At EquiNutritive, we’ve recently introduced Alpha Gold, an equine dietary supplement that uses the key ingredient turmeric to support damaged or compromised joints without causing problems for the gut, such as gastric ulcers—a true wonder product.
But what is turmeric? While you might have heard the recent buzz concerning its health benefits for humans, you might now know that it has a number of benefits for horses as well. To get you all the information, we’ve put together a quick primer on what turmeric is, what it does, and why it’s gold dust for your horse.
What is Turmeric?
Turmeric powder, as it is most commonly fed to horses, is a yellow substance derived from the rhizomes (underground stems) of the turmeric plant.
The plant is native to India, where it has been used for centuries for both medicinal and culinary purposes. Medicinally, it has been used to treat a wide variety of conditions including cancer, stomach upset, respiratory problems and dermatitis. It also has powerful anti-oxidant properties.
How can turmeric improve your horse’s health?
In clinical trials, the results showing the positive effects of turmeric have been outstanding, with promising results for equine benefits. There is also widespread anecdotal evidence suggesting that turmeric is highly effective for improving horse health and treating a wide range of equine conditions.
Perhaps the most important and relevant benefit of turmeric for horse owners is its incredible anti-inflammatory effects, which is excellent news for joint health in horses—turmeric is able to reduce inflammation and the associated pain substantially when added to your horse’s diet.
Is turmeric better than what’s already on the market?
Joint conditions are often chronic in nature and therefore become very difficult to manage effectively without serious side effects. We’re all aware of the problems associated with the long-term use of NSAIDS in horses, particularly the stress they put on the digestive tract.
Turmeric doesn’t interact with gut enzymes in the same way that pharmaceutical non-steroidal inflammatories do, because it actually allows the gut-protecting enzyme (COX-2) to be maintained. In short, turmeric is able to give similar benefits as pharmaceutical solutions to joint pain, but without the associated gut disturbances and other negative side effects.
Tips for Use:
Turmeric has a low level of bioavailability, meaning that it is not readily absorbed from the small intestine. The absorption of turmeric can be enhanced with the addition of either oil or freshly ground black pepper and with that it becomes highly effective at combating a wide range of health problems including those related to the joints.
Whilst the active ingredient in pepper (piperine) can enhance absorption dramatically, it must be freshly ground to have the desired effect. Furthermore, there are reported cases in which pepper has shown to irritate the lining of the stomach and cause gastric discomfort/ upset, so begin with caution and use only a small amount if your horse isn’t used to black pepper.
You can also increase absorption by adding oil to turmeric (and the oil, depending on the type you use, can have additional health benefits). You’re likely to get the best results using high quality oils, such as linseed oil, coconut oil or chia oil.
Does turmeric have any other health benefits for my horse?
In addition to joint health, turmeric has been shown to be effective in the treatment in many other equine ailments, including:
- Gastric ulcers
- Melanomas / Sarcoids
- Assisting recovery from viruses and infections
- Wound healing
- Skin conditions
- Stabilising metabolic issues
- Compromised liver function by having a detoxifying effect
Please note: Turmeric should not be fed if your horse is currently being administered NSAIDs or blood thinning medications. If you’re horse is on medication and you’re unsure of possible contraindications, it is important that you consult your veterinarian prior to feeding turmeric.