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Cortisol -- the STRESS hormone. Although an important hormone, when consistently elevated it negatively impacts carbohydrate metabolism, causing blood insulin to rise, leading to fat storage and most critically, a possible laminitis attack. Controlling excess cortisol requires attention to what is bothering your horse.
Consider supplementing the herb, Rhodiola rosea. It has a lot of research behind it[i] and has been discussed in several horse magazines including Horse Health, Natural Horse Magazine, Holistic Horse and The Naturally Healthy Horse. As an adaptogenic herb, it has the ability to normalize body systems. During stress, a cascade of events occurs where the hypothalamus portion of the brain stimulates the pituitary gland to produce adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), which in turn, tells the adrenal gland to secrete cortisol. Rhodiola calms the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal cascade that is stimulated during times of tension and may even be helpful for horses suffering from equine Cushing's disease.[ii]
[i] Kelly, G.S., 2001. Rhodiola rosea: A possible plant adaptogen. Alternative Medicine Review 6(3), 293-302; and Anghelescu, I.G., Edwards, D., Seifritz, E., and Kasper, S., 2018. Stress management and the role of Rhodiola rosea: a review. International Journal of Psychiatry and Clinical Practice, 11, 1-11.
[ii] Balance EQ (Foxden Equine) supports the horses with Cushing's disease with a variety of herbs, including Rhodiola rosea. This supplement can be found in the Metabolic, and Herbal Supplements categories.
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Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D. is an independent equine nutritionist offering nutrition services for all life stages and integrative support for disorders and diseases. Your horse's quality of life is Dr. Getty's priority.
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