Which herbs support sweet itch in horses?
There are several supplements available on the market that are said to be effective against sweet itch, but which herbs actually support? Which herbs are useful to give to your horse with sweet itch? Usually a supplement with some of these herbs is the most suitable, because of the broad effect and the cooperation of herbs. You should not only look for herbs that relieve itching, but that are also important for the resistance and digestion. In this blog we would like to discuss these herbs and why they are suitable for horses with sweet itch.
Nettle = blood purifying
Many people see nettle as a weed, but for horses it really is a fantastic herb! It purifies the blood, supports the immune system and is good for the intestinal flora. A real all-rounder that is also tasty for horses. This herb is extremely important for horses with sweet itch! The blood-purifying effect ensures that horses become less attractive to mosquitoes, because less waste products in the body means less attractive blood. Optimal resistance is important for horses with sweet tich. The better the resistance, the fewer inflammatory reactions in the body and the better the horse is resistant to insect bites. Stinging nettle also has a nice healing power, it has an anti-histamine effect. This means that it has an anti-allergic effect and is therefore perfect for use in sweet itch. You can give fresh/dried nettle, but for the most powerful medicinal effect it is recommended to give a liquid nettle tincture.
Fenugreek = resistance
The seeds of the fenugreek plant have medicinal properties and can be used as whole seeds or as a powder. It has always been thought that fenugreek is good for the respiratory system, but that is not really the case. Fenugreek is important for the overall resistance and as the resistance improves, it may be that airway problems get less. Fenugreek has an antipyretic effect, stimulates the appetite and has a soothing effect on (stomach) mucous membranes. In horses with sweet itch, fenugreek is important for the overall resistance. The function on the gastric mucosa is also important, because horses with sweet itch often experience stress and this can lead to stomach ulcers.
Sepiolite = filter body
Sepiolite is not an herb, but a mineral compound. It is sea foam of magnesium silicate that can bind to substances. Sepiolite is therefore a filter for the body, leaving magnesium behind in the body and taking the waste from the body and removing it. Sepiolite is also good for digestion, because it absorbs moisture.
For horses with sweet itch, sepiolite is important because it helps to filter waste products from the body. And the cleaner the body, the fewer inflammatory reactions and therefore less itching.
Echinacea = boost resistance
Echinacea, or coneflower, is known for its great medicinal properties. In the case of a flu/cold, people are quickly referred to Echinacea. Echinacea is also really a huge boost for the resistance and helps to improve the immune system. It also has an antibacterial effect and stimulates the lymphatic system. Never use the Echinacea that grows in the garden, always use an extract. Echinacea is a family of ragwort, which can cause liver damage to a high degree or long-term use.
For horses with sweet itch, Echinacea is not only important because it boosts the resistance, but also because it stimulates the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is important for the removal of waste, so that the horse can recover faster from insect bites.
Astragalus = anti-histamine
Astragalus is an unknown herb for many people, but this plant has enormous benefits for humans and animals. It belongs to the same family of licorice and peas, and its medicinal properties are in the root. Astragalus helps the body to come into balance and ensures self-regulation. An overactive immune system is calmed, but with too little activity it is stimulated. Astragalus therefore actually influences the self-healing ability of the body. Astragalus is also good to use for sweet itch, because it has an anti-histamine effect, which makes it great for allergic reactions. And in doing so, it helps to balance blood sugar levels.
Uncaria = strengthen immune system
Uncaria (cat’s claw) is extremely important for the immune system. It greatly increases in effectiveness after using this herb. It fights bacteria, viruses, fungi, worms and other parasites. The number of white blood cells rise and these determine the effectiveness of the immune system. In addition, uncaria is anti-inflammatory, improves blood flow and is an antioxidant. A very important herb for horses with sweet itch! Allergic reactions cause inflammation under the skin, which causes itching. Uncaria helps to inhibit these inflammations, so that the itching will decrease and the skin can recover. And as an antioxidant, it helps protect cells from free radicals.
Gentiana = digestive support
Gentiana, or yellow gentian, is mainly used to support digestion. It promotes bile production, stimulates appetite and improves intestinal peristalsis. The intestines are the horse’s engine, where a large part of the resistance comes from. This is therefore a beautiful, supportive herb for horses with sweet itch.
Thymus = for respiratory tract and digestion
Thyme, or thymus, is a tasty herb that is widely used in the kitchen, but also has a great medicinal effect. Thyme has a disinfecting effect and wards off infections, which improves the overall resistance. It helps to dissolve mucus in the airways. For horses with sweet itch, this herb is important for digestion, but also for the respiratory tract. An allergy always affects the entire body. There is not only itching, but it can cause respiratory complaints as a side effect.
Citronellol/Citronellal = unattractive
Citronellol and Citronellal are not herbs, but substances (terpenes) that occur naturally in lemongrass, roses and geraniums. It has the well-known citrus-like scent, which makes it a well-known ingredient in anti-fly products and scented candles, for example. Citronellol can also be used internally (only through a supplement, never in its pure form!). It then has a double function; Firstly, substances make the blood of animals indigestible, so that the blood can no longer be used by insects/parasites to reproduce. But it has an extra function for horses with sweet itch. Horses will excrete the smell, which means that mosquitoes and flies will stay more at a distance. As a result, horses will be stung less quickly/often.
Give a supplement with a combination of these herbs
Nettle can be given very fine in pure form for an effective, supportive function in sweet itch. The other herbs/substances work best in combination with each other. They reinforce and complement each other. Giving thyme alone, for example, will have no effect on sweet itch, but if you give it in a total supplement, thyme contributes to the total effect. Just giving an herb to support the skin is pointless, the resistance, the immune system, the lungs and digestion are equally important.