Hedgerow GI: The Next Generation in Gut Support
Hedgerow GI: A new formula with ancient roots
Several years ago, I became interested in traditional English hedgerows and how helpful they were, not only as windbreaks and habitats for birds and small mammals, but for the edible plants on which horses and livestock could forage. Certain herbs, for example, supported the kidneys and liver, providing tonic qualities for those organs. Hedgerows were important for humans too, as a place to pick beneficial herbs that supported human health and wellbeing. A tradition dating back to Roman antiquity, there is a renaissance of hedgerows in the UK now, with a reintroduction of hedgerows to farmland.
Due to my obsession with the GI tract, I started researching common plants that can be found in hedgerows to help support the GI tract. The diversity of these edible plants in turn supports diversity in horse and livestock gut microbiota, and diversity of gut bacteria is an important part of health and homeostasis of the GI tract.
Our pastures in the US are rarely a blend of native grasses and wild herbs. The monoculture of grass seeds has reduced diversity in pastures, to say nothing of the war on plants like dandelions. Horses today cannot forage for plants that their ancestors ate for many thousands of years. Horses that only eat hay have less diverse fecal microbiomes. Researchers in New Zealand found that pasture-fed horses had more diverse fecal microbiomes than hay-fed horses.1
The gastrointestinal tract is a complex community of microbes, immune cells, metabolites, and the tight junctions of the gut. Think of it as an orchestra, which needs to perform harmoniously in order to provide health and wellbeing to the host.
Homeostasis of the gut, or the orchestra in tune, ensures the health of the host. When the gut’s orchestra reacts improperly to deviations, then imbalance occurs, leading to inflammation and gut instability.
Challenges to the orchestra
Stressors on the GI tract can upset the orchestra’s ecosystem, resulting in imbalance and health issues:
- Pathogenic microbes
- Environmental toxins
- Psychological and physical stress
- Food additives
- Dietary challenges
The importance of microbial diversity
Diversity of the gut microbiome is becoming an important biomarker for health:
- A rich and diverse gut microbiome supports digestion, the absorption and production of essential nutrients, and regulation of the immune, metabolic and nervous systems.
- Lower diversity is associated with inflammation, irritable bowel syndrome, obesity, and neurobehavioral issues.
Effects of food additives on the gut microbiota
Food additives, specifically polysorbate 80, carboxymethylcellulose, sodium benzoate, sodium nitrate, and potassium sorbate have been shown to negatively affect the gut microbiome by creating an imbalance in the beneficial and pathogenic bacterial colonies.2
Effects of drugs on the gut microbiota
Proton pump inhibitor (PPI) drugs like omeprazole can negatively affect the microbial community and can contribute to dysbiosis (disruption of microbiota homeostasis). Some studies show that PPIs can contribute to an establishment of pro-inflammatory micro-environments in the gut.3
Antibiotics reduce the diversity of gut microbiota species, and may stimulate the development of bacterial antibiotic resistance.4
NSAIDs can cause enteropathy (damage or irritation and swelling in the intestines). NSAIDs can impact the composition and function of the gut microbiota, which can precipitate dysbiosis.5
Effects of herbicides on the gut microbiome
The most utilized herbicide in agriculture is glyphosate. It disrupts beneficial bacteria in the gut, but does not affect pathogenic bacteria such as Clostridium and Salmonella strains. This imbalance of beneficial bacteria and pathogenic bacteria can cause dysbiosis in the gut.6
Effects of environmental toxins on the gut microbiome
Ongoing research demonstrates that environmental chemicals (bisphenols, phthalates, persistent organic pollutants, heavy metals, and pesticides) have a real effect on the gut microbiome, including alterations in microbial composition, gene expression, and health effects on the host.7
Effects of stress on the gut microbiome
The gut microbiota is a key player in the gut-brain axis. Stress can alter intestinal mucosa permeability as well as alter the microbiome community structure in the gut. This imbalance in the gut can affect neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine. Some studies indicate heightened anxiety and depression can result from changes in gut permeability and microbial composition.8
Hedgerow GI combines prebiotics, probiotics, and postbiotics with fermented turmeric, medicinal fungi, reed sedge peat and specific plants commonly found in old English hedgerows for homeostatic support of the GI tract.
