In a small-scale preliminary study, a natural fatty acid compound showed promise for easing pain associated with joint disease in horses. The study, conducted at the University of Messina in Italy, investigated the efficacy of a feed supplement containing palmitoylethanolamide (PEA-um), a fatty acid manufactured by the body but also present in egg yolks and peanuts.
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Believed to have anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, PEA-um supplements have been widely administered to people and small animals, but this was the first study of their potential for equine use.
The four study horses, all showjumpers, each had lameness that was not responsive to conventional treatment. Two of the horses had a diagnosis of navicular syndrome, one had arthritis of the hock and one had arthritis in the pastern joint.
The horses were fed a daily PEA-um supplement for four months, along with their regular diet. At the conclusion of the study period, each horse had significant clinical reduction in their lameness, allowing them to return to training and competition.
The researchers acknowledge this is a very small study, but call for a large, controlled experiment to investigate the potential benefits of PEA-um supplementation in horses.
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