Herbal Pain Relief for Horses

Updated March 23, 2017

Despite their sturdy appearance, horses are prone to injuries and illnesses. The older a horse gets, the more likely he is to be in chronic pain. Veterinarian-prescribed painkillers can damage the liver, so many owners turn to alternative options, like herbs, to offer pain relief for their horses.


Arnica is particularly useful for soft-tissue injuries and bruising. It alleviates general muscle soreness and the pain of sprains. It can also be applied as a preventive to injury before exercising or racing. Arnica is most often used as a topical agent, but shouldn't be applied to open or broken skin.


This herb is used extensively in Europe for humans and their horses. Boneset is best for bone pain. It also has the added benefit of protecting against colds and congestion in horses, and of speeding up recovery time.


Buckwheat is a good choice for chronic pain from arthritis. It is high in calcium, magnesium and iron, all of which are essential to repair cartilage. Buckwheat also speeds up the replacement of blood cells and is useful if the horse has lost a lot of blood.


Calendula is excellent to heal wounds to the skin. It also has anti-inflammatory properties and when taken internally will aid in healing gastric ulcers.


Chamomile is renowned for its relaxing effects. It is also an anti-inflammatory and can relieve pain while reducing the stress of an injured horse. Chamomile will relax the horse without making her drowsy. It is also a good source of calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, potassium and manganese.

Devil's Claw

This herb is an anti-inflammatory agent and is also antirheumatic. It is almost as effective as cortisone and phenylbutazone for easing pain. Devil's claw is a good choice for pain from bone fractures, joint injuries, surgery and arthritis.


While it doesn't seem to have pain-relief properties, Glucosamine aids in rebuilding cartilage, which can end or significantly reduce a horse's suffering if his pain is related to joints, ligaments or arthritis.

Red Raspberry

Red raspberry is particularly useful for mares. It has antispasmodic properties and can ease uterine contractions in a horse foaling too early. Red raspberry is also useful during delivery, to ease the pain of contractions.

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