Thursday, February 11, 2010

Lamina Saver: The scoop on this supplement Part 2

So if you read Part 1 of this story, you know I made an impulse purchase of the product LaminaSaver (LS)TM. Here is what I learned about it post-purchase. There is a lot of info so this will end up being a three part series, with a full reference list at the end of Part 3.

About the manufacturer

The manufacturer of LS, Figuerola Labs, was founded in 1992 by a husband/wife team. The company is featured in a Holistic Horse article. It's a little alarming to read the biographical info of the Veterinary Science Division President (the wife). She carries the title Dr., but neither the article or web site say what doctoral degree is held. In fact no professional credentials are given except to say she has been a fashion model and jewelry designer. Are you scared yet? I am.

A Chinese herb
Lamina Saver
(LS) doesn't reveal its ingredients but lists a goofily-named proprietary substance Restaurex -- sounds like a cleaning agent for food service. Anyway, according to those involved in testing LS, the main ingredient is Jiaogulan. Jiaogulan (a Chinese herb) can be purchased for $13/lb from health food stores, while LS costs $100/lb. Maybe LS offers a more complex or potent formulation -- but they ain't tellin.'

What does Jiaogulan do?
Jiaogulan, or Gynostemma pentaphyllum, is a Chinese herb that has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and other beneficial properties. It is thought to help release nitric oxide which enhances circulation, relaxing the blood vessels to facilitate blood flow. Some researchers feel that circulation in the laminitic foot is compromised, so in theory Jiaogulan could help. From the databases I have access to and the sources consulted, there are no published, controlled studies of Jiaogulan use in horses.

Dr. Eleanor Kellon and Horse Journal
A veterinarian in PA, Dr. Eleanor Kellon (see bio), has done some field/case studies on Jiaogulan -- no control group, all volunteer subjects. Such studies can be tough to interpret, and the results (to me) are not that compelling without a control group for comparison. Kellon, who specializes in natural remedies, is fairly reserved in her recommendation for Jiaogulan. She promotes Jiaogulan as one part of a comprehensive care plan for laminitis, and she advises clients to use care in determining the proper dosage. What seems odd to me is that she is on the editorial board of The Horse Journal, where both LS and Jiagulan have been touted repeatedly as treatment for laminitis. Here are some quotes from reports in Horse Journal about LS:

“LaminaSaver lives up to its claims.”
“We’ve never seen anything like it for treating chronic laminitis.”
“We had incredible results with LaminaSaver.”
Horse Journal, June 2002—

Those quotes are pretty much a ringing endorsement, aren't they? I wonder that Kellon didn't exercise some editorial control over these articles. And did Horse Journal investigate the credentials of the manufacturer, Figuerola Labs? That would seem to be part of due diligence. Robert Oglesby commentary
Not everyone in the veterinary world agrees with Horse Journal's methods for reviewing products. In the veterinarian-moderated forum, both Jiaogulan and Lamina Saver were discussed in two separate threads. In a thread on Jiaogulan, Robert N. Oglesby DVM was skeptical of the herb, and he advised readers to be cautious about the medical reporting in the Horse Journal. He writes, "The lack of careful control and double blinding makes the reporting subjective." In a thread on Lamina Saver he referred to Horse Journal's study of the product as "sloppy medical reporting."

New Bolton commentary
In Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog article on new drugs for laminitis, Jurga reported on research looking at Viagra as a laminitis treatment. Dr. Dean Richardson at New Bolton was interviewed about the research, and his response was unenthusiastic. He spoke out against indiscriminately trying out substances on horses when little is known about how they work in the body. Jiaogulan was mentioned briefly in this context (in the comments).

It's not sounding too good, is it? There is more on this subject than I expected. Stay tuned for Part 3...


  1. Research can be frustrating, enlightening, and upsetting sometimes. So far you have made some interesting discoveries pointing in a more negative, then positive direction. I will be very interested in reading parts 2 & 3 or II & III, as the case may be. *S*

  2. You're a good researcher. I get frustrated/bored/confused long before I get that far into a research project lol. It's never been my strong point. Can't wait to hear the conclusion.

  3. Good info! It's not easy to track down what's really in the "proprietary" formulations. I like to think of them as "hope in a jar."

  4. wow, you sure keep the suspence building...thanks for sharing with us your findings

  5. No offense to those who believe in Chinese herbs, but you seem to be jumping the healing gun a bit.

    It was a huge surgery that is going to take a while to recover from. Probably the best supplement is a balanced diet and a watchful eye for infection :/

  6. Helen I know you're right about that. As he started going on turnout, I started checking his digital pulse. I'm not experienced in this but the injured hoof had a stronger pulse -- and he is far enuf in the healing process that this should not be. I don't want to back him off turnout. I thought the LS might help with any inflammation that might be percolating. But again, I'm not confident in my pulse-feeling abilities. There may be nothing going on in there...

