Humic Substances: Equine Support Against Toxic Environments

By Shari Frederick

HHH: Horse health begins with eating quality plants grown in nutrient rich soils.
Sadly, today’s soils and plants are nutrient deficient due to many common but counterproductive practices - the use of chemical fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, pollution, erosion, using non-sustainable growing practices, and more. All of these (mis)management practices affect soil and nutrient quality - not just in crop fields, but everywhere. Therefore our horses are not getting valuable immune boosting elements such as the humates: humic acid and fulvic acid, obtained from humus (the brown-black material resulting from decomposition of plant or animal matter, the organic portion of soil). Fulvic acids are in higher content in the humus of forest soils and humic acids are in higher content in the humus of peat and grassland soils.

Without fertile healthy soils, our plants will not possess the life-sustaining nutrients needed for their well-being and for that of the horses who eat them. In other words, a poor quality plant offers little benefit; worse, it doesn’t leave much nutrition for the next generation of plants when it dies and decomposes. Environmental pollution, including chemical fertilizers, contributes to plant decline. Test soil quality - low humus soil is compact, may hold salts, dries out (humic acid gives clay and other soils the ability to 'gelatinize' and retain moisture) and renders trace minerals unavailable.  The goal would be to restore soils to at least a 5% soil humus level and use organic fertilizers (not synthetic); today’s soils hold an average of less than 3% humus. Man has interrupted, over decades, nature’s perfect balance by taking more from the soil than they give back. Over time, we can naturally rebuild soil humus levels with less damaging practices like better plant/crop selection and simple soil amendments. This applies to backyard horse owners, gardeners, large stables, nurseries and extensive land owners alike. All soil can and should be improved for future generations.

HHH: Poor quality foods and grasses burden digestion and lower equine immune systems.
When horses eat nutritionally incomplete food, digestion is more difficult which creates toxins, further taxing their immune system. Digestively, humic and fulvic acids can chelate heavy metal buildup which results in fewer burdens on your horse’s intestinal tract. Humates stimulate microbial activity, enabling the gut to digest food more efficiently and resulting in less loss of nutrients through feces, with the added benefit of less ammonia and other odor causing elements in manure. Humic acid generates the means to carry fulvic acid to the cells. Together they work as a team.  Fortunately, nutrient rich organic feeds are commercially available. This doesn’t mean we can bypass our obligation to build back what man is destroying; it simply means we have excellent choices and supports while we strive for the return of balance in nature.

HHH: Select or grow feeds naturally and organically for the well being of your horse.
Farmers and gardeners know that humates naturally exist in soils, animals and plants as part of the food chain. They also can be added to deficient soils in natural organic fertilizer or actual basic humate. Humic acid in plants increases root formation, hence more nutrient uptake, increased photosynthesis (deeper coloration), improved taste, longer shelf life, higher quality, greater immune support, increased seed germination and in turn greater fruit yields. Fulvic acid is a valuable and efficient cellular electrolyte that chelates (binds with) and carries trace minerals to the plant. This creates crops filled with digestible, readily available, easily absorbed trace minerals, which are in turn consumed by humans and animals. Animal studies also reveal an increase in feed efficiency when humates are included. Quality supplemental humates, humic and fulvic acids and trace minerals are available until more holistic management by farmers and ranchers can rebuild our soils.

HHH: Fulvic acid neutralizes pesticides, herbicides and other poisons.
Studies show humic substances rapidly neutralize the herbicide paraquat. And it is fulvic acid in plants that enhances availability of nutrients and makes them more easily absorbed, by carrying minerals through cell walls. Fulvic acid, probably the most powerful electrolyte known to man, restores electrical balance to damaged cells. It has also been used successfully against food poisoning, with rapid results. Unpaired electrons, also known as free radicals, are neutralized by fulvic acid’s ability to supply an equal or opposite charge to these damaging scavenger pollutants.

HHH: Seek 70% fulvic and humic acids supplementation for your horses.
Although there are a few different companies who make fulvic and humic acids for equine use, they are of varying qualities. The good news is that even with very small amounts of humic and fulvic acids, your horse can still benefit. But why not get your money’s worth and also your “healthy horses’ worth” from quality products and accurate labeling? Take the time to read about the product you select.

