Garlic – A Winter Wonder

The benefits of consuming garlic dates back as far as 1550 BC. To this day Garlic for both human and animals is considered somewhat of a wonder food. It has been stated that garlic has antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and antibiotic effects.

In horses specifically it has been found that garlic supplementation assists in improving respiratory problems, acts as a natural fly repellent and maintains beneficial gut flora. Garlic is rich in Selenium and Sulphur. Sulphur is recognised as having blood cleansing properties that are useful in treating and preventing equine disease. It is also believed to contain over 25 germ-killing compounds.

It would appear that the humble Garlic clove may be a veritable medicine cabinet!

However, and with all supplementation, manufacturers guidelines should be closely adhered to. In recent studies it was demonstrated that if too much garlic is provided in the equine diet, a toxic element known as N-propyl disulfide accumulates in the body. N-propyl disulfide alters an enzyme present within the blood cell, which in turn depletes the cell of phosphate dehydrogenase, a chemical responsible for protecting the cell against natural oxidative damage. If an overdose of garlic is provided and more red blood cells are prematurely damaged, your horse could become anaemic. That been said the NRC (2009) reported that while more data is needed, intake levels of 15mg/kg of body weight per day of dried garlic powder on a long-term basis were unlikely to result in a risk of adverse events such as anaemia, in horses under normal circumstances.

Another misconception is that garlic must be ingested raw to be beneficial. It is true if garlic is cooked immediately after peeling, certain enzymes are inactivated and benefits are lost. But if you peel, chop and allow it to rest for 15 minutes before cooking it, the full benefits remain (good to know when preparing tonight’s dinner!). It is therefore important when choosing a source of garlic for your horse you look to a reputable manufacturer that is using 100% pure garlic that is processed correctly whether it be powder, granules or syrup. TRM’s 100% pure dehydrated garlic powder is one such product.

The most prevalent aliment for this time of year (horses and humans alike) is the common cough or cold. Garlic can be used to give relief from the symptoms of coughs – it contains a substance that helps to clear mucus in the airways. This cleansing action, together with its ability to reduce inflammation, also benefits the urinary tract.

To summarise the benefits to feeding garlic to horses include:

  • Increase appetite
  • Can assist in alleviating the symptoms of equine asthma
  • Acts as a fly repellent
  • Reduces blood pressure
  • Has blood cleansing properties
  • It is a natural source of Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), commonly used to treat joint problems and allergies
  • Contains potent antioxidant properties