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Materia Medica

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When feeding dried herbal blends, a maximum daily dose of 30-50g is sufficient for a horse, and the dosage should be halved for ponies.

For tinctures, a dose of 3ml 2-3x daily, or 5ml 2x daily is the absolute maximum dose for a horse. Again, dosage should be halved for ponies.

If feeding the same type of herb over an extended period, a good rule to help maintain optimum efficacy and increase efficacy of the herb, is using a cycle of three months on and three weeks off. Giving the body rest from constant supplementation is good as, unlike allopathic medicine, herbs stay active in the body over a longer period. An occasional break makes the body less dependant on them and increases the benefits of long-term supplementation.

As a rule most herbs should not be fed to pregnant animals, as many of then have uterine or hormonal stimulant properties.  Before feeding a herb to a broodmare or foal, please consult with a herbalist in order to substantiate safety of a specific herb.

The information stated below is intended solely for horses and ponies older than six months of age, and is not be used in place of veterinary care or expertise. The recommended dosage listed below is the maximum allowable for horses and should always be halved for ponies:


Aniseed (Pimpinella anisum)


Aniseed is THE coughing herb. The Aniseed herb is expectorant, antispasmodic and carminative, so it’s wonderful for soothing and relieving coughs.  Blend Aniseed with complementary herbs such as Garlic, Liquorice root and Marshmallow. For sinus issues include Euphrasia in the blend, as it is anti-catarrhal. It is also carminative which makes it useful for colic.
Dose: 20-25g seed daily.

Burdock Root  (Arctium lappa)Dried Burdock Root

Burdock root is another blood cleansing herb that supports the liver. It is also a highly effective herb for treating all types of skin problems e.g. eczema, rashes and dry flaky skin.  It has been found to have anti-tumour properties, so it’s useful for inclusion in blends for all types of skin growths, including sarcoids.
Dose: 10g dried root daily.

Calendula (Calendula officinalis)


The vividly bright orange flower petals are the part used for medicinal purposes.  Calendula petals are used internally as a blood tonic, and have remarkable healing properties. It is also useful for healing gastric ulcers.  When calendula is combined in equal proportions with Clivers, it forms a powerful lymphatic detox and support blend. This blend also works well together with the inclusion of nettle to treat cystitis and skin conditions.  Calendula tincture is excellent when combined with Colloidal Silver as a wound wash, as it is antiseptic and antifungal as well as actively promoting skin healing. To make a healing cream or balm add 10% calendula tincture to an aqueous based cream or pure lanolin.
Dose: 15-20g dried petals daily.

Celery seed (Apiumgraveolens)

A strong diuretic herb and highly antirheumatic, it helps to prevent fluid build-up around joints and improves mobility. It also helps to expel internal gas. It should be used with caution in pregnant animals, or animals with kidney disease

Chamomile (German) (Matricaria recutita)

Chamomile Flower

Chamomile is a very good nervine for horses that process their nervousness through their digestive system, which generally also makes it useful for treating horses with gastric ulcers caused by stress. A “Chamomile” horse typically “gets the runs” at competition or when trucking (or any other stressful time when the horse senses it is going into an unknown situation e.g. hacking in a new area).  It is a useful for all “types” of tense horses though, as it is a mild sedative. Chamomile is also a useful anti-inflammatory, analgesic and anti-spasmodic.

Dose: 15-20g dried flowers daily.

Chaste-tree (Vitex agnus-castus)  

Agnus Castus

Dried Chaste Tree Berries

Chaste-tree berries are an incredible hormonal balancer. When it is combined in a mixture together with the nervines it is extremely helpful for “PMS”, moody type mares or for overly aggressive stallions. It’s hormonal balancing properties also makes it a must to include in Cushing’s Disease support blends.
Dose: 15g dried berries daily

Clivers (Galium aparine)

Dried Clivers


Combines exceptionally well with Calendula for various ailments, as mentioned above. Clivers are a rich bioavailable source of Silica, which is an essential trace mineral for promoting strong and healthy hoof and hair growth.  It is also a mild diuretic, and when fed internally it is helpful for reducing windgalls or other soft swellings.
Dose: 20-30g dried herb daily.

Comfrey (Symphytum officinale)

Comfrey is widely known for its remarkable healing properties, be it used internally for ulcers, broken bones and soft tissue damage, or externally to promote speedy wound healing.  It is very soothing for the mucous membranes, as well as being an expectorant, so it is excellent to include in any respiratory herbal blend.  It also improves circulation, and is helpful for treating arthritis.

Dose: 20-30 g dried leaf daily
Dandelion ( Taraxacum officinale)

Dandelion Flower

Dandelion is THE herbal electrolyte!! The Dandelion herb is a very effective diuretic but is also contains an abundance of potassium, magnesium and calcium, so it helps to replace the minerals that are leached out of the body.  It stimulates the liver as well as the kidneys, so is ideal to include in a detox blend.  Be sure to feed only the true medicinal dandelion “Taraxacum officinale”, and not the indigenous sub-species which grows throughout Southern Africa in paddocks and along roadsides, known as False Dandelion (“Hypochaeris radicata”).  The sub-species has a flat rosette of leaves which grow close to the ground, whereas the true medicinal Dandelion (“Taraxacum officinale”) has soft leaves that grow upward away from the ground, with very long and thin individual flower stems. The sub-species is toxic and can cause a stringhalt type of lameness if grazed too much.  Never leave your horses in paddocks which are infested by this weed if there isn’t sufficient alternative quality grazing available in the paddock.  True Dandelion is NOT associated with stringhalt and has marvelous tonic and health maintenance benefits.

Devil’s claw (Harpogophytum procumbens)

Devil’s Claw

Devil’s claw is a low-growing plant that is native to Southern Africa. The root is used medicinally as a powerful natural anti-inflammatory and analgesic, and its effectiveness has been found to be comparable with that of cortisone and phenylbutazone, but without the unpleasant side effects!  It is also an appetite stimulant. Very effective for easing muscle stiffness after heavy exercise. Combines well with MSM and Glucosamine for relieving arthritis.

Dose: 15g of dried root daily.




Echinacea  (Echinacea purpurea, E. angustifolia, E. pallida)

Echinacea Flower

Echinacea is a truly wonderful immune stimulant herb, however dosage must be regulated in order to fully gain its efficacy.  It should never be used constantly; it is much more effective if administered in cycles of two weeks on and one week off.  Also, it is much more effective if the different varieties and parts (roots and aerial herb) are all blended together.  Echinacea can be used prophylatically to help protect yards from viral outbreaks, or for treating chronic viral and bacterial infections.  It is good also for treating all types of allergic skin complaints.

Dose: 10-20g dried herb daily.





Elecampane root (Inula helenium)


It’s a powerful mucus expeller and antibacterial herb, ideal for respiratory allergies and infections. It’s also an alterative herb, which helps to restore normal bodily function. It’s an ideal supportive through severe illness, as it supports the kidneys, the nervous system, helps to sweat out a fever, is an anti-convulsive, is a blood purifier and gentle energy tonic, and supports the respiratory system. It also stimulates the appetite and is an anti-ulcerative. Caution: Avoid during pregnancy, and for animals with known sensitivity to plants in the sunflower family (Astaraceae). May interfere with hypoglycemic and hypertension treatments.




Eyebright (Euphrasia officinalis)

This is a powerful astringent, anti-catarrhal and anti-inflammatory herb. It’s particularly useful for helping to relieve any congestion in the head, such as hayfever. Only the aerial parts of this herb are used. When made into a tea, strained and allowed to cool, it makes an excellent soothing eye wash. Caution: Avoid use in pregnant and lactating animals.

Dose: 20-30g dried herb daily.







