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.)






Hi! My name is Casie Bazay. I'm a mom, a freelance writer, and a certified equine acupressure practitioner.

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14 Responses

  1. Barbara Middleton says:

    Love Dr. Kellon. Great advise on her yahoo groups.

  2. Dee says:

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

  3. Swoozie says:

    What about peppermint and rosemary? thanks!

    • Casie says:

      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!

  4. Clissa says:

    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?

    • Casie says:

      Hi Clissa-Looks like calendula is safe for horses. Here is one article I found: http://holistichorse.com/health-care/plant-a-medicinal-herb-garden-for-your-horse/

      • Clissa says:

        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!

        • Casie says:

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

  5. Sue says:

    I have a rocky mountain mare that has free floating particulates in her eyes. In the last couple years I have noticed her studying streams closely before venturing in and shying away from people as if they have gotten right up to her without her noticing them. Going from light to shade, she seems to calm down if I cue her to step up or step down (yes I am still riding her) Vets have told me there is nothing I can do and that they fade away/increase from time to time. Is there an herb or herb combination that can resolve these??

    • Casie says:

      Hi Sue. Interesting question. In Chinese Medicine, eye issues are often linked with the liver meridian and sometimes, the liver itself. I would suggest adding an herb or herbal blend which supports the liver. Silver Linings makes a blend or you could try something like milk thistle or turmeric. Best of luck to you.

  6. Shannon says:

    What can I do to help our senior mare with recentweight loss, possibly Cushing’s disease, bad arthritis? She is already on golden paste. Where should I look for devil’s claw to replace the bute?

    • Casie says:

      You can find Devil’s Claw many places. I’ve ordered it from Valleyvet.com before. Did you enter the Cushing’s Kit Giveaway from Earth Song Ranch? If you go to the home page of my blog, you’ll see it as the top post. It ends this morning.

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