The Nutraceutical Alliance (NA), based in Canada, was established in 1998 to conduct clinical research into the effects of herbs and other nutraceuticals in horses, as well as the collection and dissemination of existing information and research.
The NA received start-up funds from the Canadian government and private manufacturers. It’s partnered with The Equine Research Centre at Guelph University in Canada, a multi-million-dollar, state-of-the-art research facility, whose staff combines the highest scientific credentials with a focus on clinical/field trials where it counts: on real horses under real conditions.
A recent NA funded study on osteoarthritis measured decreased levels of the inflammatory substance prostaglandin E2 in joint fluid of horses receiving an herbal supplement. Another study documented decreased respiratory rates and lower pressures inside the chest (less work breathing) in horses with heaves on an herbal supplement.
Although the development of manufacturing and marketing strategies is a key objective of the NA, their mission goes far beyond advertising and promotion. They also seek to establish standards for testing and quality assurance of products and to get information on these products out to the consumer via their website, development of a database, quarterly newsletters and an annual conference.
We like what the Nutraceutical Alliance is trying to accomplish and the way it is being done. Like the Horse Journal, they test real products on real horses with real problems. The NA also has at their disposal the staff and facilities to scientifically back their findings.
Everyone benefits from their work — the manufacturers whose products are refined or proven, veterinarians looking for solid information on treatment options and owners who can choose commercial products with more confidence.
The Nutraceutical Alliance was started by a partnership of manufacturers and represents a significant move away from marketing based on vague claims, testimonials and the blind lifting of products from human supplements. They see the need for replacing folklore with scientific backing, while recognizing there is a wealth of information in folk remedies that cries out for a solid explanation.
The contrast with some branches of our supplement industry is too obvious to bear much comment. There are reputable manufacturers out there who strive to formulate their products on facts and research — and are forward-thinking in their product lines — but also freely admit when and where gaps exist in otherwise solid information.
Others waste more time running down their competitors than documenting how their own products work, claim “proprietary” when asked for important details on active ingredients, processing or dosages, and spend large amounts on packaging, advertising and promotion but virtually nothing on research.
The Neutraceutical Alliance is an example of corporate dollars put to work constructively to guarantee quality products of proven effectiveness. Let’s hope more companies follow their lead.
’Til Next Month,
-Eleanor M. Kellon, VMD