heart herbs hawthorn berry

Preventing heart issues with supportive herbs can make a big difference in his health and performance.

Your horse’s circulatory and cardiovascular system is very complex, and enables the rest of his body to function properly. Although equine cardiac disorders can’t be compared to those in humans, the horse’s cardiovascular system does control the same functions – such as the pump, distribution channels (arteries), exchange mechanisms (capillary beds), and the veins that collect and return to the atrial chambers, inclusive of the heart, spleen and blood.

Treating and preventing major organ and systemic ailments in a natural way is mainstream practice in many countries. It is also trending in North America. This is in part due to scientific proof of the efficacy of certain herbal medicinal treatments. People are becoming more educated on alternative treatments and are realizing the power of herbs. After all, science and conventional medicine have already recognized their value – Western medicine is derived from plant-based sources.

An Ounce of Prevention

When it comes to dealing with “matters of the heart” (excuse the pun), we don’t want to wait until we are facing a serious affliction. Preventative treatments such as cardiovascular balancing herbs should be a serious consideration, especially with performance horses where the circulatory system works at an excessive rate. In fact, the spleen can hold up to 30 liters of blood and expel up to 25 liters during excitement or performance activities such as jumping, racing, etc. This expulsion is what feeds the muscles that burst of oxygen required to accomplish those amazing feats. Therefore, we want to ensure we are supporting the cardiovascular system to ensure continued healthy function.

Although there are several herbs that support the heart, blood and spleen, I would like to mention the three most important ones.

1. Hawthorn Berry

Hawthorn berry (Crateagus oxycanthus) has long been recognized for cardiovascular support in animals and humans. The berries and leaves are the most preferred parts of the herb, and are used as a vasodilator. This necessary coronary function dilates blood vessels so blood runs smoothly through arteries, and prevents the heart from overworking. It also supports the whole cardiac muscle fiber. Hawthorn contains over 19 flavanoids, including rutin and quercetin, both of which are potent anti-inflammatories. In humans, clinical evidence shows that hawthorn can significantly improve angina, congestive heart failure and acute myocardial infarction. In Europe, hawthorn is endorsed by the Commission E (the branch of government that approves herbal treatments) as safe and effective.

2. Cayenne

Another excellent herb for the heart is cayenne (Capsicum annuum). You might think giving your horse cayenne would burn his stomach lining, yet it can actually rebuild the tissue in the stomach, and aid in digestion. Furthermore, cayenne is one of the most incredible tissue-regenerating herbs and vasodilators available. It boosts circulation, thereby improving heart function. Capsicum, the potent constituent in cayenne, is responsible for rapidly stimulating organ secretion. It is safe, and recommended for ingestion on an empty stomach! Eastern and Western doctors and veterinarians alike have reveled in the miraculous effects cayenne has on the heart. Clinical studies and evidence show cayenne can actually stop a heart attack while it’s happening.

3. Cleavers

The final herb in our arsenal of good cardiovascular/circulatory herbs is cleavers. It’s a wonderful herb to clear the blood of impurities and assist the spleen in ridding the system of damaged and old white blood cells. It’s excellent for lowering blood pressure and cleaning the lymphatic system. Rich in silica, cleavers is an excellent all-round blood tonic that makes a great spring/fall addition thanks to its detoxifying qualities.

Whether your equine friend has been diagnosed with a particular cardiovascular condition or you are looking to balance and prevent future afflictions, this power trio of herbs is a must have!

Theresa Gilligan has been involved in riding and training horses for 25 years, including racing and breeding Thoroughbreds. She also has over 15 years in the financial industry and degrees in International Business. She has dedicated the last five years to researching alternative medicinal practices, with a specific focus on Ayurveda. Neachai (Neachai.ca) is the first Equine Ayurvedic-specific alternative practice in North America.