Herbs for the Horse, Pet or Rider.
Herbs for chronic muscle cramping
Equine Herbal Diets
Herbs for horse general weakness & fatigue
Herbal cough syrup
Herbs Can Do!
Herbs for Horses
Horses are herbivores. They do best mentally,
physically, emotionally and spiritually when they get natural foliage to graze
and pick on, with plenty of sunlight. Sometimes horses eat poisonous plants,
perhaps because they need a small amount to balance there body, for some
reason, only they know, or there is nothing else available so they eat that
which could kill or maim them.
What can we do as horse owners to ensure our horses do not get that which is harmful? Education is the best preventative for this. There is much to learn!!
Comfrey is an herb which has gotten a lot of bad press in recent years for being toxic to humans and animals . To understand comfrey (Symphytum officianale) lets learn some history and chemical components of the herb. I personally use it in all its forms, leaves, and roots for formulas, liniments salves and hoof sprays.
Comfrey has been noted throughout the years, not only as a medicinal plant and , also a source of vitamin B12 and the cell proliferate allantoin, and a potential source of protein. Some strains of comfrey contain up to 35% protein, the same percentage as soy beans and 10% more than Cheddar Cheese!!
Scientific attempts to extract the protein, in a form agreeable to human consumption, have been unsuccessful, however, the horse is not human and perhaps can and does absorb, the nutrients found in this amazing plant.. Comfrey is a valuable animal feed in some parts of the world, in Africa for example, it is becoming increasingly important. Symphytum, is also used as an organic compost and mulch, add it to your manure pile and let it grow around and in it, for more efficient decomposition of solid waste. (beware, once planted it will take over, it grows and flourishes, so pick it often and use it, with moderation).
In Medieval medicine, comfrey is mentioned repeatedly. It was one of the main herbs used in treating fractures and because of this, the name Knitbone. The pounded root forms a mucilaginous mass which, when bound around the fracture hardens and holds the bone in place. It has also been taken internally for fractures, weakened structural conditions and numerous other applications.
The constituents of comfrey are as follows; mucilage; allantoin, (to 0.8%), tannic acid, resin, alkaloids, essential oil, choline gum, carotene, glycosides, sugars, beta-sitosterol and steroidal saponins (the saponins aid in the decomposition of the compost heap). Cell proliferation, is due to the allantoin content.
THE CONTROVERSY- Both comfrey and the herb coltsfoot have become controversial because of there pyrrolizidine alkaloids. (PA'S), or chemicals that are toxic and/or carcinogenic to the liver. Numerous herbalists and botanists have recommended, not taking herbs that contain PA'S, wanting to err on the side of caution.
However, data published in the journal, Science, by renowned bio-chemist, Bruce Ames, PhD of the University of California at Berkeley, indicates that a cup of comfrey leaf tea is less carcinogenic than an equivalent amount of beer.
The first reported presence of PA'S in comfrey was a study done by the Japanese in 1968.Australian researchers followed with a study in several plants of the Borage family. It showed Rats fed up to 33% of comfrey leaf in there diet suffered liver cancer. One of the few, following investigations , using the whole plant, has shown the plant is not carcinogenic, but the exact opposite. As a matter of fact, Japanese doctors recommend a vinegar extract of the herb for cirrhosis of the liver.
To my knowledge, there has been no studies on the effects of comfrey on horses or cattle. I do know they like to eat it. A word of caution; no food or herb is good taken in extreme. In dealing with comfrey, moderation is the best plan. I know many horse owners who keep a live comfrey plant in the front of the horse stall, and give them a leaf daily, during the growing months, I have never seen nor heard any adverse reactions. All of my formulas that have comfrey in them, I caution horse owners at the onset of use, to use only 2 pails then discontinue. However, one particular horse that competes, as a sport horse, has chronic muscle cramping, the only formula that works on him is the herbal electrolyte, Thumper, which contains comfrey. His owner used the 2 buckets as suggested, the problem had completely cleared up. Within 2 weeks of not using the formula , he again cramped severely. She insisted on putting him on the Thumper again. I cautioned her, at her own risk, and she has his liver checked every 2 months, by a Veterinarian blood test, for the liver.. There has been no indication of problems. The vet says her horse is healthier than he has ever seen him.
Now some good words about comfrey. It is one of the most famed healing herbs or plants in the world, a long history of uses throughout the ages. Used for tissue and bone, bruises, growth of connective tissue ,cartilage, absorbed through the skin, poultices on varicose veins, internally for gastric ulcers, inflammation of the stomach, back pain, regulation of hormones, infertility in males, expectorant, lungs, bronchials.
Herb formulas we presently use the whole plant in are; Arms Length, for young horses in heavy training, nervous and off there food, perhaps stomach problems, puts weight on and encourages appetite, Thumper, used for horses after heavy racing on Lasix, who develop the "thumps", also muscle cramping, fatigue and general weakness. Cannon Blast, for broken bones, encouraging healthy "bone blasts" when body is repairing broken or bruised bones. Also OCD'S in horses (case study, young breeding stallion, unrideable, unbreedable, to be put down) shoulder area severe, used Garlic 'n Roses and Cannon Blast one year is now breeding and being ridden. No liver problems. Like Butter, pre trim, softener, herbal salve, and Hack No More herbal cough syrup are some other products that contain comfrey.
Please note, all of these formulas had compatible amounts of the whole comfrey plant in them, not too much nor too little. It is best to be on the side of caution, and oversee the practical use of all plants, for yourself and your animals.
Loryhl, Herbalist, Herbs of the World Inc
CAUTION; In view of this controversy about this plant, avoid excessive consumption of comfrey.