A magic ingredient that is worth every dog lover's attention
Turmeric, the golden coloured root, has been used in Indian and other Asian cuisines for many centuries.
Recently, it has caught the attention of medical scientists and the Western world because of its superfood properties.
Turmeric may be one of the oldest medicinal plants in the world. It is native to Southern India and loves high rainfall and temperatures between 20 to 30C (68 to 86F).
If you love Indian curries, you may also know that turmeric gives them their specific yellow colour. Turmeric has several other names like curmin or curcuma, which comes from the Latin name Curcumae Longa.
There are many reasons why turmeric is considered one of nature’s miracles and why it has been catching the attention of dog lovers, holistic doctors and healer practitioners.
Here are the top 10 reasons why turmeric should part of your dog’s health and longevity program:
1. Turmeric has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects.
Scientists confirmed turmeric is a natural antibiotic in 1949. It has also been clinically proven to have anti-inflammatory and has anti-parasitical properties, which, in traditional medicine, has been known for millennia. (1)
2. Turmeric has been proven effective for getting rid of 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 have now confirmed 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. 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 your dog's breed carries a genetic predisposition, adding turmeric may be beneficial. (3)
5. Turmeric seems to inhibit gastric and duodenal ulcers.
A study has proven turmeric can protect from ulcer formation. This is really exciting because drug based anti-inflammatories are usually 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.
Scientists have confirmed in numerous studies that turmeric provides significant protection against colon cancer, a disease that affects both dogs and people. (5)
7. Turmeric reduces and slows down leukemia.
The conventional option for leukemia treatment is chemotherapy, which can cause a dramatic drop in your dog’s quality of life. While preventive cancer care is the best, the fact that turmeric can trigger cancer cell death (apoptosis) has now been confirmed in a study. (6)
8. Turmeric can protect DNA from radiation damage.
Radiation release in the environment has been a serious concern, especially after the Fukushima accident. Scientists have now confirmed that phytochemicals in turmeric can protect cells against radiation-induced damage. (7)
9. Turmeric is great for arthritis and joint pain
Many people now know that turmeric reduces joint inflammation and discomfort. Arthritis can creep up on dogs as a result of muscle weakness, joint instability, toxin build-up and mineral deficiencies.
The commonly used pharmaceutical anti-inflammatories cause serious side-effects, such as kidney and liver damage. (8) Turmeric in combination with omega-3 essential fatty acids is a viable natural alternative
10. Turmeric has been shown to have an anti-depressive effect and while this is not exactly the most common use in dogs, it would be interesting to see if dogs given turmeric can be happier or less prone to behaviour problems, such as separation anxiety.
Turmeric is increasing in popularity, so the origin and quality can be the subject of adulteration with toxic dyes. Look for organic whole root or supplements from reputable brands that contain certified organic turmeric.
In comparison with anti-inflammatory drugs and other pharmaceuticals that cause numerous side-effects, turmeric is without a doubt one of the most amazing and valuable gifts of nature.
(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.
© Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM