Echinacea; Boost Your Horse’s Immune System and Fight Infection

Echinacea; Boost Your Horse’s Immune System and Fight Infection

2nd Mar 2020

Boosting your horse’s immune system can be critical during different stresses including travel, training, and even periods of illness or injury. Boosting it naturally can be as simple as adding an herb into their diet. Echinacea is our go-to herb for equine immune support.

What is Echinacea?

Echinacea is one of the most popular herbs on the market, second only to garlic for immune support. Echinacea is a perennial that blooms in many backyard gardens each summer and is commonly known as Purple or White Coneflower. The most common species are Echinacea angustifolia and Echinacea purpurea.

Echinacea has been used by Native Americans for thousands of years for various medicinal purposes however, it’s only been in last 100 years or so that it has been used much outside of the USA. It is most common for the root to be used, since it is stronger, however the leaves, stems and flowers can also be used and have valuable benefit.

Echinacea’s use in Medicine

Traditionally, echinacea was used for immune support during colds, infections and coughs. There are even records demonstrating Native Americans using the herb in their horses. Because it is considered a range plant, most horses will graze it heartily.

Echinacea is considered an immuno-stimulant and has antimicrobial qualities. It helps to stimulate resistance to infection, disease, fever and inhibits the growth of micro-organisms, like viruses. Most respiratory infections are viral in nature and most of the viruses that cause them are transmitted through the air.

In humans, studies have shown echinacea to be helpful in preventing and combating a variety of common ailments such as upper respiratory infections, colds and flu. In fact, it has even been shown to shorten the duration and severity of these conditions when given early on.

Using Echinacea for Horses

Research into the effect of echinacea in horses was conducted at the Equine Research Centre in Guelph, Canada. The study monitored both red and white blood cells and an increase was noted in white blood cell levels, representing an overall improvement in the horse’s ability to fight disease and infection.

Since performance horses undergo considerable stress, a common problem we see is "shipping stress." When horses are shipped or hauled, they can develop a compromised immune system due to the increase in stress, leaving them vulnerable to infections. Echinacea combines well with many other herbs such as cat's claw, astragalus, osha, and eyebright to enhance your horse’s immune support.

In veterinary medicine, echinacea is not only used for immune system support but can also be used topically to combat skin infections and rashes. It is also available as a homeopathic ingredient and flower essence. Though echinacea is considered to have a wide margin of safety, the German Commission E monographs caution that echinacea preparations are not to be used internally in people with autoimmune disorders such as cancer. This precaution has been mirrored in the animal health world.

Just as humans struggle in certain times of the year, spring and fall are wonderful times to consider providing extra immune support for your horses. Bacteria and viruses spread rapidly during these times and echinacea is a great (and safe) tool to have on hand when your horses are traveling, in heavy training, or at risk of coming in contact with other horses.

Equilite Herbals Equinacea™ includes the highest quality echinacea available and its proprietary blend of ingredients provides the very best in natural immune and respiratory support. Click here for more information.