The equine gastrointestinal system is complex, and incredibly delicate in some individual horses. We sometimes simplify equine digestion by breaking it down into foregut and hindgut, and they’re up against many challenges, including lifestyle complications (horses would like to snack constantly all day long but this doesn’t fit our human schedules well), exercise complications (such as stomach acid reaching the upper region of the stomach above the margo plicatus during exertion), colic, dysphagia, constipation, liver problems, internal parasites, obstructions, colitis, enteritis, toxins, ulcers, and a few more but we get the picture!
How can we help promote a healthy digestive system, in both the foregut and hindgut?
Finish Line® developed U-7™ Gastric Aid with the specific aim of supporting a healthy stomach/intestine/cecum and colon. U-7™ was Veterinarian-tested for several years both pre-market and post-market. Dr. Mark Phillips, the first Veterinarian to assess U-7™, still swears by it! U-7™ has many unique advantages over similarly targeted products: it is not an antacid, it is not an acid-blocker, U-7™ is reasonably priced, and is backed by Finish Line®’s satisfaction guarantee.
Let’s review the ingredients in U-7™, and how they promote healthy digestion:
U-7™ is composed of vitamins, minerals, botanical herbal ingredients and other nutrients, available as either liquid or powder, economically priced. The pH, or acidity of U-7™ is mildly acidic; it will not tell your horse’s stomach to make more acid since the original acid level was essentially unchanged. U-7™ does not “command” the stomach cells to stop making additional acid either. Instead, U-7™ is supporting healthy levels of stomach acid, and thus healthy digestion. Natural apple cider vinegar is the acid used to adjust U-7™’s pH to the finished level in the liquid, or citric acid in the powder. Salt, or sodium chloride is also present in U-7™. The chloride ions may be used by the stomach to make stomach acid if needed. The presence of chloride (as HCl, an acid) is how stomach cells determine whether the level of acid is appropriate.
The list of herbs or botanicals in U-7™ includes: apple pectin, grape seed extract, aloe vera, carrot, cinnamon, licorice, cabbage, and slippery elm. Licorice and cinnamon have been part of traditional Chinese treatments for digestive problems for many hundreds, if not thousands of years. While it is rare to find researchers willing to run tests on the effects here in the USA, Europe and Asia are not shy about testing traditional botanicals for efficacy. Aloe vera has been used to promote healing for over 2000 years. Slippery elm has a several hundred year reputation for promoting healing; the only reason its reputation doesn’t go back further is because the slippery elm tree is native to North America, not Asia or Europe! Grape seed is a well known source of potent antioxidants, and carrot is known for its carotenoid or vitamin A content. Since horses are herbivores, they like the taste of many botanicals, and U-7™ is no exception. The great majority of horses enjoys the taste of U-7™ and will let you know it is one of their favorite supplements!
Within the category of vitamins, U-7™ contains 440mg per fluid ounce of ascorbic acid or vitamin C. Ascorbic acid has been studied for many potential effects, the most famous, and yet still controversial, being to support the immune system especially during infection. Depending on the study (and it’s always fascinating to see where study funding originates from versus the outcome), some studies show a clear effect and others show no significant effect. Regardless of potential biases, we can be certain of several facts about ascorbic acid: a deficiency causes scurvy, as many 16th century sailors would confirm, and some visible symptoms of scurvy include loss of teeth and bleeding gums (both associated with the digestive system). Ascorbic acid has been proven to reduce bruising (capillary rupture) in diabetic people, clearly promoting healthy capillary strength. Ascorbic acid is an antioxidant, capable of helping to reduce ROS or reactive oxygen species. Vitamin A, in the form of natural, mixed carotenoids, from carrot powder, are also present in U-7™. The other botanicals supply additional vitamins and nutrients such as enzymes. Many enzymes aid in the digestive process.