Known for thousands of years for its restorative and balancing properties, turmeric is much more than a flavorful culinary spice. A member of the ginger family, this perennial plant thrives in the humid hills and valleys of India, extending 1,500 meters above sea level. Chock-full of earthy, aromatic compounds like curcumin, turmeric can lend a helping hand to you and your pet.
You’ll often hear that turmeric and curcumin can promote a healthy inflammatory response, but have you ever wondered why turmeric plants make beneficial compounds like curcumin in the first place? And just how do these naturally occurring antioxidant molecules contribute to a Happy Healthspan for your pet?
Why turmeric is so helpful
It turns out plants produce a diverse class of compounds that we call secondary metabolites. These are an intriguing group of polyphenols that are part of the innate defense systems of plants, produced to fight-off pesky insects and neighbors. These bioactive metabolites are specially designed to ward off unwanted visitors, overwhelming insect nervous systems and causing great distress (some are so specialized they can even change the behavior patterns of insects mid-bite)! While powerful molecules like curcumin are toxic to tiny insects, holistic practitioners and scientists alike have discovered these compounds can do wonders for people and pets. Interestingly, these secondary metabolites provide significant benefits to mammals by ‘attacking the body’ just like insects, but compared to tiny bugs the result of a dog or cat (or person!) ingesting curcumin is truly fantastic.
If you’re interested in learning the hype around turmeric for dogs...
What is curcumin and what does it do?
Curcumin is a very potent antioxidant, a purifying molecule that scrubs your pet clean of highly reactive compounds known as free radicals. While some antioxidants behave like sponges to gather free radicals from around the body (like a security guard that removes unwanted trespassers), other antioxidants work to activate your pet’s innate defense mechanisms (like hiring several more security guards, then giving them a doppio espresso and a healthy pay raise). Secondary metabolites like curcumin do exactly that, in a fascinating and counterintuitive process known as Hormesis. In short, turmeric is considered a very low-level cellular stressor - it tricks the body into upregulating its own defenses in anticipation of something much more nasty. These low-level toxins (called hormetins) do way more good than harm by convincing the body to ‘send out the cavalry’, and this false alarm enhances your pets ability to maintain homeostasis in the face of everyday stress (a key factor in promoting long-term health and wellness for people and pets).
BUYERS BEWARE—HOW TO TELL WHAT WORKS
One last thing - while Turmeric and Curcumin can have powerful effects, it only works if there’s enough of the right kind added to a product. It might seem rather obvious, but we’re constantly disappointed by the number of companies that say “Turmeric” on the label while not using curcumin extracts or large quantities of quality spice.
ALWAYS check the label on a tincture claiming to promote the benefits of turmeric: if the turmeric does not say “extract” or “curcumin”, there’s a sign that you probably want to avoid...
Brady's Senior Formula is a great choice for senior dogs and includes a proprietary blend of organic turmeric extract, wild reishi mushroom, organic gingko biloba, organic bilberry, organic hawthorn berry, and green-lipped mussel.
Other ways to support your health
LAST - did you know that aerobic exercise is a form of hormesis? Cardio is not just about burning calories! While huffing and puffing and burning oxygen for fuel, you and your dog generate low-level toxins in your peripheral tissues (this contributes to stiffness and soreness in joints and muscles when we go at it too hard...I believe we have a product that could help with that!). While heavy exercise can leave you needing a massage and a hot shower, these low-level challenges provide great benefit to your overall health and longevity, activating your internal defense mechanisms and changing your ability to adapt to stressors. Your cat or dog can benefit from the very same aerobic exercise, so remember daily activity is an important factor for any pet’s Happy Healthspan!