CBD For Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome

Laminitis in Horses

Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome is common in foals and horses. According to the American Association of Equine Practitioners, approximately 60-90% of adult horses are diagnosed dependent on performance and age, and foals can be diagnosed with EGUS as well. The symptoms associated with the condition vary. Diagnosis is generally based upon clinical signs as well as an endoscopic examination (inside view with a special microscope) of the foal or horse’s stomach. Full Spectrum Hemp Extract CBD for Equine Ulcer Treatment may be a valuable and emerging option for providing your horse relief. 

Causes of EGUS

To understand the cause, you must first understand the anatomy of the horse. A horse’s stomach contains two regions: the upper non-glandular (squamous) region and a lower glandular area. Food enters the upper non-glandular region from the esophagus. The upper and lower regions are divided by a stomach lining scientifically known as margo plicatus. 

Gastric ulcers can occur in either portion of the stomach and that’s why you may hear veterinarians say “Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome” is an umbrella term because it does not tell us which region of the stomach is affected. Veterinarians are beginning to separate this term into two different terms known as Equine Squamous Gastric Ulcer Syndrome and Equine Glandular Gastric Ulcer Syndrome, although this hasn’t quite become popular yet. 

Lower Region

The lower region of the stomach, the glandular region, produces acid on a regular basis resulting in a normal pH level (acidity level) of 3.0. This area also secretes mucus and sodium bicarbonate to form a protective barrier so the stomach wall is not affected by the high levels of acidity.

Generally, when Equine Glandular Gastric Ulcer Syndrome (the lower portion) occurs, it’s due to a failure of the defense mechanism to protect the stomach from acidity. Although the cause of this defense mechanism being down isn’t quite clear, there are theories that it may be caused by NSAIDs, bacterial infection, and/or stress.

Upper Region

The upper, squamous portion of a horse’s stomach is generally neutral in pH levels (not acidic or basic) with a pH level of around 7. Generally, roughage in the diet assists in acting as a barrier to stomach acid and maintains this pH level. Unlike the lower portion of the stomach, there is no mucosal defense system to guard it against high levels of acidity. Diets without roughage or with very little roughage have been shown to contribute to Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome in the upper portion of the stomach. 

Symptoms and Diagnosis

When diagnosing EGUS (Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome), a veterinarian will likely request an endoscopic examination so he or she is able to take a look at what’s happening on the inside of your horse’s stomach. Signs of EGUS in foals include:

  • Intermittent colic
  • Intermittent nursing
  • Diarrhea
  • Lack of appetite
  • Grinding of teeth (bruxism)
  • Excessive salivation (ptyalism)

Without treatment, an obstruction could occur.

Symptoms of EGUS in adult horses are similar, but there are additional symptoms that may be present. These symptoms include:

  • Lack of appetite
  • Decreased performance levels
  • Changes in behavior
  • Rough hair coat
  • Weight loss
  • Low-grade colic

Although these symptoms are indicative of Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome, the veterinarian may not make a final diagnosis without the approval of an endoscopy. The endoscope used is generally about 7 feet long but may be up to 11 feet long if the veterinarian feels it necessary to look at the duodenum in an adult horse. Shorter endoscopes, ranging from 5-6 feet in length may be utilized for foals.

Conventional Treatment Options

The main goal of treating UGUS is the prevention of excessive gastric acid secretion. There is currently only one FDA-approved treatment for gastric ulcers in horses known as GastroGard. Gastrogard (Omeprazole) acts as an acid pump inhibitor to prevent gastric acid secretion and is generally provided to horses once per day for 28 days. 

You may recognize the name, Omeprazole, as it is also sold for us humans to treat gastric ulcers and indigestion. Prilosec, for example, reduces gastric acid secretion and is recommended for people to use when experiencing gastric issues. Unfortunately, medications that aren’t natural often carry side effects. Omeprazole, in particular, can cause nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, seizures, and difficulty breathing among other detrimental side effects. Long-term usage creates even more harmful side effects like bone fractures, gut infections, and vitamin b12 deficiency. 


Alternative Option: CBD

Research is still in the early stages regarding CBD and ulcers, but the results thus far are promising. According to research, CBD has been shown to be successful in the healing of gastric ulcers and the associated symptoms. This is yet another breakthrough in the field of CBD for not only horses but also for us and our other pets. 

Reduces Gastric Acid Secretion

Since the main goal of treating UGUS is the prevention of gastric acid secretion, this particular benefit is of extreme importance. CBD stimulates the CB1 receptor in the endocannabinoid system, and therefore helps reduce the secretion of gastric acid and brings the body back to balance. Not only is the secretion of gastric acid reduced, but blood flow to the stomach lining also increases with the use of CBD which can assist in the healing process and prevention of ulcer formation

According to The Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Medicine, cannabis-based therapies may also have a positive effect on the gastric mucosa; the mucous membrane layer that protects the stomach from stomach acids. 

Reducing Inflammation

CBD interacts with a horse’s endocannabinoid system. Since one of the main responsibilities of the endocannabinoid system is to bring balance to the body, it has the ability to boost bodily functions and control inflammation. A study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology stated “cannabinoids act as anti-inflammatory agents by inducing apoptosis, inhibiting cell proliferation, suppressing cytokine production, and inducing T regulatory cells.”

Final Thoughts

If you suspect your horse may have Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome, contact your equine veterinarian for a proper diagnosis. Your veterinarian will examine your horse and make recommendations accordingly. If your horse is diagnosed with Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome, in most cases, your veterinarian will prescribe a medication to treat gastric ulcers and indigestion to bring your horse back to normal health. Holistic health practitioners are likely to recommend a safe, effective alternative therapy, like CBD, to help heal the body naturally