Dried Nettle for Horses
It amazes me how much I’ve learned about herbs in the last few years. And of course, I know I still have much more to learn. But with each issue one of my horses faces, I usually discover a new herb that quickly becomes my ‘favorite’!
One I discovered not too long ago is dried nettle. Maybe you’ve heard of it? Nettle sometimes get a bad rap because it’s viewed by many as an obnoxious weed and a nuisance in otherwise pretty pastures. It probably doesn’t help that the live plant has tiny hairs on the leaves and stem which sting when you come in contact with them (that’s why it’s called stinging nettle).
BUT. . . when cut an dried, nettle loses its sting and becomes a valuable herb. It has a long history of human medicinal use and was routinely used in medieval Europe as a diuretic (rids the body of water) and for treating joint pain. Topically, it has commonly been used to treat sore muscles, skin issues such as eczema and gout, and also anemia. In modern times, nettle is used to treat enlarged prostrate, urinary tract infections, and hay fever.
On top of all that, nettle is highly nutritious, containing ample amounts of nitrogen, calcium, silica, iron, phosphates and vitamins B, C, and K.
For horses, feeding dried nettle can help with the following specific issues:
- respiratory ailments;
- liver or kidney disorders; and
- lactation issues.
Nettle tea or extract can also be applied externally to help with arthritis.
I started Lee Lee on dried nettle after she developed her ‘summertime itchiness’ (skin allergies) again this year. I also fed nettle to Kady for a while after she came up very lame about a month and a half ago. I suspect she was suffering from a mild bout of laminitis after a short-term pasture change. After a couple of weeks on the nettle (and a few other measures), I’m happy to report that she is MUCH better now.
Nettle is plentiful in many areas, so you can harvest it yourself if you’re interested. Just make sure to wear gloves! As I stated before, nettle leaves can be very painful to touch. But interestingly enough, when the live plant comes in contact with a painful area on the body, it can decrease the pain. It’s thought that this works by reducing the levels of inflammatory chemicals in the body.
If you would rather purchase dried nettle for your horse, here are a couple of places you can buy them (I have bought from both sources):
Dosage for Nettles: Recommendations for an average sized (450kg) horse range from 15-30 g (1/3- 1 cup) per day. Nettle has shown to be safe for long-term feeding, but it can also be fed as a tonic or immune booster.
Note: It’s rare, but horses can be allergic to nettle and can develop a nettle rash. If this happens, stop feeding nettle.
Sources and Further Reading:
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