Fenugreek seed (Trigonella foenum-graecum)

Fenugreek Seeds

Fenugreek seed is a rich natural source of Vitamin E (the fertility vitamin) although don’t feed it to overly flirtatious mares as it may increase oestrogen levels!  It is a wonderful appetite stimulant and weight conditioner, is also very demulcent and emollient. Being so it encourages healing and prevention of gastric ulcers, so it is ideal for horses at high risk of developing gastric ulcers e.g. are fed high grain diets and stabled in busy competitive yards.

Dose: 20-30 g seed daily.





Garlic (Allium sativum)

Garlic Granules

This powerful herb is anti-viral, antibiotic, anti-fungal, anti-microbial, anti-septic, anthelmintic, expectorant and anti-diabetic so is excellent to use regularly in order to support the immune system. Be sure to feed the recommended dosage, and give an occasional break in supplementation. Excessive garlic fed over prolonged periods may cause Heinz body anaemia, but when fed in moderation it is perfectly safe and highly beneficial.

Dose: 15-30g dried flakes daily





Gotu kola(Centellaasiatica)

Gotu Kola

Gotu Kola is a specific for arthritis, and also helps to support the circulatory system. It is anti-inflammatory as well as a mild diuretic. It has been used to promote healing and reconstruction of connective tissue in the joints.









Hawthorn (Crataegus oxyacantha)

Hawthorn Leaves & Berries

Hawthorn is the perfect cardiovascular tonic, as it both improves circulation and has  the remarkable bi-directional ability to normalize both low and high blood pressure. It’s also a rich source of nineteen different types of flavonoid antioxidants. Another great aspect of this herb is its incredible safety even when fed in large quantities. And it does not interfere with allopathic cardiac medicines, so can safely be administered concurrently. It is fantastic for all types of conditions relating to poor circulation, including navicular, laminitis, windgalls, and slow, poor quality hoof growth.

Dose: 10-15 g of mixed dried leaves, flowers and berries




Horsetail (Equisetum arvense)

Horsetail herb

This herb is best known for it’s ability to heal bone and connective tissue injuries. It’s musculo-skeletal regenerative properties are linked to it’s significant content of bioavailable silicon. It’s silicon content also helps to strengthen hair and hoof quality. This herb is the most closely affiliated to bone health of all the herbs. It has the remarkable ability to break down and remove excess bone where it isn’t needed, and helps to lay it down and strengthen it where it is needed. In this way it helps to prevent degenerative bone disease. For healing bone and connective tissue injuries, it combines well with comfrey and nettle. It is also diuretic and helps to staunch bleeding.







Hops (Humulus lupus)


Hops is a very good nervine for horses that tend to be distracted easily, even though they may not necessarily be very physically “hot” to ride. Your “Hops” horses battle to concentrate on their work and to retain what they learn.  I have found that Hops combines well with the other nervine herbs for all types of horses, but especially for the “fizzy” “vervain-type” Thoroughbreds.

Dose: 15g dried herb daily




Kelp (Ecklonia maxima)


Kelp is anti-rheumatic, stimulates the thyroid gland, cleanses the blood, a mild diuretic and contains an abundant variety of minerals, vitamins and amino-acids, all of which help to encourage good health, including strong and healthy hoof and coat growth.

Dose: 15g dried kelp daily.








Liquorice root(Glychyrrizaglabra)

A powerful expectorant and immune supportive root. It is also demulcent, this helps to make it one of the primary respiratory supportive herbs. It is anti-inflammatory, one of the very best herbs to include in a herbal cortisone blend. It’s an adrenal and liver supportive. It helps to support the endocrine system and is an essential herb to include in a supportive blend for Cushing’s Disease.









Marshmallow(Althea officinalis)


Both the leaves and root are used medicinally. It’s very emollient and demulcent, and mildly anti-inflammatory, which makes it an ideal herb for treating gastric ulcers. It’s also expectorant and coupled with its soothing properties it helps to relieve coughs. It also has a strong affinity with the urinary tract, helping to dissolve crystals, lubricating the internal tissues and acting as an immunostimulant. The dried powdered root is an excellent drawing agent for abscesses and puncture wounds when combined in equal proportions with slippery elm inner bark powder.











Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria)


Meadowsweet is also anti-inflammatory, being a natural source of aspirin, but in contrast to the drug extract it has the fantastic advantage of not irritating the gastric lining.  In fact, it is so healing on the gastric system that it is a specific for gastric ulcers. Meadowsweet it THE “herbal aspirin”, only so much better, as it is also a natural antacid and promotes healing of the intestinal tract.

Dose: 20-30 g dried herb daily






Milk thistle seed (Silybum marianum)

Milk Thistle Seed

Milk thistle seed is THE liver herb!!  Not only does it help to detox the liver, but it also helps to regenerate liver damage if fed continuously for at least 6 – 8 weeks, but supplementing it for a 12 week period is the ideal. The active component of milk thistle is silymarin, which is only contained inside the very hard, indigestible seeds, so the ground/powdered form of the milk thistle seed is most effective for liver treatment.  It’s best to feed in combination with dandelion, which helps to flush the toxins out of the kidneys which the Milk Thistle seed releases from the liver.

Dose: 10 – 15g ground seed daily.




Mint (Mentha piperita)

Mint leaf

Mint is a carminative and anti-spasmodic which reduces excess flatulence and can help prevent gassy colics. To use as a colic preventative, introduce the mint to the diet before making any feeding changes.  Mint is a very good anti-depressant, a great pick-me-up for rescue horses, horses that seem depressed after losing a companion or moving yards, or feeling a bit work weary towards the end of a tough competitive season.  It perks them up and gives them a more positive outlook on life in general,without making them go over the top.

Dose: 15-20g dried herb daily.




Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris)


This nervine herb is mildly sedative and helps to improve sleep patterns. It’s particularly helpful for cases who’ve lost their appetite and are struggling from depression. It’s also a bitters herb that supports the liver and digestion. Caution: Avoid use in pregnant animals.










Nettle (Urtica dioica, U. urens)


Nettle is a rich natural source of bio-available iron and Vitamin C, so is very useful for treating anaemia.  It is also a powerful blood cleanser and diuretic, improves circulation and is a mild anti-inflammatory, so it is a must to include in arthritic herbal blends.  Nettles have a dramatic effect in improving hoof and coat condition, often causing an abundance of dapples rippling under gleaming coats!!

Dose: 20- 30g dried herb daily.





Passiflora (Passiflora incarnata)

Passiflora Flower

Passiflora has a powerful synergistic action with the other nervines in order to help the horse let go of old nervous habits and restructure more positive neural reactions.  Highly recommended to include in any calming blend.

Dose: 15-20g dried herb daily.







Red Clover (Trifoliumpratense)

Red clover

One of the best-known blood purifying and anti-tumour herbs. Highly tonic, this herb helps to soothe coughs and speed recovery from respiratory illnesses as it is expectorant and helps to soothe inflamed mucous membranes. Feed only at recommended dosages as excessive quantities increases oestrogen levels.









Rosehips (Rosa canina)

Rosehip shell

Rosehips are a rich natural source of Vitamin C, copper and many other nutrients, all of which help to encourage strong and healthy hoof and coat growth. They’re very anti-oxidant, highly beneficial for preventing and healing joint issues, and strengthen tissue bonds. Rosehips are also anti-scouring, if fed at recommended dosages. They’re highly safe to feed to all horses on a permanent basis, including broodmares.

Dose: 15-20g dried rosehip shell daily.








Siberian Ginseng(Eleutherococcussenticosus)

One of the best adaptogenic herbs, and the most sustainable to harvest. This herb helps the body to adapt and improve resistance to stress of all types. It is circulatory stimulant, dilates blood vessels, and is anti-depressant.








