Horse owners want only the best for their horses, and many look to herbal remedies for preventative or curative benefits. Many herbs with medicinal properties can affect your horse in ways similar to traditional medication. If you compete, always check with your sport’s governing bodies to see if they allow the herbal supplements you’re considering for your horse.
Aniseseed, or anise, is a medicinal herb and a common source for flavoring. Humans commonly consume it when they eat licorice. First discovered around the Mediterranean Sea, people have used it for centuries for health and comfort -- as an aid in everything from respiratory and digestive ailments, to making perfume and controlling insects. Animal owners have used it to treat digestive disorders in horses and dogs. It is far sweeter than sugar and is a natural anti-inflammatory. Its estrogen-like effects can stimulate milk production in lactating mammals.
Anise for Horses
Anise has some proven practical uses in horses, as well as unproven ones. It’s not uncommon for feed manufacturers to add anise to make feed more palatable. If your horse enjoys the taste, try adding some anise oil to his water if he balks at a new water source, to encourage drinking in cold weather, or after an extreme workout. Some herbal deworming remedies contain anise but there is no concrete evidence that it kills intestinal parasites. While anything in large amounts can be toxic, anise is considered safe and since a human would have to eat large amounts to achieve toxicity, it’s not likely your horse would consume enough with normal use to hurt him.
Yucca, or yucca schidigera, is native to Mexico. Extracts from the plants are believed to help inflammation and arthritis. It does have ingredients, called phenolics, that are known as anti-inflammatories and anti-oxidants. It is currently used as a feed additive for some livestock, including horses, and has been approved by the FDA as safe for humans.
Yucca for Horses
Many joint supplement manufacturers add yucca as an anti-inflammatory. It may treat or even prevent arthritis in your horse. If your horse is frequently stalled and you notice an ammonia smell in his barn, adding yucca to his diet will help him combat toxic effects of ammonia in his system. Most barns have a concentrate of ammonia higher than what is considered safe for humans, potentially causing adverse respiratory and immune system effects. Adding yucca to your horse's diet may prevent him from absorbing this harmful chemical.
- Horse Journal: Water Flavors and Additives Help Horses Drink Away From Home
- World of Herbs: Anise
- Horse Journal: Equine Winter Weight Loss
- Horse Journal: Chemical Dewormers are Best
- Horse Journal: Ask Horse Journal
- National Institutes of Health, U.S. National Library of Medicine: Anti-inflammatory and Anti-arthritic Effects of Yucca Schidigera: A Review
- Equus Caballus: Ammonia Beware!
- Kentucky Equine Research: Feeding and Veterinary Management of the Sport Horse
- Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station, Equine Science Center: Nutrition
Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images
Based in Central Texas, Karen S. Johnson is a marketing professional with more than 30 years' experience and specializes in business and equestrian topics. Her articles have appeared in several trade and business publications such as the Houston Chronicle. Johnson also co-authored a series of communications publications for the U.S. Agency for International Development. She holds a Bachelor of Science in speech from UT-Austin.