Calm mix has always been our best seller, so when we found out that we had to change the formulation to adhere to the UK (and now South African) regulations, I was more than a little nervous.
You see, we always had the edge on other calming supplements, because we used 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) instead of Tryptophan. This was one step closer to the calming Serotonin (the happiness molecule in your horse’s brain), and eliminated a lot of problems like wastage (with Tryptophan being used for other things) and feedback inhibition (where high levels of tryptophan signal the breakdown of tryptophan).
But then I came across a paper on the use of Vitamin D3 in autistic children. Vitamin D3, the researchers had found, sped up the conversion of Tryptophan to 5-HTP and thus also the conversion of 5-HTP to Serotonin. Which helped autistic children. And yes, it would help our uncalm horses as well! So, Vitamin D3 was added to the new formulation.
The other ingredient which we added was Niacin. Niacin acts as a co-factor in the same reaction, so further facilitates Serotonin formation.
We kept the Magnesium and Vitamin B1 – if your horse is deficient in either of these, it will not be a calm horse. And while we’re discussing this, I believe that the RDA for both in horses should be revised upwards. Too many horses respond well to supplementation, which tells us that they are not getting enough.
Ginkgo biloba has beneficial effects on circulation, brain function and inflammation. But, a lesser known effect is on anxiety. A human study found a 45% decrease in anxiety using Ginkgo biloba. So Ginkgo too went into this version of Calm mix.
But the really irresistible ingredient was Gotu kola (aka Centella asiatica). I found a study that showed this herb decreased the ‘startle response’ significantly compared to placebo. I think every single horse rider I know would enjoy a horse with a lower startle response!