredient, sanguinarine, is a powerful antiseptic and anti-cancer compound. Bloodroot has been marketed in several compounds including XXTERRA cream, and it can also be made at home in a recipe called "The Black Salve." When it is made at home, it is often combined with olive oil, beeswax, zinc chloride, and occasionally goldenseal and gotu kola. While bloodroot irritates the skin and can form a scab, it can also fight the sarcoid and has seen much success in many individual accounts. XXTERRA cream (with bloodroot) is recommended by veterinarians as a first choice to treat sarcoids.
Bloodroot is far and away the most effective treatment for sarcoids, but due to its high price, some alternative remedies like garlic have been sought out. Garlic, and its active ingredient allicin, is a potent antiviral, antibacterial, and anticancerous herb that can be used in both oil and poultice form to reduce the size and spread of sarcoids. Garlic's antiviral ability is especially helpful, as it may ward off a potential cause of sarcoids, the bovine papilloma virus. Garlic can also be taken by your horse internally to complement the application of garlic externally. For proper dosage, see your veterinarian.
Green Tea Extract
Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) is an extract taken from green tea that may be a strong antioxidant and a fighter against cancer. Although there are few scientific studies that support these claims, the International Grey Horse Association mentions a case where they reduced sarcoids and melanomas using the extract from green tea. They treated the horse with 360 milligrams of the powdered extract twice a day and then increased it to 720 milligrams after three days. This treatment reduced the incidence melanomas and sarcomas 75 per cent. Different sized horses will most likely call for different dosages, so it is best consult with your veterinarian.
While verrucous sarcoids are benign and can go without treatment for some time, it is best to treat the tumours before they spread too much across your horse's body. Herbal remedies can cause allergic reactions in your horse, and it's best to do any supplementation under the care of your veterinarian.