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Assessing curcumin in horses

Report by Mark Andrews. Published online 26.09.17

It is becoming fashionable to administer supplements containing curcumin to horses, although there has been little research into its effect on horses.

Samantha Wuest and colleagues in the Department of Animal Science, Food & Nutrition, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL conducted a study to evaluate some of the effects of curcumin in horses. The work is reported in the Journal of Equine Veterinary Science.

They gave six riding horses 15 g curcumin (95% pure) daily for 30 days and measured the effect on faecal shedding of intestinal parasite eggs and selected opportunistic bacteria. Six similar horses were untreated controls. The researchers also measured the erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) - a non-specific indicator of inflammation.

They found that curcumin had no effect on the shedding of strongyle or ascarid eggs. Neither did it have any effect on the shedding of various bacteria in the faeces: Streptococcus bovis/equinus complex (SBEC), Clostridium difficile, or Clostridium perfringens.

They did, however, detect a fall in ESR on day 14 in the horses given curcumin, which could lend support to an anti-inflammatory effect.

The researchers conclude: “The antiparasitic and antimicrobial properties of curcumin were not observed when 15 g of curcumin was orally dosed to riding horses for 30 days. The inability for curcumin to decrease the parasite shedding load would suggest that curcumin will need to be dosed for longer periods of time or at higher dosages, if using for intestinal parasite control. However, it is possible that curcumin can decrease inflammation after 14 days of administration.”

For more details, see:

A Pilot Study on the Effects of Curcumin on Parasites, Inflammation, and Opportunistic Bacteria in Riding Horses

Samantha Wuest, Rebecca L. Atkinson Stephanie D. Bland Darcie Hastings

Journal of Equine Veterinary Science (2017) Vol 57, p 46-50

It is said that chicken tikka masala is now Great Britain’s favourite dish. If so, perhaps we should anticipate an improvement in public health, given the supposed health-giving properties of turmeric. Turmeric, a spice long used in Asian cooking, also has an impressive pedigree of medicinal uses.

Numerous laboratory studies have suggested that turmeric (or more specifically curcumin, an active constituent) has not only anti-inflammatory properties, but antimicrobial, wound healing, and anti-parasitic properties as well.