Researchers at the University of Adelaide recently conducted a clinical trial to compare the efficacy of aloe vera or omeprazole for gastric ulcers.
The study involved 40 horses with ulcers which were confirmed with a scope. These horses had grade 2 (or higher) ulcers.
Each horse was assigned to be treated with Omeprazole or Aloe Vera.
Aloe Vera Treatment: Horses received 17.6 mg/kg body weightof dehydrated inner leaf aloe vera powder (produced by Aloe Vera Australia), which was reconstituted with water into a paste, twice daily.
Omeprazole Treatment: Horses received 4 mg/kg body weight omeprazole once daily.
After four weeks of treatment, the team performed a repeat gastroscopy.
The researchers found that while horses treated with aloe vera did show squamous lesion improvement, those on the omeprazole treatment showed greater improvements overall.
Fifty-six percent of horses on aloe vera improved by at least one lesion grade, compared to 85% of those receiving omeprazole. Healing rates (ulcers becoming Grade 1 lesions or less) were 17% for the aloe vera group and 75% for the omeprazole group.
Samantha Franklin, BVSc, PhD, Dipl. ACVSMR, MRCVS, an associate professor of equine physiology at the university, said “Whilst we found that aloe vera was not as effective as omeprazole, some horses did show some improvement”
“The factors contributing to glandular lesion development and treatment are still poorly understood and require further investigation. A larger study to examine the effectiveness of aloe vera on glandular ulcers would be of interest.”
Additionally, she said, horses with a history of gastric ulcers frequently relapse once treatment stops. “It would be interesting to investigate whether aloe vera might be used as a preventative treatment to reduce ulcer recurrence,” she said.
For horses suffering gastric ulcers, omeprazole remains the current treatment of choice.However the research team are interested in investigating whether aloe vera might be a useful preventative to stop ulcer reoccurring.