With daily temperatures reaching 54 degrees Celsius in the US this year and staying at around 40 degrees in most Mediterranean countries, we can expect the temperatures in Australia to be similar this Summer.
Using herbs to assist with modulating how the body copes with extremes of heat or cold can be traced back to the energetic approach of herbalism developed in the Far East in provinces now contained within China. We can take Western herbs and class them energetically, remembering that the primary aim of using herbs; be it from a Chinese, Ayurvedic or Western approach, is to bring balance to the body.
To describe a herb as cooling, does not necessarily mean it adds ‘cold’ to the body, it may be diaphoretic and open up the pores of the skin so heat can be released, thus cooling the body. Some herbs may slow down the body, decreasing circulation giving a cooling off effect. While others have a demulcent or moistening property, which helps ward off dehydration. There are many ways you can approach how you cool your horse down during Summer.
With Country Park’s Summer Blend, the composition is designed to manage conditions that occur or worsen with the heat of Summer. It is a good example of different actions of herbs combining to balance the metabolism when the body is stressed with the hot weather.
Marshmallow is the moistening herb of the blend, helping with dehydration and soothing to irritated tissue.
Rosehips is the tonic of the blend, easing and soothing inflammation.
Dandelion Leaf is the ‘coldest’ herb in this combination. It is the cleansing, with a healthy diuretic action to help the body release heat.
Clivers cools the skin, by stimulating the lymphatic system which cleans the body with a fine delicate network of vessels often running close to the surface of the body. The nutritional content adds a salty taste and helps the body stay more balanced once cleansed.
Calendula Petals are the slightly warm herb of this combination. It stimulates blood and lymph flow reducing congestion that can be underlying thrush, ringworm, greasy heel, rain scald and cracked heels. In combination, these herbs support the body to find its own ‘right’ temperature and be more comfortable.
If you prefer to give single herbs, there are a couple of key herbs you can give on their own, create your own combination from, or use one to enhance the Summer Blend.
Burdock root is slightly demulcent and aids in clearing heat from the body by detoxifying the blood, historically the best remedy for dry, scaly, dandruff skin like conditions.
Fennel seed will strengthen digestion and with the aroma, help entice a horse to consider eating at the end of a hot day.
Lemon Balm tonifies the heart and circulatory system causing mild vasodilation of the peripheral vessels. It relieves irritability caused by pain and eases constrictions within the body.
Slippery elm with demulcent and moistening actions soothes digestive and urinary inflammation and moistens the respiratory tract of horses suffering a dry cough.
Eyebright is cooling to inflammation and allergies, eye infections, conjunctivitis, and superficial eye weakness. It clears heat from the liver, which helps to improve vision.
Meadowsweet protects and soothes mucous membranes and is known to relax and nourish the intestines.
Mullein is another demulcent herb and most commonly used for respiratory irritation. During bushfire season one to have on hand and combine with peppermint and lemon balm.
Passionflower is useful for horses who get stressed with the heat, especially if they start pacing the fence line or get more anxious when travelling in Summer.
Peppermint historically is a cooling diaphoretic and has an all-over body calming effect. It is a wonderful general tonic to recharge vital energy and dispel lethargy at the end of a hot day.
Whether you choose the Summer Blend or individual herbs, the described herbs can be added straight into any feed, once or twice a day. Burdock root is the one exception, it is better utilised when added in the powdered form. If you are targeting issues that need the demulcent qualities of any herb, these can be made by steeping the herb matter in a mug of boiling water for 15 minutes and then add all the contents to the feed. With using fennel seed or peppermint to encourage appetite, the aroma is often strong enough when added dry, however when convenient they can be made into a tea as well.
For correct dosage rates on the herbs mentioned in this article please contact Carol or Ruth when placing your order.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for educational purpose only and is not meant to replace veterinary advice or treatment. About the Author: Catherine Bird, who is also the author of a Healthy Horse the Natural Way, has been an equine natural therapist for 27 years working closely with Country Park Animal Herbs for over 20 years offering advice to their clients.