Little data was available on the effect of Smart Gut Ultra (SGU), an equine supplement containing botanicals, coating agents and natural antacids, on gastric ulcers in horses. A group of researchers, with funding from the makers of SGU (SmartPak Equine LLC), undertook a study to answer that question by looking specifically at the effect of SGU on non-glandular (NG) (area of the stomach where ulcers are commonly found in the horse) gastric ulcer scores and gastric juice pH after omeprazole treatment in stall-confined horses.
Eight racing-age, stall-confined Thoroughbreds were divided into two groups, those that received SGU pellets (40 g, twice daily for the duration of the study) and those that did not. Both groups received omeprazole for the first 14 days of the study, after which it was discontinued. From days 28-35, all horses underwent intermittent feed deprivation. From days 32-42 (the end of the study), all horses were returned to their normal diet. Gastroscopy (scoping of the stomach) was performed on all horses on days 1, 14, 28, 35, and 42, with a numerical score being given to the number and severity of any observed gastric ulcers. Gastric juice pH was also measured.
The results showed that the group of horses receiving the SGU did better, with respect to gastric ulcer score, when evaluated on days 28 and 35 after the omeprazole was discontinued than the untreated group. By day 42 (the end of the study), the two groups were not statistically different on evaluation.
The conclusions reached by the researchers: “SGU supplement fed to horses prevented gastric ulcers from increasing in horses after omeprazole treatment without increasing gastric juice pH. Supplementation with SGU aids in the protection of the NG stomach from the rebound effects after omeprazole treatment is discontinued and in stall-confined horses undergoing intermittent feeding.”
This study helps us to understand how important it can be to provide some type of additional gastric ulcer therapy as a follow-up with horses that are treated with a 28-day course of omeprazole for active gastric ulcers. The “rebound effect” of increased gastric acid secretion after treatment with omeprazole is well documented, such that protocols are suggested for treatment for an additional two weeks at a preventative dose with omeprazole after the initial 28-day treatment protocol is finished. This research suggests that SGU can also be effective in the prevention of ulcer recurrence, which can sometimes be seen following omeprazole therapy.
Scientific article: Andrews, FM, et al. “Effect of a Supplement on Nonglandular Gastric Ulcer Scores and Gastric Juice pH.” AAEP Proceedings, vol. 60, Dec. 2014, pp. 189-190.