Equine Supplement Research Explores Potential Gastric Health Benefits

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Collaborating on three recent research papers on a nutraceutical called ‘Gs Formula’, Dr. Wendy Pearson, PhD Associate Professor, at the University of Guelph has been very busy.  Approached by GS Organic solutions out in BC, Pearson has been investigating the potential for Gs Formula to improve gastric health, particularly for horses with a history of lower severity colic episodes. 

Drawing by Ruth Benns

In the first study, we found that there was actually a significant increase in contractility of gastric smooth muscle when the smooth muscle was exposed to the GS Formula,” said Pearson of the first in vitro study.  “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.”  A feed additive that can accelerate transit time of food through the horse’s digestive tract could prove hugely beneficial to horses at risk for developing impaction colic.

The second in vitro study also pointed to a role in accelerating gastric transit time, noting that small pieces of gastric mucosa cultured in the presence of Gs Formula produced an increased amount of a hormone (gastrin), which promotes contractility of the stomach.

Watch this video interview to find out what happened in the third study involving Standardbred racehorses.

Dr. Pearson has been involved in Nutraceutical studies since 1997 and can attest to the progress in the field as far as regulations go, including there is now oversight from Health Canada.  When asked the hallmarks of a supplement backed by research, Pearson says “a horse person’s best protection is to buy products from companies that invest in objective third party research.”  Pearson goes on to explain efficacy research is still a big problem.  A lot of the research that’s used to scientifically back products is not on the actual product; it’s 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.

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