Let's talk about food: spirulina for horses
The Sea Biscuit is by far my most popular product. That is not because it tastes great and is a food every horse craves. About 30% of the horses who need this biscuit must be coaxed, coddled and enticed to get this algae-based beauty down the hatch, which is why I recommend people request a sample bag before purchasing a 90 count bag for their horse. I want to make sure your horse will eat them before you spend $60.00 on a product you can't use. But, if this isn't amazingly palatable, why is it so popular?
Each ingredient in this biscuit is incredible when evaluated on its own merits. Let's take a look at them one by to help you understand why I decided to combine them to create the "Sea Biscuit".
Chia: The name Chia is an Aztec word that means "oily". It is an ancient seed being rediscovered in America because of its balanced nutritional components. These tiny seeds are high in protein and contain all nine essential amino acids for a complete protein. Chia has 19-23% protein content, which is more protein than traditional grains such as wheat (13.7%), rice (6.5%), corn (9.4%), barley (12.5%) and oats (16.9%).
Chia is rich in amino acids, antioxidants, and flavonoids.
Chia seeds are the highest naturally occurring source of Omega-3 fatty acids, with a 3:1 ratio of Omega-3s (anti-inflammatory) to Omega-6s (pro-inflammation)
Chia’s oil is 63% Omega-3, greater than flaxseed oil (58%), and menhaden fish oil (29%).
Chia seeds are a rich source of Vitamin B.
Chia seeds are a good source of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc, and copper.
Chia seeds contain the amino acids lysine, threonine and methionine. Without these amino acids absorption of nutrition is extremely limited.
Chia seeds are known to lower circulating insulin and glucose so they are great for insulin resistant horses and horses with metabolic disorders.
Because of their anti-inflamatory properties Chia seeds help protect joints and ligaments and may help reduce pain. The highly digestible protein offers muscle repair and can assist with topline development.
The magnesium levels in Chia seeds provides a more natural calming effect and according to the USEF, “Chia is permitted under the Therapeutic Substance Provision of the USEF Equine Drugs and Medications Rule. A medication report form does not need to be filed in connection on its use.”
Chia clears debris out of the horse’s gut naturally to help regulate stool movement. This tiny seed is more hydrophilic than psyllium so it clears sand and other debris more effectively than psyllium products.
Because they are chock full of Omega-3’s, chia seeds help boost immune function. High concentrations of alpha-linolenic acid reduce swelling and aide in providing relief from a variety of allergic reactions caused by environmental stressors.
Chia + Spirulina...
Spirulina: Spirulina is a dense, green powder derived from fresh water, blue- green algae. It has been documented as having anti-histamine, anti-inflammatory and immune moderating effects. Properly sourced spirulina can support respiratory and skin health, and provides an excellent source of protein for horses. I want to stress that careful sourcing of this product is critical because algae can carry mycotoxins that are deadly. I source my Spirulina from a Botanicals lab; they test it.
Spirulina has an immune modulating effect on some of the immunoglobulins that are produced in response to environmental stressors. Immunoglobulins are the soldiers (antibodies) used by the immune system to defend the body against foreign threats. They are there to identify and neutralize pathogens known as antigen's. Antigen's are molecules that can cause harm to the body.
Antibodies bind to receptor sites in the body. The receptor sites direct the appropriate immune response for the different types of foreign objects they encounter to cause the body to have a histamine (inflammatory) or anti-histamine (anti-inflammatory) response to the "invader". Spirulina has been shown to involve a shift in antibody class away from a histamine (inflammatory) response and toward an anti-histamine (anti-inflammatory) response. This means that horses who are showing signs of an allergic response with upper-respiratory and/or skin issues may benefit from the immune modulating effects of spirulina as it drives the response toward a anti-histamine (anti-inflammatory) response.
Manuka Honey: Manuka honey, like other raw honey, is a sweet and tasty gift from the bees. Along with unique hydrogen peroxide, manuka honey contains methylglyoxal (MGO) and dihydroxyacetone, two chemical substances with high antimicrobial action. Methylglyoxal (MGO) and dihydroxyacetone are more stable than hydrogen peroxide which can be readily neutralized by heat, moisture and enzymatic action. Because of these unique properties, Manuka honey has its own grading system based on the non-peroxide antibacterial potency of the specific batch of honey. This is referred to as Unique Manuka Factor (UMF).
Manuka honey is like liquid gold (EXPENSIVE) because of its medicinal properties but also because of its exclusivity. FYI: anything below UMF 10 does not justify paying the premium price since it is not really any better than other types of honey. UMF 10 and above provide additional benefits, but the therapeutic effects of manuka honey are best in UMF 15 and above. I use +16 to +24 UMF honey in my Sea Biscuit product, depending on cost and availability. I also have clients whose horses require added spirulina to manage their upper respiratory issues. Those horses always get +24 Manuka.
Gut Support: Inflammation of the stomach lining can be caused by a number of things, including bacterial infections, the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and proliferation of helicobacter pylori (h-pylori); the main culprit causing stomach ulcers. Manuka honey, with its high antimicrobial activity has been found to be effective against Helicobacter pylori, the bacteria most commonly seen in the highly acidic environment of the stomach.
Manuka honey has been found to be effective in preventing colonic inflammation and effecting the repair of colon lining damaged due to chronic Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). Although the symptoms of IBD such as stomach pain and cramps are similar to those of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), the two are different in many aspects.
IBS (Irritable bowel syndrome) is a gastrointestinal complaint characterized by constipation and diarrhea, and stomach discomfort. It differs from IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease) which displays similar symptoms, but is associated with inflammation and other structural changes in the bowel lining, which is often found with ulcerative colitis.
In laboratory experiments conducted on rats with chemically induced colon damage, oral administration of manuka honey was found to both reduce the inflammation and protect against structural damage.
Immune Support: Manuka Honey offers a wide range of vitamins and minerals, but lab tests have shown that Manuka honey contains substances that stimulate cytokine production. Cytokines are signaling proteins involved in immune reactions by the body. These little soldiers kickstart the defense mechanisms of the body to help it fight off pathogens and diseases. Increased cytokine production is behind manuka honey’s protective action against potential infections and diseases.
Chia + Spirulina + Manuka Honey = AMAZING!
Now that you know a little bit about the individual ingredients in the Sea Biscuit, I hope you understand why I chose to put them together to try to effect a positive change in immune health for your horse.