A Horse, of Course
with Don Blazer
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You can throw the claims chondroitin reduces your horse's joint pain in the manure bin.
Chondroitin supplements do not relieve joint pain associated with arthritis; that's the conclusion of researchers who studied 20 different clinical trials dating back to 1970. "No evidence has been found the popular supplement prevents or reduces joint pain," the researchers concluded.
The placebo is a better miracle cure than the cure-chondroitin doesn't relieve joint pain…but the idea of giving it works in the minds of horse owners willing to believe anything they read without question, especially if they can put their horses back to work immediately.
Go to your favorite horse magazine and you'll see advertisements telling you how great chondroitin and glucosamine are for your horse's joints. Some advertisements will tell you the joint is being repaired, that the pain has gone and the horse can continue to perform now.
Some advertisements suggest or claim your horse will be free of joint pain and can go back to work…..but they never tell you who conducted such studies, how the studies were conducted or exactly what the results were.
I've never seen an advertising claim for chondroitin or glucosamine that started with a baseline (some type of pain or degenerative measurement) and followed with factual proof of improvement.
However, the evidence against such claims is published in the Annals of Internal Medicine and is authored by Peter Juni, head of clinical epidemiology and biostratistics at the University of Bern in Switzerland.
Juni's group analyzed 20 different studies, none of which could produce any evidence chondroitin reduces joint pain. Juni's paper follows a 16-site, $14 million National Institutes of Health study that found "no clear proof that the popular supplement combo glucosamine and chondroitin reduces joint pain."
Yet the supplement will undoubtedly continue to sell because horse owners want magic bullets: miracle cures so the horse can continue damaging the joints without pain, so horses can be trained during a 3-day expo, magic sticks that replace knowledge, answers without effort.
I've argued with hundreds of horse owners who make wild claims for supplements, yet have no basis of facts. I've never met a horse owner who measured the range of pain free motion of his horse's knee, then started supplements and 3-months later re-measured the range of pain free motion.…..it just doesn't happen, but the claims of cure do.
There are no studies to show Biotin supplements help the growth or health of horse's hooves, but some horse owners swear by it.
Others will defend the truth of claims and honesty of supplement manufacturers, yet Canadian researchers and the University of Guelph found that only 60 per cent of the oral joint supplements they analyzed contained the level of glucosamine specified on the labels.
Of 23 products sampled, 14 matched the levels on the labels while 9 did not.
In addition, the standard recommended dose based on previous research (which now appears flawed) was 10 grams per day. The average label dose of the supplements was half the standard recommended dose.
The findings, according to the researchers, reveals a need for better oversight and regulatory control of supplement contents.
When a horse says, "It hurts when I do that," you can give him a supplement, or you can stop doing that!
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