5 Ways Turmeric Benefits In Horse Laminitis

The hoof wall of the horse is made of two layers: outer hard layer known as horn supported by inner sensitive layer known as the laminae. Laminitis is inflammation of the laminae. The blood supply to the laminae is hampered which results in pain, inflammation and swelling.

The laminae support the pedal bone in the hoof which carries the animal’s weight. When the damage exceeds, the pedal bone sinks and rotates and at times it sinks far enough to protrude out of the foot. This can lead to lameness.

The causative factors behind laminitis include:

  • Excessive consumption of carbohydrates which alters bacteria in the gut, releases toxins in blood which trigger laminitis
  • Physical injury or stress
  • Severe infection
  • Obesity
  • Cushing’s disease ( a condition affecting the functioning of pituitary gland)
  • Equine metabolic syndrome

Change in diet and administration of anti-inflammatory drugs are a part of the therapy. Hoof care is important.

Laminitis is a painful condition and prevention is the best measure.

How does turmeric help in laminitis?

Turmeric’s herbal properties can aid in reduction of inflammation and healing of horses’ hoof. Lets review which properties of turmeric are beneficial in treatment of laminitis.

1.It is anti-inflammatory agent

Curcumin, the bioactive ingredient of turmeric, is a potent anti-inflammatory agent.

Its anti-inflammatory property is mediated by its ability to modulate the activity of enzymes such as COX, LOX and iNOS which play a very important role in inflammation.

Curcumin also inhibits the activity of other inflammatory mediators such as prostaglandins, leukotrienes, tumor necrosis factor and interleukins which give rise to redness, pain, swelling at site of inflammation.

One of the major ways, curcumin inhibits inflammation is by inhibiting activity of nuclear factor-kappaB, a master protein that controls inflammatory process. It also increases the level of anti-inflammatory enzymes and proteins and reduces activation of inflammatory cells.

Curcumin free turmeric also possesses anti-inflammatory property. Studies in horses reveal that curcumin can reduce chronic inflammation in conditions like airway inflammation and osteoarthritis.

What does this mean?
Curcumin and turmeric possess strong anti-inflammatory property which are therapeutic in treatment of inflammatory conditions and hence can aid in treatment of laminitis.

2.It reduces pain

Non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and steroids are prescribed to help manage pain in laminitis. They act on inflammatory enzymes such as COX and LOX in order to inhibit pain and inflammation.

As mentioned previously, curcumin also acts on the same enzymes in order to inhibit pain but unlike these medications it does not cause gastric erosion.

Phenylbutazone or bute is a common painkiller prescribe to horses for managing pain. Research shows that curcumin works better than phenylbutazone as a painkiller and anti-inflammatory agent.

Curcumin is found to outperform other painkillers like diclofenac sodium and indomethacin. Celecoxib is a non steroidal anti-inflammatory drug that is prescribed to manage pain and inflammation in arthritis in humans and horses.

A study shows that curcumin works in combination of celecoxib in reducing inflammation and can reduce the dose of celecoxib required for treatment.

What does this mean?
Curcumin is more effective in reducing pain than painkillers like phenylbutazone, diclofenac sodium, indomethacin. It works in combination with other painkillers and reduces the dose of painkillers required. It also does not cause any side effects.

5-ways-turmeric-benefits-in-horse-laminitis

3.It is anti-microbial agent

Chronic laminitis is associated with increased risk of bacterial infection. Bacterial species such as Staphyloccocus, E.coli are involved.

Curcumin has broad spectrum anti-microbial activity- it inhibits growth of various fungi, viruses and bacteria. It exerts anti-bacterial activity against Staphyloccocus and E.coli.

Research studies prove that anti-microbial activity of turmeric is comparable to antibiotics such as ampicillin, amoxicillin etc. Turmeric is found to be effective against multidrug resistant strains of bacteria.

Curcumin has anti-fungal activity comparable to ketconazole, an anti-fungal medication and even turmeric oil possesses anti-fungal property.

What does this mean?
Curcumin’s broad spectrum anti-microbial action can help in treating infections that occur in chronic laminitis.

4.It can improve metabolic health

Equine metabolic syndrome is a cluster conditions pertaining to metabolic health and inability to digest dietary carbohydrate. Obesity and improper functioning of insulin can predispose horses to laminitis.

Curcumin’s therapeutic ability in metabolic syndrome in humans is established. Curcumin manipulates various biochemical targets in order to reverse metabolic syndrome alterations such as insulin resistance and obesity.

Though not investigated in relation to animal metabolic syndrome, quite some animal studies show that curcumin has insulin sensitizing effect and can possibly aid in treatment of insulin resistance that contributes to laminitis.

Cell culture studies and animal studies demonstrate curcumin has anti-obesity effect and suppress fat accumulation.

What does this mean?
Curcumin improves metabolic health and obesity related parameters which are causative factors of laminitis.

5.It can restore gut flora

Increased consumption of carbohydrate or sugar rich grass leads to growth of certain bacteria in the intestine such as lactic acid bacteria. The intestine consists of good bacteria too which help in digestion. But increased consumption of carbohydrate leads to excessive growth of unhealthy bacteria in horses.

These then produce toxins which travel via the blood and interfere in the circulation at the laminae and lead to inflammation.

Curcumin as well as turmeric oil have gastroprotective activity. Studies suggest that dietary curcumin can improve bacterial richness. This can be effective in re-establishing gut microflora in horses affected by laminitis.

What does this mean?
Increased dietary carbohydrate and disturbed gut microflora are causative factors for laminitis. Curcumin and turmeric has gastroprotective property. They can aid in replenishing a healthy gut microbe population.

Dosage

There is no set dose of turmeric for horses with laminitis. Most owners start with 1 teaspoon of turmeric twice a day.

You just need to whip a paste of turmeric, black pepper and some oil to ensure that turmeric is well absorbed in the body. Plain turmeric powder in diet is not likely to have a desirable therapeutic effect as it is insoluble in water and poorly absorbed in the body.

In fact you can use the same Golden Paste that you consume for your horse.

If you plan to prepare the paste for every feed then here is how to do it:

Take about 125 ml turmeric powder and add this with 250 ml water to a pan. Cook on low flame till you make a good paste.

Add the water slowly such that the paste is neither watery nor thick. You could add more turmeric powder if the paste is watery and more water if it is too thick.

Then add about 1 1/2 (7.5ml) teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper and 70 ml of oil. You could use coconut or olive or flaxseed oil. Keep stirring till all the ingredients are mixed properly. Let the mixture cool down.

Add around 1 teaspoon to your horses feed once a day and add a lot of water to the feed to mellow down the spicy taste. This is just a start. Slowly increase it to twice a day based on how it suits your horse.

Avoid using oil if the feed is already rich in fats. Also mix a lot of water in the feed while adding turmeric as horses find this combination more palatable.

Precaution

There are no such side effects of feeding turmeric to horses. Initially slight gastric discomfort and diarrhea could occur. In that case it is advisable to reduce the dose.

Also avoid turmeric prior to surgical procedures to avoid risk of bleeding.

Turmeric finds its use as herbal medicine in Trinidad and it is said to flush out the uterus. This could have implications on equine gestation and post partum health.

Conclusion

Laminitis is a painful condition which if not prevented or treated in initial stages can result in lameness and severe damage.
Turmeric can serve as a supportive therapy and help reduce pain, inflammation and sepsis in laminitis.

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