The volatile oils and curcumin are the active ingredients of this herb, which is well known as a spice in curry powder and as an herb in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine.
Whole turmeric possesses anti-inflammatory properties. Much of this observed activity seems to be due to the presence of curcumin, which also acts as a powerful antioxidant. Turmeric has shown anticancer effects by its antioxidant, free radical scavenging effects, inhibition of nitrosamine formation, and by its ability to increase glutathione levels.
The anti-inflammatory effects, due to lipoxygenase inhibition, have been shown to be comparable to cortisone and phenylbutazone. Topically, it acts similarly to capsaicin by inhibiting substance P to relieve pain and inflammation. Turmeric lowers blood cholesterol levels and prevents platelet clumping. Similar to glycyrrhizin and silymarin, curcumin shows protective effects on the liver. Turmeric has beneficial effects on the gastrointestinal tract including decreased gas formation and spasm. And the herb shows antimicrobial effects. The antioxidant effects are comparable to BHA, BHT, and vitamins C and E.
Unlike anti-inflammatory drugs, curcumin does not appear to cause stomach ulcers and might even help prevent them. While curcumin has been recommended for people with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, more evidence will be necessary before curcumin can be described as an effective treatment for arthritis.
In animal models, the curcumin was found to have anti-inflammatory effects in arthritic pets comparable to the nonsteroidal medication phenylbutazone.
Turmeric is often used for pets with a number of conditions, including arthritis, asthma, cancer inflammatory diseases, infections and can be used as a liver tonic. In people, the absorption of curcumin is reportedly increased when compounded with bromelain, although there is no evidence to support this. However, since bromelain possesses some anti-inflammatory powers of its own, the combination may be synergistic.
Do not use in pets with bile duct obstruction, gallbladder stones, or gastrointestinal upset. Safety in young children, pregnant or nursing women, or those with severe liver or kidney disease has not been established; similar precautions are probably warranted in pets.
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Shawn Messonnier, DVM
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Shawn Messonnier DVM Past Supporting Member, Oncology Association of Naturopathic Physicians Author, the award-winning The Natural Health Bible for Dogs & Cats, The Natural Vet’s Guide to Preventing and Treating Cancer in Dogs, and Breast Choices for the Best Chances: Your Breasts, Your Life, and How YOU Can Win The Battle!
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