Fruit of the Ancients: Amalaki for Horses
In Ayurvedic medicine, amalaki (also known as amla) is considered one of the most powerful rejuvenating foods. In Sanskrit, amalaki means “the sustainer.” Western medicine knows this same food as Indian gooseberry.
By whichever name you call it, amalaki has thousands of years of historical use in humans and animals.
It is classified in Ayurveda as a rasayana, meaning it’s a rejuvenative for the entire body system. From one of the ancient texts, the Charaka Samhita, Sutrasthana, 4:11-13, 16:
“Of all the rasayanas, amalaki is revered as one of the most potent and nourishing; amalaki is the best among rejuvenative herbs.”
Amalaki is the fruit from the Indian gooseberry tree. It is considered tridoshic, meaning the fruit is pacifying to all three Ayurvedic body-mind doshas. For instance, if your horse has gastric or hindgut ulcers, Ayurveda would consider this a result of too much fire: an unbalanced pita dosha. As a balanced tridoshic food, amalaki would not irritate the GI tract of a horse with gastric or hindgut ulcers. Likewise, a horse with hard stool would be considered to have too much cold wind: an unbalanced vata dosha. Amalaki would not add more wind or cold or dryness to the GI tract.
Traditionally, amalaki is given to:
- support a healthy metabolism
- support healthy digestion
- promote a healthy inflammatory response
- nourish the heart and respiratory system
- provide antioxidant support with high vitamin C content
- pacify and balance the three doshas
- rejuvenate all the body tissues
It is Western medicine’s study of amalaki that has revealed the fruit’s amazing benefits for circulation — essential to the efficient delivery of oxygen and nutrients. Increased circulation can reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, as well as speed the healing process.
Research on amalaki and circulation
Eight recently published studies on a specific, patented extract of amalaki called Capros® have demonstrated this food’s ability to increase production of nitric oxide by 54 percent, and super-antioxidant glutathione by 50 percent.
Nitric oxide is a key signaling molecule and a powerful vasodilator. The endothelium, an inner lining of blood vessels, uses nitric oxide to signal the surrounding smooth muscles to relax, resulting in increased blood flow. This allows more oxygen and nutrients to be delivered to areas of the body that need additional support.
Glutathione is known as the mother of all antioxidants. It supports the regulation of cell growth and division, protects DNA from oxidative stress, helps with amino acid transport in and out of the cell, and supports the humoral immune function.
Vascular dysfunction in metabolic horses
Further studies on Capros® also showed that the extract reduced levels of inflammatory biomarkers and improved endothelial function. This is important because a published 2016 study showed that endothelial dysfunction associated with hormonal conditions such as metabolic syndrome or Cushing’s disease affects the laminar vessels and facial skin arteries of the horse. By improving endothelial function by relaxation via nitric oxide, there is increased blood flow and circulation.
(“Vascular dysfunction in horses with endocrinopathic laminitis,” PloS One, September 29, 2016.)
Circulation for performance
When horses exercise, the nitric oxide released increases blood flow to muscles, the heart, the lungs, and other organs. Nitric oxide is a short lived molecule, so the longer it circulates the greater the benefit to these cells and systems, including the nervous system.
Supplementing horses with foods and plants that increase nitric oxide can improve daily training and performance by reducing muscle fatigue, removing lactic acid, increasing oxygenation of muscles, and delivering more nutrients to the cells. Because nitric oxide plays an important role in healing via increased circulation, repair of muscles and connective tissues can be enhanced.
The Indian gooseberry extract increases glutathione, a powerful antioxidant critical to the production of ATP. Lower amounts of glutathione in the cells can slow down ATP production, resulting in fatigue. Furthermore, the recovery phase of training requires glutathione to “mop up” the damaging free radicals left behind (oxidation). Unless they’re regulated by potent antioxidants like glutathione, free radicals can create inflammation.
Circulation for healing
Nitric oxide can modulate the release of various inflammatory mediators: leukocytes, macrophages, mast cells, endothelial cells and platelets. With the blood vessels relaxed, more nutrients are delivered to the area of the body that needs them. This is especially important for ligament and tendon injuries, muscle and joint injuries, and support of these tissues.
Circulation for hoof and heart
The heart, of course, is the key organ of the circulatory system. As it beats, blood is sent throughout the body. But the feet also play a critical role; they’re responsible for pumping blood back up to the heart. Inflammation in the foot will therefore reduce circulation to the heart and the rest of the body.
Nitric oxide helps circulation by relaxing the smooth muscles, allowing for more blood flow. This is especially important for maintaining healthy feet and managing foot issues such as navicular disease, bursa inflammation, bruising and laminitis.
Circulation for joints
An ad for the drug Celebrex features the tag line, “A body at rest tends to stay at rest; a body in motion tends to stay in motion.” The circulatory system loves movement, which benefits the joints.
When nitric oxide levels are increased in the body, this helps to remove damaging waste products and reduce inflammation, while also helping to support joints, muscles, and connective tissues.
Older horses in wintertime can benefit from supplementation that supports circulation, as often these horses aren’t moving around as much as in the summer. They can also benefit from the warming aspects of increased circulation, which helps keep them more comfortable and supple.
Supplements containing amalaki
BioStar provides the patented amalaki extract Capros® in two formulas: Circuvate EQ and Receptor EQ.
Circuvate EQ combines Capros® with foods high in the amino acid arginine for enhanced nitric oxide production, making Circuvate EQ a powerful circulation support formula.
Receptor EQ combines Capros® with the super-antioxidant astaxanthin, green-lipped mussels, organic turmeric, sunflower lecithin, and organic hemp biomass for a comprehensive formula addressing both mind and body — the whole horse.