I have done a series of articles for Country Park Animal Herbs and they have been published over the years in Hoofbeats and Horse Deals Magazines. Over the next few months, now that a few years have passed, I will share these with my readers. For those of you in Australia, Country Park Animal Herbs sell most dried herbs in 1 kilo bags, an economical way to purchase quality herbs for your horse. This article was published in Hoofbeats July 2017.
Herbal Spring Clean for the Whole Horse
Your Herbal Spring Clean
When I first studying herbalism and other natural therapies over thirty years ago, the fashionable thing to do was to ‘detox’. This had been a twist on the traditional Physiomedical herbal approach to cleanse the system and then restore tone, and if done with the correct approach, you do achieve and restore health.
Some ‘detoxification’ processes can be quite heroic with a negative effect on the nervous system, but a gentle ‘Spring Clean’ can help wake the body up after slowing down through the sluggish Winter season.
For your Spring Clean to be effective, encompassing elimination processes with a simple combination of herbs will ensure you don’t imbalance your horse’s nervous system.
The hepatic system with the liver as your main elimination organ has two phases of clearing our toxins from the body It is important to address both of phases so that you are not recirculating the toxins you have released back in to the body. For stage one of your cleanse, dandelion root and St Marys thistle are able to help the liver. Dandelion root is high in vitamin c which supports the liver with this process, and if the liver has been struggling and needs to regenerate then St Marys thistle will help. These herbs can be used together or individually.
Then for the second stage for the liver, so that the toxins released by the first two herbs don’t recirculate, is turmeric root. The role of turmeric root is very important if your horse has needed bute or other drugs during Winter. Sometimes there is a residue stored in the body and once the dandelion root or St Marys thistle has released these residual drugs, then turmeric root can ensure these drugs are eliminated out of the body.
Cleansing with lymphatic herbs is an option if your horse has suffered from rain scald or greasy heel. Calendula petals and clivers will cleanse the skin via the lymphatic system and help with repair to the skin and coat. The lymphatic system is often referred to as the garbage dump of the body, so including a lymphatic cleansing herb is like the emptying the garbage bin.
The digestive system can become sluggish during the cooler months, especially when horses have consumed less water. Marshmallow root powder and/or psyllium hulls is useful for binding toxins in the gut so that they can then be passed out of the body easily when they defecate.
To round off the approach, Vervain is a nervine herb that will support the nervous system with its own cleansing effect in the hepatic and renal systems.
A general Spring Clean formula for an average sized horse feed over six to eight weeks could be equal parts of:
1 heaped tablespoon of Dandelion root powder
1 heaped tablespoon of Turmeric powder
1 heaped tablespoon of Clivers cut herb or powder (If in WA you need to use powder)
1 heaped tablespoon of Marshmallow root powder
1 heaped tablespoon of Vervain cut herb
You horse may not need all of the herbs in this formula. If your horse has specific health issues that need a Spring Clean another herb may be added to the formula or the approach could be adjusted to cover off on the issue.
For example, if your horse suffers from headshaking during the Spring months, substitute calendula petals for the clivers and add wood betony to help with the inflammatory response Spring pollens can trigger.
If your horse is prone to laminitis in the Spring, double your clivers component as it feeds and strengthens the hoof. If your horse shows signs of heat in the hoof, add one to two heaped tablespoons of yarrow to the mix. Yarrow is a primary laminitis herb that will help with addressing the inflammation with the turmeric root and it will have a gentle supportive cleansing effect on the kidneys and liver.
The way you approach your horse’s Spring Clean can be very individual. As a general rule try to limit your number of herbs in your approach to five herbs. It is important to not overload your horse’s elimination system with too much stimulation. The amounts you give of each herb is guided by body size, and the suggested amounts mentioned are a guide for an average sized 500 to 700 kilo horse.
Once you have completed your cleanse, and your horse has no specific health issues, use nutritional herbs like Nettles and Rosehips to round off your approach. Just one to two tablespoons daily for the time it takes to go through one kilo of each will help establish and strengthen a healthy well-being for the coming harshness of Australia’s Summer.