Immune Plants

 Plants to improve the Immune Response 

There are plants that can be added to your horses’ environment and they will include a combination of  browsing species that can be found in herbal leys, hedgerows, shelter belts and in junction planting areas.

Plants provide grazing livestock with chemicals to improve health and well-being.

  • These include phytochemicals, which protect plants from species that may eat them ie insect pests and larger pests can adversely affect cellular and metabolic processes in these ‘pests’
  • Now these defense mechanisms at low  low doses can have beneficial effects on animal nutrition and health. ie stressed plant material like Resveratrol which is a a type of natural phenol, and a phytoalexin produced by several plants in response to injury or, when the plant is under attack by pathogens such as bacteria or fungi. Sources of resveratrol in food include the skin of grapes, blueberries, raspberries, mulberries. Grape trimmings grown organically would have these immune modulating benefits too.
  • There are plant species that affect immunomodulation  in herbivores.  So including these species as part of the forage regime may be regarded as an alternative and complement to chemotherapy.
  • To that end it makes sense to  incorporate mixes of plants with bioactive properties in ways that enhance health without compromising animal production and well-being.
  • This will  involve developing management programs that acknowledge the ability of animals to learn about the beneficial effects of diverse foods. This applies to all areas of equine/ livestock health.
  • By starting to include some of the species below we are well on the way to creating a sustainable environment tha actually protects our horses from diseases.

Pasture Species

These are immune enhancing species that can be sown and/or plug planted into a predominantly grass pasture  and /or the existing pasture can be ploughed under and a green crop like phacelia, blue lupin, crimson clover  can be planted followed by mustard which will act as a soil steriliser.

Birds foot Trefoil or Lotus

Trefoil Lotus

Trefoil (lotus contains high levels of tannins, which makes it a vermifuge but tannins also feed the microbiota and help rebalance the gut after a summer of high fructan grasses. The tannins help to increase absorption of vitamins, minerals and amino acid from the gut.  It contains the following flavonoids, quercetin, kaempferol, rutin and vitexin, (also found in vitex agnus)





Juncus Effesus

Juncus effesus

This tough grass species is high in non digestible fibre and starch which is slowly fermentable in the hind gut. The sugar content of this grass increases as the winter progresses which is of great benefit during the winter months where it can be grazed to the crown. The seeds are high in lipids, as well as containing zinc, copper and calcium whilst being low in iron. While it is a swamp plant it also copes well during droughts providing a rich source of insoluble fibre and seeds.







Rumex acetosa Sour spinach

Rumex acetosa


Containing high levels of the A, B and C vitamins in particular vitamin C which is higher than any other foliage. This species helps produce saliva (bicarbonate and beneficial microbes) to maintain optimum pH for good digestion. The sorrels can initially be plug planted into pasture field and will be foraged as part of a grazing regime. This plant may also help horses with ulcers due to its ability to produce bicarbonate.




Rumex acetosella Sheeps Sorrel

Sheeps sorrel



It is commonly found in acidic, sandy soils in heaths and grassland. It particularly likes to grow in areas where blueberries can be found and has similar health attributes as acetosa.









This aromatic creeping herb has anti bacterial as well as immune enhancing qualities. It can be plug planted in prepared rows throughout the paddock to gradually migrate into the surrouning pasture.



Shepherds Purse Capsella bursa pastoris

This commonly occurring pasture species has a number of health attributes to include enhancing the immune system.











Echinaea purpurea


These plants are growing in our specialty paddock which also has olive trees that provide leaves for extracts . This plant is happily growing along side St John’s wort and valerian.







Hedge species


Rosa rugosa scabiosa is an ideal visual and physical barrier plant that has a number of health benefits to include the high vitamin C content in the rosehips, fibre content in small branches and foliage and all plants of the plant high in anti oxidants.






Tree Species

There are a number of tree species that can be used as specimen trees dotted around the paddock or planted in junction areas , or as part of a shelter or visual divider or as in some cases these trees can be pleached to create a see through hedge with the canopy trimmed up to 1.8 of the main trunk.

Olive Trees





DISCLAIMER: The information in this page must not be used in place of professional veterinary treatment . We recommend that either a qualified herbalist or your animal professional carry out diagnosis and subsequent treatment. Herbal remedies must not be given not be taken in conjunction with other medication with out consulting a medical professional.

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