  7. My horse had metabolic disorder. Per the recommendation of a farrier I had at the time, I put him on Jiaogulan. I don't know if it helped or not, but I could tell it was starting to make him spookier than normal (he was an Arabian.) so I quit. A product I did have success with in helping his inflammation in his feet was Ukele Phyto-quench. However, after I started him on Equipride, I quit the phyto-quench. That and the grazing muzzle helped his feet calm down.
    The problem with some of these products is that the horses can't tell us if they are having an affect or side affects. The farrier that recommended it said that it made one of her clients horses, another Arabian, spookier, too.
    The product is way over priced.

  8. Also, it took just a teeny bit of the jiaogulan. So I wonder if LS is a bunch of filler.

  9. Kudos to you for highlighting the importance of looking for real science that will support (or disprove) the claims of a particular supplement. We must never forget that the horse supplement industry is completely unregulated. Manufactures are free to make whatever claims they wish. There are certainly some good supplement manufactures out there that do safety (which is often overlooked but extremely important) and efficacy research, but they are unfortunately few and far between. And these so-called "independant" publications that claim their limited field trials are akin to real scientific research are mis-leading the horse-owning public IMO. Thank you for addressing this very important topic (which is a passion of mine too)!

  10. I work for a nutrition company (mainly equine). You would be SHOCKED at what goes into some of these supplements, who designs the formulas, and where they are produced. Almost none have good solid science behind them. I know of semi-well known supplements that are mixed in the person's backyard. So many top company's use cheaper, poorly made ingredients. We still see a difference in our animals because even the cheap ingredients do more than nothing.

    Another side not and I'll probably be eaten alive for this one but take a look at Platinum Performance. Great advertising campain, not so great product (not bad-just not great). They have lots of filers, their "organic trace mineral package" to my knowledge is a bad one without a one to one ratio with the amino acids and low-grade organics. In addition the ratio's of some of their vitamins and minerals are off.

    Figuerola labs has a semi-poor rap in the industry. Mainly for all the reasons you have brought up.

    The stories you hear in this industry are crazy.

  11. Great research on this stuff. I wonder how on earth they convinced people to buy it! Looking forward to part 3.

  12. According to the information I found, Rossana Figuerola has a PHD in Naturopathic Medicine and a Masters Degree in Animal Science. In addition, she has been raising horses her entire life. I always try to proceed with caution when giving any type of food/supplement to my horses. After reading the science behind their products (they offer products for horses, dogs, cats and humans)I decided to try it. I haven't received it yet, but I am hopeful that it will help. Perhaps their "semi-poor rap" in the industry is because they offer a product that might actually work and the dominant companies of the supplement market haven't figuered out how to duplicate it. Just offering a different perspective. I'll know soon enough - it should arrive today.

  13. The degree awarded for Naturopathic Medicine seems to be N.D. not PhD. Many of the Naturopathic medicine programs are online only. I found two residential programs in the Peterson's guide to grad schools.

    More importantly, the ND is not a research degree. Masters in Animal Science? My dad has one from Purdue University -- I don't think that's an adequate qualification, personally.

    That said, I hope you have luck with this treatment.

  14. I have used it on three different cases of laminitis with excellent results. None of the horses had gained much relief with bute or banamine but showed significant pain relief after 24hrs of lamina saver.
    One was a stallion that foundered/rotated/sank in all four hooves from Potomac horse fever. When this happens 99% of the horses die from complications. He did have excellent podiatry care from Rood and Riddle but I kept him at home the whole time so had compete records of what worked and what didn't.
    Second was mare that foundered two days after recieving spring vaccinations. Was in February, no grass- so vaccines were the trigger.
    Third was a spring freeze mild founder in another mare.

    I don't think there is a miracle cure, but the difference in the horses when I run out of the product in their healing process was extremely noticeable as was the change in their behavior after starting on it. That's enough for me.

  15. Has anyone has an issue with the LaminaSaver smelling so bad that the horse won't touch it? It smells like fermenting, rotting yeast and the mar eit was purchased for won't go near it, even if I grind up her favorite apple biscuits and mix that in. I have an email into Figuerola Labs and am waiting their comments.

  16. My mini severely foundered in all four feet and could barely walk for 4 and 1/2 years. I tried bute, Bute-Less, anything that made a promise, with no improvement. After three days on Lamina Saver I noticed significant improvement, and last week, after three months, he trotted away from me when I tried to catch him. I'm a believer.

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