Holiday Herbs for Horses November 15 2017, 0 Comments

Cinnamon for Insulin Resistant Horses

This is a re-print from the Herb Blurb Column I am writing in Equine Wellness Magazine, one of the largest publications in North America focused on natural and alternative therapies for horses.  This is from their Dec/Jan 2017/18 issue. 

Cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves make many people think of eggnog, pumpkin bread and ginger cookies. Beyond giving your baked treats a holiday zing, did you know these aromatic spices can benefit your horse as well? Consider putting them in your home-baked horse cookies, use them to top-dress his feed, or add the essential oils to salves and tinctures for topical applications. 


Cinnamon is an all-time favorite, often used for its antibacterial properties, intestinal support, and its great taste and smell. Cinnamon may also be very helpful for horses that are insulin resistant. Some studies have shown that cinnamon can assist with blood glucose levels and increase insulin sensitivity. Using cinnamon to support an insulin resistant horse can help him regain a normal weight and also assist him in recovering from laminitis.

Generally speaking, the most effective type of cinnamon for antiseptic/antibacterial properties is Ceylon Cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum); most cinnamon found in your pantry is Cassia Cinnamon. The effectiveness of Cassia versus Ceylon for blood glucose issues has not yet been determined.

Cinnamon can also help a picky horse eat his food; horses generally love the smell and taste so sprinkle some on his grain. The recommended dosage is 4 teaspoons per 1,000 lb horse per day. Or use the essential oil in a salve or tincture to help support the healing of topical irritations and infections. Cinnamon can interact with other herbs, so be sure to consult a qualified equine health practitioner before use.


Nutmeg is a common ingredient in supplements designed to make your bay or black horse darker. It’s indigenous to Indonesia and is made by grinding up the seed of evergreen tree Myristica fragrans. Due to the high levels of beta carotene in nutmeg, it can keep “sun-fade” off your horse and keep his coat a nice rich, deep color. Another popular spice for this purpose is paprika; however, paprika can contain capsaicin, which is a banned substance by the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) and Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI), so nutmeg may be a better choice if you show your horse. To administer, use a teaspoon top-dressed on your horses feed every day.


Clove essential oil is a powerful antibacterial, and contains antioxidants that act as an anti-inflammatory. Indigenous to Southeast Asia and some parts of East Africa, it comes from the dried flower bud of the evergreen tree Syzygium aromaticum. Essential oil of cloves can be added to an antibacterial salve, tincture or poultice to help fight topical infections such as scratches and thrush; however, be sure to dilute it, as the oil can be very strong. Some popular carrier oils for dilution include almond oil, grape seed oil, jojoba oil or olive oil. Another great use for clove oil is as an insect repellant; just add a few drops to your fly spray to boost its effectiveness!

Green Horse Organic's Total Horse Protection Spray, one of our most popular fly sprays, includes clove oil, as does their roll on fly product.  Enjoy 10% off on these products by using code BLOG10 at checkout!

Thanks for reading!