Turmeric: Nature's Wonder Drug

Over the past few years, we've seen some trends come and everyone seems to get engrossed with them before they quietly fade into the background never to be seen or heard from again. I thought turmeric was going to be one of those. It is hyped as being a cure-all product that will fix a host of problems including sarcoids, allergies, liver problems, arthritis and tumours. It seemed a bit too good to be true.

Curiosity got the better of me and I ordered some. Liath has osteoarthritis (What is the difference between rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis) in her hocks and had steroid injections in the past but I don't want to go down that path again as steroid injections have now been proven to damage cartilage rather than help it (1).

Her left hock seems slightly worse than her right one and she finds circles on her left rein harder than her right. Her canter on the left rein is also a bit of a struggle. If it is going to have any benefit I would expect her to be more willing to use her inside leg and hock on the left rein and to step under herself more.

Turmeric is a bright yellow spice and gives curries their distinctive colour. Turmeric contains about 3-4% curcumin. Curcumin is what makes turmeric so beneficial as it is both an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. Curcumin is such a good anti-inflammatory that it rivals some medicinal anti-inflammatories (2). As an antioxidant, it blocks the damaging effect of free radicals. Free radicals damage cells, proteins and DNA. They have been linked to diseases such as cancer, ulcers and arthritis. Curcumin also boosts the body's own antioxidant enzymes and mechanisms (3).

Researchers have been studying how beneficial curcumin in the treatment of cancer. It has been shown that is can reduce the growth of cancerous cells, the spread of cancer and contributes to the death of cancerous cells (4). There are some amazing stories of people treating equine sarcoids with turmeric, the results are astonishing! The body seems to 'reject' the sarcoid and they fall off!

I am particularly interested in its effect on arthritis. In one study, it was observed that curcumin was more effective than an anti-inflammatory drug in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (5). As for osteoarthritis, curcumin's anti-inflammatory property helps prevents degradation of cartilage. Curcumin inhibits the activity of pro-inflammatory enzymes from degrading cartilage while also helping in regenerating damaged cartilage (6).

Curcumin acts as a painkiller too. In one 4 week study, people were either given a turmeric extract or ibuprofen. It was discovered that the turmeric extract was as effective as the ibuprofen in reducing pain and stiffness associated with osteoarthritis. While the ibuprofen users experienced abdominal discomfort and pain, the turmeric users did not experience any negative after effects (7).

There are no side effects or adverse effects when using turmeric. The only possible drawback is that to get the full benefits you need to prepare it alongside pepper and oil in what is known as "Golden paste". Curcumin itself is poorly absorbed and should be taken with freshly ground black pepper, which will increase the absorption rate of curcumin by about 2000%!! (8). Your choice of oil is important, it needs to be rich in Omega 3 and low in Omega 6. I use Linseed oil, which should be available in any tack or agri shop. Turmeric can be added directly to a horses feed but will not be as effective as the golden paste.

I'm going to record a few videos of Liath before we start our turmeric journey and some again in a few months. It's so easy for the placebo effect to kick in and for me to think that it is working, but I want to see if I can see a difference in her! I'll keep you all updated. 


  1. Really I agree with you, Turmeric used as a natural drug for decades. Your article is very informative and nicely describes the benefits of bioactive turmeric extract. I am thankful to you for sharing this article here.

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