You may have heard of turmeric (curcuma longa), a culinary spice often used to season Indian dishes. However, turmeric is also gaining popularity as a nutritional supplement for humans and animals alike. In truth, turmeric has been used medicinally for years in both ayurvedic and Chinese cultures, but it seems people in the West are just now catching on.
Many people take turmeric supplements for arthritis or other inflammatory conditions, and the purpose is very much the same when feeding turmeric to horses.
Additionally, turmeric has been shown to support:
- Increased gastric wall mucus production, which helps protect the stomach lining and heal ulcers;
- Healthy immune and respiratory system function;
- Treatment of sarcoids and other skin conditions.
When searching for a turmeric supplement, you may see it labeled as curcumin. This is the active ingredient in turmeric which gives the spice its bright yellow pigment and has also been associated with turmeric’s therapeutic effects. More specifically, curcumin is believed to contain antioxidant (neutralizing damaging free radicals), anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and antibacterial properties.
Human studies have shown that curcumin reduces inflammation and pain by inhibiting COX-2, but not COX-1 enzymes. This is important because drugs that inhibit COX-1 enzymes (such as bute and other NSAIDs) can decrease the natural, protective mucus lining of the stomach, potentially causing intestinal bleeding and ulcers—especially if used long-term. Firocoxib (Equioxx) is currently the only equine pain-relieving drug which acts similarly to curcumin (as a COX-2 inhibitor), but curcumin supplementation is often far less expensive.
Since performance horses commonly suffer from some degree of osteoarthritis or inflammation in the joints or soft tissue, turmeric may be a good option to support healthy cartilage, synovial fluid in the joints, and pain management.
You can find turmeric in bulk in most health food stores as well as many online locations, but unfortunately, turmeric, alone, has poor bioavailability. Another potential problem is that natural turmeric only contains about 3% curcumin, which is the component with the most health benefits.
There is some good news though: It’s been found that feeding Omega 3 fatty acids in conjunction with turmeric can dramatically increase its absorption, and adding piperine, an extract of black pepper, appears to further increase the bioavailability of curcumin. It’s believed that piperine affects certain digestive enzymes, allowing more time for the curcumin to be absorbed by the body.
At Peak Performance Nutrients, we carry a unique equine turmeric product called TumeriGOLD. This product uses a highly concentrated, extracted form of turmeric and includes Omega 3 fatty acids, as well as Bioperene® standardized piperine black pepper extract.
While other turmeric products often only provide 1% curcumin, fifteen grams of TumeriGOLD is all that’s needed to ensure your horse will receive the full, therapeutic benefits of curcumin.
*BioPerine® is a registered trademark of Sabinsa