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EQUINE SUPERFOOD: SPIRULINA FOR HORSES

What is Spirulina?

Spirulina (Arthrospira platensis) is a blue-green algae that is cultivated worldwide as a food source. It has a spiral shape to it and is approximately 3.6 billion years old. What is so wonderful about natural horse spirulina is that it is a natural source of:

  • Protein: 55-70%

  • Vitamins and Nutrients: vitamin A, B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B6 (pyridoxine), B12 (cobalamin), vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, folate, vitamin K, biotin, pantothenic acid, beta carotene (source of vitamin A), and inositol

  • Minerals: calcium, manganese, iron, chromium, phosphorus, molybdenum, iodine, chloride, magnesium, sodium, zinc, potassium, selenium, germanium, copper, and boron

  • Amino Acids: isoleucine, phenylalanine, leucine, threonine, lysine, tryptophan, methionine, valine, alanine, glycine, arginine, histidine, aspartic acid, proline, cystine, serine, glutamic acid, and tyrosine

Spirulina for horses is a blue green alga which is well documented for maintenance of a healthy immune system to provide a nutritional support for healthy skin and help to maintain normal immune system response to challenges from fly and midge bites. This product is also very useful in helping maintain healthy lungs in response to challenges from environmental influences like dust and mould spores.

It’s a blue-green algae superfood that is useful for a variety of equine (as well as human and other animal) conditions. Named for its unique, spiral shape, Spirulina has been around for about 3.6 billion years.

Spirulina is probably best known for its ability to boost the immune system. It is high in protein (55-70%), vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. According to Dr. Kellon, it’s been shown “to specifically improve the production of IgG antibodies, while down-regulating allergies associated with IgA antibody responses.” (IgG and IgA antibodies are two of the five types of pathogen-fighting antibodies found in mammals.)

The health benefits of Spirulina are many–and are backed by mainstream research. Here are a few equine conditions that Spirulina supplementation can be beneficial for:

  • Heaves/ COPD/ Asthma
  • Seasonal respiratory allergies
  • Hives and other skin allergies
  • Sweet Itch (Summer Eczema)
  • Poor immune function

What are some other benefits of feeding Spirulina?

  • It can help increase a horse's appetite.
  • It can help horses relieve allergies such as hives.
  • It can help horses with breathing problems such as heaves (also known as COPD).
  • In addition to helping a horse's physical body, spirulina has been known to help the mental aspect of a horse by relieving anxiety and improving their attitude and training ability.

How to feed spirulina to your horses?

Spirulina powder is dark green and has a silky texture. It’s not the most palatable of supplements, but you can mix it in your feed to get your horse to eat it. It works well by being mixed in a few cups of Beet Pulp with some chopped carrots and some of your horses’ favorite grain. If he won’t eat it in the feed, you can try mixing it in honey, applesauce, or distilled water and syringing it in his mouth.

The recommended dose for Spirulina powder is 20 grams (1 oz) twice per day. It may take up to four weeks to see results with Spirulina, so be patient and stick with it!

One tablespoon of powder = 7.38 grams
Therefore: 2.7 tablespoons = 20 grams.
Therefore 40 grams = 5.42 tablespoons

If your horse suffers from seasonal allergies every year, you will want to start him on Spirulina about a month before the symptoms tend to show up.

Sources:

Horse Journal: Guide to Equine Supplements and Nutraceuticals

EQUINE SUPERFOOD: SPIRULINA FOR HORSES

JULY 9, 2015

Before we get into the health benefits of Spirulina for horses, let’s brush up on what we’ve already learned about the blue-green algae and its centuries-long usage by humans:

Spirulina is often called one of nature’s most perfect foods because of its nutrient density. Studies conducted by NASA found that 1 kg of Spirulina had the same nutritional equivalent as 1000 kg of assorted vegetables. Nicknamed “pond scum” due to the fact that it grows in fresh water, Spirulina has been studied for its beneficial effects on allergies, diabetes, sports performance, and a healthy digestive system.

