Mentha (sp.)

Plant history & traditional uses

The Mentha genus is a diverse group of aromatic herbs of the Lamiaceae family, and are amongst the most widely used throughout history, for both culinary and medicinal purposes (Silva 2020). There are 45 species, hundreds of sub-species, and many hybrids (Silva 2020). The most well-known species of mint include Spearmint (Mentha spicata L.), Wild mint (Mentha arvensis L.), Pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium L.), and Peppermint, which is a hybrid (Mentha x Piperita L.) (Silva 2020).  Ancient Babylonian records from 1800 BC include prescriptions of mint for gastrointestinal uses, and mints were likely used as Pharisee currency, according to two passages in the Bible (Silva 2020).

Mints have historically been used for various medicinal purposes, including gastrointestinal support, fertility and libido, hangovers, treating insect bites, repelling insects, anti-inflammatory, respiratory diseases, urinary tract disorders, cardiovascular support, analgesic, as toothpaste, for dermatology issues, epilepsy, and nervous disorders (Silva 2020). 

Pennyroyal is amongst the most potent of mints, with the oil being highly toxic, even having the potential to cause a fatal liver assault. Despite which, it has been used for numerous purposes; culinary use, to induce abortion, settle gastric disorders and relieve gas, for the treatment of colds, influenza, smallpox and tuberculosis (Hadi et al., 2017).

Phytochemical and pharmacological properties

A number of applications exist for the extracts of mint, with cosmetic, culinary, perfumery, and pharmaceutical uses for mint oil, which contains menthol, menthone, isomenthone, 1,8-cineole, borneol, and piperitenone oxide, menthyl acetate, menthofuran, isomenthone, and various other terpenes (Soleimani, 2022). Various oxygenated monoterpenes found in mints are well proven to be the active antimicrobial elements of the plant, in particular menthol which possesses fungistatic, fungicidal, anti-candidal, and anti-protozoan activity (Soleimani, 2022). 

Mentha extract has an effective antispasmodic effect on the gut lumen by calcium channel blockage activity, making mint an effective anti-diarrheal treatment (Shah et al., 2010, Mohammadian & Birgani, 2008). 

Mentha Piperita, Peppermint, has been shown to be an effective antioxidant, with good free radical scavenging capability. M. Piperita is some 6.6 times more powerful than the synthetic antioxidant butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) and 4.17 times more powerful than butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), under laboratory conditions (Sharafi et al., 2010). 

Evidence for use in the treatment of Gastric Ulceration

Mentha Arvensis, Field mint, has demonstrable antiulcer, cytoprotective and acid secretion suppression properties when examined in mice and rat studies, testing numerous models of gastric ulceration induction, including ulceration from the use of NSAIDs (Londonkar & Poddar 2009, Krisnan et al., 2015). Mentha Longifolia, Wild Mint, or Horse Mint has also been demonstrated to have anti-ulcer and gastroprotective properties in in vitro models (Gul et al., 2015). Peppermint oil has been shown to have some antiulcer properties; however, it was observed to be potentially less effective than other herbs such as Fenugreek and Ginger when studied in stress-induced gastric ulcers in rats (Kamel et al., 2014).

Various ulcer induction models were examined in rodents; pylorus ligation, indomethacin induced, and noxious chemical induced, which caused gastric mucosal damage, and Peppermint was found to be an effective gastroprotective compound to varying degrees in all induction models (Rafatulla et al., 2006). Peppermint was found to have anti-secretary actions, similarly to the Omeprazole mode of action, the standard pharmacological treatment for gastric ulcers in horses (Rafatulla et al., 2006). It was also identified as having gastroprotective mechanisms to various histopathological lesions, including congestion, haemorrhage, erosion and ethanol-induced damage in the gastric mucosa. At higher doses, oedema, inflammatory changes and necrosis were inhibited, and at both high and low doses, dysplastic changes were inhibited completely (Rafatulla et al., 2006).

Numerous mechanisms of gastroprotective action have been identified in menthol extract when examined in rodent models:

  • Increased mucus secretion, which prevents physical damage to the epithelium by food and gastric secretions.
  • Scavenges free radicals, thus having an antioxidant effect.
  • Strengthening of the mucosal barrier via disulphide bridges, which maintain the insolubility of mucus.
  • Cytoprotexion from NSAID damage, by maintaining PGE2 levels and preventing the inhibition of the activity of COX-1 and COX-2 isozymes, which are responsible for causing gastric ulceration from NSAID use.
  • Cytoprotection by PGE2 related actions including triggering of bicarbonate and mucus secretion, enhancing mucosal integrity, and having a trophic effect in gastrointestinal mucosa via mitogenic signalling in the mucosal cells.
  • Decreasing gastric motility, with menthol extract having antiperistaltic effects, which provide antiulcer action via relaxing the rugal folds in the stomach and thus increasing the volume of area exposed and reducing the area of potentially damaging agents on the rugal crests.

(Rozza et al., 2013)


Turmeric (Curcuma Longa/Curcuma Zedoaria/Curcuma Xanthorrhiza) 

Plant history & traditional uses

 Turmeric is a rhizomatous herb of the Zingiberaceae family, with a long history of culinary and traditional medicinal uses including stimulant, carminative, expectorant, demulcent, dyspepsia, diuretic, antipyretic, flatulence, acne, psoriasis, dermatitis, jaundice, liver and urinary disease, and coughs and colds (Lobo et al 2009, Gilani 2005, Gupta et al 2013). 

