Study on lameness in horses opens up new market for Ayurvedic joint health formula

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

 ©Getty Images - Image Source
©Getty Images - Image Source

Related tags equine pet supplements Turmeric Joint health Curcumin Ayurveda botanical extracts Tamarind seed

A study on horses has opened up a new market for an herbal combination shown to reduce joint pain and inflammation in humans.

The new research was published in the peer-reviewed journal Veterinary Medicine Science​.  It was the work of experts associated with the original ingredient developer, the Indian firm Laila Nutraceuticals. 

 The formula they studied is branded as TamaFlex, which is a patent-pending combination of extracts of tamarind seeds (Tamarindus indica​) and turmeric rhizomes (Curcuma longa​).  The ingredient is marketed by NXT USA and the study was funded by NXT’s retail partner GNC.

Pervaisiveness of lameness

When horses suffer joint  pain that constricts their movements it is defined as lameness.  This can be the result of simple overuse or slight injury, similar to the weekend warrior syndrome for humans.  It can also be a symptom of more grave underlying conditions, such as laminitis, a serious inflammation of the interior of the hoof.  In its most advanced stages laminitis can induce irreversible morphological changes that might require euthanasia.

Recreational horses in North America average about 1,000 lbs in weight, all of which is suspended on four fetlocks (a horse’s ‘ankle’ joints) that are no bigger than a human ankle. Add on 180 lbs or more for an all-up rider and saddle, and the forces are considerable when that mass is moving at 20 mph or faster. 

 That’s why horse owners are often in the market for solutions that can nip lameness issues in the bud before they get worse.  A study from the UK done in 2010 found that more than 30% of recreational horses had been lame at some point in their working careers.

According to the site​, there are at the moment more than 7 million horses in the United States, including recreational mounts, showhorses, racehorses, horses used on ranches and in police work, etc. That means at any one time tens or hundreds of thousands of horses may either be lame or are recovering from lameness.

Study extended over 84 days

In the present study the researchers administered 2.5 grams of TamaFlex or a placebo for 84 days to 22 male and female horses that were all between 5 and 7 years old (early adulthood for a horse). The horses used in the study were significantly smaller than typical North American mounts, averaging about 530 lbs. in weight.

The horses’ lameness was scored using a standardized 1-5 system developed by the American Association of Equine Practitioners. Horses with a severe lameness score of 5 were excluded, as well as any diagnosed with an underlying disease condition that contributed to their movement difficulties.

The horses were scored for lameness at days 14, 28, 56 and 84 of the study.  Blood, urine and synovial fluid samples were also taken and analyzed for biomarkers of inflammation.

Two horses suffered disqualifying injuries during the study period.  For the remaining horses, the 10-animal strong TamaFlex group showed significantly greater improvement over placebo in lameness scores during the course of the study.

The present study demonstrates that the anti-inflammatory botanical formulation TamaFlex (NXT15906F6) is safe, efficacious, and alleviates joint pain in horses suffering from lameness. Furthermore, NXT15906F6 significantly reduces the proinflammatory mediators IL- 1β and TNF-α in horses,” ​the authors concluded.

Studying animals to help animals

“It’s interesting because here’s an animal study that’s meant to benefit animals.  It’s not like the usual study where the animals are used to show benefits for humans,”​ said Eric Anderson, managing director of NXT-USA.

“We have before and after videos of the horses, and the differences are striking,”​ Anderson told NutraIngredients-USA​.

TamaFlex targets two pathways that cause joint inflammation: the COX-2 and 5-LOX enzyme pathways. Most joint health products address only one of these. This data builds upon our three double-blind placebo-controlled studies in humans,” ​he added.

Source: Veterinary Medicine Science
DOI: 10.1002/vms3.894
 TamaFlex—A novel nutraceutical blend improves lameness and joint functions in working horses
Authors: Jain S et al.

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