5 Wonderful Herbs for Dog Joint Care

It’s a sad realisation when we notice our dog getting a little stiffer or moving a little slower.  Of course, we take it upon ourselves to make them as comfortable as possible.

Joint degradation is a normal part of life, but as we know, certain things can speed it up.  Alongside this, there are things we can do to potentially limit some of the damage, and food, nutrients and herbs that can help modulate the inflammatory process.

We have compiled 5 of our favourite herbs for joint care in the dog.

Joint Degradation

Joint degradation is characterised by inadequate production of compounds necessary to its structure, along with reduced collagen synthesis.  This can be a result of physical stress, trauma, autoimmunity, or aging.  Here, inflammation is upregulated, creating further breakdown.  It results in weak, damaged, or inflamed tissue with restricted or painful movement.

Tissues are in the firing line when carrying out any physical activity and they may be susceptible to physical stress, strain, or trauma.  Unexpected force or sudden changes in direction or speed are also more likely to cause issues (read: overweight dogs and those who chase balls regularly).  This can be a particular risk during the winter, when walking in snowy, icy, or even muddy conditions.  Tendons and ligaments are dependent on physical activity to develop, but it must be in moderation and appropriate.

Joint degradation therefore has a number of risk factors:

  • Nutritional insufficiency
  • Physical stress or trauma
  • Overuse – aging,
  • Excess weight
  • Autoimmunity

The main concern in joint degradation is inflammation and the associated pain.

And this is where our wonderful herbs can come in.

1) Horsetail

Horsetail is a popular fern that has been used as an herbal remedy since the times of the Greek and Roman Empires.  It grows wildly in Northern Europe and America, as well as in other moist places with temperate climates. It has a long, green, and densely branched stem that grows from spring to autumn.

This plant contains a range of beneficial compounds, but we are most interested in its silica content and also its ability to function as an antioxidant.

Silica, which is also present in bones, improves the formation, density, and consistency of bone and cartilage tissue by enhancing collagen synthesis and improving the absorption and use of calcium.

Horsetail is rich in phenolic compounds which as we know are a group of antioxidants inhibiting oxidative damage.

Not only this, but studies into rheumatoid arthritis have shown that horsetail has a down-regulatory effect on pro-inflammatory factors.  It is often described as a great regulator of inflammation.

Findings Here

2) Turmeric

Turmeric is a flowering plant, but it’s the root we’re most interested in.  Part of the ginger family, it looks very similar, but it’s the smell that helps you differentiate.

Turmeric is frequently used in humans, to help with a range of diseases and conditions including skin, pulmonary, aches, pains, sprains, liver issues and cancer.  Curcumin specifically is argued to be anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-microbial, anti-tumour and helpful in wound healing.  Used in Ayurvedic and Chinese Medicine for centuries, it is now finding a place in Western Medicine.

Many joint issues feature chronic inflammation, and in supporting our dogs, we aim to reduce pain and inflammation.

So here comes turmeric with its anti-inflammatory properties!

Several studies have shown that when supplemented with turmeric, arthritic dogs show a marked improvement in their daily life activity without any side effects!

Findings Here

3) Ginger

A University of Miami study concluded that ginger extract could be a substitute to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). The study compared the effects of a highly concentrated ginger extract to placebo in 247 patients with osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee. The ginger reduced pain and stiffness in knee joints by 40 percent over the placebo.

Research shows that ginger affects certain inflammatory processes at a cellular level, and as we know, many pathologies involving the joints have inflammation as the key player.

There are more than 1300 types of ginger plant, and they contain a wide range of nutrients, including:

  • vitamin C
  • vitamin B6
  • the minerals magnesium, potassium, and copper
  • gingerols, shogaols, paradols, and other phytonutrients and polyphenols

Gingerol, shogaol, and paradols all have antioxidant properties, and gingerol and paradols are also anti-inflammatory.

4) Boswellia Serrata

Boswellia resin can inhibit a branch of the arachidonic acid cascade related to leukotriene synthesis seemingly without affecting prostaglandin synthesis. It is considered that the excessive formation of leukotrienes is responsible for chronic inflammation.

In 2004, researchers investigated the role of boswellia in inflammatory joint disease.  After two weeks of treatment, an overall efficacy of the dietary supplement was evident in 71% of 24 eligible dogs.  A statistically significant reduction of severity and resolution of typical clinical signs in individual animals, such as intermittent lameness, local pain and stiff gait, were reported after 6 weeks.  Effects of external factors that aggravate lameness, such as “lameness when moving” and “lameness after a long rest” diminished gradually.

They therefore concluded that boswellia herbal dietary supplement provided symptomatic support in canine osteoarthritic disease.

Findings Here

5) Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is an evergreen shrub that grows in India, the Middle East, and parts of Africa. It has a long history of use in traditional medicine.

We most commonly use it for its calming effect on anxiety symptoms along with building stress resilience, so it can help modulate any mood disturbances alongside chronic pain.

But this wonderful herb may also act as a pain reliever, preventing signals from travelling along the central nervous system.  It is also thought to have anti-inflammatory properties.

One hundred and twenty-five patients with joint pain were screened at an Ayurvedic hospital in New Delhi, India.  They ingested ashwagandha powder daily for three weeks to establish any symptomatic improvement.

A significant change in post-treatment scores of tender joint counts, swollen joint counts, physician global assessment score, patient global assessment score, pain assessment score and patient self-assessed disability index score were reported.

The researchers concluded that ashwagandha has a potential role in inflammatory joint conditions; but due to the small sample size, further studies should be carried out.

Findings Here

The role of ashwagandha in inflammatory disease highlights a consideration we often miss; that stress is an important risk factor; whether physical or emotional.

Joint issues in our dogs can be a challenge to manage, and it’s important we take a multimodal approach.  If you would like to learn more about how nutrition can support joint health, then check out our other blogs here:

Natural Arthritis Guide

Can Nutrition Support Joint Health

Nutrients for Bone and Joint Health

5 Superfoods For Joint Health in Dogs

How To Choose a Good Joint Supplement

In addition, if you would like a consultation to explore whether your dog’s current needs are being met, then check out our services to see how we can help.

It goes without saying, but please double check with a qualified practitioner before including any new herbs in your dog’s diet; especially if they are currently on any medications or have existing health issues.

Thanks for reading,

MPN Team x

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