Turmeric for horses
Turmeric has been consumed by humans for thousands of years both as a food ingredient and because it is believed to have medicinal properties. More recently it has received increased attention as people look for natural remedies and solutions to health issues. Some reports suggest that there have been over 3000 papers published relating to turmeric. Sadly few of the studies relate to horses specifically and despite this depth of study there is still some debate over its use and efficacy for both humans and other species.
What is turmeric?
Turmeric is a plant belonging to the ginger family. It contains lots of active components but the most frequently referred to is curcumin which gives turmeric its yellow colour. The level of curcumin in turmeric is relatively low, less than 5%, and levels can vary quite considerably depending on growing conditions which may account for some of the variability in study results. Curcumin isn’t absorbed from the digestive system very easily and so it is recommended to use black pepper alongside as it contains piperine which is believed to increase the absorption of both curcumin and other substances.
Is turmeric good for horses?
No horse feed or supplement company is permitted to suggest that turmeric, or any other ingredient, can cure, treat or prevent a disease in horses. However, it is permissible to state that turmeric is a source of natural anti-oxidants also known as flavonoids. Botanical antioxidants are found in a wide range of plants and this is why humans are encouraged to eat a “rainbow” of fruit, vegetables, herbs and spices as the different colours provide different antioxidants.
Feeding turmeric to horses alongside other ingredients such as alfalfa, which is also rich in natural antioxidants, helps to maintain good health and condition. Interestingly, many horses also seem to find turmeric very palatable.
Can I use turmeric for horses with ulcers or those with laminitis?
The use of turmeric for horses with an issue such as ulcers or laminitis should only be considered in the context of being a palatability aid and not therapeutic. However, some people have questioned whether it is safe to use. In a study published in 2020 (Andrews et al) it was shown that using a pure turmeric supplement for 28 days did not cause or worsen ulcers during this time period. This indicates using turmeric for horses with ulcers is safe to do. However, curcumin, the active compound in turmeric, has been reported to interact with drugs and cause some side effects in horses and so it is advisable to discuss using turmeric for horses on medication or with any other condition with your vet.
For further advice on turmeric for horses or to receive a personalised ration plan for your horse call the Dengie Feedline on 01621 841188 or complete our Feed Advice Form.