Turmeric is a flowering plant that is native to the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia. It is part of the ginger family (Zingiberacease). Turmeric spice comes from the root of the Turmeric plant and has a distinctive golden-orange color.
Turmeric has a long history of being used in Indian and Chinese medicine and is touted for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. These antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties are attributed to a natural polyphenolic compound in Turmeric, called curcumin.
How Does Turmeric Benefit Horses?
Turmeric has, in some circles, been touted to fix ALL OF THE THINGS! The reality is, no single compound can fix all the things, but there are several research studies that show promise for Turmeric to be an ingredient that supports the health and wellness of the horse.
In a study designed to measure exercise recovery, 10 grams per day of Turmeric was shown to increase gene expression of MYF5 and MYOD1, genes that regulate muscle regeneration. (Kent et al., 2023:in press).
Turmeric is a key ingredient in Essential K® Rebuild, a product designed to help support exercise recovery in performance horses.
In another study, Turmeric was fed at 20 grams per day to horses that underwent an experimental model of feed-deprivation designed to induce gastric ulcers. The horses that were pre-treated with Turmeric developed less severe ulcers.
Additional studies have found that curcumin extracts may be helpful in alleviating pain associated with osteoarthritis and inhaled curcumin decreased inflammatory markers in broncho-alveolar lavage fluid.
Do Horses Require Black Pepper for Turmeric to Work?
In humans, peperine, a component of black pepper, has been shown to dramatically increase the bioavailability of Turmeric. Turmeric is essentially unavailable to humans without peperine. However, the need for peperine is species dependent. In other species, like rats, peperine doesn’t have nearly the same impact on bioavailability.
The positive impacts of Turmeric in studies where black pepper or concentrate peperine were NOT included, suggests that horses are able to benefit from Turmeric without the addition of black pepper or peperine.
Can Turmeric Be Fed to Pregnant or Lactating Mares?
Safe use in pregnant or lactating horses has not been proven.
Can Turmeric Be Fed to Growing Horses?
Safe use in growing horses has not been proven.
Farinacci, Maura, et al. "Dietary administration of curcumin modifies transcriptional profile of genes involved in inflammatory cascade in horse leukocytes." Italian Journal of Animal Science 8.sup2 (2009): 84-86.
Fletcher, S. P. S., and S. L. Gough. "Pre-Treatment with Turmeric (C. Xanthorrhiza) Reduces the Severity of Squamous Gastric Ulceration in Feed Restricted Horses." J Anim Sci Res 3.1 (2019).
Sandersen, Charlotte, et al. "Effect of inhaled hydrosoluble curcumin on inflammatory markers in broncho-alveolar lavage fluid of horses with LPS-induced lung neutrophilia." Multidisciplinary Respiratory Medicine 10 (2015): 1-8.