Did you know all the medical benefits of turmeric? The spice that gives curry powder its distinctive hue?
Well, I didn’t until just a few months ago when I found out that turmeric has been traditionally known to reduce inflammation and that current medical studies validate this time-honored use of turmeric. And after using it for our dog, I’m a firm believer in the benefits of turmeric.
The main component of turmeric that aids in healing is curcumin and, among other things, it’s being studied for its:
- Anti-inflammatory properties that help relieve the symptoms of osteoarthritis. And it has been shown to help with significant reductions in pain and disability associated with the condition.
- Ability to lower the levels of bad cholesterol to help prevent the buildup of plaque in the arteries and prevent blood clots from forming in the circulatory system.
- Cancer treatment potential – early research studies indicate that turmeric may be an effective treatment for battling some forms of cancer.
- Digestive help – it can be an effective treatment for many stomach conditions including discomfort, bloating, appetite loss, nausea and gas.
- Powerful antioxidant levels (specifically the amount of curcumin) that help remove free radicals in the body. The removal of these free radicals can aid in preventing cellular damage and are an effective way to protect the body from chronic conditions.
Since some of the studies have been conducted on dogs suffering from osteoarthritis, it’s become a recommended herbal remedy for dog hip problems as well as cancer and pain treatments (here’s an article from Petsafety about using turmeric, as well as this article with owner’s results from using turmeric on their dogs).
I’ve written about our dog, Samson, before – how he was dropped off in a remote neighborhood in central Oregon and wandered around until my dad and stepmamma found him and took him in. My brother actually made the trip over and brought Samson to us Thanksgiving weekend of 2006.
In addition to all the other stuff this dog has done, he’s also always favored his right back leg. From the beginning people commented on his crooked gait – some even thought he was limping. Pictures show him always sitting on his left hip and favoring his right. He’s also chewed on that leg from the beginning – and has left a permanent mark on his fur.
We did take him to a vet when we rescued him and he seemed to be in great shape, though a little underweight (uh, duh…) and she thought he was about a year old. Apparently, something happened to him in that year to injure his hip/leg or it’s something congenital.
About 2 years ago, he started having trouble lifting his right hip up after he’d been sitting or laying awhile. We thought his leg had gone to sleep or something, ’cause he usually stretched and within a few minutes was back to his normal self.
I should mention that “normal” for Samson often involves running like a bullet after squirrels or to greet his favorite person in the whole wide world – Brian.
But last December, the trouble with his leg and hip became more pronounced and he actually started holding it up for a bit. He never yelped or showed any kind of pain, and would go outside and run like crazy again, so we were confused.
My sister is a physical therapist who also works with dogs and she took a look at him and felt inflammation in his hip. She recommended turmeric and a gluten-free diet. We had switched to a better dog food years ago that didn’t have much gluten in it anyway, but we paid the higher cost for a month’s trial of gluten-free dog food. Gulp. However, we forgot about the turmeric recommendation.
We were disappointed to see no change after a month on the new food. Then I remembered the turmeric (sheesh…), and we started him on 1/4 tsp. mixed in with his food in the mornings (we also add water to his dry food – that’s been really great in getting him extra water and slowing down his eating). He eats this mixture with no problems.
This is going to seem like an exaggeration, but literally within a few days he was NOT holding his leg up anymore. And within a few weeks we could detect no problems when he walked (we never saw problems when he ran). Turmeric was the only thing that helped right away (we had tried glucosamine earlier) so it’s become a regular part of his diet.
We have learned, however, that it’s not a complete miracle-worker. My sister suggested that we only walk Samson on a leash from now on, as he’s at least seven years old combined with a weak hip and his large size (about 80 pounds). Even though the dog has the run of our acre, Brian couldn’t stand restraining him on a leash for a longer walk, and so he let him run.
And lo and behold, he ran like a nut after a squirrel into a ditch and came out limping badly. This time the foot didn’t hit the ground for any reason and after a few days (of upping the turmeric to morning and night meals) we took him to the vet who declared it was probably his knee. We could pay close to $500 for an x-ray that might tell us something and then spend thousands for a surgery that might fix it…
But we knew his hip was an ongoing problem, and doubted surgery would fix it, because nothing was broken. We gave him some doggie pain reliever (a vet Rx) for a few weeks which helped him put his foot down again and my sister looked at him again, but this time he didn’t want anyone messing with him.
After a few weeks on the medicine we gradually took him off and started him back on the turmeric. He was walking almost normally again, but there was still a pronounced limp when walking. We wondered if we’d ever be able to take him on walks again (which he LOVES).
However, the turmeric was helping again and by the beginning of the summer Samson seemed almost normal. So I started walking with him on a leash – but only a quarter of his usual walk. As the summer wore on, I was able to gradually increase the amount he walked and now he’s walking the entire route – and even running a portion with me – with NO LIMPING at all, either during or after.
His gait is completely normal again! Time and doggie medicine certainly helped him through the out-right injury, but turmeric is what keeps his inflammation down for the long-haul so that he can do all the things he loves to do. He favors the leg, as he’s always done, and limps a bit after getting up, but he’s able to walk and run like he did before.
So he’s one happy, nutty dog. And so are we.
Well – happy, that is. Not nutty or a dog. Just wanted to be clear on that.