Lady’s Turmeric Toes

Lady's feet

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

Read More About Lady Here →


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.


  1. REPLY
    Patricia says

    Oh, gosh, those poor feet! I hope Lady will soon allow you to do the whole shebang. I wish all the suffering captive elephants in the world were with you guys. All my love to everybody, and special smoochies to the three girls.

  2. REPLY
    Barb says

    Oh my! Can’t wait for my daughter to read this post. She is a “true believer” in the healing properties of turmeric. Lady’s turmeric toes are great! Glad she accepts the poultice treatment

  3. REPLY
    Julie says

    I love elephant people!

  4. REPLY
    Bobi StaySee says

    Beautiful progress. Good to hear how she loves wrapping up eating to get into her soaks. Her lovely state of mind while meandering around sanctuary has got to contribute to those toes accepting care, recognizing good things happen here!

  5. REPLY
    Lori Hoover says

    Awww, she is such a trooper. Now I’m a bit worried on her front feet, but I’m glad she’s enjoying the soaks. It is obvious how much the soaks, and her new life, have already helped her front feet, I’ll just worry a bit now. I’m almost sensing more bravery on her part, I’m hopeful for her to brave making friends with the other girls, when she’s ready.

  6. REPLY
    Gramma Tammy says

    Elephants with the best care anywhere, your love and thoughtfulness for these special ladies is simply amazing. I only wish all those Elephants suffering around the world could live at the sanctuary which I know is impossible but you know what they say dream big! thanks everyone!

  7. REPLY
    carey says

    Lady Golden Toes ; ) What I am seeing is substantial improvement in the swelling she had, which must make ankle flexibility easier, one thing – are her blackened nails just surface colour ( I noticed that much of it had been scraped or worn away on her Left back foot, and the first pic you published of the before sanctuary and after a week so at sanctuary, her nails on her front feet showed the wearing off of the black

  8. REPLY
    Sheila says

    Maybe I will soak my feet in turmeric foot bath too!! For my Rotten big toe fungus from a Pedicure last summer, ?. I PRAY LADYS FEET HAVE THE OUTCOME UR VET EXPECTS! ESPECIALLY THAT LEFT FOOT! Please let us know in future if Poltices have worked, GOD BLESS U BRAZIL STAFF!??

  9. REPLY
    Rosie P says

    It’s wonderful that Lady Bug loves her soaks so much that she rushes to finish her food to get in the chute. Bless her beautiful heart.
    I am so in awe of your dedication to these magnificent beings. I look forward to the days ahead and Kenya’s habitat being finished. Every week brings her closer to sanctuary and to the “arms of love” supported across the continents. People coming together to ease suffering. I read the blogs and comments each day and it is so uplifting to know that there are so many people who really do care. Thank you for making this all possible.

  10. REPLY
    Maggie says

    Wow, she certainly is much more relaxed with you getting close to her. Turmeric is a fabulous spice. Many healing properties. Good job Lady, you’re wonderful. ??????

  11. REPLY
    Sherry says

    Thank you for taking such good care of the eles! Those elephants know that you are caring for them.

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