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LAMINITIS/IR - "I have a metabolic mare with laminitis and diagnosed leptin resistant. I have been using an anti lam balancer but since found it contains molasses. Can you advise on what supplement that I could use?"

This client contacted me on 3rd April - just 2-wks ago, regarding her 7yo native mare diagnosed with laminitis and low adiponectin levels. She'd been using an anti lam balancer but since found it contained molasses (no surprise there ...)

To quote her, "Who would have thought it would be so hard to get the right feeds for fatties!! To be honest I’m at a total loss.. my vet and farrier haven’t been the most helpful." She'd also developed brain-freeze from all the google-ing out there ...

We can safely say that whether we like it or not, a native horse is typically a metabolic type – they're definitely going to be carb intolerant, as we know that typically for a native/Shetland their gut system simply can’t cope with the overload of the simple grass sugars (fructose, sucrose, fructans). Factor in poor-quality feeds and environmental toxins, and we have ourselves a horse at high risk of a metabolic episode.

Laminitis is ultimately a symptom, albeit an overwhelming one, caused as a result of the gut’s intestinal wall membrane being damaged, due to poor-quality feeds (CRAP - this isn't me being intentionally rude, promise - it literally stands for Carbs-Refined-Artificial-Processed) or inappropriate feeds. i.e. grains or unlimited access to grass and those dreaded sugars. This creates an overburden of damaging negative bacteria in the microbiome, which damage the gut membrane enough to leak the toxic digesta through the wall and straight into the bloodstream.

This makes the blood glucose level super-high which the insulin simply isn’t able to metabolise through to the body’s cells as they’re already full up.

Cue the pH value dropping. Cue acidosis. Cue destruction of the healthy fibre-digesting bacteria which lowers the gut pH value even further. Cue the release of endotoxins (a toxin kept within the gut microbe cell which is released only after destruction), cue these same toxins leaking through the damaged gut wall into the bloodstream. And Boom - one insulin-resistant horse counting down the seconds towards a laminitis episode as that toxic, glucose-rich blood tracks its way round the body to the hooves, causing a devastating cascade of silent, yet deadly, inflammation in the laminae tissues, along with red-raw pain which spreads a whole lot further than just the injurious site, thanks to the nerves in the body which are everywhere. If not caught in time, the inflamed and now distorted laminae will cause the coffin bone to 'rotate' (dislodge downwards, and we're heading for a state of founder. Not pretty.

For true overall health we need a healthy gut because life-force depends on it; food nutrients are the body’s building blocks, and the gut is there to digest, assimilate and absorb the nutrients in the fuel (feed) that we ingest. If good health isn’t happening, it’s usually because there’s something going wrong in the gut, so we need to clean up the gut function and sustain a healthy microbiome environment.

No horse is born with leaky gut– something triggers this digestive disturbances in horses, and although laminitis is usually caused by an unlimited and unrestricted access to grass, there are many other stressors that can cause it such as sudden changes, moving, competition, psychological stress of travel and training, breeding/pregnancy, worming, parasites, medications, vaccines, viruses, injury ... you name it.

We’re also talking unusual/unseasonable weather conditions, alterations in environment, and as said earlier, lesser quality feeds and even unclean water. The list is endless.

In simple terms, nearly all dis-ease (with dis-ease meaning the body is ill at ease) is traceable back to a damaged or abnormal gut environment and gut flora (microbiome). Everything is connected, and it all relates to silent inflammation somewhere in the body at cellular level. This ultimately tracks its way through the tissues to the organs, leading to an overburdened toxic state, which ultimately impacts immunity.

So there's my take on lami, and now back to our client. After welcoming her to my metabolic-equine world (three natives and a TB, so I'm a proud owner of a well-worn t-shirt) I pointed her to the following:

Yesterday she emailed me with an update:

Good morning carol
Just wanted to let you know that I have a pony who has turned the most massive corner after introducing the advice you gave into her feed.. wow!! No more starving pony trying to eat me, no more scraping walls, kicking, biting and generally making me lose the will to live! After getting a set of X-rays done and a date with the farrier, both he and the vet asked directly if I had her sedated ... that’s what it felt like. Relaxed, happy to oblige pony. I know we have a long road ahead but without your help and advice I’d be lost!!! A million ThAnk you from me and Lotti 💕

A true endorsement of how, when you get the diet right and fortify the body with nutrients, you transform it. And literally within a little more than a week 😄😄

Other useful reads: Blog Posts - All Together Now and Spirulina may be an effective support for Leptin Resistance