Research Show Weak Immune System May Help Explain Fatigue in Horses and Humans

A recent study by Thomas Birchler of Zurich University Hospital indicates that fatigue may be linked to a weak immune system and chronic inflammation.

Birchler’s study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, focused on the body’s biological clock and may help explain the phenomenon of fatigue. The study provided evidence that inflammation and a compromised immune system leads the body to conserve energy. Lethargy and rest are ways by which the body conserves energy in order for the immune system to regain balance and build up its ability to fight off infection and inflammatory changes.

Fatigue is something experienced not only by humans, but also animals, including horses. Most riders have a distinct, innate feeling as to how well their horses are performing, similar to the same feeling within their own bodies. Every person and/or animal occasionally experiences tiredness and fatigue. It is the body’s way of telling us that we need time to rest and sleep. However, when this feeling of fatigue becomes persistent, it is usually a sign that something more serious may be happening.

Fatigue is defined as physical and/or mental exhaustion. It can be triggered by stress, medication, overwork, mental and physical illness or disease, or inadequate or inappropriate nutrition.

We often hear riders complain that ‘an infection or inflammatory condition’ is responsible for a horse’s poor performance during a race or other competitive event. We could probably call this ‘poor performance syndrome.’ However, what most people don’t realize is that poor performance in any human or animal may be a symptom of many different disorders or diseases, as well as lifestyle choices. Hence, diagnosis may not be immediately apparent.

Chinese medicine regards fatigue as a blockage or misalignment of energy flow in the body. In other words, the body is out of balance and responds by slowing down in an attempt to realign and harmonize energy flows within the human and/or animal body. We hear everyday about the importance of a well-functioning immune system to protect us against infection or inflammatory diseases. But over the past several years, there have been medical hints that fatigue may be the body’s response to chronic inflammation or infection.

The role of the immune system is to maintain balance (homeostasis) in the body. When the immune system is working properly, a body remains healthy. When the immune system weakens and becomes less effective, the results are:

* Fatigue and loss of energy
* Frequent colds and infections
* Loss of appetite and weight loss
* Inability to concentrate and focus

The solution to the problems above is to bring the system back into balance before it deteriorates further. Further deterioration can result in more serious illnesses such as chronic fatigue, cancer, and serious viral infections such as HIV, and in the horse, diseases such as Equine Herpes and Strangles.

We have all been told that ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.’ The best prevention for immune system dysfunction, whether in the human or the horse, is proper nutrition. It was Hippocrates, the early Greek physician, who stated, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Most people are convinced of the role of food in both causing and relieving their health problems, yet many doctors’ knowledge of nutrition is rudimentary. Many doctors feel more comfortable with drugs than foods and the “ food is medicine” philosophy of Hippocrates has been neglected. Recent data has shown that mushrooms represent the ‘nutritional key to the lock.’

Humans and animals have evolved with complex physiologic systems based on the principal of survival. It is only logical that a complex system requires a complex nutrient supplement, such as that which is only found in mushrooms. Mushrooms are millions of years old and have developed an organic complex matrix of bioactive substances that addresses the physiologic needs and requirements of humans and animals in a uniquely efficient and effective manner.

Horse health news is brought to you today by the Mushroom Matrix, produced by Golden Gourmet Mushrooms of San Marcos, California. Matrix products are 100 percent certified organic nutritional supplements available in formulas for horses, humans and small animals. The Matrix proprietary blends contain up to ten of nature’s most powerful medicinal mushroom species and are engineered to address the physiological requirements of both humans and animals in a uniquely efficient and effective manner. More information on Matrix nutritional supplements can be found at