Properties: Sweet is the a Yang flavor that can be important in feed for horses if it is not overdone. The full sweet flavor that is found in most grains can strengthen tissues and empty sweet found more in fruits has a cleansing and cooling effect. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, sweet is a harmonizing flavor that helps slow and relax the body. This the opposite of what most people see when they put their horses on significant amounts of a typical “sweet feed”. The bad rap that whole grains get has to do with the fact that they are concentrated sources of calories and not always balanced in micro nutrients. The extra calories over and above the needs of the horse combined with lack of nutrients creates a hyperactive horse with little ability to focus. Any flavor in excess can cause the opposite effect. The sweet flavor in moderation can build the Yin of the body which is the connective tissues and fluids, so it can build up a thin, weak, dry, deficient horse. The sweet flavor can moisten and lubricate the connection tissues and helps form a thin, healthy mucus coating on membranes in the respiratory and digestive tracts. The sweet flavor activates the amylase enzyme in saliva and stimulates insulin production by the pancreas.
Uses: Whole grains in moderation can energize and relax the body. This may seem contradictory but because the sweet flavor relaxes the nerves and supports good brain function the energy from proper amounts of whole grains can give energy and still allow the horse to stay relaxed. Again the emphasis is on whole grains that include micronutrients as well as calories. The correct balance of sugar in the blood increases the amount of the calming amino acid tryptophan that is able to go to the brain. The abundance of tryptophan based horse supplements marketed as calming products suggests that blood sugar imbalances are common in horses.
Organ Functions: The sweet flavor strengthens the spleen/pancreas, soothes aggressive liver emotions such as anger and impatience. It moistens dry conditions in the lungs and slows an overactive heart and mind.
Season: The sweet flavor is good for any season and helps the body transition from one season to another.
Cautions: The problem is many of our grains these days do not have good mineral profiles because they are not grown organically so they act in the body like refined sugars. Refined sugar that reaches the stomach creates an acid condition which consumes the body’s minerals including Calcium. Sugar without the minerals to aid in its digestion weakens the digestive system and this interferes with all digestion and assimilation which in turn creates a blood sugar imbalance and a craving for more sugar. The resulting acid system depletes the body of vitamins, minerals allowing bone loss and arthritis to develop.
Overweight, sluggish horses, or any horse with excessive mucus/dampness, should avoid foods with the sweet flavor.
Examples: Several sweet foods that can be used a food for horses include apples, papaya, carrots, celery, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, molasses and grains such as oats, barley and corn.