Nutraceutical News

The Equine Research Centre of Guelph, Ontario, furthered its reputation for leading-edge health initiatives by hosting the first annual symposium of the Nutraceutical Alliance, a newly formed organization committed to delivering natural health products for horses into the hands of educated consumers. With the goals of building a unified network of manufacturers, producers, and consumers of natural health products (including herbal and nutritional supplements), and conducting independent, scientifically sound research on these products, the Nutraceuticals Alliance promises to do what many have thought impossible—bring folklore and science together.

The symposium, held Nov. 4-5, 1999, in Toronto, Ontario, attracted an array of forward-thinking veterinarians as well as producers, manufacturers, and marketers of nutraceutical products for horses and other industry professionals. Some of the companies represented were Univet, Canadian Emu Oil, Pet Perfection, Carolwood Corporation, Longpoint Garlic Company, Ontario DeHy, Shur-Gain Feeds, Holistic Horse, Apperon, Yurtland Natural Health, and Foragen. The Nutraceutical Alliance also featured a number of high-profile speakers, including Joyce Harman, DVM, MRCVS, whose Harmany Equine Medical Clinic offers a number of "alternative" modalities; John Baker, MSc, PAg, of Bioniche Botanicals and Stonehedge Phytomedicinals (cultivators of evening primrose and producers of high-quality evening primrose oil); Arno Leblic, a practitioner of Chinese herbal medicine and president of Horse Sense Herbs; Gary Pusillo, PhD, of INTI Services (developers of the whey protein extract GlutaSyn); and Glenn Pizzey, BSc, an animal scientist and director of the Flax Growers of Western Canada.

The two-day program offered a diverse selection of topics—everything from how to take a wild herb and develop it as a crop (and market the extract), to methods of applying statistically significant research to herbal products, to the briar patch of current government regulations regarding nutraceuticals. Some sessions delved into the biochemical benefits of nutritional additives to the equine diet, while others presented an overview of herbs commonly used in veterinary practice (and by owners, with or without veterinary consultation).

Throughout the symposium, there was an emphasis on sound research and accountability; goals that currently must be met voluntarily by manufacturers in the absence of government guidelines.

Symposium organizer Wendy Pearson, BSc, is a pharmacology and toxicology post-graduate student at the University of Western Ontario. She has been a Research Associate in Medicinal Herbs and Nutraceuticals at the Equine Research Centre for the past two years. During that time, she has launched a number of groundbreaking studies designed to determine the efficacy and mode of action of certain herbal supplements. With the inaugural Nutraceutical Alliance Symposium having demonstrated such a positive response from the nutraceuticals industry, Pearson is already planning a second conference, tentatively scheduled for December 2000 in Guelph, Ontario. Early indications are that the Nutraceutical Alliance could become a driving force in research, and in sensible governance, of this emerging industry.

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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