How beneficial are Essential Oils to Equines?

Product development driven by science.

With the breakthrough in bio-science and our greater understanding of the microbiome, we can significantly improve equine products by re-evaluating ingredients used on our horses, specifically how each interacts with skin on a cellular level.

Applying this knowledge, particularly towards the effectual use of essential oils in Pure Steed products has enabled us to create an unrivalled range, as gentle as it is sophisticated.

Essential oils are therapeutic, highly volatile, bioactive compounds that readily absorb into the skin. However, this volatility and strong antimicrobial effect often destabilise qualities such as pH balance and indiscriminately target the skin's own commensal good bacteria that are vital towards your equine's health.

Whilst the anti-microbial and antiseptic qualities of essential oils has made them desirable, using them regularly can be detrimental to your horses' complex skin-biome ecosystem - particularly for horses' with sensitive skin. Routine exposure to essential oils is also linked to delayed hypersensitivity, hyperpigmentation, and photosensitivity among other issues.

Many essential oils popularly used to fragrance equine products are also well-known skin irritants and allergens (e.g. citrus-based (including bergamot) and mint-based oils such as peppermint) yet the consumer still readily applies these to their horses' skin, and the products themselves advocate safe daily use.

The volatile fragrant portion of plants is what makes essential oil for skin problematic—given these same compounds can be beneficial for health, too. This duality makes using Essential Oils confounding, their use to combat specific short-term ailments and boost anti-oxidants is of great benefit and is not to be over-looked, however a more considered, educated approach to their use in skin and hair care is being adopted globally.

Why just a hint of lavender?

We adhered strictly to our SafeSuds™ protocol in the selection of all our ingredients. The inclusion of Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Essential Oil was based on multiple scientific findings; aromatic benefits, an equine's sensory abilities, and measures asserting skin-barrier affinity.

Whilst there are several claims and hypotheses that aroma therapy is beneficial to equines, we were only able to source one published study that confirmed a physiological benefit.

In 2018 a research study at the University of Arizona, conducted by Isabelle Chea and Professor Ann Baldwin, found that lavender was the only scent that produced a calming effect on equines.

The benefit of the fragrance was only present when the lavender was being 'actively smelled'. The horses’ heart rates didn’t change, but the parasympathetic component of their heart rate variability did thus indicating a reduction in stress levels.

Horses have a highly developed sense of smell, far more so than humans (approximately 50 times greater).

Our product development is powered by science to create unrivalled-luxury products that your horse will love, and owners can trust. We believe equine products should be fragranced FOR HORSES, where a physiological benefit can be achieved rather than for our own personal pleasure and preference.

Equine products that present heavily fragranced, combining multiple essential oils or synthetic perfumes for a full bouquet do so at the expense of a horse's microbiota. 

The equine industry also faces the common occurrence of 'eco-dusting where essential oils are used indiscriminately to enable labelling and marketing to promote 'organic', 'natural' and 'essential oil' ingredients. Even if there are very little to no gains, or possibly adversaries to the application of the ingredients to your horse.

Pure Steed products are fragranced with a hint of Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Essential Oil using an amount that does not compromise the complex skin-biome or assault the horses' sensitive sense of smell. 

Whilst it may appear subtle to you, we guarantee your horse will thank you for it.


‘The Science’ Blog - © Pure Steed 2023.
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