Herbal options for arthritis symptoms are more than just trendy. They have high effectiveness, apparent long-term safety and a low potential for side effects.
Other remedies for arthritis have their place, of course, but they also have drawbacks:
Nutraceuticals, like glucosamine, do a great job, but they don’t offer rapid control of inflammation, quiet flare-ups or control pain that isn’t related to diseased cartilage.
Corticosteroids and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), like phenylbutazone, are undeniably effective, but the risk of side effects with multiple/long-term use is high.
Systemic hyaluronic acid (Legend) has a good safety record but a hefty price tag.
Polysulfated glycosaminoglycans (Adequan) also has a good safety record (except for the risk of joint infection during injection) but, again, a hefty price tag.
Intra-articular hyaluronic acid, while less problematic than corticosteroids, carries the same risk as Adequan, as well as a small risk of injury to joint structures during the actual injection.
Physical therapy measures — heat, cold, wrapping, exercise, sweating, magnetics and electromagnetics — are safe, helpful and necessary. They are also time consuming and sometimes expensive (see May 2000).
So, we continue to look for the most effective — and efficient — method of controlling arthritic pain, whether it’s in our active performance horses or our older retirees.
In January 2000, we looked at liquid herbal options for arthritis. At the time, devil’s claw emerged as the most effective ingredient, performing similarly to phenylbutazone. Our favorite liquid product was B-L Solution (800/838-7524).
Questions arose, however, as to whether powdered devil’s claw would be as effective as the liquids and if using devil’s claw in combination with other herbals might alter the effect, so we decided to try some powder supplements. Note: Devil’s claw is prohibited under AHSA rules due to its analgesic effects.
We tried six products that include devil’s claw. We included both performance horses and older horses in the evaluation of each product, unless the label indicated it was more appropriate for one or the other. Some of the supplements will give rapid relief from symptoms of pain, heat and swelling and are appropriate to use for acute and severe conditions, while others are instead designed to gradually exert their effects. Our table outlines our findings.
Uckele’s Devil’s Claw Plus gave an impressive, rapid anti-inflammatory and analgesic effect in acute problems, chronic problems and flare-ups of acute symptoms.
Perhaps the worst case we tried on Devil’s Claw Plus was a young racing filly who was plagued by multiple joint swellings with heat and obvious lameness. There was no particular pattern to her problems, with hock problems one week, hocks and ankles the next, knees the next or any combination.
Exercise aggravated it but didn’t seem to be the whole explanation. X-rays were not remarkable. Intravenous Legend or phenylbutazone helped her but not completely. Banamine helped the filly the most but not for over 48 hours.
The filly started on 3 oz. of Devil’s Claw Plus. Within 12 hours, swelling, heat and pain were dramatically reduced. Within 36 hours, the joints were clinically normal and her attitude better.
We recommend 1 to 3 oz. daily for one to three weeks, followed by decreasing to maintenance dose of ?? to 1?? ounces daily. You may need to experiment to see what dosage is most appropriate for your horse.
Feedmark’s Zerobute and Med-Vet Pharmaceuticals’ DC-Y were also effective with acute problems and older-horse chronic conditions. Zerobute provided somewhat more rapid control of heat and swelling. However, DC-Y, which uses standardized extracts of yucca and devil’s claw was as effective as the liquid devil’s claw products. Still, we found you may need to double the recommended label dose for the initial stages of treatment to get the best effects (consult vet for assistance).
Even though Earth Lodge Herbal’s Anti-Inflammatory Formula tells you not to expect the best results right away, we saw improvements within just a few days in both acute/severe cases and chronic problems. Effects plateau at the two- to three-week mark. This is a whole herb, essentially a dust-free product, aromatic and palatable. Several horses actually seemed to seek it out in their grain mix.
Body Flex from JBR Equine also showed benefit for mild-to-moderate acute and chronic problems but took several days, even at the double dosings. We believe the skullcap, valerian and passion flower ingredients are responsible for the mild calming effect we noted.
Yucca With Devil’s Claw from Herbs of the World was not as effective for acute symptoms, but it worked well for older horses with chronic joint pain and stiffness. More freedom of movement was evident in two to three weeks.
Yucca has a cumulative effect that may continue over several months of use.
HerbalFlex cautions to wait two to three weeks before expecting effects. We fed this product for 30 days to an older horse with known joint problems that had also become generally more stiff. At the three-week mark, the horse did show some improved freedom of movement but still had foot/hock pain.
The buckwheat in this product has been associated with photosensitivity in several species, so be alert to any signs of reaction to the sun when feeding this (e.g. extreme redness or skin blistering/ooze).
One of the chemical constituents of the herbal clivers in HerbalFlex that has potential anti-inflammatory activity is called coumarins. However, these also have the potential to interact with other substances/drugs that affect blood clotting, such as warfarin/ Coumadin or phenylbutazone.
The comfrey has anti-inflammatory properties, but its use internally has been discouraged because of an association with a small number of patients who developed liver disease. Periodic blood chemistries are advisable when using this supplement, especially in older horses. We’d avoid it for any horse with liver disease history.
Devil’s claw is equally effective as a powder or liquid. However, combining other herbals with it can be a big help. While it’s difficult to say which ingredients made Devil’s Claw Plus so highly effective, the bottom line is that this product worked exceptionally well in our field-test horses. It is our first choice in this group of products.
Also With This Article
Click here to view ”Foot Problems: Try Navilam O.”
Click here to view ”Herbal Alternatives Ingredients And Dosages.”
Click here to view ”Devil’s Claw And Ulcers.”
Click here to view ”Effective Arthritis Herbal Ingredients. ”