Prevalence of gastric complications is high in performance horses and can reach 90%1. Often, this is directly related to many common animal husbandry techniques: confinement, feed, feeding, pre-performance fasting, continuous daily exercise, periods of maximum exertion, NSAID use, and repeated electrolyte use2.
Horses are herbivores whose digestive systems are adapted to a forage diet of grasses and other plant material consumed throughout the day3. As a result, horses are continuous acid secretors and secrete gastric acids constantly. Compared to humans who are stimulated acid secretors, horses have a relatively small stomach but very long intestines to facilitate a steady flow of nutrients4. While comparatively small, the horse stomach is a diverse microenvironment: the pH at the inlet (cardiac sphincter) is near neutral (6-7) and very acidic (1-2) at the outlet (pyloric sphincter)5. Disturbing this delicate balance in the horses' stomach can have serious ramifications. Altering the pH of an equine stomach can cause incomplete digestion, poor nutrient absorption, and colic, a leading cause of death in horses6.
Current management options for gastric complications in horses target stomach pH, are not indicated for long-term, continuous use, and are based on human biology. Thus, existing options are designed for stimulated acid secretors and alter and/or halt digestive acid secretion to passively address the problem.
Alimend is different. Alimend delivers a polysaccharide blend that works with the horses' biology and not against it. Alimend does not alter stomach pH, but instead, exploits the mucoadhesive properties of hyaluronan and schizophyllan in a novel way to address gastric complications.
Schizophyllan is a 1, 3-1, 6 beta glucan derived from the cell wall of the Schizophyllum commune mushroom7. Beta-glucans can be derived from multiple sources including grains and mushrooms and are widely recognized for their immune benefits. Beta-glucans derived from water soluble mushrooms are considered the most effective in their ability to enhance the immune response8.
Schizophyllan is a biological defense modifier that nutritionally potentiates the immune response. This immune activation occurs by schizophyllan's ability to directly target immune cells in the host. 1, 3-1, 6 beta glucans elicit a more effective physiological response7,8,9.
As a beta glucan, schizophyllan is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the US FDA.
Hyaluronan, also known as hyaluronic acid (HA) is a long, unbranched polysaccharide. The polymer chain of hyaluronan ranges in molecular weight from hundreds of units (or Daltons) up to several million10.
Hyaluronan is found throughout the mammalian body and is either directly or indirectly involved in every physiological function of the body. Hyaluronan is found in dense concentrations in cartilage, synovial fluid, skin, vertebral discs, bones, urinary tract, cardiac valves, eyes, and various other soft tissues10. Hyaluronan is most abundant during embryogenesis and declines in overall quantity and quality throughout life.
HA is primarily recognized for its role in the maintenance of joint health. However, it has established itself as a protectant to gut mucosal tissue. A recent study reveals that a high-molecular-weight hyaluronan-containing gel significantly protects the gastric mucosa11,12.
While the mechanism of gastric support by polysaccharides has yet to be fully elucidated, a hyaluronan-containing polysaccharide blend works in part as a gastric coating/binding agent due to its bioadhesive properties13.
Oral supplementation of hyaluronan has been shown to be absorbed and effective. Studies with labeled, high-molecular-weight hyaluronan administered orally show systemic distribution in as little as four hours post-administration14.
To be part of the CSG family of products, any oral hyaluronan supplement must be bioavailable, absorbed, and effective. Hyaluronan must be completely hydrated in order to be bioavailable and absorbed. Once absorbed it must have the appropriate molecular characteristics to be effective.
Alimend is vegan, gluten-free, and non-GMO.