Slippery elm bark (Ulmus fulva, U. rubra)

Slippery Elm Bark Powder

Slippery elm bark is a must for treating gastric ulcers, as it is mucilaginous and thus will form a protective and healing poultice like layer over damaged gastric lining tissues.  It is also anti-inflammatory and mildly astringent, so is very useful for using as an external poultice on wounds, and works well as a drawing agent.  Combine with honey, marshmallow root powder and a little water and apply a layer on the inside of a leg wrap and bandage over the affected area.  Slippery elm bark is excellent for treating scouring; it is very safe and effective even for foals.  It also helps to prevent gastric ulceration, so it is helpful to include in the feed twice daily when a horse needs to be on a long course of conventional anti-inflammatories.

Slippery elm bark is extremely costly, as it can only be harvested from a tree which is at least seven years old, only the soft inner bark can be used, and harvesting the bark can cause the tree to die.  Understandably, this invaluable tree is in very short supply and is now threatened in it’s natural habitat; so only make use of this precious herb when it is truly justifiable, otherwise Plantain or Marshmallow root are good alternatives for treating gastric ulcers.

Dose: 15-20g dried and powdered inner bark daily.

Turmeric (Curcuma longa)

turmeric root powder


A rich source of curcumin and other powerful antioxidants, this golden root is highly anti-inflammatory and full of tissue protective anti-oxidants.This is a versatile and helpful herb for many health issues. It’s one of the best herbs to supplement for any chronic pain issue, not least of all arthritis. This herb also has a strong affinity with the circulatory system and strengthens liver function, which makes it a useful herb to include for digestive support. This herb has the ability to chelate excess iron out of the body, and is an extremely safe supplement to include in the diet. Only the root of this plant is used, and it’s effectiveness is enhanced by the addition of 2-3% finely ground black pepper (Piper nigrum).




Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)

Valerian Root Powder

“Valerian” type horses are regarded as processing their stress through their muscles.  They tense up when frightened and the rider will feel it underneath the saddle and in their work, but bystanders may be completely unaware of it.  If a “Valerian” type horse becomes completely over pressurized by a situation it may well explode and end up bucking, rearing or bolting.  “Valerian” type horses often have very hard stools  — so the valerian furthermore suits them because it is a mild laxative. It is contra-indicated for any horse that has diarrhoea. Valerian is a banned substance under competition rules.

Dose: 15g dried root daily.




Vervain (Verbena officinalis)

“Vervain” type horses are the typical Thoroughbred – fizzy, spooky, impatient type horses who often use up all their energy dancing and fidgeting around before the race/competition has even started! Your “Vervain” type horses tend to have very sensitive skins which show up as allergic reactions to insect bites, rashes and general itchiness.  It’s ideal to include in gastric ulcer blends as I have found that “Vervain” type horses seem to be typically prone to gastric ulcers and by balancing their nervous system it helps to heal and prevent gastric ulcers from reoccurring. Vervain is also an excellent liver supportive herb.

Dose: 20-30g of dried herb daily.








Yarrow  (Achillea millefolium)

I had to include this herb in the Materia Medica chiefly because of its powerful ability to staunch bleeding.  Soldiers as far back as Roman times used it on the battlefield, which is why the herb earned the common names “Soldiers Woundwort” and “Knight’s Milfoil”.  Make a strong tea (3 tablespoons dried herb steeped in 1 cup of warm water), and use on the affected area when it has cooled sufficiently. It’s a good idea to keep a bottle of Yarrow tincture on hand for emergencies, using the tincture directly on a wound for it’s styptic properties, although be warned, it will burn! Most horses have a much higher pain threshold than humans and won’t kick out when applied, but some might. If you’re concerned the horse might react, rather add the tincture to equal proportions of hot (but not boiling water), leave for 1 minute for the alcohol to evaporate, and then add an equal amount of cool water and then it’s ready to apply.

Yarrow is also excellent for stimulating the appetite, especially if the horse is recovering from an illness. Yarrow is also extremely good for horses that suffer from epistaxis.

Dose: 25g dried herb daily.



Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) –

The best kind of ACV to use is the unpasteurized variety, ideally it should still contain the mother, and it must have minimum 5% acidity. ACV should be fed to all grain or concentrate fed horses on a daily basis, as it helps to maintain the correct body pH.  Excessive amounts of carbohydrates and proteins create an acidic pH level in the body in which diseases can thrive. ACV has numerous overall health benefits – too many to mention here unfortunately – but is particularly well known for its ability to prevent arthritis.  It provides a wide variety of trace elements and is a good digestive aid.  It’s an appetite stimulant and is generally very well accepted when mixed into concentrate feed. In this way, it can help to tempt shy feeders. ACV also helps to balance the metabolism, so it helps to slim down overweight horses and helps thin horses to gain a more ideal weight by encouraging their appetite and supporting healthy gut flora and digestion.

Dose: 30-50ml daily.



An incredible powerful natural antibiotic. It’s made by bees using resins, pollens and essential oils.  Bees use it to line their hives to seal out contaminants.  Propolis is antibiotic, antiviral, anti-fungal and highly safe.  Conventional antibiotics may be used in conjunction with propolis, as propolis will reinforce and strengthen the action of the conventional antibiotic without causing any additional side effects. Propolis can be used internally for any viral or bacterial infection.  Use the powder (5 – 10g daily) or tincture (3ml daily) internally.  Externally the tincture is very good to use on wounds to encourage healing and staunch bleeding.  When exposed to air, a thin layer of a good quality propolis tincture applied over a wound may at first feel a little sticky, but then it quickly dries to form a smooth and supple protective seal over the top of the wound.  This helps to seal out and kill any infections and encourages healing.


Lavender Essential Oil

Lavender Blossom

An incredible wound healer.  I usually use it on wounds for a few days after I have used the Propolis, as it speeds healing and promotes hair regrowth.  It should be blended with a carrier oil, 1 drop lavender essential oil for every 10 drops of carrier oil. Lavender essential oil can also be used as a rinse on strained tendons, bruises or tired overworked legs.  Add 15 – 20 drops Lavender essential oil to 2 liters of warm water and sponge down affected areas.




Natural Sea Salt 

Natural sea salt contains a vast array of trace minerals, in minute quantities but all in a bio-available form.  Ideally the salt should be available free choice, so that the horse is able to satisfy its own individual requirements.


Brewer’s Yeast: 

A very good source of the water-soluble B-vitamin group and the antioxidant mineral selenium, and it encourages healthy gut flora and efficient feed assimilation.  It’s also a good source of zinc and the blood sugar regulating mineral Chromium. Brewer’s yeast is a dead (inactive) yeast supplement, so it will not cause or aggravate any yeast infections in the body.

Dose: 20-40g daily.


Linseeds/ Flaxseeds


a very rich source of omega 3’s, from which horses are able to manufacture Omega 6’s as they require.  Omega 3’s are desperately lacking in the modern horse’s processed diet, but Omega 6’s are usually excessively available.  Omega 3’s have numerous health benefits and are an extremely good general health supplement for all horses. Dry flaky skin problems or inflammatory skin conditions such as sweet-itch are proven to benefit tremendously from added linseed in the diet.  It is also indicated for horses that suffer from azoturia (tying-up) as it helps to prevent lactic acid build-up and promotes a smoother muscle action. It’s also recommended to feed internally to horses with ligament injuries, for this purpose its best if combined in equal proportions with white millet seed.

