Last month, we provided an updated go-to guide with answers to some of the product questions we get most often from customers. Now we’re back with Part 2, which takes the guesswork out of choosing BioStar supplements for specific equine health challenges and conditions.
Which BioStar products should I use with my insulin resistant horse?
If your IR horse is overweight, then Optimum HW (Healthy Weight) is a great place to start. Optimum HW is a multi vitamin/mineral with Crominex® 3+,which helps to regulate sugar and fat metabolism. We know how critical diet is in managing metabolic disease, specifically the non-structural carbohydrates (NSC). The calculation for NSC is done by adding the starch percentage to the water-soluble carbohydrate (WSC) percentage, which should only add up to 10% or less for metabolic horses. If you have your hay analyzed, you will see an additional testing value called ESC (ethanol-soluble carbohydrates), which is a subset of WSC and includes glucose, fructose, sucrose, lactose, and fructo-oligosaccharides. WSC includes the ESC plus other fructans. BioStar’s Optimum HW has an NSC of 9.8%.
Chia seeds are important for all horses because of their high omega-3 content, and their high proline content. Proline is an amino acid that is essential for collagen synthesis. Chia seeds are especially beneficial for metabolic horses and easy keepers because of their high mucilage content, which help to slow the digestion of carbohydrates.
Mitochondria are responsible for cellular respiration and the production of energy currency in the cell known as ATP. For metabolic horses and easy keepers that need more energy for work and training, Impulsion EQ helps the body provide more cellular energy, which also benefits the metabolism of the horse. The NSC value is: 5.1%
BioStar’s Tri Dosha EQ is my go-to for metabolic horses on spring and fall pasture, because it helps support both the pituitary and adrenal glands with additional liver and antioxidant support. In metabolic horses, including those with Cushing’s disease, the pituitary produces excessive amounts of ACTH, which then causes the adrenal gland to produce excessive cortisol.
Tri Dosha EQ provides chasteberry for pituitary support, holy basil for adrenal support and the Ayurvedic Indian gooseberry (known as amla), which supports healthy metabolism and is balancing to the body system. Horses and ponies prone to laminitic episodes do well on the glandular support of Tri Dosha EQ.
How does BioStar support Cushing’s (PPID) horses?
Diet and exercise are just as important for Cushing’s horses as they are for insulin resistant horses. Keeping the NSC at 10% or less is critical.
If your Cushing’s horse is overweight, then Optimum HW (NSC 9.8%) combined with a low NSC diet is recommended.
If your Cushings Horse is underweight, adding an active yeast such as BioStar’s Bio Yeast EQ helps support the hindgut in the digestion and utilization of fiber, thereby helping the horse gain weight from the hay and forage provided.
You can add coconut meal (such as Stance Equine’s CoolStance) for added fat, protein, and fiber. Cold-processed oils can also be added for additional fat. For Cushing’s horses, I go with Gold Star camelina oil because of its high omega-3 and vitamin E content.
Tri Dosha EQ supports healthy pituitary and adrenal gland functions with the combination of chasteberry for the pituitary, holy basil for the adrenal gland, and Indian gooseberry for metabolic support. Cushing’s horses produce excessive amounts of ACTH from the pituitary gland, which causes the adrenal glands to produce excessive cortisol.
A study published in the German journal Pferdeheilkunde showed that “collected data provides evidence of the positive effects that chasteberry preparation has on the clinical symptoms of horses and ponies suffering from PPID. Quality of life was improved in the study population.” (November/December, 2013, 721-728)
Pergolide is the standard medication for Cushing’s, because it controls ACTH. Tri Dosha EQ will not interfere with pergolide, and supports the horse in additional ways by lowering cortisol, providing organic milk thistle for the liver and organic Schisandra berry for immune system support.
