Herbs For Health






Cleansing Herbs

Herbs are 'a natural' for horses. For millions of years instinct has led horses to eat the plants that helped them survive. They roamed the grasslands and prairies feeding on beneficial plants and grasses that provided nourishment and medicine. In this new millennium, herbs and plants are still of great value as food and medicine for the horse.

Water is the medium by which all toxins are carried out, and there must be plenty of water in the system for effective elimination to occur.

Cleansing herbs can be useful to the horse to remove wastes, improve circulation and promote proper functioning of the internal organs, particularly the liver, kidneys, and digestive system. Herbs contain many enzymes and trace minerals that stimulate the regeneration of cells so that healthy new tissue replaces the old and worn as the wastes and toxins are eliminated.

Why cleanse?

Cellular and metabolic wastes can collect in organs, blood, and skin. They tend to accumulate and harden around joints, irritating the cartilage, ligaments, and soft tissues surrounding them creating arthritic conditions. Aged horses especially are affected, becoming stiff and uncomfortable. Lack of exercise, poor circulation, and injuries also contribute to the problem. Periods of inactivity, such as during a layup or during the winter months, allow wastes to accumulate more readily. Such waste products need to be eliminated.

Cleansing can be performed after drug treatments or exposure to chemicals, or preventatively on a three times a year program. The horse's system can function optimally when all things are running smoothly and cleanly, unburdened from the extra effort of working around, or carting around, wastes. With the help of your holistic veterinarian or equine herbal specialist, a specific cleansing program to suit your horse's needs can be devised and implemented. The proper combination of herbs is important; some herbs enhance the actions of others. When the need arises to help rid the body of toxins and accumulated wastes, herbs can be of significant value.

It is of utmost importance to provide PLENTY of fresh water at all times when encouraging the system to cleanse. Water is the medium by which all toxins are carried out, and there must be plenty of water in the system for effective elimination to occur. Consequently, provide plenty of clean, absorbent bedding if the horse is stabled. Also be prepared to wipe away discharges or excrement. Otherwise, you may be doing more harm than good.

Choose your cleanser carefully

Note: Provide plenty of fresh water and moisten the feed, if possible, when administering cleansing herbs.

Used internally, the following herbs help rid the body of wastes and toxins by several different routes - via the blood and eliminative organs, the urinary and digestive systems, the respiratory system, and the skin.  Consult your herbal specialist for proper combinations and recommended amounts as well as precautions and contraindications for use, such as during pregnancy, lactation, or illness.

Alteratives, which beneficially 'alter' a horse's condition, are blood purifiers that stimulate and tone the eliminative organs - the liver, kidneys, and lymphatic system. These herbs treat conditions arising from or causing toxicity, including long-term or chronic illness. These herbs, such as cleavers, yellow dock root, burdock root, echinacea, nettle, or plantain can improve the condition of the blood, accelerate elimination, and enhance digestion while promoting the function of the internal organs.

Hepatics such as dandelion root, milk thistle seed, barberry, cleavers, dandelion root, fennel, hyssop, and wild yam stimulate the liver. They increase the production of bile and support the liver in its waste-filtering function.

To purge wastes via the urinary system, diuretics such as dandelion (leaf or root; the root is the stronger of the two), buchu leaf, horseradish, uva ursi, and parsley are very effective. Acting as diuretics, these herbs eliminate excess fluid by reducing swelling and retained fluids, thus increasing the quantity and flow of urine. It is best to include a demulcent herb as well to soothe the kidneys such as slippery elm, marshmallow root, comfrey root, or couch grass.

Herbs such as cayenne, sage, garlic, horehound, ginger, eyebright, and thyme are anti-catarrhal herbs which eliminate or counteract the formation of mucus. To expel mucus collecting in the nasal passages, throat and lungs, the herbs garlic, eucalyptus, mint, anise, yarrow, licorice, mullein, horehound, comfrey, ginger, and marshmallow leaves are very beneficial as expectorants. A demulcent such as slippery elm may be added to soothe inflamed mucus membranes.

Sweating is yet another route by which the body can eliminate wastes. Herbs that induce sweating are called diaphoretics. Yarrow, thyme, boneset, vervain, peppermint, elder flowers, and rosemary all encourage the horse to sweat out toxins.

Though not technically toxins or waste products, parasites are also harmful and unwelcome in the body. The use of herbs in an eliminative and preventive program will help control parasites, and regular fecal checks are advised to monitor their presence or absence. Anthelmintic herbs act to expel or destroy intestinal parasites. Garlic, wormwood, southernwood, tansy, mint, rue, and pumpkin seeds are all important herbs that can be beneficial in ridding the body of parasites. Anthelmintic herbs can either expel (vermifuges) or kill (vermicides), depending on the amount of herb given and the duration of time the herb remains in the intestines.

Talk to your herbal advisor and give your horse a new lease on life with a refreshing, nutritious, and probably delicious herbal cleansing. He'll undoubtedly thank you for it.

For more information:

The Complete Herbal Handbook for Farm and Stable by Juliette de Bairacli Levy

Healing your Horse: Alternative Therapies by Snader, Willoughby, Khalsa, Denega, and Basko

Alternative Therapies for Horses by Vanessa Britton

A Modern Horse Herbal by Hilary Page Self

Botanical Safety Handbook by McGuffin/Hobbs

A Modern Herbal by M. Grieve

Meadowsweet Acre Herbs, www.meadowherbs.com