A different approach to managing equine gastric ulcer syndrome (EGUS) has been available for a few years, but it seems horse owners are finally discovering this option and asking questions about it. Therefore, we wanted to review research on the use of hyaluronan and beta glucan given orally for EGUS management [Slovis, N. Polysaccharide Treatment Reduces Gastric Ulceration in Active Horses. Journal of Equine Veterinary Science 2017, vol. 50, pp. 116-120; http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jevs.2016.11.011].
This study referenced previous research showing protection from gastric ulceration with polysaccharide along with healing capacity at the cellular level.
Slovis explained that the glycosaminoglycan hyaluronan (HA) is not only an anti-oxidant, but it also helps with fluid exchange to and from the intestinal blood supply. It additionally confers an innate immune response to the intestinal tract to ward off inflammation and disease. In a high-molecular weight form, HA was considered to induce better healing compared to the proton pump inhibitor (PPI) omeprazole.
Schizophyllan is a beta glucan polysaccharide that is a component of the cell wall in a common fungus. It activates the immune system through maturation, differentiation and maturation of the host’s immune cells. This enables it to work as a biological defense modulator to improve cellular immune response.
A total of 10 adult horses remained in active training throughout the study. They were fasted for 12 hours prior to gastroscopy pre- and post-treatment to evaluate and score existing gastric ulcers. Then, depending on ulcer score, each horse was administered an ounce once or twice daily for 30 days of a polysaccharide blend of 240-480 mg MHB3 Hyaluronan and 60-120 mg Betacan Schizophyllan (Cogent Solutions Group). No controls were used for comparison.
Treatment with this polysaccharide blend resulted in 90% complete resolution and/or improvement in gastric ulceration. A favorable response of morphological changes did not depend on ulcer grade or type. In addition, treated horses improved in their behavior, appetite, weight gain and/or colic episodes.
Slovis pointed out that proton pump inhibitor (PPI) medications might alter digestion with long-term use, whereas the polysaccharide blend does not. Therefore it is a safe, non-pharmaceutical alternative. He recommended additional investigation of this therapeutic blend.