Nutraceutical Alliance Symposium

The second annual Nutraceutical Alliance Symposium, hosted by the Equine Research Centre (ERC) in Guelph, Ontario, on March 23-24, brought together leaders in the fields of nutraceutical research and manufacturing. Symposium organizer Wendy Pearson O'Neill said that the conference went extremely well, attracting participants from the United States and Canada. She said, however, that the overwhelming message is that there are problems with nutraceutical regulation.

"The herb industry has experienced explosive growth," O'Neill says. "It went from marginal to mainstream." But, where consumers used to accept nutraceutical product claims at face value, they're now demanding proof of safety and efficacy. More educated consumers and greater competition necessitate an alliance of manufacturers and distributors of these products.

The mandate of the Nutraceutical Alliance fosters interest in species-specific research with direct applications to the consumer. For example, if an herbal supplement is marketed to horses, then its effects should be tested on horses under conditions similar to those found in most barns.

The alliance assists in the dissemination of information about nutraceutical products, both through symposia and a website (, which features more than 1,000 research papers directly related to herbal and nutritional products for animals.

Presenters at the symposium demonstrated that the nutraceutical industry is producing an impressive volume of solid, species-specific research. Studies on Siberian, Asian, and North American ginseng, echinacea, cat's claw, golden root, and MSM were featured, along with a new study on the effects of flaxseed on horses with sweet-itch (see pages 21-22). CV Technologies' Jacquelin Shan, PhD, presented her new method (trademarked as ChemBioPrint) for defining natural substances, which should streamline the process by which many nutraceutical manufacturers formulate and standardize products. There was also an update on the current morass of regulations concerning the nutraceutical industry in the United States and Canada. Rounding out the program was a perspective on how veterinarians can incorporate nutraceutical products into their practices.

The ERC is currently discussing the feasibility of hosting a nutraceutical symposium for horse owners in 2002.

About the Author

Karen Briggs

Karen Briggs is the author of six books, including the recently updated Understanding Equine Nutrition as well as Understanding The Pony, both published by Eclipse Press. She's written a few thousand articles on subjects ranging from guttural pouch infections to how to compost your manure. She is also a Canadian certified riding coach, an equine nutritionist, and works in media relations for the harness racing industry. She lives with her band of off-the-track Thoroughbreds on a farm near Guelph, Ontario, and dabbles in eventing.

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