Brandenburg’s Tidbits | Did you Know? @Herbals for Joint Pain

A Quick Explanation of the most common herb ingredients used for Joint Pain   … 


The joint nutraceuticals Glucosamine, Chondroitin and Hyaluronic Acid are components of the structure of joint cartilage and synovial fluid. They also have the ability to modulate inflammation and cartilage breakdown. These agents alone work very well for many horses, but some may need even more help with inflammation and pain.

Steroidal and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) work well, but come with a considerable risk of side effects that make them unsuitable for long term use. This is where herbal agents with much more favorable safety profiles can play a role. The safety of these ingredients compared with the toxicity associated with pharmaceuticals makes them a highly attractive alternative.

Boswellia is a genus of shrubs and small trees well known for their fragrant resin, aka Frankincense. The resin is also well researched as an anti-inflammatory agent. With specific reference to joints, Boswellia extracts can protect chondrocytes, the cartilage producing cells, from death induced by inflammation, improve the production of cartilage components, and block the activity of enzymes that degrade cartilage.

Harpagophytum procumbens, aka Devil’s Claw, is a plant native to South Africa. Its roots have a very long history of use as an anti-inflammatory and modern research has confirmed its effectiveness.  Devil’s Claw blocks inflammation by suppressing the genes that initiate the process. Because of this, it has the same protective effects on cartilage as boswellia. Pain relief is as effective as popular anti-inflammatory drugs like Vioxx. By clinical observation in horses it is as effective as low to moderate doses of phenylbutazone.

Devil’s Claw and the Stomach | Debunking Rumors      In herbal medicine, Devil’s Claw is classified as a “bitter” and a digestive aide.  It is believed to stimulate the production of stomach acid and because of this has been said to potentially cause or worsen gastric ulcers. However, this basically falls under the category of folklore and has never actually been proven; even the acid releasing effect. In fact, a study in rats comparing it to Indomethacin, an NSAID, confirmed the safety of Devil’s Claw.

White Willow/Salix alba is a Willow tree native to Europe and Asia. White Willow bark is mentioned in ancient texts from around the world as a remedy for pain and fever.  Aspirin, which is salicylic acid, is a direct derivative of the active ingredient in White Willow – salicin. When salicin is consumed, it is eventually metabolized to salicylic acid. Salicin has similar pain and anti-inflammatory effects as the NSAID Rofecoxib, but does not have any harmful effects on the stomach.

Yucca Schidigera is a plant indigenous to the Americas with a long folk history of suppressing inflammation. Yucca contains anti-inflammatory phenolics such as Reversatrol and several others referred to collectively as Yuccaols. Yucca also contains substances called steroidal saponins which are very similar in structure to cortisol. It is unknown if these can function as an anti-inflammatory like cortisol but a feeding study in rats found significantly elevated insulin so Yucca should be used with caution, if at all, in horses with insulin resistance or Cushing’s disease.

Phellodendron is a tree whose cork has been utilized in Chinese medicine to control pain and inflammation. Like Devil’s Claw, it has been found to work at the level of DNA to block activation of genes which start the inflammatory process. Clinical trials in people have confirmed the effectiveness.



Eleanor Kellon, VMD, currently serves as the Staff Veterinary Specialist for Uckele Health & Nutrition.  An established authority in the field of equine nutrition for over 30 years, Dr. Kellon is a valuable resource in the field of applications and nutraceuticals in horses. She formerly served as Veterinary Editor for ‘Horse Journal’ and John Lyons ‘Perfect Horse’ and is owner of Equine Nutritional Solutions, a thriving private practice.  A prolific writer, Dr. Kellon is the author of many best-selling books on a variety of medical and nutritional topics and has contributed to both lay and professional publications.


Founded in 1962, Uckele Health & Nutrition has been a trusted leader in the formulation, development and manufacture of quality nutritional supplements for fifty years. With leading edge experience in nutritional research and science, the Uckele team manufactures quality formulas from concept to shelf, formulating a vast array of high potency, balanced nutritional supplements to support optimal health and performance at the highest level.