Natural Horse World

Herbal Medicine For Horses

by Les Rees

Les Rees is a qualified practitioner of Natural Medicine for Horses and has opened a practice here in Tasmania.
She is particularly interested in stress related disease in horses and wrote her final assessment thesis on the subject. Stress can cause a lot of physiological symptoms which, if left untreated can perpetuate further behavioural problems in horses. But these symptoms can be treated very effectively with herbal medicine, good nutrition and a training regime that considers the natural learning behaviour of the horse.
Natural Medicine is the practice of holistic medicine and mostly requires more than one herb for the symptoms of disease. In Herbal Medicine the body is considered as a whole, each of its systems working in conjunction with the others in order to maintain a balance that keeps the horse healthy. If one system is weakened by disease it affects the other systems as they have to adapt their functioning to make up for the weakened physiological reactions, therefore the medicines used in treatments are aimed at the functioning of the whole body and not just specific parts where symptoms appear.

Unqualified chat room talk does not take this into consideration and can be not only misleading but detrimental to the health of horses, further more there are contraindications involved in the use of some herbs that could be unsafe for use in some circumstances. A recent example of this was a horse suffering from a chronic itching skin disorder causing the horse to rub the area until it became raw.
The owner had spent a lot of time asking advice from friends on how to deal with it and had spent a lot of money trying the various suggested remedies none of which had accomplished any success. As a result, the horse became stressed & difficult to handle due to the continued use of various washes and creams tried that only aggravated the condition. The reason being because, they could not work on their own.

It needed a holistic approach which was to address both the external and internal conditions to enable the healing of the whole body. Externally, the affected area was washed with Chamomile tea followed by an application of Chickweed & Calendula Cream.
Chamomile is a gentle soothing herb which contains nervine, sedative, anti-allergy and digestive actions all of which are useful for this problem. Chickweed has a vulnerary action which is excellent for the healing of wounds especially for those associated with itching and irritation. Calendula is the best herbal excellent antiseptic & anti-inflamatory.
Internally, the herbs Burdock, Yellow Dock, Cleavers, Vervain & Chamomile were used to rebalance the systems of the body through their combined actions.
Burdock has alterative, diuretic and bitter actions which cleanse the blood, aids the removal of excess water in the body supports the functioning of the kidneys and stimulates digestion all of which are important for the treatment of skin conditions.
Yellow Dock has alterative & hepatic actions which aids the cleansing of the blood and supports liver function by increasing the flow of bile. It also aids evacuation of the bowels. Cleavers has diuretic, alterative, anti-inflammatory & astringent actions which cleanse the blood, supports kidney function, aiding the recovery of inflamed tissues.
Vervain is a nervine which aids the reduction of stress in the body caused by the constant itching.
The owner was also advised to include Sulpha, Garlic, Rosehips & Kelp to the diet. Within two weeks there was a marked difference in the horse and within a month the symptoms had disappeared altogether.
Possible causes of this condition included checking the paddock and hay for undesirable weeds, change in diet, changes of paddock, availability of clean water; types of cleaning agents used (Shampoo etc); fly attack & stress related behaviour patterns etc.

From the above example you can see how the holistic approach works and how important it is to call in a qualified practitioner. It is not advisable to use these herbs without professional advice since the quantities used are finely balanced and can cause further problems if given in high doses.
The most common problem in horses is caused by wounds such as deep cuts usually around moving joints where they can’t be sutured which make it worrying for owners who envisage terrible scaring as a result. However, a combination of herbal medicines can heal the worst of wounds leaving very little scaring if any at all.
Horses respond extremely well to herbal medicine and it is relatively inexpensive and easy to use.

Consultations cost around $50, plus the cost of herbal treatment.

Les is also a supplier of most herbal medicines including individual preparations and packaged treatments, supplements and herbal first aid kits. For advice, supplies and consultations call Les: Mobile: 0438 586 705. Phone: (03) 6248 8552. Email:

2 thoughts on “Herbal Medicine For Horses”

  1. Angela Davies

    We have a horse with a condition very similar to that described above.He has always been a nervous animal despite doing a great deal of ground work and de sensitising with him and keeping him in a happy environment.He is extremely itchy and this causes him distress.Our vet has prescrbed prednisalone but this doesn’t seem to be having any affect and I do not like using steroid anyway. I plan to contact Les to see about a course of herbal treatment.

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