Hedgerow’s Prebiotics, Probiotics, & Postbiotics
Because GI tract homeostasis relies on the functioning of the microbes as part of gut balance, biotics are important ingredients for gut support. In Hedgerow GI, we’ve combined the micro-encapsulated Lactobacillus and Bifidum strains, inulin and MOS from BioStar’s BioFlora EQ with a unique spore-based bacteria known as Bacillus subtilis. The blend of BioFlora EQ and Bacillus subtillis provides 150 billion CFUs per serving.
Prebiotics are a type of soluble fiber that feed beneficial microbiota. Common prebiotics are inulin, chicory, MOS, and FOS. Prebiotics work in the hindgut by providing nutrients to the beneficial bacterial colonies naturally found there. Colony balance is important in maintaining the correct pH of the hindgut.
Medicinal mushrooms are also a source of prebiotics and have been shown to enhance production of the SCFAs (short-chain fatty acids) which play an important role in gut barrier function, immunomodulation, and metabolism.
Probiotics are live, beneficial microorganisms capable of colonization in the GI tract. Unfortunately, many beneficial probiotic strains such as the Lactobacillus and Bifidus commonly used in supplements cannot survive the acidity of the stomach without either an enteric coating or micro-encapsulation. Probiotics also need to be fed at a level that supports colonization. Based on research from the University of Toronto at Guelph, we know that 100 billion CFUs per serving is essential for stable colony formation.
Postbiotics are byproducts and metabolites of the fermentation process in the gut, and are produced when probiotics feed on prebiotics. Postbiotics can also be found in fermented foods.
Prebiotics, probiotics, and postbiotics are important instruments in the GI tract orchestra. But they aren’t the only players. Tight junctions of the gut, the immune system, and specific metabolites are also part of the full ensemble.
Hedgerow’s 21st century science: Bacillus subtilis
Also known as the hay bacillus or grass bacillus, Bacillus subtilis is a spore-forming bacteria found in soils and aquatic environments, as well as in the GI tract of humans and other animals. Bacillus subtilis can survive the harsh environment of the stomach and reach the small intestine intact. This is important because most nutrient absorption happens in the small intestine.
DE-111® is a patented strain of B. subtilis with over 30 published studies on its efficacy and actions in the GI tract, which include: crowding out bacterial pathogens to support colonies of beneficial bacteria, maintaining the gut barrier’s function, supporting the immune system through modulation, optimizing nutrient absorption, and helping reduce irregularities of intestinal disturbances such as gas, hard stools, and diarrhea.9 BioStar’s Hedgerow GI is the first equine supplement to provide DE-111®.
How Bacillus subtilis works
Bacillus subtilis can out-compete pathogens like E. coli and Staphylococcus. It can grow in diverse biological and pH environments within the GI tract, and can change from spore to vegetative state, and sporulate again. It can also germinate in the digestive tract.
B. subtilis has been reported to display antimicrobial, anti-oxidative, and immune-modulation activity in the host.10
It can also increase the susceptibility of certain pathogens to penicillin, a helpful effect as antibiotic resistance by some bacteria strains is increasing.11
Read our article all about Bacillus subtilus
Hedgerow’s fermented turmeric for gut health
One of the challenges with turmeric powder is bioavailability. Even combined with black pepper, turmeric is often quickly metabolized by the body and released through excretion. To address the challenge, BioStar’s Hedgerow GI formula includes fermented turmeric (Fermeric®), which has demonstrated higher bioavailability and is transported across the MDCK cell monolayer 17.2 times more efficiently than turmeric powder after 24 hours.12
Fermented foods already have important health benefits including GI tract support, inflammation regulation, better nutrient availability, and potential improvements to mood and behavior.
The patented fermentation of turmeric in Fermeric® converts the active curcuminoids (including curcumin) into their highly bioavailable metabolites: tetrahydrocurcuminoids. In fact, tetrahydrocurcuminoids are considered the most bioactive metabolites of curcumin.13
When provided with these highly bioavailable curcumin metabolites, the GI tract is supported against acid reflux, provides gastroprotection of the mucosal barrier, and can increase cell proliferation in the gastric mucosa.
