A magic ingredient that is worth every dog lover's attention
If I were sent to a remote island, I'd make sure I took a turmeric root with me because it's just that good for us.
So I'm super excited to share facts about turmeric with you in this article.
Turmeric has several other names. My favorites are Indian Saffron or Nisha, which are much less known.
Most people know the name curcumin or curcuma which comes from the Latin Curcuma Longa. It's also called pian jiang huan in Chinese.
Turmeric may be one of the oldest medicinal plants and is native to southern India. It loves high rainfall and temperatures between 20 to 30C (68 to 86F). It's mainly used in curries and gives Indian meals their yellow color.
I love turmeric so much I've included it in SoulFood, my certified organic multivitamin for dogs.
There are many reasons why turmeric has been catching the attention of dog lovers and holistic and natural practitioners. In fact, if I listed them all, this article would be pages long. Instead, I decided to share with you the most impressive characteristics of this amazing plant.
After many years of using it in my practice, I've seen no side-effects and many positive outcomes.
Here are the top 10 reasons why turmeric should be in your dog's health and longevity program
1. Turmeric has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects.
Scientists confirmed that turmeric is a natural antibiotic in 1949. In addition, it has also been clinically proven to be an anti-inflammatory and has anti-parasitical properties, which, in traditional medicine, has been known for millennia. (1)
2. Turmeric is proven to be effective for plaque buildup and gingivitis.
This is really exciting news because so many dogs suffer from gingivitis (gum inflammation) and the most commonly used rinse, Chlorhexidine, is toxic.
3. Turmeric is good for the heart.
Scientists found that turmeric protects the heart from myocardial infarction. The cardiac muscle is one of the most hardworking muscles in the body and protecting it from unnecessary inflammation is the key to good health and longevity. (2)
4. Turmeric appears to help in the prevention of diabetes.
This one may be a real surprise for many. In my mind, diabetes is often triggered by a carbohydrate-based diet and getting rid of kibble is the most important step. However, if your dog's blood sugar levels have been close to abnormal or if your dog's breed carries a genetic predisposition, adding turmeric may be beneficial. (3)
5. Turmeric seems to inhibit gastric and duodenal ulcers.
Generally, I'm not in favor of animal testing, but a laboratory experiment with laboratory rats has proven that turmeric can protect them from ulcer formation. This is really exciting because drug-based anti-inflammatories are known to cause ulcers. This is one of the biggest reasons why turmeric should always be used in place of chemical, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for pain/arthritis and injuries. (4)
6. Turmeric is known to reduce the chances of colon cancer.
Yes, that's correct! Numerous studies have shown curcumin provides significant protection against colon cancer, a disease that affects both dogs and people. (5)
7. Turmeric reduces and slows down leukemia.
I've seen quite a few dogs with leukemia in the course of my career. The conventional option for treatment is chemotherapy. If I honestly look at the dramatic drop in the quality of life in dogs on chemotherapy due to the visits, injections, IV's, hospitalization and treatment-related sickness, I'd never put my dog through such treatments.
However, I've personally seen some very promising results from turmeric, such as slowing down and reducing the growth of lymphatic cancer, such as leukemia. The fact that curcumin can trigger cancer cell death (apoptosis) has now been confirmed in a study. (6)
8. Turmeric can protect DNA from radiation damage.
This one may surprise you, but it's great news. When radiation is released into the environment it's a serious concern, especially after the Fukushima accident.
Scientists have confirmed that the phytochemicals in turmeric can protect cells against radiation-induced damage. (7)
9. Turmeric is great for arthritis and joint pain
Many people now know turmeric reduces joint inflammation and discomfort. In my mind, arthritis creeps up on dogs as a result of muscle weakness, joint instability, toxin build-up and mineral deficiencies.
Pharmaceutical anti-inflammatories cause serious side-effects, such as kidney and liver damage. (8) If you're interested in more information on how to help dogs with arthritis, you can take a free course here.
10. Turmeric has been shown to have an anti-depressive and anti-suicidal effect!
To be honest, I didn't know about this one until I started writing this article. Isn't this absolutely fantastic? It may not be the most common use for dogs, but considering a large portion of our society is on anti-depressants, it's very promising. (9)
A few other notes on turmeric
If you source turmeric on your own, it could come from non-organic sources. Please note turmeric is often adulterated by toxic dyes and colors and you have to take extra precautions.
Some drug companies may not like the discoveries around this natural medicine powerhouse. In comparison with anti-inflammatory drugs and other pharmaceuticals that cause numerous side-effects, turmeric is without a doubt one of the most valuable gifts of nature.
I imagine drug companies would love to license its composition. We're all lucky they can't!
(1) Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol. 2012 Mar;39(3):283-99. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1681.2011.05648.x.Discovery of curcumin, a component of golden spice, and its miraculous biological activities.Gupta SC1, Patchva S, Koh W, Aggarwal BB.
(2) Am J Cardiol. 2012 Jul 1;110(1):40-4. doi: 10.1016/j.amjcard.2012.02.043. Epub 2012 Apr 3.Effects of curcuminoids on frequency of acute myocardial infarction after coronary artery bypass grafting.Wongcharoen W1, Jai-Aue S, Phrommintikul A, Nawarawong W, Woragidpoonpol S, Tepsuwan T, Sukonthasarn A, Apaijai N, Chattipakorn N.Author information1Department of Internal Medicine, Chiang Mai University, Chiang Mai, Thailand.
(3) Diabetes Care. 2012 Nov;35(11):2121-7. doi: 10.2337/dc12-0116. Epub 2012 Jul 6.Curcumin extract for prevention of type 2 diabetes.Chuengsamarn S1, Rattanamongkolgul S, Luechapudiporn R, Phisalaphong C, Jirawatnotai S.
(4) J Ethnopharmacol. 1990 Apr;29(1):25-34.Evaluation of turmeric (Curcuma longa) for gastric and duodenal antiulcer activity in rats.Rafatullah S1, Tariq M, Al-Yahya MA, Mossa JS, Ageel AM.
(5) Carcinogenesis. 1993 Nov;14(11):2219-25.Inhibition by dietary curcumin of azoxymethane-induced ornithine decarboxylase, tyrosine protein kinase, arachidonic acid metabolism and aberrant crypt foci formation in the rat colon.Rao CV1, Simi B, Reddy BS.
(6) Biochim Biophys Acta. 1996 Nov 15;1317(2):95-100.Curcumin, an antioxidant and anti-tumor promoter, induces apoptosis in human leukemia cells.Kuo ML1, Huang TS, Lin JK.
(7) Anticancer Res. 1998 Sep-Oct;18(5A):3263-6.Protective action of plant polyphenols on radiation-induced chromatid breaks in cultured human cells.Parshad R1, Sanford KK, Price FM, Steele VE, Tarone RE, Kelloff GJ, Boone CW.
(8) A commercialized dietary supplement alleviates joint pain in community adults: a double-blind, placebo-controlled community trial.Nieman DC1, Shanely RA, Luo B, Dew D, Meaney MP, Sha W.
(9) Phytother Res. 2014 Apr;28(4):579-85. doi: 10.1002/ptr.5025. Epub 2013 Jul 6.Efficacy and safety of curcumin in major depressive disorder: a randomized controlled trial.Sanmukhani J1, Satodia V, Trivedi J, Patel T, Tiwari D, Panchal B, Goel A, Tripathi CB.