Contrary to popular belief, raw whole linseeds ARE safe for horses provided they are good quality (should smell nutty and look shiny and hard, if they smell fishy or are dusty and dull then discard them immediately). The tough outer shell is almost indigestible, so they are best utilized if freshly milled prior to feeding. Soaking them is not recommended as it creates a toxin.  For fattening purposes linseed can be cooked for 2 –3 hours until a glutinous gel appears, but as Omega 3’s are very heat sensitive, they will be destroyed. NB!!!: Raw linseed oil is EXTREMELY toxic for horses – do not feed under any circumstances! Cold pressed flaxseed oil that is kept refrigerated is safe, and can be used as an alternative for the freshly milled seeds (daily dosage for a horse is 15-20ml daily)

Dose: ½ – 1 cup freshly milled seeds daily


Probiotics – not recommended for daily use, but are excellent for maintaining/restoring a healthy population of beneficial gut microflora during and after times of possible disruption. For example: Travelling long distance; after a bout of diarrhea; a long course of antibiotics or anti-inflammatories; and deworming. It usually takes 7-10 days for the microflora to reach optimum levels so 2-3 weeks supplementation is ample. In general probiotics are not recommended for foals, and should only be prescribed in certain instances by a vet.




Alterative – restores the proper function of the body, typically through altering metabolism by improving the tissues’ ability to metabolise nutrients and eliminate waste. Otherwise known as a “blood purifier”.

Analgesic – reduce pain by reducing the sensitivity of nerves.

Antacid – counteracts or neutralizes acidity, usually of the stomach.

Anthelmintic – destroy or expel worms from the digestive system.

Antibacterial – destroys bacteria or suppresses their growth or reproduction.

Antibiotic – helps the body to withstand infection or infestation of pathogens.

Anti-catarrhal – remove excess mucus, generally from the upper respiratory tract.

Anti-diabetic – help regulate and reduce blood sugar

Anti-diarrhoeal – opposes or corrects diarrhoea

Antifungal – act against fungal infection.

Antihistamine – having a neutralizing effect on the body’s release of histamine.

Antihypothyroid – reduces deficiency of the thyroid hormone.

Anti-inflammatory – help the body combat inflammation.

Antimicrobial – help the body destroy or resist pathogenic organisms

Antirheumatic – have the ability to prevent, relieve or cure rheumatism.

Antisclerotic – reduces hardening and thickening of cell walls

Antiseptic – inhibit growth of bacteria, and prevent infection and putrefaction.

Antispasmodic – help prevent or relieve muscle spasms in both skeletal and smooth muscles.

Antitussive – reduce or prevent coughing.

Antiviral – kills viruses or renders them unable to replicate.

Aperient – mild and gentle laxative.

Astringent – have a binding or contracting action on skin and mucous membranes, tone local blood vessels and stop bleeding.

Carminative – soothe and settle the gut wall, easing gripping and reducing flatulence.

Cholagogue – help to stimulate the flow of bile from the liver, and has a mild laxative action.

Demulcent – rich in mucilage, which soothes and protects inflamed or irritated tissue.

Diuretic – increase the formation and elimination of urine.

Emollient – have the same soothing and healing effect as demulcents, but specifically on the skin.

Expectorant – remove excess mucus from the lungs

Haemostatic – stop or prevent bleeding

Hepatic – tone, strengthen and support the function of the liver.

Hepatoprotective – protect the liver

Hypotensive – reduce blood pressure

Immune stimulant – stimulate and support the body’s defence systems against pathogens.

Laxative – promotes contraction of the bowels to stimulate the removal of faeces.

Nervine – promote relaxation of and restore the nervous system.

Nutritive – nourish the body.

Pulmonary – support lung function.

Stimulant – cause an increase in body functions, predominantly the circulatory system.

Stomachic – tone and stimulate action of the stomach.

Tonic – strengthens and supports the function of a specific organ, or in some cases, the entire body.

Vasodilatory – dilate blood vessels by relaxing their muscular walls

Vulnerary – help wounds and inflammations to heal.



Herbal Support for Cushing’s Disease

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Equine Cushing’s Disease (ECD) mostly affects mature horses, but can affect horses under the age of ten. Currently there are no cures for this disease, either conventional or herbal. However there are several support therapies available that can help to extend and improve the quality of life for ECD horses. Early detection, treatment and proper management is extremely advantageous, as this can significantly slow down the progression of the disease.

Cushings coat

Fluffy bay

ECD is normally caused by a benign tumour of the pituitary gland. In simple terms, the pituitary gland (located in the horse’s skull) is responsible for sending chemical triggers out to other parts of the endocrine system in order to control various bodily functions. These include temperature regulation, blood sugar levels, flight or fight response, appetite and thirst. Usually the pituitary gland can stop sending out these chemical triggers when required, but an ECD horse’s pituitary does not. The overproduction of these chemical triggers leads to a disruption of the intricately balanced endocrine system, stimulating a chain reaction of over-and-under produced hormones, which in turn wreaks havoc on the horse’s overall well-being.

Symptoms of an ECD horse include:


The overall impression of an ECD horse is that he or she is ageing at an extremely rapid rate. In addition, neurological symptoms (such as impaired co-ordination of the hind limbs and hyperventilation) can appear at an advanced stage of the disease. This occurs because the enlarged pituitary gland can grow to the point where it causes compression on the brain.


ECD horses need a lot of special care and management, and the precarious state of their health should never be underestimated.

Routine management should include:


An ECD horse’s diet should be much the same as horses prone to laminitis i.e. low sugar/low starch. Excess protein is also a danger, so lucerne should be limited or restricted altogether. Unsuitable concentrate feeds stimulate the vicious cycle of the disease, and significantly increase the horse’s chance of succumbing to a life-threatening infection. A high starch/sugar diet stimulates the over-production of cortisol, which leads to constant high blood sugar levels and a suppressed immune system. Elevated blood sugar levels over a prolonged period leads to insulin resistance, so in effect, ECD horses have the same dietary vulnerability as human type 2 diabetics.


ECD horses should have constant access to good quality low-sugar grass hays. It’s generally not a good practice to give the horse a huge pile of low-sugar hay, because they will be driven by their insatiable appetite to devour the whole lot in one go, and this may still result in elevated blood sugar levels. At the same time, they should never be denied access to forage, as their increased metabolic rate can literally put them at risk of starvation. Slow feed haynets placed at ground level are the best solution as safe hay trickle feeders.

Constant access to grazing is not necessarily a solution, as it’s known that there are times when grass sugar levels spike. This is a large topic with many variables, so I would highly recommend visiting the website to get a better understanding of it.

In brief, grass sugar levels gradually increase through the daylight period, usually starting to rise from around 10am and reaching a peaking around 2pm, and this level will continue for the remainder of the day, steadily decreasing only when the temperature starts to decrease. ECD and laminitic horses should be removed from grazing on “sugar risk days” (particularly from high-risk grazing) from around 12 am-10 pm, depending on the degree of the risk. Various other stressors such as overgrazing, drought, flooding and seeding can also cause grass sugar “spikes”, and some varieties of grasses are naturally higher in sugars than others. Surprisingly, areas of lush grass can be much safer than overgrazed, sparse grass!


The importance of safe grazing for ECD horses was driven home to me earlier this year: Midnight was an elderly mare but was still ridden regularly on outrides when she suddenly developed ECD symptoms, and was confirmed as an ECD case by her vet.  Her owner chose instead to contact us for herbal treatment of ECD, rather than using the conventional treatment options.  We treated Midnight herbally for the disease for a year and a half, and she had been making steady and noticeable improvement over that period. Both her vet and farrier commented that she was the longest surviving ECD horse they had known.In spite of this, Midnight went downhill extremely abruptly, exactly four days after very hot and humid weather, which in turn had followed directly after 3 days of bitterly cold weather and torrential rain.

These are near perfect conditions to spike grass sugar levels, and correspondingly, caused a spate of problems for laminitic horses in the region. Fairly typical of ECD, Midnight spontaneously developed a small weeping sore on the heel bulb, indicative of a breakdown in circulation. Four days later the weeping sore broke out aggressively and began oozing pus, with Midnight rapidly deteriorating into acute discomfort. By this stage her owner decided she had little chance of recovery, so the decision was made to end her suffering. I have little doubt that the extreme weather pattern influence of the grass sugar levels was the reason for Midnight’s sudden undoing, as nothing else in her management routine had changed. So strict grazing management is vital.