Phytochemical and pharmacological properties 

Turmeric is rich in biologically active compounds, such as terpenes and polyphenols, with more than 100 clinical trials in humans being carried out to explore the potential of turmeric against a vast array of conditions, with numerous proven pharmacological characteristics identified including: antimicrobial, anticancer, pulmonary health, antidiabetic, metabolic support, antiallergic and analgesic activity (Lobo et al 2009, Gilani 2005, Gupta et al 2013). Safety and efficacy of turmeric is well proven, with trials in various species concluding it to be a safe and effective treatment option for a variety of diseases (Gupta et al 2013). 

Evidence for use in the treatment of Gastric Ulceration 

Turmeric has been demonstrated to be an effective treatment and preventative of gastric ulceration in rodent trials for over 30 years, against many different inducement methods; reserpine, ligation and indomethacin, via anti-secretary, mucogenic, antioxidant and cytoprotective mechanisms (Rafatullah 1990). More recent research also found turmeric to provide effective gastroprotection against NSAID induced ulceration in rodents, via antioxidant and anti-inflammatory mechanisms (Chattopadhyay et al 2006). In human trials, turmeric was found to be an effective curative compound against peptic ulcers, with 20 of 25 patients showing complete healing under gastroscopic examination (Prucksunand et al 2001). In vitro trials have also uncovered anti-secretary properties, blocking H+K+-ATPase activity, the same mode of action as Omeprazole, in addition to antioxidant and cytoprotective activity (Harsha et al 2016.) Some concern has been raised regarding the irritant effect of turmeric on the gastrointestinal mucosa of horses, being as it is a very commonly used herb in horse feed and supplements, but trials have found this concern to be unfounded (Blanc et al 2022). It has been demonstrated that turmeric has a gastroprotective effect and can prevent ulcer development in horses who are stabled for extended periods, and horses who are deprived of feed for extended periods – both known risk factors in gastric ulcer development in horses (Andrews et al 2014, Fletcher and Gough 2019). Available as a straight herb in 1kg bags


Rigonella Foenum-Graecum

Plant history & traditional uses

Fenugreek is an herb of the Fabacecae, or legume/bean, family, with the name Foenum-Graecum which translates as ‘greek hay’, as it was historically used to increase the palatability of low-quality hay (Snehlata & Patal 2012). It has pale yellow triangular flowers and grows between 40 – 60 cm in height (Sauvaire et al., 2000). The seed and the leaf of Fenugreek have been used traditionally in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, in addition to use as a condiment, in perfumery, and was even used in the mummification process in ancient Egypt (Smith 2003, Sauvaire et al., 2000). Fenugreek has historically been used medicinally for numerous purposes, including; indigestion, metabolism, appetite stimulant, inducing labour, inducing lactation, weakness, limb oedema, baldness, kidney disease, arthritis, bronchitis, male reproductive tract infections and as a general tonic (Smith 2003, Snehlata & Patal 2012, Sauvaire et al., 2000). Fenugreek is commonly supplemented in horses’ diets for a variety of health reasons (Elghandour et al., 2018).

Phytochemical and pharmacological properties
Fenugreek possesses a distinct and unique amino acid composition profile and a high protein content, up to 32%, with the unusual dominance of 4-hydroxyisoleucine (Table 5) (Sauvaire et al., 2000). Fenugreek seeds have been demonstrated to possess both hypoglycaemic and antihyperlipidemic properties in human and animal trials (Smith 2003). There are various mechanisms by which Fenugreek seeds exert hypoglycaemic action; the seed is rich in saponins, which reduce glucose absorption in the digestive tract by transforming to sapogenins and delaying glucose absorption (Smith 2003). Fenugreek seeds also induce glucose-dependent insulin secretion and inhibit the action of two enzymes necessary for carbohydrate metabolism, alpha-amylase and sucrase (Ajabnoor  et al., 1988, Amin et al., 1987, Tahiliani and Kar 2003). No equine specific studies were identifiable at this time, but exploring the use of fenugreek in horses with insulin resistance or with equine metabolic syndrome could potentially prove a useful source of biological compounds.

Evidence for use in the treatment of Gastric Ulceration  
Fenugreek seed gel was found to be more effective than omeprazole in preventing the formation of ulcer lesions and had superior cytoprotective actions when compared to misoprostol sodium (Pandian et al., 2002, Figer et al., 2017). Fenugreek seed exerted an anti-secretary action in ethanol-induced gastric ulceration in rat studies, demonstrating significant gastroprotective and anti-ulcer properties (Pandian et al., 2002). Amino acids present in Fenugreek seed inhibit the H+/K+ ATPase pump action and thus have the same pharmacological mode of action as Omeprazole (Figer et al., 2017). Fenugreek has high antioxidant activity, which as previously discussed, is also advantageous to the healing and prevention of gastric ulcers. Fenugreek has been studied extensively, particularly in human trials and in vitro, but also in other species, and has been demonstrated to possess numerous mechanisms which may be beneficial to the recovery from gastric ulceration (Shushama et al., 2011). 

Fenugreek oil has been demonstrated to be more effective than Ranitidine as a therapeutic treatment for gastric ulceration in rat trials and was found to have effective gastro-protective mechanisms, efficiently preventing the development of gastric ulceration (Kamel et al., 2014). Fenugreek oil elicited a significant increase in serum Superoxide Dismutase and Glycated Serum Protein counts, and a significant decrease in malondialdehyde values in the rat studies (Kamel et al., 2014). Fenugreek elicits a cytoprotective mechanism on the mucosa, by preventing upregulated ethanol-induced lipid peroxidation which consequently prevents mucosal damage via potent antioxidant mechanisms (Kulczsar et al., 2022).
Fenugreek has demonstrable preventative and curative actions against gastric ulceration in rat trials, via two mechanisms; anti-secretary properties which reduce gastric acidity, and cytoprotection by enhancing the mucosal antioxidant capacity (Kulczsar et al., 2022, Luca et al., 2017). 


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