Eggshell Membrane Collagen for Horses and Neuro-Plex EQ Powder
Collagen is a popular protein ingredient in supplements for humans, dogs, and horses. A few years ago, I got on the bandwagon and tried two different collagen supplements, but didn’t see or feel a difference.
But this past spring, after reading a study on eggshell membrane collagen, I found and started taking a supplement with eggshell membrane collagen in it. The first thing I noticed was my gut. I have chronic gut issues including GERD, and I noticed my gut was a lot happier. Four weeks in, I noticed my chronically cranky left knee started feeling less irritated (it’s hard getting old). After seven weeks, I didn’t need an NSAID for it, and I could take a walk without my knee brace.
What was the difference between eggshell membrane collagen and the other collagen supplements I had already tried without success? It’s all related to what collagen really is and what it does.
What is collagen?
Collagen plays an important role in maintaining the structural integrity of various organs and tissues. It’s the primary building block of skin, muscles, bones, and connective tissues, providing flexibility and strength. Collagen is found in cartilage, bones, tendons, ligaments, skin, blood vessels and teeth.
Collagen has also been shown to be beneficial for supporting gut wall integrity and repairing gut lining. It can increase production of butyrate (one of the short-chain fatty acids) in the large intestine. Collagen is also being used in wound dressings for humans and animals.
There are various types of collagen that differ somewhat in molecular structure, but all collagens are made up primarily of three amino acids: glycine, proline and hydroxyproline. These specific amino acids represent important precursors for the synthesis of the extracellular matrix (ECM).
The ECM is critical in regenerating tissue, because cellular interaction depends on it.
Collagens are the main structural element of the ECM, provide tensile strength, regulate cell adhesion, support cellular migration, and tissue development.1
Native collagen vs. denatured hydrolyzed collagen
If you’ve gone hunting for collagen supplements yourself, you know that there are a lot of claims about collagen peptides versus native collagen, hydrolyzed collagen versus native collagen, and the fundamental “whole” versus “fractionated” debate: native versus denatured.
Native collagen – also known as undenatured collagen – has a folded triple-helix structure consisting of long polypeptide chains. This tightly formed helix gives collagen the strength that is part of muscles, tendons, cartilage, skin, and bones.
Hydrolyzed collagen is manufactured through specific hydrolysis where enzymes cut the triple helix molecule into small pieces known as short-chain peptides. Sometimes this collagen product is referred to as collagen peptides or denatured collagen.
Mechanisms of action: Native vs. hydrolyzed
Native collagen works through the immune-mediated process known as oral tolerance. Native collagen is the biologically active form, and is recognized by the immune system as an endogenous substance.
Hydrolyzed collagen is already broken down into peptides, often claimed to be more easily absorbed. The paradox is, hydrolyzed collagen requires a larger daily dose than certain types of native collagen.
Collagen and wound healing
Native collagen in its triple-helix form provides greater molecular and scaffold stability during wound healing. Native collagen can accelerate tissue regeneration because collagen is the main structural element of the ECM, which is nature’s biological scaffold material.2,3
Hydrolyzed collagen cannot form scaffolds, due to the low molecular weight of the peptides.
How can collagen benefit my horses and dogs without wounds?
GI tract ulcers, irritation and inflammation, as well as soft tissue, joint, and bone problems are common health issues for horses and dogs.
Collagen and the GI tract
Homeostasis of the GI tract is linked to interactions between cells and the production and organization of the ECM. Remember, ECM is the support structure. It’s one of the most complex structural tissues in mammals. Collagens represent important molecules regulating cell adhesion and tissue homeostasis.4
Wounds, ulcers, and gut inflammation
One of the challenges of wound healing is loss of tissue and, as a result, bacterial overgrowth.
Ulcers in the stomach and hindgut are a kind of wound — a wound that can benefit from collagen support. Inflammation and irritation in the gut can also benefit from collagen supplementation.
Recent research has illuminated that multiple bacterial species in the gut can degrade the host ECM, thereby enhancing colonic inflammation.
In fact, uncontrolled ECM remodeling has emerged as a key feature of inflammatory bowel disease. Gut epithelial cells form a barrier that keeps bacteria and other substances from entering the blood or tissues. These cells are arranged on scaffolding that maintains the structure of the gut. With IBD, there are breaks formed in the cellular barrier, giving bacteria access to tissue, even leading to modification and disassembly of the scaffolding.5
Collagen and soft tissue
Inflammation due to tissue damage includes degradation of the ECM. ECM directs all phases of healing following trauma or disease, so supporting it is crucial to healing.
Collagen, bone, and joints
Thirty to forty percent of bone is composed of collagen.
Degradation of ECM underlies the loss of cartilage tissue in joints, common with osteoarthritis. The ECM of cartilage is made up of collagen and sulfated proteoglycan.6
Benefits of eggshell membrane collagen
When it comes to supplements, not all collagen sources are equally beneficial, or provide the same variety of supportive ingredients. Collagen derived from eggshell membranes stands out from the crowd, because it provides4:
- Collagen type 1, a regulator of cell adhesion, tissue development and homeostasis.
- Collagen type V, which contributes to the bone matrix, corneal stroma (crucial for normal vision) and the interstitial matrix of muscles, liver, and lungs.
- Collagen type X, a network-forming collagen found in healthy joint cartilage.
- Fibronectin, which regulates cell adhesion, migration, differentiation, growth and survival; plays an important role in the homeostasis of the barrier function of the intestinal mucosa.
- Chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine, substances found in the connective tissues of the body.
- Hyaluronic acid to help stabilize ECM integrity.
- Elastin for modulating intestinal tissue and conferring tissue elasticity.
- Keratin for protecting cells and tissue from stress. Keratin is especially known for hair, skin and nail health, and is found in both the small and large intestines.7
BioStar’s eggshell membrane collagen
Eggshell membrane collagen is native collagen, maintaining the triple-helix structure. That’s important because native collagen is recognized by the immune system as an endogenous substance. The triple helix conformation gives structural support to the scaffolding of the ECM.
We source our eggshell membrane collagen from Spain because of the supplier’s patented chemical-free process. Our eggshell membrane collagen is produced with water and mechanical presses rather than with chemicals.
Eggshell membrane collagen does not come from deceased animals, as collagen from porcine and bovine sources.
Eggshell membrane collagen is a multi-collagen source for collagen types 1, V, and X. The eggshell membrane itself contains fibronectin, chondroitin sulfate, glucosamine, hyaluronic acid, elastin, and keratin.
Coming soon! Eggshell membrane collagen will be an ingredient in our new Neuro-Plex EQ powder for horses (September 2023), and a new formula for dogs (October 2023)!
Neuro-Plex EQ Powder
Neuro-Plex EQ paste syringes are formulated to support a healthy brain-to-muscle neurovascular system. With ingredients from Eastern medicine and Western science, this paste is recommended to support horses with common neuromuscular challenges. The syringe form is fast and convenient.
Neuro-Plex EQ powder, as a daily therapeutic support for equine neuromuscular systems, includes eggshell membrane collagen because ECM disruption can make neurons more susceptible to dysfunction and cell death.
According to a study in Neural Regeneration Research, “ECM proteins have the advantage of interaction with cells directly via surface receptors or indirectly via other ECM molecules. Therefore, ECM proteins play a role in cell differentiation, cell attachment, migration, survival and proliferation.”8
Fascinating new research on the central nervous system (CNS) describes the biomedical use of collagen for CNS repair because it is highly biocompatible, biodegradable and non-toxic.
BioStar is excited to bring the important benefits of eggshell membrane collagen to your horses and dogs. Look for it September 1, 2023!