In order to clarify joint supplementation for you the story so far is –
Joint supplementation in the horse has been researched by a many scientists, however, as yet there is very little research outside of a test tube to prove any joint supplement works in a horse.
There are hundreds of products marketed and pushed as a ‘fix-alls’ out there with a lot of smoke and mirrors on labels!
There are so I have only taken a few of the most common ingredients and supplements with the facts behind them.
4cyte is made by vets and sold by vets. In one study done in actual live horses, the epitalis was injected.
There is one trial done by a vet, that was an unpublished trial, so no peer review, on 10 horses alone (this is a very small sample size for research) where it was fed orally and seen to make a difference.
It does not state what condition the horses joints were in before they were fed 4 cyte?
Another published clinical trial was conducted on 16 horses, fed Biota orientalis, (the ingredient) and showed there was a decrease in synovial fluid and white blood cell counts.
However – there was no significant difference between treatment groups in clinical lameness findings, MRI findings, macroscopic grading or histologic grading.
The ingredient that MAYBE of benefit is the epitalis = oil extract from the seed of Biota orientalis = free fatty acid = anti-inflammatory.
Green lipped muscle
Has anti-inflammatory properties
Contains EPA & DHA = Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids.
This is in some supplements (take care to see the amount included)
Glucosamine & Chondroitin
Is an essential building block for proteoglycans which make up the non-structural component of cartilage.
Glucosamine has been recognised as a beneficial nutraceutical for joint health in humans. (To reduce inflammation and cartilage turnover)
Been shown (in people) to work synergistically with Chondroitin. To reduce inflammatory mediators in the joint as well as improve repair.
A few researchers claim beneficial to horses.
However, levels of Glucosamine have been cited to be at least 10-15g per day for a 500kg horse.
The Chondroitin level must be at least 5g per day.
Summary of joint supplements:
They will not harm in any way.
There is no real guarantee it will be of benefit either.
If you feed one you should expect improvement within 7-14 days.
The horse gut is different to a human and incredibly long, so an ingredient must be in high enough quantity and in the right form to travel thru a horse GIT, then to be taken up and sent all the way to the joint to be of benefit.
Basically, from a nutritionists point of view I would like to see more definitive research findings on these ingredients.
What is the best to put my hard-earned money into?
Well research does prove the best way to keep joints healthy (please note there is nothing to actually heal osteoarthritis or old joints), is to keep the diet at the correct level of minerals especially zinc and copper, in the correct balance.
As long as you have all the facts first to make a decision 😊
Many people see a difference, studies show this is usually a placebo effect. Of course, we want our horses to be well and not in pain.
Hope this enables you to make a decision for your horse.