Impulsion EQ is beneficial to Cushing’s horses that need more energy and muscle. It provides the bio-resin shilajit for mitochondria support, plus foods high in the BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids) for muscle building, and beneficial fats from organic pumpkin seed meal and coconut meal. Impulsion EQ contains 19% protein and 11.7% fat with an NSC of 5.1%.
- A note about complete feeds for metabolic horses (IR and Cushing’s): Companies can be clever about how they state starch and sugar content. Some use ESC percentage, not WSC, thus lowering the total NSC value on their labels. Make sure the company you buy complete feed from is using WSC plus starch for their NSC calculations.
How do I support gastric ulcer horses?
If your horse has gastric ulcers they should be treated with omeprazole (Gastrogard® or Ulcergard®). Once treatment is completed, the problem commonly arises that the horse starts acting ulcery again a few weeks or a few months later. In some cases the ulcer has actually returned, and in other cases it is more of a ulcer sensitivity — that is, the ulcer hasn’t re-formed but the mucosa is irritated and uncomfortable.
When a horse is working, it is the one time during the day that he/she is not eating. Horses produce more than 10 gallons of saliva per day when they are constantly eating. The salivary glands produce bicarbonate, which buffers and protects the lining of the stomach, and raises the pH. But when horses are working, the bicarbonate protection of saliva is halted and the stomach is unprotected. In the non-glandular region, gastric acid can splash and irritate the mucosa, even causing an acid burn.
BioStar’s Tum-Ease EQ is a unique blend of micro-crystallized aloe (medical grade) that works like the drug sucralfate to coat and protect the stomach and GI tract. This unique aloe is combined with one of nature’s richest sources of the amino acid glutamine: cabbage. Glutamine is used by the body to heal intestinal mucosa.
Because Tum-Ease EQ is in the form of a cookie, you can feed it by hand 30-40 minutes before riding (as you are tacking up) and help protect your horse’s GI stomach from acid burn.
The other component of ulcers is stress. Thera Calm EQ is a unique approach to ulcers and stress because it targets the brain/gut/adrenal axis.
Under stress, the body releases more cortisol, setting off a chain reaction of neurotransmitters including norepinephrine, which mobilizes the brain and body for action — the so-called “flight-or-fight” response. It also increases restlessness and anxiety, and reduces blood flow to the gastrointestinal system. In addition, cortisol also increases gastric acid secretion which, if un-buffered from salvia, can irritate the delicate mucosa further.
Research has shown that the gut is the “second brain” which can affect mood and wellbeing. If the GI tract is irritated, the adrenal gland is signaled and more cortisol is released, thereby stimulating more norepinephrine. So the cycle can start in the GI tract, in the adrenal gland, or in the brain. The important point is that all three systems are affected.
Thera Calm EQ helps to reduce cortisol, increase the neurotransmitter serotonin, and reduce inflammation in the GI tract.
What products do you recommend for hindgut ulcers?
Hindgut ulcers are becoming increasingly common in performance horses. The protocol that I have seen work best for most hindgut ulcer horses includes the medications sucralfate and misoprostol. Changing the diet for 30 days to give the hindgut a rest by substituting hay for soaked hay cubes, Chaffhaye, or chopped hay and plenty of forage if available. For a horse that typically gets six flakes of hay a day, I will reduce it to two flakes and substitute the Chaffhaye and soaked hay cubes throughout the day, giving one flake of hay in the AM and one flake at night. The purpose is to give the hindgut a rest from the high lignin content in the stems of the hay.
To support the hindgut ulcer horse we recommend Empower EQ hemp seed oil, and BioFlora EQ. Hemp seed oil is unique in that it provides GLA, which regulates the prostaglandins that regulate inflammation.
Misoprostol is a synthetic prostaglandin. As the horse starts transitioning in lower doses of misoprostol, the GLA in hemp oil helps the regulation of inflammation.
BioFlora EQ is a multi-strain probiotic with MOS — mannan-oligosaccharides — which are important in maintaining the correct pH of the hindgut. This is critical, as many hindgut ulcers are the result of a pH imbalance.