Turmeric is known and used throughout the world in cooking and for its medicinal uses. It’s best known for its anti-inflammatory properties, but it has many other medicinal properties as well. While we have a full-time vet at the Sanctuary, we also work with other medical professionals from all over the world, including vets who work extensively with elephants in other countries.
One of these vets uses turmeric on an elephant under her care. When she was visiting with us at the sanctuary, we discussed soaks and different treatments. Because of Lady’s tendency to drink and bathe in her soaks (although now she waits until her feet are done), we chose to go with a poultice instead. As you can see in the photo, we started using it on Lady’s back feet earlier this week.
There are many different methods and ways to use turmeric topically. This recipe is left on for about twenty minutes before being rinsed off. As anyone who has cooked with it or used it for their pets knows, Turmeric tends to stain skin, nails, and fabric a bright yellow. These treatments don’t seem to be staining her nails or feet yellow (not yet). If they ever do turn yellow, turmeric dye is not UV resistant, so it would fade quickly in the bright Brazilian sun.
We are still working on teaching Lady to present her feet in a way that allows us access to her pads. In the meantime, we are getting her accustomed to our scrubbing, touching, and washing her feet and nails. This way, once she starts presenting her feet, she will be somewhat desensitized to all of those things and more prepared for trimming. In addition to the medical benefits of the poultice, the act of applying it allows her to get comfortable with us touching her feet in all kinds of new and curious ways. She was a little cautious and watchful when we switched to her other foot, but overall decided she was ok with what we were doing.
All of Lady’s care occurs in our protected contact medical care chute (which explains the bars in this photo). Lady is very comfortable entering and standing in the chute. If she demonstrates to us that she is done being in the chute and wants to leave, we can wrap up what we are doing very quickly and allow her to exit. But Lady is excited enough about her daily treatments that she quickly finishes breakfast and goes to the chute gate to be let into her tub.
(While her front feet are substantially worse than her back feet, none of us are quite ready for us to work on her front feet yet. She enjoys her foot soaks on her front feet, so all her feet are receiving regular treatments, just not turmeric poultices at this point).
January 30, 2020
TIP: And if you would like to read more posts on footwork and foot health, use the tags in the gray boxes below to pull up a number of articles.