What is a nutraceutical?
A nutraceutical is simply a natural food—or a food-based product (i.e, nutrition) –that is said to have many health and medical benefits, while causing few side effects. For humans, you most likely know about these when you hear things about the antioxidant effects of fruit or the importance of phytonutrients, probiotics or digestive enzymes, among other substances, in keeping us healthy. Now, though, many of these have been developed into products for pets and veterinarians, especially the holistic ones, are embracing them.
Nutraceutical might be a vitamins, supplements, botanicals, herbal medications, fatty acids, enzymes or even special diets.
One of the most common uses of nutraceuticals is for pain. Nutraceutical medicine uses nutrients, such as a supplement, as a therapeutic agent. Supplements, such as glucosamine/chondroitin combinations, are administered for pain in dogs, especially for joint problems; they are considered to be all-natural, since they’re derived from cartilage.
Many foods and herbs have anti-inflammatory properties that are now being used often in the treatment of canine arthritis, as people are finding them a good alternative to NSAIDS or prescription medications. The herbs include substances like: boswellia, yucca root, turmeric (and its extract, curcumin), and hawthorn as well as nettle leaf, licorice, and meadowsweet. Bromelain, an enzyme found in pineapples, is known for having strong anti-inflammatory properties. Sometimes, though, certain herbs and supplements will work best when combined with another substance, and that can add to the cost.
Some foods, such as wild-caught salmon or blueberries, are known for reducing inflammation. There are even some special dog foods that are formulated to address specific problems, such as the Science Diet one for joint problems.
Alternatively, though, there are some foods that may aggravate the condition, such as Nightshade vegetables—things that grow at night, such as potatoes, tomatoes or eggplant—because they cause inflammation.
As always, you should check with your veterinarian, nutritionist or other pet expert for advice on what you should be feeding your pet.