Bay Leaves to Treat Sweet Itch in Horses
Answered by: Kerry Hackett
Question from: Carol Mellor
Posted on: August 01, 2007

I have a horse with severe sweet itch (a midge allergy). A friend of mine said that she knows of a pony whose sweet itch was alleviated by ingesting a few bay leaves per day. Is this worth a try? I am concerned about the long term effects and would be grateful for your view.

First off, please see the posting on this website ( entitled, "Horses and Sweet Itch". I have looked through a number of resources and although I cannot find a direct indication for the use of Bay leaf (Laurus nobilis) in the treatment of sweet itch, neither can I find any references that contraindicate its use; however, no one mentions employing it long-term either. This plant has a long history of helping with digestive complaints and arthritic aches and pains. It’s chief constituents are it’s volatile oils which have antiseptic, antifungal and carminative (stomach calming and strengthening) properties. Juliette de Bairacli Levy states that Bay leaves are good for horses prone to colic and dropsical conditions and may be used externally for burns and swellings. She recommends six leaves twice a day internally; externally a handful of leaves may be pulped and warmed over hot water before being applied to the affected area. Most resources state that contact dermatitis can occur when using the essential oil and that it should never be used internally.

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