Osteaoarthritis (OA) in horses is a painful condition, frequently resulting in loss of use and economic consequences. Considering there is currently no cure for OA, affected horses are often treated with “the kitchen sink,” meaning owners and even some veterinarians are willing to try just about anything to make an OA-affected horse more comfortable and to slow disease progression … including algae extracts.
“Blue-green algae contains a protein bound pigment called C-phycocyanin that possesses both anti-inflammatory and antioxidative properties and has been shown to help humans, dogs, and horses with OA in some studies,” explained Jennifer Taintor, DVM, Dipl. ACVIM, from Auburn University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, in Alabama.
Because some of the currently used medications for OA are associated with potentially serious adverse reactions, researchers have focused their attention on more natural products, such as blue-green algae extracts, for ameliorating clinical signs of OA.
To better determine if C-phycocyanin is beneficial for treating horses with OA, Taintor and colleagues employed 41 athletic horses with naturally occurring lameness due to OA. Half of those horses received a commercially available C-phycocyanin supplement while the others received a placebo. The researchers followed the manufacturer’s dosing instructions for both loading and maintenance doses and administration frequency.
Study horses continued their regular work (such as reining, equitation on the flat and over fences, and Western horsemanship) and underwent lameness examinations at the start of and and again periodically throughout the 12-month study period.
“We did not find a statistically significant improvement in lameness during the study period; however, we did notice a trend for improvement in lameness during the loading phase at the start of the study when horses received the double dose of C-phycocyanin,” Taintor said. “It therefore seems reasonable to conduct additional studies using higher doses.”
It’s important to note that horses were supplemented with an extract of C-phycocyanin found in blue-green algae. However, all humans and horses are encouraged to avoid blue-green algal blooms because they could contain harmful toxins.
The study, “Efficacy of an extract of blue-green algae in amelioration of lameness caused by degenerative joint disease in the horse,” was published in the Journal of Equine Veterinary Science.
View original article at: Algae: The Next Big Thing for Equine Lameness and OA?