As mentioned earlier, there are no cures available for ECD, but herbal treatment can provide overall health support, resolve some symptoms and slow down the progress of the disease.


First on the list of recommended herbs for ECD is Chaste Tree Berries (Vitex Agnus castus). This herb is a hormonal normaliser, and has been used in several field trials for ECD horses in the UK with great success. It’s believed that the herb stimulates production of the chemical mediator dopamine, which regulates production of the pituitary gland.


Which brings us nicely to the next recommended herbs for ECD – which are anti-oxidant rich herbs. Dopamine producing cells in normal horses are for some reason limited in their antioxidation capacity in ECD horses, and are therefore susceptible to premature death. Anti-oxidant rich herbs which help to prevent this include Rosehips, Turmeric and Green Tea. Grape Seed and Hawthorn are also rich sources of natural anti-oxidants.


Herbs to support circulation (such as Hawthorn, Cayenne, Nettle and Rosehips) are extremely beneficial, as are the liver and kidney support herbs such as Milk Thistle seed and Dandelion, as these organs are put under extreme pressure by the disease. Bilberries are also recommended to improve eyesight, as these fruits improve micro-circulation, especially for individuals suffering from metabolic diseases. Eyebright is another useful herb for the same purpose.


Kelp helps to support the endocrine system, and is a rich source of minerals and amino acids. ECD horses can particularly become deficient in these, because of their increased urination.

ECD horses have an increased risk of infection because of elevated blood sugar levels and a suppressed immune system. For this, immune support herbs such as Garlic, Calendula and Rosehips are recommended.


At this stage it’s slightly controversial as to whether immune system stimulants should be used for ECD, as it is an auto-immune disease and some feel that stimulating the immune system will hasten the progress of the disease. Some would rate Echinacea as an immune stimulant, whereas others regard it as an immune system regulator, as it has the remarkable bi-directional ability to either stimulate or reduce white blood cell production as required. Anecdotally, including Echinacea in ECD herbal treatment programs has received positive reports worldwide.

Inbox for further info about our custom herbal mixes for Cushing’s Disease in both horses and dogs.

Herb Garden for Horses

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We are often contacted by owners asking about the feasibility of growing a mixed pasture of grasses and herbs in their horses’ paddocks. It’s a great idea, as it increases nutritional variety and it’s true that horses seek out specific medicinal herbs when needed. It can be tricky to accomplish in the dry Southern African climate though, and the fast-growing tropical grasses commonly used in grazing paddocks here tend to crowd out other plants. Overseas it’s quite a different story, as herbs will grow perfectly happily in amongst their seasonal native grasses. In Germany, the standard commercial bale of hay is naturally a mixture of native grasses and volunteer field herbs such as Calendula, Dandelion, Fennel, Mint, etc, which is so totally unlike here where monoculture hays are the norm. Especially in the Western Cape where Veldt hay is barely available at all.

Getting back to the herb paddock subject, a problem most people find when they try to grow mixed herb and indigenous grass pastures in SA is that our grasses (and the non-indigenous but extremely widespread invasive Kikuyu grass) grow extremely voraciously whenever there is regular water available. The herbs need plenty of water in order to grow in our country’s mostly dry climate, but then the grasses tend to grow right over the top of any other plants and completely crowd them out, so its very hard to keep the right balance of herb and grass mixture for any period of time. If you are planning to do a smaller area and keep it entirely grass free, it would give the herbs a much better growing opportunity. Although there is a major drawback to this option: just a couple of horses can do a LOT of damage to a patch of herbs in a small area in a very short amount of time. A better idea is to establish a quality grass paddock surrounded with a 1-2m wide grass-free herb bed, planted around the outside of a 1 m high post and rail fence. This way the horses have free access to the herbs, but won’t trample them.


In the herb beds I’d recommend growing a mixture of herbs such as Comfrey, Liquorice, Dandelion, Chamomile, Golden Rod, Echinacea, Vervain, Red Clover, Parsley, Mint, Marshmallow, Calendula, Fennel, Fenugreek and Nettle, all of which are great for maintaining healthy horses and also grow well in our climate. Plant the shorter growing varieties closer to the rail, and the taller ones further away where the horses can stretch over to reach them.


Ensure that you plant the English Comfrey (Symphytum officinale), not the potentially toxic and much hairier Russian Comfrey (Symphytum uplandicum). The Dandelion must be the true medicinal Taraxacum officinale variety, not the commonly confused False Dandelion (Hypochaeris radicata) which is toxic and can cause a stringhalt type lameness if eaten in large quantities. Our local weed variety of nettle (Urtica urens) is fully interchangeable with the British type (Urtica dioica), and the horses will usually gobble them up if you cut the plants and leave them to wilt in the sun for a couple of hours (in order to neutralise the stinging hairs) before offering to them.


A couple plants each of Yarrow, Thyme, Rosemary, Lavendar, Wormwood and Sage are excellent additions. These particular herbs are quite powerful, containing volatile oils which have anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, vermifige and vermicidal properties. Horses would only very rarely choose to eat these herbs, and in limited quantities as and when necessary. Too much of these herbs for too long can cause toxicity issues, but it’s highly unlikely that horses would ever free willingly over-eat on any of them.


Indigenous herbs and shrubs which are safe for horses are excellent additions. These include Sutherlandia, the various types of dekriet, creeping saltbush, the Polygala’s, and the Hermannia species (except the toxic H. tomentosa), buchu, pelargoniums, aloes and wild olive.


Good border herbs which are incredibly safe and extremely healthy for horses to nibble on, and are ideal to grow around the outside edge of paddocks as a hedge for natural shelter, are Hawthorn (botanical name Crataegus oxycantha) and the Dog Rose (Rosa canina), which grows particularly successfully in a clay or partial-clay soil. Horses particularly like eating the Rose’s red fruits, called hips. Hawthorn is ideal to grow on the southern border as it’s evergreen, whereas the deciduous roses are ideal for the western border.


It may take quite some effort to establish and maintain a herb garden for your horses, but should be very well worthwhile in the end! Once or twice a year, when it comes time to neaten up the garden with a bit of trimming, spread the cut herbs thinly over the grass in the paddock so that they dry out in the sun, as horses often prefer the taste of dried herbs to fresh.





The Purpose for this Garden Layout – to have interlinked paddocks with the same arrangement, hence the hedge planted in the middle. If only one herb paddock was needed, then the hedge can be planted right against the outside boundary (then the shorter type herbs planted on the outside would not be required), and then the hedge borders would only need to be 4m wide.


Tips for planting:


A Complete Equine Herbal Treatment Approach for Longterm Relief of Gastric Ulcers

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Gastric ulcers are widely recognized as a common issue for competitive horses. Studies have shown that over 80% of performance horses are affected by this condition. Some horses cope remarkably well despite them, but for others the situation can deteriorate until the horse shows related symptoms, including weight loss, decreased appetite, lacklustre performance, general irritability and restlessness and sometimes even recurring colic. The three main causes for gastric ulcers are: an unnatural (high grain/molassed concentrate) diet; stress; and certain drugs. Competitive horses are frequently subjected to at least one of these three main causes on a regular basis.

