We all know licorice as that black, rubbery candy that some people love and some people hate… the flavor is certainly distinctive. What you may not know is that licorice can keep your horse’s digestive track happy and healthy. And a happy, healthy gut can directly affect your horse’s attitude, hoof health, circulation and immune system.
When horses are stressed mentally or nutritionally, the ph levels within the gut will change and sometimes lead to a huge disruption. Keeping your horses diet consistent will help maintain a healthy system. But when your efforts can’t compete with the sensitivity of your equine and his belly, you can always look into natural, herbal and nutritional options to give a boost.
Which brings us to licorice.
Licorice root has been used by humans for over 3000 years and was even found in King Tut’s tomb in an effort to assist him in the afterlife. It has been considered a ‘go to’ herb in all cultures throughout history as an expectorant, demulcent and anti-inflammatory. (Herballegacy.com). Licorice also offers over 30 different flavonoids – phytonutrients offering antioxidant properties and cardiovascular benefits along with support in the GI tract by lowering gastric secretions.
Today, we know that licorice has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiulcer, antifungal, and antithrombotic properties. In modern medicine, licorice extract is used primarily as a mild laxative, a demulcent (an agent that soothes and relieves irritation, especially of mucous membranes), and an expectorant (an agent that promotes the secretion or expulsion of phlegm, mucus, etc., from the respiratory tract).
Just like alfalfa, the licorice plant is a legume and closely related to peas! The root offers a taste that is said to be 30-50 times sweeter than sugar. Now most people wouldn’t think of a horse enjoying the taste of licorice, but go ahead and ask their opinion. They do enjoy it and most horses will seek it out. The plant also offers natural anti-inflammatory and anti-ulcerogenic properties that could act as a natural alternative to medications such as cortisone.
Visit our digestion category for products and more information on how to keep your horses gut moving!