Jiaogulan for Horses

I have begun using herbs more and more with my horses, and one that I have used (with success) is a Chinese herb called Jiaogulan (Gynostemma pentaphyllum).  Many people call it J-Herb, for short.  I wanted to share when and how this herb might be benefical for your horse.

Jiaogulan is an adaptogenic herb which means it improves a horse’s (or person’s) ability to deal with stress.  It does this by regulating the hormone, cortisol–increasing or decreasing it as needed.

J-herb has been known for its positive effects on human cardiovascular health for some time.  Research has shown that this herb supresses inflammatory nitric oxide pathways, and at the same time, induces nitric oxide production in the blood vessels. The latter effect helps to keep blood vessels dilated and blood flowing efficiently.  For horses, Jiaogulan can be beneficial if they have Cushings disease (PPID), laminitis, or respiratory problems, among other things.

With Cushings horses, feeding 1-2 tsp of Jiaogulan has been said to block some of the negative side affects of the drug, pergolide (which is the standard prescribed drug for Cushings) and increase energy levels in the horse.

For laminitic horses, J-herb can help to address circulation problems and make the horse more comfortable.  It is not, and should not be considered a “cure” for laminitis–only something to help alleviate pain.

For respiratory problems such as Heaves, Jiaogulan acts as a bronchodilator, helping to decrease resistance in the airway.  It is often given in combination with another herb known as Spirulina for this condition.

Personally, I used a combination of Jiaogulan and AAKG ( L-Arginine Alpha-Ketoglutarate) for my horse, Lee Lee, when she had a suspensory ligament injury a few years ago.  I learned about both of these products in Dr. Eleanor Kellon’s equine nutrition course entitled, Nutrition as Therapy.  (Most of the research with J-herb and horses has been done by Dr. Kellon, by the way.)

If you are thinking of giving your horse Jiaogulan or any other herb, always check with your vet first.  J-herb should not be given in conjunction with bute, banamine, or  vasodilating drugs.  Dr. Kellon’s book, Horse Journal: Guide to Equine Supplements and Nutraceuticals, gives more detailed information about J-herb as well as a number of other supplements.  I refer to this book quite a bit!




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

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7 Responses

  1. Lynn Marcy says:

    Hi, I have a quarter horse. He is 16 years. He has heaves. Sometimes I don’t ride because to me he is breathing so hard. Sometimes I ride him and he will get better other times not. How can I help him?

  2. Susan holmes says:

    I have been giving my horse spurlina for some time with no improvement. He has no cough just in nasal noise , he does get clear fluid coming out his nose sometime . I am also having a problem with my husband horse he use just rub his nose in springtime now he is making like itchey nose noise and if he runs around he coughs I soak all my horses hay for 3 hours per orders from my vet. Husband horse still constantly clearing his nose when giving wet hay, I give them small amounts during the day so less waste. My husband said he is gonna buy a hay steamer for me in April (wont hold my breath on this) I hoping the steamed hay will help both of them

  3. Cindy says:

    Hi, my good friend’s sport horse has suspensory ligament issues just found by vet. The area is tender/inflammed – both hinds. How much jiaogulan will you give and is there any safety limit eg not to give too long? to feed on and off? The horse in qn is 16.3hh and quite muscular, a warmblood. Thanks very much.

  1. February 11, 2013

    […] regulates cortisol production, has many effects and uses–see this recent post on […]

  2. May 10, 2013

    […] ← Previous Next → […]

  3. December 4, 2013

    […] Jiaogulan (Gynostemma pentaphyllum)– supports cardiovascular health, increases blood flow, reduces effects of stress.  (I, personally, use this one a lot.  Read more about jiaogulan in this post.) […]

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