For permanent relief, the primary causes of ulcers must be reduced or eliminated. Ulcer-prone horses do well on a low concentrate/ high forage diet, based on good quality forages and grazing.  The horse’s stomach naturally developed in order to digest small but regular intakes of mainly fibrous material. The large quantities of starchy and sugary grain concentrate meal which stabled horses are usually fed in two or three large feeds daily are in stark contrast to this. Large quantities of grain promote the development of gastric ulcers, because a stomach full of grain will digest far more rapidly than a stomach full of a more fibrous feed. This results in an empty stomach which is vulnerable to continuous gastric acid secretions. It’s common sense that horses prone to ulcers should be allowed free access always to good quality roughage which buffers gastric acids. Ideally, they should also have their grain concentrate meals diluted with lucern chaff, and be fed smaller meals regularly through the day. Studies show that lucern hay has a particularly protective effect; because it’s high protein and calcium content have an excellent buffering effect on stomach acids.


If the horse has had to have a prolonged course of anti-inflammatories or antibiotics; or has had various stressors (e.g. long distance travelling or moving yards) then there are several soothing herbs ideal for healing gastric ulcers. These herbs can also be used before, during and after these types of stressors, to help maintain the horse’s digestive system in a healthy condition and prevent ulcers.


Honeyvale Herbs Ulcer-Ease herbal treatment blend contains 100% pure herbs which work together to restore and maintain a healthy balance of the horse’s nervous and digestive systems. In a synergistic blend form, together they form a highly effective blend for the comprehensive treatment and prevention of gastric ulcers.

They are:




A healthy gut flora imbalance is also linked to peptic ulcers. One particular bacterial organism, Helicobacter pylori, is the main culprit as it weakens the mucosal coating which naturally protects the stomach and intestinal walls from stomach acid damage. As a prebiotic supplement, Brewer’s Yeast restores the balance in favour of healthy bacteria, because it provides a rich source of nutrients which enable healthy gut flora to thrive and predominate the intestinal tract. Additional reasons why Brewer’s yeast is beneficial for ulcer horses because it helps to relieve scouring, encourages efficient feed conversion, and it supports the nervous system.


Antacid treatments, including omeprazole and ranitidine (which reduce gastric acidity) are routinely prescribed by veterinarians for equine ulcer treatment. Research has shown that although these treatments can be temporarily effective, they can have a laundry list of unwanted side effects. One negative effect ranitidine had was to permanently alter the normal function and structure of cells lining the stomach and preventing their ability to produce stomach acid. Although ranitidine used to be popularly prescribed by veterinarians for equine ulcers, thankfully it has since fallen out of favour once further research had proved this drug was an unsuitable treatment option. Omeprazole though is not without its side effects either, long-term (more than 60 days) use include risk of it reducing bone density. Also, it’s function in limiting the secretion of normal levels of gastric acids can lead to Vitamin B12 deficiency, which in turn can result in pernicious anaemia, limit the regeneration of damaged nerve tissues and impair healthy liver function. In addition, antacid treatments are limited to treating stomach ulcers only, as it is ineffective against treatment of ulcers in the small intestine, large intestine, cecum and colon.


From a herbalist’s perspective, antacid treatment is a fundamentally flawed treatment approach, in that only normal levels of stomach acids are capable of properly digesting and absorbing a large number of vitamins and minerals, and it’s crucial for breaking down and utilizing proteins.


Herbs do not have the unwanted side effects of standard antacid treatments, and certainly don’t inhibit digestion. In fact, besides actively stimulating healing of gastric ulcers throughout the equine digestive tract, herbs promote effective digestion, and are nourishing in themselves even!



(Text by: Jennie van der Byl).

Herbs for Dapples and Lustrous Coats

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 Outward appearance is a good indication of the state of health on the inside.

Not only does feeding herbs have the distinct advantage of supporting and nourishing the organ systems and internal tissues. Your horse will gleam externally with health also.


Many herbs are rich in a variety of easily metabolized, food form nutrients which are essential for a healthy coat. For example, Kelp contains no fewer than 25 vitamins and 92 different mineral elements!  In addition, it contains a wide variety of amino-acids, which form a minimum of 9-11% of Kelp’s analysis. One word of caution with Kelp though is that it is not suitable for horses which suffer from hyper-thyroidism because of its high iodine content. Although thankfully this condition is extremely rare. Even with normal horses though, you should be cautious not to feed another supplement that is high in iodine when also feeding kelp. Moderation is key, and when used as such, Kelp is perfectly safe and highly beneficial.


Another great herb for coats is Clivers. It’s rich in the hair-strengthening mineral silica and colour enriching copper. Horses which are copper deficient often have a burnt orange tinge to their coats, and the individual hairs themselves are curled and split at the ends. Other copper-rich herbs include Paprika, Kelp, Rosehips and Dandelion.

Fenugreek seed is rich in vitamin E, which promotes healthy skin and shiny hair.


Nettle, Hawthorn and Rosehip are all nutritious and excellent circulatory stimulants. Increased circulation helps because it carries nutrients into peripheral capillaries and delivers them to the growth surface where they are needed. Nettle is a renowned coat conditioner as it has the marvelous ability to bring out beautiful dapples.





Circulatory stimulant herbs also carry away waste products, and so have a supportive role in detoxifying the system. Herbs which have a direct detoxifying effect are the liver (hepatic) and kidney (diuretic) herbs. A dull, yellowish coat and dry, scurfy skin reflects a toxic build-up in the system, because the skin is a secondary excretory organ for toxins. In which case using herbs which support liver and kidneys will bring the gleam back into your horse’s coat, and can help prevent inflammatory skin conditions from eventually developing.

The best liver support herb is Milk Thistle seed, as its active constituent silymarin has the ability to heal and regenerate liver cells. Silymarin takes a minimum of 6-8 weeks to begin to regenerate liver cells, so it ideally should be used for 12 weeks.  Only the seeds of the Milk Thistle plant contain silymarin, and these must be milled to a powder because the tough outer shell of the seed is virtually indigestible. Expect to see a lustre in your horse’s coat after 6 weeks on Milk Thistle seed, and after 12 weeks your horse’s coat should be gleaming!


Milk Thistle is great to use as a once or twice annual detox (for 8 – 12 weeks each time) for most horses, especially for those working hard, or those living in close proximity to conventional vineyards and orchards using inorganic herbicides and pesticides.When you supplement Milk Thistle seed, you should co-supplemented with the diuretic herb Dandelion. They support and enhance each other’s efficacy. Nettle also combines well with these herbs, as it is a blood-cleanser. Honeyvale Herbs Liver & Blood Tonic contains these herbs in ideal proportions.  Other cleansing herbs include those rich in sulphur, such as Garlic and Echinacea, and these sulphur rich herbs also help prevent bacterial skin infections.


Other common-sense approaches to dealing with a dull coat is a healthy diet which includes the right proportions of nutrients, especially omega 3 fats, and providing free access to a good quality salt – preferably natural sea salt). Also, ensure your horse is not carrying a worm burden. There are many herbs which have excellent vermifuge and vermicidal properties, our Herbal Dewormer blend is useful for including in a worm control routine as a chemical free alternative.