Spirulina was discovered by the Spanish conquistadors. But this microscopic blue-green alga (technically called cyanobacteria) has been on the planet for the past 3.6 billion years. The Spanish found Spirulina grew on fresh water lakes, and was consumed by the Aztecs and Mayans as a regular addition to their meals. It wasn’t until NASA started testing Spirulina in the late 1970’s that Spirulina gained more worldwide attention. Spirulina was chosen by NASA to enrich the diets of astronauts in space.

Spirulina and inflammation:

The anti-inflammatory and antihistamine properties of Spirulina have been well researched. In one study levels of inflammatory marking cytokines were measured and the researchers found that Spirulina significantly reduced interleukin-4 levels by 32%.

Spirulina provides gamma linolenic acid (GLA) which helps regulate the pro inflammatory and anti inflammatory prostaglandins. In an allergic response, the body will increase the pro inflammatory prostaglandins. GLA raises levels of the anti inflammatory prostaglandins, thus helping to reduce inflammation.

Although there are no studies on Spirulina for horses with seasonal allergies, the anecdotal evidence is that many horses do get relief when on Spirulina.

Spirulina and the immune system:

Researchers in Tokyo found Spirulina significantly inhibited the humoral immune response, cell mediated immune response reaction, and tumor necrosis factor alpha in mice (Natural Medicine, 2008). Other studies have also concluded that Spirulina is capable of suppressing an overactive immune system.

This is particularly important for horses and dogs with allergies, whose overactive immune systems release antibodies and trigger inflammation. Spirulina and type 2 Diabetes:

Animal studies and several small human studies showed significantly lower blood sugar levels following Spirulina intake. One study in India (Asian J. Exp. Biol.Sci., Vol 1 (1) 2010: 36-46) with 160 male diabetics that were non-insulin dependent concluded that Spirulina has hypoglycemic effects, which helps diabetics control blood glucose levels.

At present there are no studies on the effect of Spirulina on insulin-resistant horses; however, many owners of metabolic horses report how well their horses do on Spirulina.

Sports Performance:

Spirulina can spare glycogen muscle reserves in the body and reduce oxidative stress according to human sports nutrition studies. There is every reason to believe that Spirulina for horses yields the same benefits. Researchers also found a reduction in muscle damage and inflammation, which may be due to the high levels of antioxidants in Spirulina.

A study published in 2010 on runners: Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise (Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2010 Jan, 42(1): 142-51) showed that “Spirulina induced a significant increase in exercise performance.”

Adding Spirulina to the diet of sport and performance horses may help reduce muscle stress due to exercise-induced inflammation, and may contribute to increased stamina and better performance.

Spirulina as prebiotic:

Research has shown that Spirulina promotes the growth of various species of beneficial gut bacteria and helps to inhibit the growth of harmful pathogenic bacteria. (World Journal of Dairy and Food Sciences 4 (2): 160-163, 2009) Supporting the microbiome of the GI tract is one of the keys to health in horses.

Key Nutrients in Spirulina:

Spirulina provides the essential amino acids, vitamins A, E and K, the B-complex including B12, macro and micro minerals including calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, selenium, manganese, potassium, iron, zinc, sodium and copper. Spirulina is an excellent source of SOD, the powerful antioxidant. The high content of polyphenols and phenolic compounds provides additional high antioxidant activity.

Spirulina contains the nucleic acids (RNA/ DNA) that can assist in the repair of damaged genetic material in cells. According to Dr. Bernard Jensen, Ph.D: “ when RNA and DNA are in good repair and able to function most efficiently, cells are able to repair themselves and the energy level and vitality of the whole body is raised.” This may contribute to a slow down of the aging process.

When nutrients come from food, they cause less stress to the GI tract and the body system at large. Nutrients that are made from coal tar and petroleum are less bioavailable and they lack the co-factors and enzymes for absorption.



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