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.)



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