How To Help Your Horse's Liver Health Naturally

Protect Your Horse's Liver To Maintain Good Health

What Is The Liver?

The liver is an organ that’s important for several reasons. Including removing toxins from the blood.

If there's liver disease a toxin called phylloerythrin can increase in the bloodstream. The breakdown of chlorophyll present in plants eaten by the horse produces this. This is sensitive to light. So when phylloerythrin reaches the skin and is exposed to ultraviolet sunlight. It can lead to skin damage. Unpigmented or light-skinned areas absorb the most ultra-violet light. So the affects of light sensitivity (photosensitization) can be worse.

The liver also produces bile acids needed for digestion.

It’s also influential on the immune system.

So how would you know if your horse's liver is damaged?

Your horse may have a variety of symptoms including:

  • Weight loss
  • Jaundice (yellowy skin and gums)
  • Decreased appetite
  • Skin damage
  • Diarrhoea

The liver is capable of regenerating, which provides some protection against permanent damage. But you can help protect it and prevent further damage.

What natural therapies can help with your horse’s liver health?

It goes without saying that if you suspect your horse has liver damage. Then you need professional veterinary diagnosis and advice. Liver damage can from a large number of reasons. If it’s possible to identify the cause, and resolve it then do this. There’s no point using any natural therapies (or any medicine), if the root cause isn’t fixed, if possible.

But yes there are several complementary therapies you can use, including:

  1. Herbal Remedies. You can use several herbs including, Dandelion, Stinging Nettles, Turmeric and Milk Thistle.
  2. Homeopathy. Your qualified veterinary homeopath can prescribe the most suitable remedy. Read more about homeopathy for animals here.
  3. Veterinary Acupuncture. This ancient therapy can be used to help with liver ailments. Read more about this therapy at my advice page here

What’s the evidence for complementary and alternative medicine for animals with liver ailments?

There's limited robust studies for natural veterinary therapies. This is due to the cost of conducting a clinical trial, which is very expensive. And there are a lot of “political issues” surrounding proving natural therapies work. As will rarely benefit a pharmaceutical company!

But there’s some evidence. As follows.
  1. Research into homeopathy for humans shows its benefits for liver related ailments
  2. Two Homeopathic Remedies Used Intermittently Provide Additional Protective Effects Against Hepatotoxicity Induced by Carcinogens in Mice
  3. Milk Thistle (Herb) and Its Derivative Compounds: A Review of Opportunities for Treatment of Liver Disease

How Can You Start Using Complementary Therapies for Equine Liver Ailments?

  1. Consult a holistic veterinary surgeon. There are many throughout the UK and the world. Some specialise in homeopathy or veterinary acupuncture. Or in herbal remedies. Some practice all of these and many more!
  2. Herbal supplements for horses are produced by several companies. Including Hilton Herbs and Natural Animal Feeds (NAF). They also offer an advice service for choosing the best supplement.
  3. Ask your own veterinary surgeon - even if he or she is "conventional". Many do recognise the benefits of natural therapies, including herbs like Milk Thistle. So don't be worried about asking for their thoughts and advice!

Find out more about other natural animal therapies here at Taranet. Or read other articles in this Natural Pet Health Blog. Take a look at the sitemap here to explore!

About the Author

Suzanne Harris is founder of this Taranet website at, and also provides business coaching to horse and dog care and veterinary professionals.