Herbs A – B

This page features herbs for horses beginning with the letters A – B


Aloe Vera:

Aloe Barbadensis and Aloe Vera Linne.

There are up to 500 different species of Aloe. Whilst all of the family have some medicinal value, the most commonly used varieties are the Aloe Barbadensis and Aloe Vera Linne.

It is the gel from the centre of the Aloe plant that is used. It is idea for burns, wounds, scar healing, discouraging proud flesh, insect bites, boils, abscesses, ulcers, skin itches, tumours, calluses, as an insect repellent and for sunburn. It is also useful for eczema and can be used externally antibiotic for treating fungal infections such as ringworm.

Aloe Vera.

Aloe Vera is a well know and well used medicinal herb both for horses and rider. The has been used for a myriad of external skin ailments and internally for digestive problems.

Taken internally, the gel is a strong purgative and good for constipation. It has a bitter taste and stimulates digestion and is useful for ulcer.. It has also been used for hives and as a general tonic and immune system booster.

Avoid giving Aloe Vera internally to pregnant mares. Avoid high doses internally as it can diarrhoea. Do not use Aloe Vera where there is kidney disease.

Some horses can develop an intolerance to the internal use of the juice or are naturally sensitive to it. So, introduce it in small doses if it is to be used internally and check with your vet if you have any concerns.



Pimpinella anisum

Aniseed (also known as Anise) , one of the oldest known spices, is a member of the parsley family. The name Aniseed is often also applied to fennel as it has a similar liquorice type of flavour.

Do not confuse this herb with Japanese star anise (Illicium lanceolatum) which is poisonous.

The oil from the Aniseed can be used externally to treat parasites such as lice or scabies. It can also be mixed with other aromatherapy oils as an insect repellant.

Aniseed has antiseptic properties and has been used externally to help treat colds and flu.


Aniseed is one of the oldest known spices. It has been used for coughs and colds and for digestive problems in horses.

The leaves or seed have been fed internally for digestive problems such as flatulence, nausea and colic.  For catarrh and phlegm in the bronchial tubes it may be fed with other expectorant type of herbs. It maybe also useful for coughs, particularly harsh, dry coughs.

Some owners add it to a horse’s feed for fussy eaters. Aniseed ‘anethole’ and is known to be a phytoestrogen. It has been known to increase libido and may perhaps be useful if you are trying to get a mare in foal or a stallion more interested.

Aniseed has also been known to have a mild sedative action and may be combined with other calming herbs such as chamomile. It may be useful in increase milk production in lactating mares and to help with a mare in foaling.


Arnica Montana

Arnica, also known as Leopard’s Bane, European Arnica, Mountain Daisy, Mountain Tobacco and Fall Dandelion, has been used as a first aid remedy for centuries. There are about 30 different species of arnica, but Arnica montana is the one used medicinally.


Arnica has been used for years to help with injuries. It is useful to have homeopathic Arnica in your equine first aid kit.

Arnica is not to be taken internally as an herb, but homeopathic preparations are available. The homeopathic arnica can be given in the form of pills or as homeopathic liquid. It is mainly used for bruising, sprains, wounds, arthritis, sore muscles and other injuries. It has also been used for epilepsy and to stimulate the immune system. 60cc arnica is usually taken for riders and 200cc for horses, but you can use whatever strength you have on hand. A trained homeopath can give you more detail.

Arnica is still a useful herb to grow as it can be used externally to help with pain, inflammation and bruising. It has an antiseptic action, although most herbalists recommend it should not be used on open wounds.



Ocimum basilicum


Basil has many medicinal benefits for horses. It has been used for the heart, for arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and respiratory disease.

This great culinary herb (also known as Saint Joseph’s Wort) is a relative of peppermint.

It also has many medicinal uses. It contains flavonoids, which protect the body at a cellular level.

Its volatile oils help to protect against the growth of bacteria and contain anti inflammatory properties.

It is known to assist with cardiovascular health, to assist with arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and respiratory disease. It is high in antioxidants and is claimed to assist with anti-aging. It is high in Vitamin K which is important for blood clotting.

Studies are being done on its effectiveness for diabetes.

The essential oil may be useful in treating wounds due to its antibacterial actions.



Beta vulgaris


The many varieties of beetroot vary in colour from a deep purple red to an orange colour. They are known as a blood tonic and are full of antioxidants, vitamin B, folate and minerals particularly boron.

Medicinally they have been used for a variety of things including; cancer, diverticulitis, hepatitis, jaundice, diarrhea, constipation. It is has been said that they increase the uptake of oxygen by 400%. They have been used to support the liver and gallbladder, kidney and spleen.

Recent study has indicated that Beetroot increases sports endurance



Bilberry is a relative of the blueberry, cranberry and bearberry. The bilberry fruit can be eaten fresh and is sometimes added to salads, but it is usually made into jams, juices or pies.

The fruit has been used to treat diarrhea, menstrual cramps, as a diuretic, to help with eye problems, varicose veins, poor blood flow from the heart and other circulatory problems, especially circulatory deterioration resulting in aging of the mind and body.  Billberries may help to thin the blood and reduce clotting. (Be ware that they may interact with blood thinning medication).The leaf is used for a variety of conditions including reducing the blood sugar levels in diabetes and other gastrointestinal ailments.

For horses the fruit may be fed whole or dried. It is believed the fruit inhibits the growth of bacteria in the gut, therefore help with diarrhea caused by bacteria, although, large quantities of the fresh fruit may have a laxative effect. The fruit may also be made into a juice or a tea. The tea can be used on skin irritations. It has very tonic properties.

The leaves should be harvested just before the berries ripen. Bilberry fruit is considered to be safe, however extremely high doses of the leaves maybe toxic, so don’t let your horses graze freely on this plant.


Eupatorium perfoliatum

Boneset is a member of the sunflower family. There are at least 30 species of Boneset. Sometimes people confuse it with comfrey, which is also occasionally called boneset (or knitbone).

Boneset has been used for many medicinal reasons including; the flu, colds, sore throats, catarrh, bronchitis, to increase sweat, to help break a fever, for menstrual irregularity, eplisepsy, to support the kidneys, to induce vomiting, for snakebite, for worms, as a laxative, for skin complaints and for stomachache. It appears to stimulate the immune system. It has also been used as a spring tonic and as a detoxifier. It has been applied externally for arthritis and rheumatism.

Some people hang the dried leaves around the stable to keep away wasps and flies or consider growing some plants near by.

In America boneset has been used successfully in combination with other herbs to build the immune system and treat EPM (Equine Protzoan Myeloencephalitis)




















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