The effect of herbal supplementation on the severity of exercise-induced pulmonary haemorrhage


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Abstract

Exercise-induced pulmonary haemorrhage (EIPH) is a serious condition that affects the health and possibly the performance of all racehorses. However, only two treatments, furosemide and the Flair™ equine nasal strip, both of which reduce capillary transmural pressure, have been successful in reducing EIPH. Alternatively, transient impairment of platelet function and coagulation during exercise has been considered an additional contributor to EIPH. Consequently, herbal formulations designed to enhance platelet function, and hence coagulation, are hypothesized to reduce EIPH. To investigate the validity of this hypothesis, five Thoroughbred horses completed three maximal incremental exercise tests on a 10% inclined treadmill in a randomized cross-over design experiment. Treatments included twice daily oral administration (for 3 days) of a placebo (PL; cornstarch) and two herbal formulas, Yunnan Paiyao (YP) or Single Immortal (SI). Blood samples for coagulation profiles, complete blood counts and biochemistry profiles were collected before each exercise test. During each test, pulmonary arterial pressure, oxygen uptake, arterial blood gases, plasma lactate and time-to-fatigue were measured. Severity of EIPH was quantified via bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) at 30–60 min post-exercise. The herbal formulations were not effective in decreasing EIPH (× 106 red blood cells ml−1 BAL fluid: PL, 27.1±11.6; YP, 33.2±23.4; SI, 35.3±15.4, P > 0.05) or in changing any of the other variables measured with the exception of time-to-fatigue, which was slightly but significantly prolonged by Single Immortal compared with placebo and Yunnan Paiyao (PL, 670±9.6 s; YP, 665±5.5 s; SI, 685±7.9 s, P < 0.05). Thus, these results do not support the use of these herbal formulations in the prevention of EIPH.

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