HHH: Immuno-compromised EPM horses can benefit from humic and fulvic acids.
Topical spray and oral fulvic acid are said to regulate the immune system. Also, there is indication of discriminate stimulation of “good” microbes while suppressing the “bad”; a big plus for over-acid horses, such as is common with EPM (Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis), an environmental parasitic disease syndrome. Together, fulvic and humic acids act as powerful immuno-modulators and are valuable supports for maintaining healthy immune balance; a key combative against environmental illnesses. Humic acid is also known to attack virus-laden cells. Studies reveal that humic acid dilates a healthy cell so it is permeable and can be entered by its partner, fulvic acid. Once humic acid finds a virus, it blocks it, preventing it from attacking a healthy cell and alerting the immune system of the invader. Once the virus is prohibited from reproducing, the body can focus on getting rid of the virus even before illness is exhibited in the horse.

HHH: Humates support faster healing of ankle inflammation in sport horses.
Research shows that the red blood cells likely carry more oxygen with the presence of humates, contributing to quicker healing times. Not only has swelling reduction been noted, also observed have been signs of bonding to collagen fibers to aid in repair to damaged tendons and bones! Humates are shown to balance T cells, which can attack bone and joints causing arthritis and auto-immune diseases; both known as environmental illnesses. Studies link low levels of antioxidants with some auto-immune diseases, stating that they may otherwise normally mop up byproducts of inflammation such as damaging free radicals. Fulvic acid administered topically and orally works as a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. High success rates are also seen when using humic acid as a bath therapy treatment.

HHH: Performance horses can benefit from increased blood oxygen from humates.
Often the secret weapon of trainers, humates have proven staunch support for competitive horses; often shaving valuable seconds off the clock.  Documents show humate intake improves calcium transfer to the skeleton, enhances liver function, assists with natural cell division without mutation, and helps to maintain and enhance the balance of minerals and trace elements. Show horses are less affected by stress when fed fulvic and humic acids. Humates are reported to suppress, and even block, the production of stress hormones which otherwise might be produced in horses stressed by crowds and unfamiliar surroundings like trailers, temporary stalls and arenas.

HHH: Humates are linked to the transfer of valuable immune defenses to offspring.
Universally, horses on humates respond with sustained well-being and ongoing strong constitutions. Paralleling scientific studies of the 'transfer factor', when immune system cells have battled certain diseases, they warn other cells who “remember” the enemy and how to attack it. Fulvic acid has a unique messaging relay system that transfers information related to immunity, which is passed up the food chain from one organism to the next.

HHH: Horses can benefit from fulvic acid’s tremendous detoxifying properties.
Humic and fulvic acids for the horse are organic compounds that assist detoxification. In the soil, fulvic acid acts as a filter for toxic metals by immobilizing them. Fulvic acid chelates important metals (copper, iron, zinc), places a neutral charge on others (lead and mercury), and binds others in an insoluble form (radioactive isotope contaminants). Only beneficial metals enter the food chain with sufficient fulvic acid present. This is important for the plants your horse eventually consumes.  By the same action, fulvic acid has the capability of removing these toxic metals from the horse’s body.

HHH: Humic and fulvic acids should be a barn staple for horses of all ages.
Horses are exposed to over 70,000 environmental chemicals known as xenoestrogens (estrogen mimic) in the air, water and food. The bombardment of these and other pollutants cannot be ignored. Give your horses the immune support they need. With restoration of the basics of humate, natural systems support an overall healthier animal (inside and out), who is less prone to disease and exhibits faster recovery times from injury or illness caused by our toxic environment. Healthy organic hay and other forage raised in unpolluted soils that are rich in humus will naturally convey these nutrients to the animals who eat them, resulting in better nutrition and overall health.hoofprint


About the author:

Shari Frederick BS, NMD, LE began her love of horses in 1975, showing quarter horses at the Fort Worth, TX stockyards. As a nutritional educator in over 15 countries worldwide over the past 25 years, she is a staunch supporter of "Truth in Labeling" for ALL manufacturers. Shari has a regular column in Equine Times and is a Safety-Certified Riding Instructor from the AAHS.  Happy Horse Haven, 70-140 acres that Shari made available for equine rescue and rehabilitation, was recently established in January 2006.  Each horse has been placed on a specific nutritional program with excellent results, and Shari hopes to be adopting out these loving horses to responsible homes in the near future.