Shampoo your horse’s coat as little as possible, as this removes natural protective oils from your horse’s coat which protect the hair shaft from environmental damage. Also, if your horse has sweated up during work and dried off with the salt still in his coat, the remaining salt can cause sunburnt patches of hair.  This is frequently seen as a dull yellow patch of hair under the saddle area only. You can avoid this when you  sponge or hose the saddle area  before the sweat has dried. Most horses enjoy a cooling hose-down on a hot summer’s day anyway

African Horse Sickness (AHS), Encephalosis (EEV) & West Nile Virus (WNV)

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The most important thing to remember in preparing your horse to best cope with viruses (including AHS, EEV and WNV) is to remember that the strength of your horse’s immune system and overall strength of physiology is largely dependent on what you put into your horse for 365 days of year, and not just the supplement you boost them with when there happens to be an outbreak in your area…

Diet is the first major consideration, so stick to the basic good feeding rules, which include the following:

Feed a good quality long fibre based diet (NB: this does not include beet pulp products, as their long fibres have been destroyed by being exposed to extremely high temperatures which chemically denatures the fibre from its natural form, and forces normally indigestible long fibres to become digestible. Long fibres in the diet are essential to maintaining a healthy digestive system, and a healthy gut wall is the first line of defence to protect the horse’s immune system as a weaker gut wall will allow pathogens and toxins to directly enter the bloodstream through the gut wall). Feed ad lib (use slow feeder nets or trickle feeders if necessary, but always makes sure the horse is able to nibble on hay anytime they like) the best quality hay you can afford (must be mould-free) and preferably not too much oat hay as it’s high in sugar…

Feed a low sugar diet. Cut out all unnecessary grains and molasses in your horse’ diet as they create an acidic pH in the body, and diseases (bacteria, fungi and viruses) in the body can only thrive in an acidic pH. For most horses in South Africa in moderate exercise (hacking, and lower level dressage and showjumping) a good quality balancer feed plus good quality chaff is all that is required to feed as a “concentrate” in order to provide a variety of minerals and vitamins in the diet. If the horse needs to add condition, supplement with brewer’s yeast, cooked or freshly ground linseed or a good quality sunflower or rice bran oil (NB: Only feed extra oils or fats to the horse if you know they have a healthy liver, as horses excrete bile directly from the liver into the gut, so if their liver health is compromised they will struggle to digest oils and fats properly).

Cut out all unnecessary mineral/vitamin supplements. If a balanced diet is fed they are not required anyway, and most mineral and vitamins are synthetically/chemically produced in isolate form, so are only poorly assimilated by the body, and if they accumulate in the body they can trigger an immune response from the body as they may not be recognized as nutrients.

Do not feed poor quality protein boosters e.g. peanut husks and rancid soybean/canola/flaxseed products, as they are full of aflatoxins and carcinogens which are highly toxic. At high dosages these can be fatal, but at low dosages (i.e. slightly rancid) these feeds may temporarily seem to benefit the horse, boosting muscle mass and producing a shinier coat, but over time the liver will have to cope with absorbing their toxins out of the bloodstream, and will gradually become less efficient, leading to a compromised digestive system and reduced overall wellness as higher amounts of toxins circulate around the body through the bloodstream.

Always provide access to good quality fresh water. If using borehole water, have it tested periodically. Quite often borehole water can be too high in iron and sulphur, both of which interfere with copper levels in the body, and adequate copper levels are essential to ensure a healthy immune system. If required, provide copper supplementation, either directly to the horse and/or as a top dressing to pastures. Excessive copper can be highly toxic, so do some research to find out what is best suited to your particular situation. Speak to your vet about injectable copper solutions if required. Natural feed sources of copper are a very safe way of providing additional copper in the diet; rich natural sources of copper include Rosehips (can be fed on an ongoing basis), Kelp and Paprika.

Do not overfeed or underfeed. An overweight horse or pony will have additional cardiovascular strain whilst fighting a virus, an underweight horse or pony may not have sufficient stored energy to sustain them through the full course of the virus.

Feed a broad spectrum natural diet. Try to feed a variety of different hays, grasses, herbs and some fruit and vegetables to your horse. Small amounts of a variety of grains and seeds are also beneficial, as the wider variety of natural feeds your horse has access to provides a wider variety of antioxidants and essential micronutrients in their diet. Oats are an especially good tonic, and in moderation are perfectly safe to feed. Merely feeding a beet pulp feed with a trace mineral supplement that contains only minimal variety of minerals and vitamins and may very well be nutritionally inadequate, as even some very popular “South African” trace supplements contain only a minimal variety of minerals and vitamins, and exclude some minerals that are commonly deficient in South African soils.

Environmental management is the second major consideration:

Cut out dips and chemical insect repellents as much as possible. These are all toxic and even though they may not directly kill your horse, their toxins will gradually accumulate in the body and compromise the liver and immune system. If possible, swap out chemical insect repellents for natural ones, or fly sheets, including the ride-in ones. Use fly wasp biological control methods (and encourage your neighbours to as well), or fly traps around the stables rather than timer-based chemical sprays.

Replace plastic water drinking bins with stainless steel or enamel containers. Plastics gradually leach toxins into the drinking water, especially if exposed to direct sunlight.


Use chemical dewormers only when necessary. Avoid daily dewormers, and at certain times of the year broad spectrum chemical dewormers can be swapped out for herbal dewormers.

Detox the liver periodically. All our horses are routinely exposed to vaccinations, dewormers and pollution, so an annual 2-3 month liver detox with a product like Honeyvale Herbs Liver and Blood Tonic is highly recommended, and for horses living in areas near vineyards and orchards with regular chemical spraying it is recommended that they have a 2-3 month liver detox twice annually. At any time of the year, any horse recently off the track, or rescued and being rehabilitated, or a horse that has had a severe illness or major surgery is recommended to have a full 3 month course of Liver and Blood Tonic as a precautionary measure. 2-3 months is recommended as it takes at least 6-8 weeks for silymarin (the primary active constituent in milk thistle seed) to detox and begin to regenerate the liver. Many herbs can support the liver, but silymarin is unique in its ability to detox and regenerate it. Three months is ideal as it is a full blood course i.e. every red blood cell in the body is replaced within a three month period.

Stabling from 2hrs before sunset through to 2 hrs after sunrise, and using 85% shadecloth to screen off all windows and doors. Preventing access of the midges and mosquitoes to the horse in the first place is a no-brainer, provided you have suitable facilities. Fans or air conditioning also helps to move the air inside the stables, as the midges are weak fliers.

Be careful where you allow your horse to graze. Some margin areas may be sprayed by the council or neighbouring farmers with herbicides or pesticides that can be highly toxic.

What NOT to supplement:

Wormwood, ANY variety except Artemisia vulgaris… (Artemisia afra, Artemisia cina and Artemisia absinthium): Wormwood is a fine herb when used appropriately, but is ineffective as an antiviral, and worse still, is harmful to the liver when fed over prolonged periods. Any herbalist worth their salt knows that this herb should ideally never be used internally for more than four to five days consecutively, as it contains a volatile oil called thujone which accumulates in the liver. It has angered me intensely that this herb has been marketed in this country as an African Horse Sickness preventative, as it will do far more harm than good. This herb is an excellent anti-parasitic herb, both internally and externally, which is why it is highly useful as an anti-MALARIAL herb, as malaria is a PARASITIC infection, not a VIRAL infection like AHS, EEV and WNV!!!! Wormwood may have very limited benefit if fed for a few days as part of an AHS treatment, but this is purely for its appetite stimulating and anti-inflammatory properties, and there are other far more appropriate herbs that may be used for these benefits. Artemisia vulgaris is safe if it is supplied in professional blends, but it is a nervine herb, and will have no benefit in preventing viral infections whatsoever. In my opinion, feeding or marketing Artemisia as an AHS preventative should be banned outright!!!

Too much garlic, or shop bought rehydrated garlic: Garlic fed at recommended dosages is useful, but like almost anything else, too much is harmful. The recommended dosage of dried granules for horses as a daily supplement is 15g, but this can be doubled to 30g for a few weeks if required. The garlic dosage for ponies is half of that for horses. Shop bought “fresh” garlic as not recommended because firstly these products are frequently diluted by the inclusion of turnip, and secondly, they usually aren’t fresh at all, because it’s just rehydrated dried garlic and the addition of water speeds up the oxidative process which destroys the nutritional and medicinal effects of this herb. Garlic granules are recommended in preference to the cheaper garlic powders, because the powder is usually the entire bulb of garlic bulb powdered – skins, stem and all – and is frequently also diluted with inferior products such as turnip.

