Everything But the Kitchen Sink

Everything but the Kitchen Sink

Earlier I wrote about the fear of Zelda’s ulcers re-occurring and how I monitor her behavior based on whether or not it is being caused by ulcers.

I’ve never been a big buyer of supplements. Until now. I don’t give my horses joint supplements, which have very little documented success. I don’t give calming supplements. But I am big time invested in digestive supplements. Here’s what I’m trying.

These are what I’ve been feeding since weaning her off of the official ulcer medications. The safety of long-term use of omeprazole in horses has not yet been widely studied, but research has shown that it has the potential for rebound gastric hyperacidity when you stop giving it (which is why you taper), for decreased calcium absorption during administration and for disruption to hindgut function when administered alongside non‐steroidal anti‐inflammatory drugs. It’s also very expensive. That’s why finding maintenance products is such an important part of keeping your horse ulcer free.

Since discontinuing drug therapy, I’ve started on the following treatments and also added some alfalfa hay along with her timothy.

Purina Outlast, which contains a proprietary mineral complex with a unique honeycomb structure. The porous structure of this natural and bio-available source of calcium and magnesium increases its surface area and enhances its capacity to support proper gastric pH. Equine gastric pH is less acidic in horses supplemented with Outlast™ supplement. Purina has several research studies about how the product can protect against ulcers by increasing gastric pH for up to four hours after it’s been fed.

Papaya purée: Ingesting papaya is a surge in mucous secretion in the mouth, esophagus and stomach. The thickening of the mucous lining in the stomach provides protection against excess acid production, and thereby helps prevent and resolve stomach ulcers. Ulcer studies published in the The Horse Journal in both 2005 and 20`12 reported, “rapid relief within three to five days”. Zelda is not a fan of papaya chunks, although she will eat it when mixed in her beet pulp. She makes no objection to the purée. I feed 4 ounces daily.

Apple Pectin and Lecithin: According to an article by Juliet Getty, Ph.D., (an Independent Horse Nutritionist) on HorseTalk, veterinarians have found that lecithin, along with apple pectin, can help prevent and treat gastric lesions. It is increasingly used as a “second-tier” treatment after a short-term course of omeprazole, to further heal irritated tissue or to prevent ulcers when horses are exposed to external stressors such as isolation, travel, showing, or the demands of training. Pectin is a water-soluble fiber that acts with lecithin to form a hydrophobic barrier on the gastric mucosal membranes, protecting them against the corrosive effect of stomach acid. You can purchase pre-mixed supplements or buy apple pectin and granulated lecithin. The recommended dose is ½ cup of lecithin plus 2 tablespoons of apple pectin once or twice daily. I buy my ingredients on Amazon. It does not

Chia seeds: Dr. Getty reports that the mucilage and quercetin content of chia seeds helps protect and heal the mucosal lining throughout the stomach and remainder of the gastrointestinal tract. The oils and hydrophilic (water-absorbing ) nature of chia seeds also slows gastric emptying and stabilizes blood sugar by slowing carbohydrate breakdown, essentially evening out the digestion rate. This further aids in balancing the levels of stress hormones and insulin, which can reduce excessive inflammatory stress, often a contributing cause of ulcers.

Most recently, because Zelda is still showing some resistance to bending and collected work, I’ve added Succeed to her meals.

Succeed: This supplement has a deceptively simple list of ingredients: polar lipids (oat oil), soluble fiber (β-glucans), yeast, and amino acids (L-glutamine and L-threonine) that together work to moderate the release of sugars in the digestive system, slow the transit of digest through the intestines, thicken the mucus that protects the GI tract and provide the B vitamins that can help recover from the anemic state that can result from ulcers. A study (funded by Succeed) compared the effect of Succeed to omeprazole on the development and treatment of squamous gastric ulcer (those in the stomach’s nonglandular area) development in Thoroughbred racehorses. In their study population, the dietary supplement performed equally well as omeprazole in terms of the proportion of horses with complete resolution of squamous ulceration and those with a squamous ulcer score of less than or equal to 1 or complete resolution at Day 90. Zelda gets 1 scoop per day and eats it without complaint. Note: Succeed offers a 60-day challenge through their website. If you don’t see results, they will refund your money.

If that doesn’t help, I have another product waiting in the wings.

Gut-X: This s a relatively new, liquid treatment for ulcers that combines Hyaluronic Acid (HA) and Beta Glucan. The high pH resilience allows the product to reach the hindgut, which is harder to treat than stomach ulcers. Beta Glucan stimulates the immune system to heal damaged tissue in both the stomach and the hindgut. In addition, it creates a gel that slows the transit of digestion through the gut, which allows starches to be digested earlier. This reduces the negative effects of starch in the hindgut. HA brings moisture to the hindgut and decreases the pain and inflammation associated with acidosis. An independent study that shows gastric ulceration in horses can be successfully treated with a blend of HA and Schizophyllan.

The good news is that there are a lot of treatments for ulcers that have some scientific research behind them. The trick is not to throw everything at your horse at once, because you will never know what worked.

What has helped your ulcer-prone horse recover and stay ulcer free?

4 thoughts on “Everything But the Kitchen Sink

  1. I have a bitch of a case of GERD, due to hiatal hernias.(in my stomach). I was advised to use omeprazole, a drug in the PPI family of drugs. (Proton Pump Inhibitor) (the proton pump is the main gateway into individual cells.) After doing my research, I decided NOT to. The rebound effect, as you’ve noted is very bad, and worse…if you have osteoporosis (like I do), it’s affects on calcium make one more likely to have fractures. So I stick with Tums and Pepcid, don’t eat anything after 5 PM, and sleep (or try to) on a wedge pillow. Most of this can’t be done for a horse, but the problems are the same! I believe the pectin you can buy in the canning section at the market is the very same stuff as is advised by doctors but costs mucho mas. I can’t say for horses, but in myself, a human, I found that it caused far too much mucus in my throat and esophagus and I had to stop.
    I think you’re on the right track with Queen Z (and I don’t mean Zenyatta, the Queen Z of the track). While I didn’t find too many ‘supplements’ that worked, I will say that Trifecta helped rebuild Raven’s horribly bad hooves (after we got rid of the white line). So some do work. Good luck!!

  2. You’ree right, PPIs have been associated with bone density loss in humans. It hasn’t been studied in horses, but it’s certainly been at the back of my mind.

  3. Just be careful. The gastroenterologists never fail to advise or prescribe PPIs, but never discuss the warnings on the label that say don’t take this stuff for longer than two weeks…

    1. Indeed, PPIs are great . . . until they aren’t. That’s one of the reasons why I’ve been trying to find a better solution to control stomach acid that doesn’t create other issues or have that rebound effect.

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