Holistic Horse Health: Is your horse’s gut smart?

Imagine my surprise when I read an article in the Wall Street Journal comparing the gut intelligence to that of the brain. I was introduced to this concept years ago when I read the great book, Molecules of Emotions, by Candice Pert. As it turns out, your horse’s gut is smart and any holistic horse health program must focus on keeping it that way!

The journal article reported that a growing body of research confirms the gut affects bodily functions far beyond digestion. Health issues from learning, anxiety and even bone health can be traced back to the gut.

Studies at Stanford university have found that when the stomach of a rat was irritated at a young age, the rat continued to under perform in simple tasks long after the physical damage had healed. These rats also remained more anxious and depressed in relation to the control animals. They also remained more sensitive to stress and produced more stress hormones.

Other research out of McMaster University in Ontario demonstrated the the gut bacteria play a role in how the body responds to stress. It is thought that certain bacteria facilitate important interactions between the gut and the brain.

Dr. Gershon, professor of pathology and cell biology at Columbia, has been investigating how the gut controls its behavior and that of other organs through the production of serotonin. Did you know that 95% of the serotonin in the body is made in the gut? I didn’t. In addition to its action on emotions, serotonin is necessary for the repair of cells in the liver and lungs, and plays a role in normal heart development and bone mass accumulation.

So, not only is gut health critical for proper nourishment it is also significantly involved in organ function, emotional health and learning ability.

Three ways your horse’s smart gut affects his health:

The ability to learn and handle stress is negatively affected by gut irritation
Ability to handle stress is controlled through the action of gut bacteria
95% of the production of serotonin requires a healthy gut

Ways to keep you gut healthy and smart:

Gut irritation or ulceration is best prevented and treated with such digestive products as Succeed, aloe/slippery elm, Stomach Soother and UF.
Gut bacteria are best supported with digestive support products such as KLPP, Probi, PreProbiotics, and Sim APA.
General gut health is supported by a natural forage based diet as much as possible along with whole food micronutrient products such as this powdered algae blend  or packets of algae, probiotics and enzymes. These micronutrients allow the body to quickly heal any minor gut irritation before it creates discomfort or loss of function.

There are few things in a holistic health program that are more important than gut health. Consider keeping your horse’s gut smart and healthy to be his best health insurance policy. Madalyn

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