I’ve recently been reading up on some research on the use of hemp for horses and it won’t come as much of a surprise to the readers in and around Nimbin that it had some positive findings. It turns out that hemp is extremely nutritious and has many health benefits not only for humans but for horses and other animals too.
The components in hemp include a balanced source of essential fatty acids omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9 as well as having high protein content. It includes the omega-6 fatty acid gamma linoleic acid (GLA) which is used in medicine for the regulation of inflammation and for its involvement in the increase in production of mucus in the gastro-intestinal tract; this helps protect the tissues making it invaluable for use for horses with digestive issues. Gamma linoleic acid has a number of other potential uses, which include the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Omega-6 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fat important for brain function. Polyunsaturated fats, in general, help maintain the reproductive system and promote healthy skin and hair as well as regulate the metabolic system.
Inflammation is a marker of many degenerative and chronic diseases including cancer, diabetes, heart disease and arthritis. According to an article published in “Current Pharmaceutical Biotechnology”, gamma linoleic acid may be an important factor in reducing inflammatory responses. GLA can help promote the expression of certain genes that play an important role in immune function and cancer cell death. These anti-inflammatory effects are likely responsible for GLA’s potential in treating the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
Benefits of Hemp Oil
- The production of energy
- High protein content suited to feeding horses
- Oil content with unique fatty acid composition
- Maintains gut health
- Reduces inflammation by aiding the body’s natural anti-inflammatory mechanisms and responses making it very useful for joint health
- Reduces excitable behaviour
- Enhances body condition
- Excellent for horses with gastric ulcers, hind gut acidosis, azoturia, laminitis and colic
- Supports healthy skin, hooves and coat
- Supports joint health and mobility
- Good for general health, vitality
- Supports cognitive function and brain health
- Supports immunity and cardiovascular function
According to Hemp Foods Australia, hemp is also available in the form of seed cake or meal (hemp pellets) which is a by-product in the production of pressed hemp oil. It claims to be a cool feed with added benefits suitable for all ages similar to that of the oil.
Hemp seed oil has the highest level of polyunsaturated fats and one of the lowest levels of saturated fats in the plant kingdom. It is a very efficient source of dietary energy because it is cold-pressed from the seeds at low temperatures, thereby retaining all its nutrientsand requiring only small amounts daily. It is not chemically refined or genetically modified, and naturally contains Vitamin E (a natural preservative and antioxidant).
Evidence suggests that many horses on high grain diets, with joint problems, dull coats or allergic skin conditions, are likely to benefit from a supplement of optimally balanced omega oils, as found in hemp seed. And the best part of all is that horses love the taste of hemp so maybe it’s time to give it a try.
Les Rees Equine Naturopath