Ask Dr. Harman: Papaya and Ulcers

Question: I have a gelding that has recently been diagnosed with ulcers. I was doing some research, and noticed that there are increasing recommendations of incorporating papaya into horses’ diets to soothe stomachs. What are your thoughts on this? 
Answer: Papaya contains enzymes that can enhance digestion and compounds that increase mucous production in the digestive tract. Papaya has been used successfully for ulcers in the equine very safely for many years. And it can be fed for long periods time without side effects. The one precaution with feeding it pertains to horses that are insulin resistant and sensitive to carbohydrates. The sugars present are moderate on the glycemic index scale (a measure of how fast carbohydrates are released into the blood stream as glucose and consequently how much effect it has on the insulin and carbohydrate metabolism). Horses with laminitis, insulin resistance or obesity problems would be better using a low sugar product, such as distilled Aloe, herbal digestive balancers (Hilton Herb Digest Support or Hilton Herbs Digest Plus ), or Chinese herbal formulas.

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