Role of nutraceuticals in equine gastric health explored

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© Ruth Benns/Equine Guelph

An equine researcher in Canada is excited about the potential of nutraceuticals to improve gastric health in horses, and has recently worked on three projects involving a specific product.

PhD Associate Professor Dr Wendy Pearson from the University of Guelph has been looking into the use of a product named G’s Formula that contains only four ingredients: Cabbage, oat flour, carrots, and hemp meal.

The product, which is organic and non-GMO and uses human-grade ingredients, is from British Columbia company GS Organic Solutions.

Pearson’s work focuses on improving gastric health, particularly in horses with a history of lower severity colic episodes.

She has been involved in Nutraceutical studies since 1997 and can attest to the progress in the field as far as regulations go, including the fact there is now oversight from Health Canada.

Much of the research that is used to scientifically back products is not on the actual product; it is on research that other companies have done on similar products, or from research on individual ingredients. But there are a few equine supplement companies making substantial investments in their product line by conducting evidence-based product research, Pearson said.

“A horse person’s best protection is to buy products from companies that invest in objective third-party research. The interest and the availability of research funding for this type of research is growing and that’s really coming from the manufacturers, so they deserve a big shout out.

“The future of nutraceuticals is very exciting, and the sky is the limit,” Pearson said.

In the first study, Pearson and colleagues Jennifer MacNicol and Coral Murrant found that there was a significant increase in contractility of gastric smooth muscle when the smooth muscle was exposed to the G’s Formula.

“The smooth muscle strips became more sensitive to a contractile stimulus (acetylcholine), which may indicate an application of the product to increasing contractility of the GI tract,” Pearson said.

A feed additive that can accelerate the transit time of food through the horse’s digestive tract could prove hugely beneficial to horses at risk for developing impaction colic.

In the second in vitro study, Pearson and MacNicol found that there was also accelerated gastric transit time, and noted that small pieces of gastric mucosa cultured in the presence of G’s Formula produced an increased amount of a hormone (gastrin), which promotes contractility of the stomach.

The third study involved Standardbred racehorses. Pearson and colleagues Leah Wellard and Katryna Medyk found that the product had an impact on the electrolyte profile of the horse. Pearson explains the study here:

 

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