The Effect of Seabuckthorn Extract in the Treatment and Prevention of Gastric Ulcers in Horses
ACVIM 2008
R. Reese1; F. Andrews1; S. Elliott1; A. Saxton1; R.B. McMullin2
1University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN, USA; 2Seabuck LLC, Midvale, UT, USA

Non-glandular (NG) gastric ulcers are common in horses. Current pharmaceutical treatments are expensive and alter the acidic environment of the stomach. Seabuckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides) has been shown to be useful for the treatment of gastric ulcers in humans. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of a commercially sold extract of seabuckthorn berry (SBC: SeaBuckTM Complete Liquid) in the treatment and prevention of gastric ulcers in horses.

This study was a blinded 2-period cross-over design using 8 adult female horses. Each treatment period consisted of a control group, that received feed only, and a treated group that received SBC (3oz) mixed with feed twice a day. Horses were treated for 60 days and then subjected to an alternating feed-deprivation period to induce or worsen ulcers. Gastroscopy was performed on each horse before each treatment period (day 0), on day 30, day 60, and following the alternating feed-deprivation period (day 67). Gastric juice was aspirated and pH was recorded along with overall NG gastric ulcer score, NG ulcer severity score, and NG ulcer number score. Between each treatment period the horses had a 4-week washout period. All horses received the two treatments. The data was analyzed using a cross over ANOVA model with significant differences considered, P<0.05.

Mean overall NG gastric ulcer score decreased on Day 30 in both groups compared to ulcer scores on Day 0, whereas ulcer scores increased on Day 60 in the SBC-treated group, compared to the control group. However, on Day 67 after the alternating feed-deprivation period, overall NG gastric ulcer score increased in the control group from 1.1 to 2.0, whereas the mean gastric ulcer score in the SBC-treated group remained the same. Mean NG ulcer number and severity decreased in both groups on Day 30, compared to Day 0 and increased on Day 60 in both groups. However, after the feed-deprivation period, mean NG ulcer number and severity stayed the same for the SBC-treated group, while the mean NG number and severity scores increased in the control group. The SBC did not effect the acidic environment of the stomach, as mean gastric juice pH was 2.32(±.24) in the SBC-treated group compared to 2.25(±.26) in the control group. During, the feed-deprivation period, ulcer scores improved or stayed the same in 7/8 (88%) SBC-treated horses, compared to 2/8 (25%) of the control horses.

While trends were seen, SBC did not significantly decrease NG gastric ulcer score, number, or severity when compared to untreated controls. SBC was not effective in the treatment of NG gastric ulcers in horses in this study, but trends showed it aided in preventing worsening of gastric ulcers during the feed-deprivation period. Thus, SeaBuckTM Complete Liquid has been found to be efficacious in the prevention of gastric ulcers during stress without altering normal stomach pH.

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Rilla Reese

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