The ‘Sea Health Series’ is an ongoing category on the All Natural Pet Care Blog.
There are many species of Sea Cucumber (also known as ‘gamat’, ‘hai shen’, ‘beche-de-mer’, or ‘teripang’) harvested from the ocean floor for food and natural extracts or supplements. The most commonly harvested species are Stichopus herrmanni, Thelenota ananas, Thelenota anax, Holothuria fuscogilva, Holothuria fuscopunctata, Actinopyga mauritiana, Actinopyga caerulea and Bohadschia argus.
Sea Cucumber is nutritious, healing, and boasts anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-parasite properties to such an extent that it has been effective in treating malaria. It also supports the immune system and is a source of antioxidants.
Nutritionally, Sea Cucumber is an excellent source of low fat protein (one of the highest protein foods available, in fact). It’s a source of fatty acids and amino acids, including Glycine, Lysine, Arginine, Threonine, Phenylalanine and Tyrosine. It also offers Vitamins A and C, Riboflavin, Niacin, Calcium, Magnesium, Iron and Zinc. A study of the most commonly harvested Sea Cucumber species determined that while comparable, T. ananas, A. mauritiana and B. argus possessed higher nutritional values than other species. The by-products of Sea Cucumber are also nutritious.
Dogs, cats and horses have all been (somewhat informally) studied with positive results in regards to the nutrient bio-availability of Sea Cucumber. Studies have also shown that invertebrates benefit most from nutrition obtained from creatures most like themselves, making Sea Cucumber an excellent choice for aquarium pet invertebrates, such as snails and shrimp. It is also a highly bio-available source of nutrients for tropical fish.
The healing properties of Sea Cucumber have been known in some cultures for hundreds of years. Science has proven this traditional remedy to indeed be effective on several conditions in both humans and animals.
Some of the conditions that may be treated with Sea Cucumber include:
- Chronic joint pain
- Muscle and ligament sprains or strains
- Tissue damage
- Gum disease
- High cholesterol
- Cancer (Research is being conducted into the ability of Sea Cucumber to stop the growth of cancer cells. To our knowledge, no definite conclusions have yet been drawn)
Sea Cucumber is most often found in arthritis and joint supplements. Chondroitin sulfate (Inflastatin may be the actual active ingredient) and mucopolysaccharides support and repair joint cartilage. When whole Sea Cucumber is supplemented, it can be effective in the treatment of joint pain, arthritis, and tendonitis. It is believed to inhibit prostaglandins which cause pain with arthritis, and is also an anti-inflammatory.
The fatty acids in Sea Cucumber offer similar benefits as your average fish oil, including the support of heart and brain function.
Where to Find Sea Cucumber
You will probably find whole, dried Sea Cucumber at Asian markets, which can be rehydrated and served. It’s important that it be obtained from a trusted source that guarantees a properly cleaned and cooked product. Cats may eat it straight from the package.
Sea Cucumber can be purchased as a purified powder, encapsulated supplement in most stores that carry natural supplements. Simply open a capsule and add it to your dog, cat or horse wet food, or use it in homemade food.
Some natural supplements for pet arthritis or related conditions contain Sea Cucumber as part of a formulation. A popular dog treat with Sea Cucumber extract is Ark Naturals Sea Mobility Jerky Strips, which is highly rated for both content and palatability.
Bottom Bites are a super-premium, low-processed, natural fish and invertebrate food that contains Sea Cucumber for easy use in aquariums.
Please share your experiences or questions about Sea Cucumber in the comments below.
Jing Wen. Chaoqun Hu. Sigang Fan. Chemical composition and nutritional quality of sea cucumbers. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture. 2010.
Jean Mamelona. Richard Saint-Louis. Émilien Pelletier. Proximate composition and nutritional profile of by-products from green urchin and Atlantic sea cucumber processing plants. International Journal of Food Science & Technology. 2010.
Shigeto Yoshida. Yohei Shimada. Daisuke Kondoh. Yoshiaki Kouzuma. Anil K. Ghosh. Marcelo Jacobs-Lorena. Robert E. Sinden. Hemolytic C-Type Lectin CEL-III from Sea Cucumber Expressed in Transgenic Mosquitoes Impairs Malaria Parasite Development. 2007.
Messonnier, Shawn DVM. Natural Health Bible for Dogs & Cats: Your A-Z Guide to Over 200 Conditions, Herbs, Vitamins, and Supplements 2001.
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