Aloe vera is not a new addition to the management of horses, and for many years it has been used topically to help with ailments such as inflamed or burnt skin. This article aims to dive deeper into the science behind aloe vera and answer these critical questions.
Is aloe vera safe to feed?
There is very little research into the use of such ingredients in horses, and very little has been done to determine the correct dosage and long-term effects of many of these natural substances. It does not seem that aloe vera gel is safe for internal use in horses, just in humans. However, aloe vera has one component that can be troublesome, the laxarive anthraquinones, which have been shown to cause diarrhoea.
Is aloe vera effective against gastric ulcers?
When it comes to products like aloe vera, the equestrian industry soften in the dark due to a lack of research into effectiveness. This means that many things are done with limited evidence.
The inner gel of the aloe vera plant has been reported to be effective in the prevention and treatment of gastric ulcers in man and in animals in experimental models. Its anti-ulcer properties have been attributed to a variety of possible mechanisms including antioxidant activity, anti-inflammatory properties, cytoprotective and mucus-stimulatory effect, and its ability to regulate gastric acid production.
Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome (EGUS) includes ulcers affecting both the squamous and glandular portions of the stomach. EGUS negatively impacts performance.
As with any herbal supplement, care should be taken as long-effects, correct dosage rate, and impact on nutritional profiles within the body have generally not been studied in the horse. Treating EGUS effectively requires scoping, veterinary treatment and ongoing alterations to management, diet and stress levels to ensure that the root cause is treated and not just the symptoms.