Uses of Turmeric (Curcumin) in animals

Pashu Sandesh, 31st May 2019

Dr Mamta Meena, Dr Rajkishor Gogoi, Dr Pooja Patel


Curcumin is a phyto-polyphenol pigment isolated from the plant Curcuma longa, commonly known as turmeric, with a variety of pharmacologic properties. It is sold as a herbal supplement, cosmetics ingredient, food flavouring and food colouring agent. Curcumin also has been used historically in Ayurvedic medicine. It’s a polyphenol with anti-inflammatory properties and the ability to increase the number of antioxidants that the body produces. It's being explored also as a cancer treatment because inflammation appears to play a role in cancer. In humans, curcumin taken orally is poorly absorbed and rapidly metabolized and eliminated. Therefore, the potential of curcumin as a therapeutic agent is limited by its poor bioavailability. In animals, curcumin or turmeric is also found useful like to treat inflammation, pain, burn, a cancerous growth, wound healing, bacterial and viral infections. Local farmers can use curcumin in their animals to treat such kind of conditions.

Today curcumin has been widely acknowledged globally as a "wonder drug of the future" because of its great potential abilities to prevent and treat a wide spectrum of chronic diseases by exhibiting anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antimicrobial, and anti-carcinogenic activities, hepato and nephro-protective, thrombosis suppressing, myocardial infarction protective, hypoglycaemic and anti-rheumatic effects. Even at high doses (up to 12 g/day), in phase I clinical trials it has been proved to be remarkably safe in animal studies. However, the major problem limiting the exploitation of its potentially valuable therapeutic effects is its low bioavailability.

Uses of curcumin in animals:

Antioxidant: Oxidative damage is believed to be one of the mechanisms behind ageing and many diseases. It involves free radicals, highly reactive molecules with unpaired electrons. Free radicals tend to react with important organic substances, such as fatty acids, proteins or DNA. Curcumin is a potent antioxidant that can neutralize free radicals due to its chemical structure. In addition, curcumin boosts the activity of the body's own antioxidant enzymes.

Anti-carcinogenic: Laboratory and animal research suggests that curcumin may prevent cancer in animals. It makes chemotherapy more effective, slow the spread of cancer and protect healthy cells from damage by radiation therapy. Curcumin is being studied for use in many types of cancer. Current evidence suggesting that curcumin may help prevent or treat colorectal cancer. Yet, several clinical trials designed to assess the safety and efficacy of curcumin alone or with first-line treatment in patients with breast, prostate, pancreatic, lung, or colorectal cancer are underway.

Anti-inflammatory agent: While a few preliminary trials suggested that curcumin also have anti-inflammatory activities in animals/humans, larger randomized controlled trials are still needed to establish the efficacy of curcumin as an anti-inflammatory agent against rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, and radiotherapy-induced dermatitis. It helps the body of animals to fight foreign invaders and also has a role in repairing the damage. Curcumin is strongly anti-inflammatory. In fact, it’s so powerful that it matches the effectiveness of some anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen, diclofenac, meloxicam, etc.  Many studies show that curcumin can treat symptoms of arthritis and in some cases, it is found more effective than anti-inflammatory drugs.

Bioenhancer: Maximising oral bioavailability is therapeutically important because the extent of bioavailability directly influences plasma concentrations and therapeutic efficacy after oral drug administration. Bioavailability of poorly bioavailable drugs can be increased from the many available approaches in the literature and the most recent approach is the use of bioavailability enhancers or bioenhancer. In animals, curcumin is used as bioenhancer for many antimicrobial agents and anticancer drugs. Curcumin is also found effective against MRSA Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, Mycobacterium tuberculosis and other species. It enhances the bioavailability of drug to peak level when combined with piperine. By the use of bioenhancer such as curcumin and piperine drug resistance of body can be minimised.

Cardiac diseases: Curcumin has beneficial effects on several factors known to play a role in heart disease. It improves the function of the endothelium and prevents animals and human from heart diseases.

Diabetes mellitus: Curcumin plays a major role in the treatment of Type 2 diabetes mellitus. It is found useful in dogs for the treatment of diabetes.

Other benefits of curcumin in humans:

Alzheimer’s disease: Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia characterised by extracellular deposition of β-amyloid plaques, the intracellular formation of neurofibrillary tangles and neuronal loss, eventually leading to brain atrophy and cognitive impairment in affected patients. When injected into the carotid artery, curcumin can cross the blood-brain barrier and has been shown to lead to various improvements in the pathological process of Alzheimer’s disease.

Antidepressant: Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a neuropsychiatric disorder associated with abnormal neurotransmission; it is primarily treated with drugs that improve the bioavailability of neurotransmitters like serotonin, noradrenaline and dopamine in the brain. But nowadays curcumin is found very useful to overcome the problem of depression. Curcumin boosts levels of the brain hormone brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which increases the growth of new neurones and fights various degenerative processes in the brain.

Anti Hypertensive: Curcumin can help to lower the blood pressure of patients in cases of hypertension.

Dr Mamta Meena1 Dr Rajkishor Gogoi2 Dr Pooja Patel3

  1. Assistant Professor of Veterinary Pharmacology and Toxicology, Apollo college of veterinary medicine Jaipur.
  2. Associate Professor of Veterinary Pharmacology and Toxicology, Apollo college of veterinary medicine Jaipur.
  3. Assistant Professor of Veterinary Microbiology, Apollo college of veterinary medicine Jaipur