Efficacy of an Extract of Blue-Green Algae in Amelioration of Lameness Caused by Degenerative Joint Disease in the Horse

Jennifer S. Taintor, James Wright, Fred Caldwell, Bailey Dymond, John Schumacher
October 2014
Journal of Equine Veterinary Science

Degenerative joint disease (DJD) or osteoarthritis in the equine is largely a result of biomechanical stressors that result in inflammation within the joint, which with continual exposure, leads to progressive degeneration. A myriad of therapies are available for treatment of horses with DJD including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroids, physiological modifiers, and biological therapies. C-phycocyanin, a protein-bound pigment found in blue-green algae, has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and is available as a diet supplement in people, dogs, and horses. Forty-one horses with naturally occurring lameness as a result of DJD were selected for this study. In a blinded study, horses were randomly assigned to either the commercial or placebo product that was fed once daily for 12 months. At selected time points, lameness evaluation was performed through objective gait analysis. Previous medical records for management of lameness were reviewed for all enrolled horses. No statistically significant differences existed within or between the two groups when gait was evaluated objectively nor within individual horses between time points. Review of medical records found that five treated horses had a decreased in frequency of intra-articular injection of corticosteroids. Although this study did not find statistically significant improvement of lameness with oral daily supplementation of C-phycocyanin in equine athletes, there appeared to be a trend of improvement in lameness during the loading period and a decrease in frequency of administration of intra-articular corticosteroids. Further investigations using a higher dose seem warranted.