Herbal treatment for gastric ulcers in a horse

Written by jamie rankin
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Herbal treatment for gastric ulcers in a horse
Chamomile, meadowsweet and other herbs are often effective treatments for a horse's gastric ulcer. (Horse face image by Mike & Valerie Miller from Fotolia.com)

Just like people, horses sometimes suffer from gastric distress such as ulcers. When one of their horses is diagnosed with a gastric ulcer, many owners immediately rely on drug treatments as the quickest form of relief. But quick though they may be, many anti-ulcer drugs hinder the digestive system. Herbal treatments are another alternative, and there are a number of ways to use herbs to soothe a horse's stomach.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Chamomile flowers
  • Slippery elm bark powder
  • Aloe vera juice
  • Marshmallow (optional)
  • Liquorice root
  • Alcohol

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  1. 1

    Prevent ulcers before a horse develops them by giving it chamomile on a daily basis. Boil a third of a cup of chamomile flowers to make a tea.

  2. 2

    Allow the tea to cool, and mix it with powdered Slippery Elm bark. This mixture helps to soothe the stomach and protect its lining.

  3. 3

    Pour the mixture over the horse's morning meal. Repeat the process in the evening.

  1. 1

    Mix 59.1ml of aloe vera juice with a teaspoon or two of slippery elm bark or marshmallow.

  2. 2

    Add the mixture to the horse's feed two to three times a day.

  3. 3

    Use a syringe to dose the horse with the mixture straight, if you prefer. This herbal blend soothes and protects the gastric system while helping to regulate intestinal bacteria.

  1. 1

    Make a tincture of liquorice root by steeping the dried herb in alcohol for a few days, then straining the mixture with a cheesecloth and bottling the liquid extract. Pour in enough alcohol to cover the herb when mixing, adding an inch or two.

  2. 2

    Give the horse 10 to 15 millilitres of the tincture of liquorice root twice a day.

  3. 3

    Repeat this treatment for as long as 10 days. Liquorice root is an anti-inflammatory, and thanks to its flavanoid content, it is also an excellent ulcer treatment.

Tips and warnings

  • Meadowsweet, an herb that reduces acid and protects the digestive tract, can be helpful in treating equine gastric problems. Mint, valerian and ginger also may be helpful in soothing a horse's stomach.
  • You can purchase aloe vera juice in health food stores. Quart sizes are often more concentrated than juices sold by the gallon.
  • Stress can be a factor in equine ulcers, just as it can in humans. Positive environments and daily routines may help your horse remain calm and prevent gastric ulcers.
  • If your horse has moderate to severe ulcers, consult a veterinarian before trying any herbal treatment.
  • The flavanoids that make liquorice root a good ulcer treatment actually slow the secretion of gastric juices, so liquorice root is not a suitable long-term solution.

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