Herbs for Horses

I first began learning about herbs for horses in Dr. Kellon’s equine nutrition courses, which I took as part of my equine acupressure program through Tallgrass Animal Acupressure Institute.  I shared in a recent post, that I’d used the Chinese herb, Jiaogulan, with my mare, LeeLee, when she suffered from a suspensory ligament injury a few years ago.  I was quite impressed with the results.  Some other herbs I’ve used with different horses include spirulina, devil’s claw, and rasberry leaves–more on those herbs below.

Herbs are considered dietary aids or nutraceuticals and are not heavily regulated by the FDA.  Although they are considered generally safe, they do have a physiological effect on the body and should be used wisely.  They may not be safe for your horse under every circumstance.  Side effects can occur with any substance, and there are times when some herbs may be contraindicated for your horse (possibly with use of drugs or other herbs).  Always do your research and speak to a vet (preferably one who’s open to and somewhat knowledgeable about nutraceuticals) before administering any herb to your horse.

With that said, here are a few of the more common herbs for horses and some of their uses:

Ginsengregulates cortisol production (helpful in dealing with stress), stimulates immune system, reduces fatigue, boosts performance. Both American and Korean Ginseng are useful in stimulating insulin secretion.

Jiaogulanregulates cortisol production, has many effects and uses–see this recent post on Jiaogulan.

Turmeric: anti-inflammatory, useful for arthritis, supports bowel health.

Devils Claw: potent anti-inflammatory, useful in treating pain and osteoarthritis (natural alternative to bute).

Spirulina: helpful in treating lung allergies (COPD, Heaves, Asthma), often helpful for skin allergies as well.

Slippery Elm Bark and Marshmellow Rootaid with constipation; with continued use, act as a prebiotic; can help prevent choke in horses.

Anise: aids in digestion, decreases flatulence.

Licorice Root: provides protection from and aids in healing gastric ulcers.

Raspberry Leaves: aids with mare ‘moodiness’ caused by fluctuations in hormones.

Bei Sha Shen, Dan Shen, Gui Zhi (among other Chinese herbs): act as bronchodilators, anti-allergy, loosen mucous, helpful for horses with EIPH (bleeders.)

References:

Ta-ta!

10 thoughts on “Herbs for Horses

  1. I have a mare with squamous cell carcinoma… what can I give her safely to arrest it’s progression?
    Thank you,
    Dee

    1. Those are good herbs as well. I’m getting ready to write another post on planting herbs in the horse pasture so check back soon!

  2. I would like to seed my paddocks with a variety of medicinal herbs so my horses can self medicate.
    One I am thinking of is CALENDULA. My daughter uses it in her herbal remedies such as making an oil that I can apply to irritated skin of a horse. We already feed the leaves to the chooks.
    Does anyone know if this is a herb that can be fed to horses either fresh or dried please?
    Thanks

      1. Thanks for that info Casie. I was looking in the wrong section!
        I have one concern regarding Dandelion. I’m not sure if flat weed grows in other parts of the world, but in Australia flat weed looks very similar to dandelion, is full of silica as well as other undesirable elements & horses can make themselves very unwell eating it. They will prefer it to pretty much all else & end up mineral deficient with a rickets type health issue. They loose control of their hind quarters but keep eating it until they can no longer stand.
        This is a thing that I worry about. Horses don’t seem to know when to stop!

        1. Hi Clissa–dandelions are actually very good for the horse. Is the flat weed something different? I’ve not heard of it.

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