Why SO much emphasis on liver health?? :

Because the health of every other organ system in the body is directly related to the health of the liver! If your liver health is compromised, so is your immune system, cardiovascular system, your kidneys, etc, etc, etc, and so is the blood and tissue quality throughout your body. The absolute last thing I would ever want my horse to go into a battle with the African Horse Sickness virus is with a compromised liver. The overall physiology of a horse will be affected, which means an increased likelihood of haemorrhage and oedema, which at the end of the day is what horses with AHS die of. Having a healthy liver and body as a whole will make the body able to withstand the ravages of the virus for a longer period of time, and provided it is given sufficient time, the immune system will be able to kill off the virus!

Recommended Products

AHS, EEV and WNV “Prevention” Supplements:

“Prevention” is put in inverted comma’s because if a horse has not been exposed to the virus before and therefore has no immunity to it, the herbs cannot prevent the horse from contracting the virus. However by keeping the horse on a good diet, as well as supplementing with immune boosting herbs when necessary, the immune system will be stronger and better equipped to deal with the virus effectively, which can shorten the duration and decrease the intensity of the illness.

Recommended “Prevention” supplements (this is what our horses go on to when there is an increase in viral infections in the area – usually around late February/early March in Cape Town – or as soon as there is an AHS,WNV or EEV outbreak in our area):

Honeyvale Herbs Immu-Boost: to stimulate and support the immune system. Contains: Garlic, Rosehip, Nettle, Liquorice root, Siberian ginseng, Echinacea root and leaf.

Apple Cider Vinegar (30 ml daily for ponies, 50 ml daily for horses): ACV shifts the body’s pH more towards alkaline, and diseases can only thrive in an acidic environment. Preferably a sulphur dioxide free brand.

Colloidal Silver: As an additional immune enhancer. Is complementary to the herbs, as colloidal silver works specifically to disable the oxygen- metabolizing enzyme which one-celled bacteria, fungi and viruses use to reproduce themselves. The disease causing pathogen is therefore destroyed by suffocation. Dosage is 10ml daily for ponies, and 20ml daily for horses.

Brewer’s Yeast can be given additionally if desired, as it is rich in selenium and zinc which are essential for a healthy immune system, and it strengthens the mucous membranes and is a prebiotic.

African Horse Sickness Treatment Supplements:

When the horse has been infected the treatment emphasis is on physiologically supporting the body through the process of the virus i.e. supporting the respiratory system, cardiovascular system, renal system, etc, thereby helping to prevent haemorrhaging and oedema and thereby giving the immune system a longer period of time to conquer the virus. The herbs are also anti-viral though, with an emphasis on immune system tonics i.e. herbs that are rich in micronutrients required by the immune system to keep functioning optimally even when under stress, these include: zinc; selenium; iron; copper; vitamins A, C, E, and B-6; and folic acid. Elecampane root is rich in calcium, and providing calcium intravenously is a known AHS supportive.

We would very much like to share what herbs we use in our AHS/Viral Support Mix, as we believe that every horse owner should have access to this information whether or not they buy our mix in particular…the most important thing for us is that horse owners have this information available to them so that they can get their horses onto these herbs ASAP when they need to, to save as many horse’s lives as possible!!!!

Honeyvale Herbs AHS/Viral Support Mix. To support the kidneys and cardiovascular system, to help prevent oedema and haemorrhaging, as an immune system tonic, as an alterative (i.e. an agent that helps to restore normal bodily function), as an anti-infective and as an amphoteric nervine (i.e. will support the Central Nervous System (CNS) by either calming or slightly stimulating as required, depending on whether the CNS is an a hyper or fatigued state). This blend can be fed straight by hand in cut form, as it is extremely palatable. Ideally though it should be made into a tea as this best releases the medicinal properties of the herbs, and has the added benefit of being able to be administered to horses and ponies that have otherwise already stopped eating and drinking. It can be made into tea (with a coffee plunger) allowed to cool to blood temperature or cooler, and administered in liquid form onto the back of the tongue. The tea will remain beneficial for up to 4 hours after brewing. The blend is available in a 1kg packsize and it contains: Elecampane root, Hawthorn berries and leaves, Yarrow herb, Dandelion herb, Nettle, Rosehips, and Echinacea herb and root. Horses can have 15g up to every 2 hours, and ponies 10g up to every 2 hrs. The herbs in this formulation have the following benefits:

Elecampane root is one of the primary herbs to use:

Is a respiratory supportive, eases shortness of breath
Is an amphoteric nervine (see above)
Is an alterative (i.e. a tonic substance that helps to restore normal bodily function)
Is diaphoretic (helps to sweat out a fever)
Is a diuretic (supports the kidneys and encourages the intake of water)
Is a cardiovascular supportive
Is anti-ulcerative, and is a digestive/appetite stimulant
Is a mild anti-inflammatory
Is anti-convulsive
Is a gentle energy tonic, helps to improve overall feeling of wellbeing
Is a blood purifier

Echinacea root and leaf:

Anti-viral, especially when used in combination with Elecampane root
Boosts the immune system (specifically boosts white cell production)
Mild anti-inflammatory
Tissue healing

Hawthorn leaves, flowers and berries:

Is a cardio-tonic
Is vasodilatory
Is a blood pressure normaliser
Is antisclerotic
Is rich in rutin, a substance that strengthens capillary walls and helps to prevent haemorrhaging
Is rich in antioxidant flavonoids


Encourages the healing of burst blood vessels
Is astringent
Is diuretic (supports the kidneys and encourages regular water intake)
Is a digestive stimulant
Is a circulatory stimulant
Is a mild anti-inflammatory specific for fevers


Is a tonic providing many nutrients, especially rich in potassium, magnesium and calcium
Is a diuretic and mild laxative
Supports the liver
Is a blood cleanser


Is a blood tonic
Is a circulatory stimulant
Is diuretic
Is astringent
Is haemostatic (stops or controls bleeding, including internally)

Rosehips (are included in the blend, and should also be offered free choice as part of the treatment program):

Tonic rich in antioxidants and micronutrients, and are especially rich in vitamin C to help fight off an infection. Is an outstanding tonic for both the immune system and the blood)
Rich in rutin (to help prevent haemorrhaging)
Circulatory stimulant

Honeyvale Herbs AHS/Viral Anti-Flam tincture. This should be given ONLY if the horse’s temperature is elevated above 39.5C AND has stopped eating and drinking. An elevated temperature is part of the body’s natural method of killing viruses, which is why it is best not to give anti-inflammatories unless the horse has stopped eating and drinking AND their temperature is elevated. Dosage for horses is 2,5ml every 2 hours for up to 10 consecutive dosages, preferably give 3-4 consecutive dosages and then rest with supplementation for 10-12 hours. The tincture contains equal parts of Calendula flos (anti-inflammatory, blood tonic, astringent, heals internal wounds), Devil’s Claw root (anti-inflammatory, mild sedative, supports the liver and stimulates the appetite), Meadowsweet herb (anti-inflammatory and astringent), Nettle herb (circulatory stimulant and kidney supportive) and Hawthorn leaves and berries tinctures (cardiovascular supportive). The tincture is available in a 100ml sized glass bottle with a screw cap.

Apple Cider Vinegar (sulphur dioxide free) – Give 10ml diluted in 10ml water every 1-2 hours.

Colloidal Silver – give horse 15ml AM & PM for up to 5 consecutive days, and ponies 10ml AM & PM for up to 5 consecutive days.

Post AHS, EEV & WNV Support:
Liver and Blood Tonic – If the horse has survived a severe viral infection a 2 -3 month course of Liver and Blood Tonic can only be beneficial to help speed overall physiological recovery, particularly if there has been significant weight loss, as the liver would have been placed under tremendous strain in order to be able to cope with a large amount of broken-down proteins in the bloodstream all at

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