Many of the drugs that improve our daily lives were first found in nature – the discovery of aspirin began with willow tree bark, penicillin was first extracted from a common mold, and myriad other life-enhancing compounds have roots in the natural world.
Dr. Erin Scott, an assistant professor at Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, found inspiration in the turmeric plant, a member of the ginger family known for its bright yellow color that may have powerful anti-inflammatory properties that are useful the treatment of uveitis in dogs.
Continue reading: Muesli peanut butter crunchies with turmeric recipe
“Uveitis is inflammation in the eyes of dogs that can cause discomfort and sensitivity to light,” said Scott. “It’s common in dogs and has many causes. We can see uveitis as a result of infectious diseases, cancer and autoimmune diseases. Uveitis can also occur with long-lasting cataracts and after cataract surgery. “
According to Scott, uveitis is a leading cause of complications after cataract surgery in dogs, and managing post-operative inflammation in the eye is a major challenge in both veterinary and human ophthalmology.
Symptoms of uveitis
- Eye pain
- Reddening of the dog’s eye
- Excessive squint
- Avoid bright lights
- Cloudy appearance in the dog’s eye
An owner might suspect their pet has this condition if they keep their affected eye closed by squinting and avoiding bright lights. A pet’s eye may also appear cloudy or have excessive cracks.
“Current treatments for canine uveitis include a combination of systemic and topical anti-inflammatory drugs, either in the form of steroids or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs),” said Scott.
While these drugs are effective in treating uveitis, they can cause undesirable side effects such as vomiting, diarrhea, stomach ulcers, adversely affect kidney and liver function, and increase glucose levels in diabetics.
For these reasons, Scott and her colleagues at the Texas A&M College of Pharmacy studied the anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin, a compound found in turmeric, and found that this natural compound is safe when processed into a special nanoparticle formulation that contains the Promotes absorption and is effective in treating uveitis with no known side effects.
Although the nanoparticle formulation of curcumin used by Scott in her research is not yet available to the public, she is optimistic that her results will lead to advances in the treatment of uveitis in humans and dogs.
For now, pet owners who suspect their dog may have uveitis should contact their veterinarian to determine the most current and best route of treatment for their furry friend.
“This formulation is something to look for in the future as we will need more testing to confirm our results. At this point, pet owners should follow their veterinarian’s recommendations, “said Scott.” We hope to start a clinical trial of this new drug in the near future. “