What does glucosamine do?
Cartilage is like the suspension system of your car. It acts as a shock absorber and allows the bones to slide over one another. And, like your car, if you don’t maintain and support your horse’s cartilage, then you and your horse are in for an unpleasant ride.
And that’s where glucosamine comes in - it plays an essential role in the production and maintenance of cartilage in joints.
Glucosamine is produced naturally in the body and is synthesised from glucose. It is then used by the body to produce the building blocks of cartilage, and protect cells called chondrocytes, whose main function is to help maintain the integrity of cartilage.
We all want to keep our horses active and mobile. And no-one wants their horse to be stiff and sore or suffer from working.
So, it’s a good idea to give your horse a regular joint supplement. But which horse joint supplement should you choose?
Should I give my horse glucosamine for its joints?
Let’s start with does it help?
Unfortunately, the jury’s out on this one. Results from trials on giving glucosamine to horses have been patchy (at best). In higher quality studies, conducted on humans, the results indicate that the impact of glucosamine on mobility and pain was no greater than that experienced by participants given a placebo.
Another issue is its bioavailability (in other words, how much of the supplement is available for your horse to use). There have been various studies showing this to be low with only 2.5% to 6% of the supplement being available in horses[i]. Which means a lot of the supplement is wasted.
If you do decide to try glucosamine, you need to confirm its source.
Glucosamine found in dietary supplements are produced in a lab and go through extensive processing. The vast majority of manufactured glucosamine is made by processing the shells of shellfish and often include other ingredients such as chondroitin, MSM or shark cartilage. These supplements aren’t suitable for horses, as horses are herbivores.
So, if you do want to try glucosamine, you should ensure it is either synthetic glucosamine, produced from a fungus, or from fermented corn. These are the only sources of glucosamine suitable for horses. Unfortunately, most companies don’t specify the sources of their glucosamine.
So if glucosamine isn’t proven to work, and you run the (high) risk of giving your horse non-vegetarian based supplements, what do you do?
What are the alternatives to glucosamine?
We believe that the best joint supplement for horses is turmeric.
Turmeric is the spice that comes from grinding up the roots of the turmeric plant. It has been used in the preparation of food and medicines for thousands of years, particularly in south Asian cultures.
Turmeric contains hundreds of important compounds with numerous health benefits. Most importantly for your horse are its abundant and powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
One of the main compounds in turmeric is curcumin. In research, curcumin has shown to provide as much relief for pain and discomfort in arthritis as anti-inflammatory medications and to produce fewer side effects. It has also shown to help in the management of exercise-induced inflammation and to aid in recovery of active and healthy trial participants.
We also love turmeric because it’s from the field not the lab. Being 100% natural it is extremely unlikely to produce negative side effects, making it suitable for long term use and to help with chronic conditions. Even better, it’s also high in essential vitamins and minerals to support overall health.
So, if turmeric sounds like the way forward for you, how to do you give it to your horse?
How do I give turmeric to my horse?
You can buy tubs of turmeric and add it directly to your horse’s feed, but it is messy and difficult to ensure your horse is getting enough in its diet.
We’ve chosen a different feeding method, by creating Alpha Gold, our four-in-one liquid joint supplement for horses of all ages.
We created our liquid so it’s easier to administer and you can be confident your horse is getting the right dosage.
Alpha Gold contains high-quality, high-curcumin content turmeric. (If you decide to try Turmeric, whether from us or a competitor, please make sure to choose a high-quality turmeric with a minimum curcumin level of 3.5%. Otherwise, you won’t see the full benefits).
We’ve also added three ingredients to the liquid: Linseed Oil, Coconut Oil and Aloe Vera.
Linseed Oil and Coconut Oil help absorb the turmeric, so it works more quickly and has higher bioavailability (ie: it’s more cost effective as you need to give less). The oils also help reduce dry skin and skin irritation, as well as making your horse’s coat shiny.
Linseed Oil is high in Omega fatty acids which is good for brain health, mobility, cellular health, and gut health. And Coconut Oil has anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties to help support your horse’s immune system.
Aloe Vera supports Gut health and supports digestive function helping your horse better utilise the essential vitamins and minerals provided by the turmeric.
So, let’s recap…
Glucosamine occurs naturally in the body and is an intermediate compound that helps cartilage production.
Glucosamine can be added to the diet in forms of supplements, but it’s not proven to work, and you need to check it is either a synthetic chemical compound or produced from fungus, otherwise you’re turning your herbivore horse into an omnivore – a very unpleasant risk and side-effect of giving glucosamine to horses.
The natural option to protect your horse’s joints is Turmeric. Research has proven its effectiveness. It has many other health benefits, besides its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits. And it comes from the ground, not the lab, making it more environmentally friendly and sustainable.
And, shameless plug time, Alpha Gold is our 100% natural liquid supplement that delivers the proven benefits of turmeric in reducing stiffness and soreness, and in protecting and maintaining joints. With the added health benefits of Aloe Vera, Linseed Oil and Coconut Oil.
EquiNutritive - From the Ground, NOT the lab.
 Saunders Handbook of Veterinary Drugs 2016, Glucosamine Chondroitin Sulfate, Mark G. Papich DVM, MS, DACVCP.