Colic and helpful herbs for horses


den-ears-stock_132835Herbalist Cara Cooperman looks at some natural ways to help tame tummy upsets in horses.

Colic in horses is fairly common. It affects the digestive system, often causing severe discomfort that is characterized by pawing at the ground, rolling, and an inability to defecate. There are different types of colic in horses depending on the cause and they can range from mild to severe.

Chamomile Flowers are beneficial in the treatment of colic and other digestive issues.
Chamomile Flowers are beneficial in the treatment of colic and other digestive issues. © Naturally Equine

Any time a horse experiences new and alarming symptoms, even if you suspect mild colic, it should be treated as an emergency and a veterinarian should be called right away to rule out more serious issues, such as a twist in a loop of bowel. Fortunately, in most cases the discomfort is the result of gas or constipation that will most likely resolve on its own.

Herbs may be of help in relieving your horse’s discomfort and helping to prevent future bouts with colic and other common equine health issues. Whether you grow your own in a pasture or get them in supplement form, some herbs can help keep your horses healthy and feeling their best.

The following are five of the most beneficial herbs for horses:

1. Dandelion

Dandelions are a great source of calcium, iron, potassium, and beta carotene. The herb may help boost digestion and stimulate the appetite. It also works as a mild laxative.

2. Valerian Root

Valerian root, which is known as a sedative for humans, can also be used in horses to relieve nervous tension. It can be combined with other herbs with relaxing properties, such as chamomile, for a soothing effect on the horse’s nerves and to soothe an unsettled digestive system as well. It is commonly used to treat colic, cramps, and constipation. Note that this is a swabbable substance and there is a four-day stand-down period.

3. Chamomile

Chamomile flowers may be a horse favorite because of their taste, but the herb is also beneficial in the treatment of colic and other digestive issues. It is also known for its anti-inflammatory properties.

Chamomile has been used for centuries as a medicinal plant and has a tremendous value as a digestive relaxant.

4. Meadowsweet

This herb is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and is often compared to aspirin for its effect on pain due to arthritis in horses. It is also believed to be good for issues of the gut.

Valerian is commonly used to aid colic, cramps, and constipation.
Valerian is commonly used to aid colic, cramps, and constipation. © Naturally Equine

5. Peppermint

Equine specialists consider peppermint a must-have for anyone with horses that are prone to colic because of its ability to help normalize digestion. It is also said to help alleviate stress and nervousness while having an invigorating effect.

With the right herbs, you can help ensure that your horses are healthy and happy, naturally.



About the author:

cara-cooperman“Since childhood I have always been a firm believer that our answer to health is found all around us in nature. My journey to pursue this professionally started in 1998 when I came to the United States. I was quite surprised to see the amount of dependency there were to pharmaceuticals, even for the simple cold. With my firm conviction for natural healing, it was an easy transition for me to study herbalism. I by no mean discredit the benefits of modern medicine, but I do not believe in the strict obedience as well. Every human body is unique, and maintaining health can be viewed from many angles. Hopefully I can be the vehicle for growth. The answer for your next cold could be right outside your door, wouldn’t that be great?”


This article has been written by a contributor to

4 thoughts on “Colic and helpful herbs for horses

  • June 3, 2017 at 3:01 am

    This is a great article really good information but would be more beneficial if the doses and how to administer were included . Could you please share this information it would be most helpful and much appreciated.
    Thank you,
    T Lovelace

    • May 30, 2020 at 5:29 am

      Any chance natural herbs/medicinals will be taught to vets in the near future? Wouldn’t that be great?
      Thanks for your article.

  • October 9, 2019 at 6:32 am

    Can horses eat watercress now considered as a super food for humans. Watercress is natural herb to all herbavores and should be included in horses diet for good health.

    • August 22, 2020 at 7:47 am

      Hi, yes a great article but no indication of
      Measures. Herbs can be poisonous in high doses so an idea of dosage to weight of horse would be beneficial.


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