Read our article all about fermented turmeric
Hedgerow’s Cordyceps sinensis from the Himalayas
Used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic and Tibetan medicine, Cordyceps sinensis is traditionally prescribed as a tonic and is classified as an adaptogen, capable of balancing the glandular system including adrenal gland and cortisol levels, which helps to maintain balance in the body during times of stress.
Stress, as we know, plays a huge role in upsetting the balance of the GI tract and corresponding body systems. Cordyceps sinensis provides important stress support, is effective at balancing the immune system, supports oxygen utilization, and supports the liver and kidneys.
Hedgerow’s Reed-sedge peat and tight junction support
Reed sedge peat is the decomposed organic matter of plants, providing fulvic and humic acids. Somewhat similar to shilajit, a bio-resin found in the Himalayas, reed sedge peat’s fulvic and humic acids can strengthen the tight junction barrier functions. This is important, as tight junction dysregulation is a foundational cause of chronic inflammatory conditions. Reed sedge peat is also helpful in binding intestinal toxins.
BioStar’s custom hedgerow herbal blend
Specific plants including fennel seed, rosehips, peppermint leaf, nettle leaf, and marshmallow root provide prebiotic fiber as food for the diverse, beneficial microbes in the GI tract.
Fennel seed: soothing to the GI tract, can reduce flatulence. Is known in Ayurvedic medicine for pacifying the three doshas; traditionally used for digestion and respiratory support.
Rosehips: rich in pectin for gastric support, rosehips provide circulatory and adrenal health benefits. Is considered tridoshic (balancing) in Ayurvedic and Tibetan medicine and is considered important for reducing excess heat in the body.
Peppermint leaf: known in India as pudina, this herb can help clear stagnation in the stomach, liver, blood, and lungs.
Nettle leaf: considered a rasayana tonic in Ayurvedic medicine for its nourishing and rejuvenating properties; supports healthy kidneys and adrenal glands, and helps reduce excess heat (pitta imbalance).
Marshmallow leaf: used in traditional Chinese medicine for soothing irritation in the mucous membranes of the GI tract, mouth, throat, and nose.
Horses who can benefit from Hedgerow GI
- Horses under stress
- Horses on limited turnout or limited access to pasture
- Horses who are ulcer-sensitive
- Horses who experience gastroesophageal reflux
- Horses who are laminitic
- Horses who crib or wind suck
- Horses with IBD, leaky gut, fecal water syndrome
- Horses on antibiotic or NSAID therapy
- Horses who need broad-spectrum GI tract support
Nine months of beta-testing
We beta-tested Hedgerow GI with ponies and horses of various breeds including Thoroughbreds, Warmbloods, Morgans, Friesans, Arabians, and Quarter Horses.
Our nine months of beta testing revealed some unexpected results. Two horses in the early stages of laminitis turned around in 48 hours. Several horses that had been cribbers for years stopped cribbing after just a few servings of Hedgerow GI. Horses that seemed “not quite right” to the owners and grooms, and were sound, responded within a week of getting Hedgerow GI with a willingness to work and a calmer demeanor.
Some of the beta-test horses with long-standing issues like fecal water syndrome took more time on Hedgerow GI to see results; it was several weeks until improvements were seen. Several high-performance horses who were ulcer sensitive showed improvements in performance and attitude within a few days.
The only challenge we ran into was that once many of these horses were on Hedgerow GI, the owners and riders didn’t want to take their horses off the product!
Hedgerow GI: The next generation of GI tract support
BioStar’s Hedgerow GI is the next generation of GI tract support, supporting homeostasis of the complex orchestra that is the equine gut. Hedgerow GI incorporates current science of the microbiome by using active prebiotics, probiotics, and postbiotics. It provides fermented turmeric with active metabolites for optimum bioavailability, and includes GI tract tight junction support to maintain the intestinal barrier. Hedgerow GI also offers support for the immune system and the liver and kidneys, in addition to providing plant diversity to benefit the vastly complex and beneficial bacterial colonies of the GI tract.
As a multi-dimensional and comprehensive approach to the health and wellbeing of horses, this exclusive blend can be given as needed, or as long-term support.
HEDGEROW GI IS AVAILABLE!