What is there to know about turmeric?
Turmeric, curcuma longa, is a widely used culinary spice. The rhizome looks a little like ginger and has a characteristic bright golden, yellow colour. It is used to colour and flavour asian cuisine, but is also an important ayurvedic medicinal herb. The most well known active constituent of turmeric is curcumin, a powerful anti-oxidant.
Why feed turmeric to your horse?
The popularity of turmeric has grown hugely in recent years, due to many scientific trials (mainly human) suggesting that it can offer support to a huge number of common complaints. Curcumin is an anti-oxidant which has anti-inflammatory, anti microbial and hepato-protective effects. It is also believed to increase gastric wall mucous production, suggesting that it may have a protective effect on the stomach wall and could enhance the healing of ulcers. Turmeric is also believed to have anti-cancer properties, an action which is currently under much investigation.
When should you feed your horse turmeric?
Turmeric is commonly feed to horses for the following reasons:
- Support a healthy immune system
- Support the respiratory system
- Maintain natural anti-inflammatory mechanisms, such as for joint stiffness, soft tissue swelling etc
- Maintain healthy skin (itchy skin / sweet itch and sarcoids)
- To promote well-being and general health
- As a general tonic for the older horse
How to feed turmeric to your horse?
Unfortunately, turmeric has poor water solubility and poor bioavailability. This means that adding straight, dried turmeric powder to your horse’s feed is likely to result in very little actual curcumin reaching the blood stream and places that matter. In addition, the best natural turmeric only contains about 3% curcumin so it is even more important to encourage absorption in every way possible. Turmeric is soluble in oil, therefore if it is fed in conjunction with a fat its absorption will increase. If the oil chosen is rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, such as linseed oil, your horse’s diet will not only benefit from increased absorption of turmeric, but from the addition of the essential fatty acids as well. Omega 3 is known to have natural anti-inflammatory properties so it naturally supports the action of feeding turmeric. An extract of black pepper, known as piperine, has also been shown to enhance bioavailabilty of curcumin. It is thought that piperine has an effect on certain digestive enzymes, slowing degradation and allowing more time for the curcumin to be absorbed. Piperine is highly volatile so the black pepper must be freshly ground to work.