Admittedly, I have a compulsion to tweak, adjust, and mess with everything — kitchen recipes, my GPS’s opinion on directions, and BioStar formulas. I have this nagging little voice in my head that says this can be better, and I have to act on it.
Everyone at BioStar has become accustomed to my bouts of tweaking. Rick, our general manager, now just sighs when I burst into his office with a great new ingredient, or one of my “outside-the-box solutions”. I don’t doubt that the production team probably grits their collective teeth when I’m out of the room, but it seems everyone at BioStar accepts the fact that no formula or procedure is written in stone.
Recently I reviewed the recipe for Thera Calm EQ. As I went down the list of ingredients, I began to question the inclusion of holy basil when the formula already provided ashwagandha, another adaptogenic plant. Both plants are fundamentally circulatory, endocrine and glandular body balancers, and both can reduce cortisol, but only ashwaganda can help increase serotonin in the brain. Did Thera Calm EQ really need both?
One voice in my brain said don’t mess with success, and I might have abandoned the tweaking at that point, but I kept feeling that, instead of the added holy basil, Thera Calm EQ needed more gut support. Then I came across an interesting Ayurvedic plant being used in some horse feeds in England called haritaki.
Haritaki (Terminalia chebula) is a tree that grows in the sub-Himalayan regions, and in all deciduous forests in India. The fruits of the haritaki tree have been used in various Ayurvedic, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), and Tibetan herbal formulations for thousands of years.
In Tibetan medicine haritaki is known as “The King of Medicine”, with nearly all Tibetan herbal formulas containing the plant. In Ayurvedic medicine, it is described as a “remover of diseases”, and is considered the best plant for the digestive system and the lungs.
Haritaki is one of the tridoshic plants in Ayurveda, meaning that it is balancing to the three different body/mind types known as doshas. Its long history of use in animals and humans includes the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders — particularly ulcers — as well as respiratory disorders.
The research on haritaki for ulcers
One of the recently studied phenolic compounds of haritaki is chebulic acid, a component of the larger molecule chebulinic acid, which accounts for up to 30% of haritaki fruit extracts.
Published research from 2010 demonstrates the cytoprotective effects of haritaki on the gastric mucosa (“Preventive effects of chebulic acid isolated from Terminalia chebula on advanced glycation endproduct-induced endothelial cell dysfunction.” Hyun-Sun Lee, Yoon-Chang Koo, et al. J. Ethnopharmacology, 2010 Oct 5; 131(3):567-74).
But the “wow moment” for me came after reading a study comparing the effects of haritaki versus sucralfate and omeprazole in rats (“Anti-secretory and cytoprotective effects of chebulinic acid isolated from the fruits of Terminalia chebula on gastric ulcers.” Vaibhav Misdhra, Manali Agrawal, et al. Phytomedicine, 2013, 20, (6), 505-511).
According to this study, “Chebulinic acid exerted better protective effect against ethanol-induced gastric lesions in comparison to reference drug, sucralfate.” In addition, the study highlighted chebulinic acid influence via inhibition of the proton pump, showing that “…chebulinic acid inhibited the H+K+-ATPase [proton pump] activity [with an effect] comparable to the reference drug omeprazole.”
The study also explored the cytoprotective ability of chebulinic acid by testing its effect against NSAIDs-induced ulcers. Chebulinic acid increased mucin content and demonstrated 55.53% protection in aspirin-induced gastric ulcers, versus the 58.30% protection offered by omeprazole. The study concluded that “chebulinic acid… inhibits the formation of gastric lesions in rats by inhibiting acid secretion and through cytoprotective effects.”
Haritaki and Thera Calm EQ
Now Thera Calm EQ includes this important traditional fruit to support the equine GI tract. The addition of haritaki is particularly beneficial to horses that are ulcer-sensitive and ulcer-recurrent. With its cytoprotective properties, haritaki can increase mucosal protection and reduce gastric mucosal injury and necrosis.