You may be familiar with turmeric as a popular spice in Indian cuisine. It gives curry its yellow color. But did you know that...

You may be familiar with turmeric as a popular spice in Indian cuisine. It gives curry its yellow color. But did you know that it has antioxidant properties that are showing good results in fighting inflammation? 

The most active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin, a polyphenol that has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antifungal properties. Good news when fighting off the flu this time of year. Polyphenols have been shown to fight free radicals. Those are the cells that cause confusion among otherwise healthy cells. Free radicals are highly reactive molecules without matching electrons. As a result, the complimentary companion signal is lost and the free radicals act like foreign invaders. Antioxidants fight back by helping to neutralize these free radicals and stimulate your body’s own cells to fight back. Curcumin has been shown to act as a potent antioxidant.

However, turmeric is difficult for your body to absorb and will pass through your digestive system with little impact without the addition of piperine, a key ingredient of black pepper.

I personally consume turmeric and black pepper as a tea that comes as a powdered mix that I add to boiling water, turn the burner off and simmer for about 15 minutes. Then I dilute the tea with additional water or juice (no sugar added). I use it as an anti-inflammatory for arthritis symptoms in my feet and neck. It seems that I have more flexibility in my neck after drinking the tea and less pain in my feet.

I also put a mixture of turmeric and black pepper in the feed for my horses. They have joint inflammation caused by overwork or injuries that occurred before I purchased them. We bought our horses over the summer from a horse rescue group in North Carolina that had very little background information about them. My Quarter Horse gelding has shown more flexibility and less pain in his hocks (back leg joint) since I have started using the spice combo in his feed.

 I generally feel some relief within an hour or two after consuming the tea. 

For my gelding, the visible improvement has been much slower, and it took a couple of weeks to see any noticeable improvement. Horses tend to react to the anticipation of pain almost as much as the actual pain, and will limit their movement accordingly. It took much coaxing to encourage him to flex his joints again, but since introducing turmeric and black pepper to his diet, he now allows me to pick up his back legs without the hesitation he had before.

High levels of inflammation occur after a sudden injury in order to repair the damaged tissue. Whether his stiffness was caused by a single injury or overwork we may never know, but research shows that low levels of constant inflammation may contribute to chronic illness. By feeding him turmeric and black pepper, and consuming the tea myself, I’m trying to prevent the long-term effects of chronic pain and make riding him an enjoyable pain free activity for both of us again.

If you are having pain issues caused by chronic inflammation, make turmeric tea one of your de-stressing activities; a morning break, afternoon tea time, or evening ritual. Turmeric and black pepper can also be taken by pill or capsule, or sprinkled as a spice on food, but be sure to look for the added piperine/black pepper ingredient for maximum absorption. Turmeric and black pepper are generally safe for animals, but consult your veterinarian for proper dosage. Please consult your physician before trying any new medical regimen that might be used in addition to or as a replacement for any other prescribed drug. 

The main reason antioxidants are so beneficial is that they protect your body from free radicals.

Curcumin is a potent antioxidant that can neutralize free radicals due to its chemical structure.

In addition, curcumin boosts the activity of your body’s own antioxidant enzymes).

In that way, curcumin delivers a one-two punch against free radicals. It blocks them directly, then stimulates your body’s own antioxidant defenses.