Turmeric is commonly known as a yellow-gold or orange spice extracted from the rhizome of a plant that grows mostly in India, the Curcuma Longa, belonging to the Zingiberaceace family.
Traditionally, Ayurvedic Medicine and Chinese Medicine use this plant for its many beneficial properties in both human and veterinary medicine, thanks to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant action in joint pathologies. Even if recent evidence of anti-cancer activities has renewed scientific interest in its potential to prevent and treat diseases in both human and animals.
The most active ingredient contained in turmeric is curcumin, one of the multiple fat-soluble pigments called curcuminoids, that works by blocking cytokines and pro-inflammatory enzymes (COX-2), target of a category of anti-inflammatory (anti COX-2) widely used in veterinary medicine. The National Institute of Health has done several scientific studies on the properties of curcumin and the American Academy of Pain Management has written and discussed an article on pain relief benefits in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis in humans. Turmeric has many other benefits such as: coadjuvant action in anti-parasitic therapy (like another orange-colored friend: pumpkin), in the treatment of epilepsy, of depression (eh, yes, even animals get depressed and… it’s our fault) or in the treatment of digestive disorders or diarrhoea.
How to give turmeric to animals?
Several experts have observed that the bioavailability of orally administered curcumin is relatively low but there are few tips that can help to increase the absorption in the body. For sure curcumin taken orally may reach sufficient concentrations in the gastrointestinal tract and protect the intestinal mucosa against oxidative damage. The curcumin contents of different selected brands of turmeric powders have been analytically analysed by researchers, founding that pure turmeric powder has the highest curcumin concentration, averaging 3.14% by weight.
So a tablespoon or turmeric, which weight approximately 6.8 grams, contains about 0.204 grams curcumin (204 milligrams). However, these dosages are very approximate as the correct percentage of curcumin contained in the turmeric powder is variable depending on the brands and environmental factors affecting the plantations. The only way to make sure about the amount of curcumin administered to your animal is giving high bioavailability curcumin capsules or powder.
! please be aware that supplements present on the market might be sometimes a bit “naive” in the composition. They could show big words on the label but then listing poor concentration of ingredients at high costs. Always read the label carefully and be aware of what should be contained in the product to avoid being fooled by the packaging !
If ingested as a powder (the spice) it is recommended to heat it up or add hot water and mix it with a vegetable oil. Hemp oil, flaxseed oil, coconut oil, in small quantities are excellent vegetable oils.
1. ADD FAT: turmeric is fat-soluble and better absorbed when taken with fat such as coconut oil, coconut milk or almond milk
2. SPRINKLE BLACK PEPPER: piperine, a compound present in black pepper, can improve absorption of turmeric – add ½ tsp of black pepper per 1 tbsp of turmeric –
3. HEAT IT UP: heat increases the solubility of curcumin by 12 times, increasing the bioavailability as a consequence – it up the amount of your “golden paste” ready to be added to your dog’s meal with hot water
4. EAT QUERCITIN RICH FOOD: quercetin is a flavonoid abundant in apples, raspberry and green leafy veggies, that is known to inhibit an enzyme that inactivates curcumin
According to Dr. Demien Dressler, known as “Dog Cancer Vet”, turmeric should be administered in capsules or added to lecithin (in a proportion of 4: 1, 4 parts of turmeric and 1 part of lecithin) for maximum absorption and therefore maximum benefits.
In general, the daily dose of curcumin is about 25 mg for a cat of about 4 kg or for a toy-like dog. It rises to 50 mg for a small dog, 100 mg for a medium size up to a maximum of 250 mg for a giant dog.
The beneficial effect on inflammation and joint pain is proportional to the severity of the disease but is considered an excellent supportive therapy for chronic and degenerative therapies anyway.