Updated: Jun 6, 2021
Turmeric is growing in popularity as an equine supplement targeting joint and gastric health.
The compound responsible for the health benefits associated with feeding turmeric is from Curcumin. It is a natural occurring polyphenolic compound found within turmeric spice.
There is a lot of research on human health associated with curcumin and laboratory evidence based on equine studies. However; research is developing and there is a wealth of anecdotal reports on the benefits of curcumin for equine health related issues, including osteoarthritis, anti-oxidant properties and anti-inflammatory effects.
Bluegrass Equine Nutrition
A recent study (2018) by Eyles-Owen showed that turmeric reduced inflammation and improved mood.
Both quantitative and qualitative results strongly suggest that turmeric containing curcumin, is an effective and easily administered phytopharmaceutical which reduces inflammation and improves mobility and mood in horses with fetlock joint inflammation.
An earlier study by A. Clutterbuck et al. found that turmeric is useful in the treatment of osteoarthritis.
In relation to osteoarthritis in equines, the study found that curcumin can reduce the increased production of matric metalloproteinases – proteins responsible for breaking down cartilage. There was a decrease the production of the pro-inflammatory molecule Cox-2 (cyclo – oxygenase – 2) and minimise the death of cartilage cells.
Studies are not just showing benefits in mood and joint health, but also gut health. An Australian study on turmeric for ulcers also had positive results.
Domestic horses commonly suffer from gastric ulcers, with potential adverse health, welfare and performance effects. This study aimed to investigate the effectiveness of orally administered turmeric for prevention of gastric ulceration in horses.
Ten horses were used in a 16-day randomized, placebo-controlled and blinded two-period cross-over study. All horses received a base diet with the treatment group also receiving 20g turmeric powder in the feed once daily. After a washout period of 10 weeks, treatment groups were reversed.
Squamous ulcer scores increased during confinement and feed restriction in control horses (P<0.001), but not in turmeric treated horses (P=0.247). These results suggest that oral supplementation of turmeric (C. xanthorrhiza) may be effective in reducing the severity of squamous ulceration in horses.
There are several additives to turmeric that are proposed to increase the bioavailability for longer circulation, improve resistance to metabolic processes and increase permeation to cellular level.
Curcumin dissolved in oil before ingestion helps to bypass metabolic enzymes. This does not alter the structure but allows curcumin to be directly absorbed into the lymphatic system.
A study on humans showed a 2000% bioavailability increase when black pepper was added, however in rats 154% was reported. There is limited research to confirm whether black pepper facilitates the bioavailability in dogs and herbivorous.
With the preponderance of positive science on turmeric for a range of problems from which horses commonly suffer we have made a new supplement that combines the best of ingredients we already have - and turmeric.
You can buy it here. Our introductory price is $40/kg in 3kg satchels.
We have used a chia base. (See this blog post on why chia is excellent for horse health).
Chia is high in oils, which as stated above, helps the curcumin to be directly absorbed.
We have added glucosamine and MSM which have excellent pain relieving and anti-inflammatory properties on their own. We have added pepper to help with bioavailability, and finally we have added turmeric.
We'd like to thank Impressa Equine who have been purchasing this supplement as a custom mix for over 12 months and provided fantastic feedback as we've put this supplement together.
Dietary turmeric reduces inflammation and improves mood and mobility in horses with fetlock joint inflammation
2018 Sacha Eyles-Owen
Pre-Treatment with Turmeric (C. Xanthorrhiza) Reduces the Severity of
Squamous Gastric Ulceration in Feed Restricted Horses
2019 SPS Fletcher and SL Gough
A. Clutterbuck et al. 2009 – Interlukin -1β- induced extracellular matric degradation and glycosaminoglycan release is inhibited by curcumin in an explant model of cartilage inflammation.