Turmeric for Dogs by Dr Tom Shurlock
Turmeric is a spice that has been used, over the years, in Eastern cultures, as a natural medicine; it was particularly used for gastric upsets and, if inhaled as a vapour, for general health and wellbeing.
Over the past few years it has become increasingly popular for the support of joint health in people and is increasingly the subject of research into the characteristics of its bioactive components. Recognizing the interest in turmeric as a potential product that would support an animal’s physiology in the course of the normal wear and tear of life, The Golden Paste Company began to look at the spice and its properties as a functional supplement for dogs (and cats). At a biochemical level, and especially in the research of natural compounds as potential cancer therapies, there is plenty of information, as these animals have been used as a human model. However, it is the spice’s role in the body’s normal stress functions that has led to the development of specific supplements.
Turmeric contains a high number of bioactives which impact over a wide range of physiological stress activities. Stress activity is a situation which causes physical or physiological stress (joint degradation, microbial infection), metabolic dysfunction (insulin resistance, unbalanced nutrition) or simply the mechanism of aging; in the majority of cases it causes the body to react in a predictable manner. Initially it releases pro-inflammatory markers to ring-fence the perceived damage/invasion; repair – in whatever form – is enacted and then anti-inflammatory factors released to enable the body to flush the area. Interacting with this is the role of oxidation. Inefficiencies in metabolism, and pro-inflammatory cues, generate oxidative cues that can exacerbate inflammation, but also have direct impact on tissue degradation – such as cartilage loss in joints.
The bioactives in turmeric fall broadly into two categories, the essential oils and the polyphenols. Essential oils, the turmerones, are reported to support both antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory systems, whilst the polyphenols are powerful antioxidants. The essential oils are readily incorporated into some microbial cell walls, affecting their nutrient utilisation and can therefore act as probiotics. They are readily absorbed into the lymphatic system and can be circulated through the body without being degraded by the liver. It is incorporated into the sebum – natural secretions in the skin – that has been shown to act as a deterrent to ticks, by masking the chemo-attractants that enable ticks to orientate themselves.
The polyphenols also can act to support the natural protein cycle in exercise. Activity results in inflammatory cues that dissociate muscle, which reassembles during rest (which may explain muscular “wobbliness”!). Interaction between oxidative stress and inflammation slows recover and flavonoids have been shown to support recovery.
The bioactive polyphenols in turmeric have been shown to have poor absorbability, and a very short half-life once in the body. TurmerEase™, incorporating TurmerAid™, addresses these problems by improving absorption (yucca saponins, linseed phospholipids etc.), reducing curcumin degradation (alkaloids in black pepper and quercetin from apple cider vinegar) and helping passive absorption through lipid nanomicelles (avoiding liver denaturation). Packaged in a palatable chicken supplement slice, dosing is easy and convenient.
Turmeric has been shown to have a number of beneficial characteristics and is safe to feed to dogs (and cats). It does, however, need a dedicated delivery system, such as TurmerEase™, to fully support the biological systems it targets.