Sport and performance horses are extremely susceptible to lung disease. Even seemingly healthy horses are frequently affected. Studies have shown that 90-100% of sport horses tested have evidence of damage to their airways that can lead to Equine Reactive Airway Disease (RAD, also called Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD)–a serious and career-ending condition. The first (and often only) early sign is decreased performance.
Herbs can be a safe, effective way to both prevent and treat Equine RAD/COPD. In fact, many herbs would help with some of the symptoms of this disease. For instance, Yarrow is often used for upper respiratory complaints.
Properties of the ideal herb for preventing and treating RAD/COPD would include:
- Antioxidant, to reduce inflammation-causing molecules in the body that contribute to asthma
- Antifungal, to inhibit mold particles that commonly cause respiratory disease in horses
- Immune-modulating, to decrease the over-reactive immune response to allergens
- Anti-inflammatory, to protect the lungs from the harmful effects of chronic inflammation
- Free from heavy metal contamination, to prevent toxic build-up
- Contain no substance prohibited by equine sports regulatory bodies such as USEF or racing commissions
Funtumia elastica is a medium-sized African rubber tree; its bark has a long history of use for respiratory complaints. Funtumia has important antioxidant, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and antibiotic properties. It has no known toxicity, and is not barred by any equine sport governing body.
Natural compounds found in Funtumia include:
Anthocyanins: plant pigments that give berries their color (such as blueberries, blackberries, and cherries). Anthocyanins have been called “the mother lode in a gold mine of antioxidants.” Anthocyanins have shown specific benefit in reducing immune-stimulated inflammation, and are thought to be valuable in preventing the development of asthma.
Flavonoids: Vitamin C is the most familiar member of this class of plant-derived antioxidant compounds. Flavonoids are useful in both preventing and treating COPD, asthma, and other chronic lung diseases.
Plant sterols: natural plant steroids are safer than synthetic steroid drugs like prednisone and dexamethasone. Phytosterols have immuno-modulating effects–normalizing an over-reactive antibody response–as well as anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.
Natural anti-fungals: Funtumia specifically inhibits growth of many molds, including Aspergillus, which is commonly associated with equine respiratory disease.
Tannins: These compounds have shown promise in the treatment of allergic inflammation and asthma.
Funtumia has demonstrated excellent safety (low toxicity) in multiple laboratory experiments, and has tested negative for heavy metals including cadmium, zinc, lead, chromium, and nickel. It does not contain any substances that are prohibited by any equine sport authority.
Preventing equine respiratory disease is easier—and smarter—than trying to treat established disease. Excellent hygiene, clean feeds, fresh air, and preventive therbal therapy could make all the difference for your horse.