Short Term Curcumin Supplementaton May Reduce Muscle Soreness After Exercise

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Short Term Curcumin Supplementaton May Reduce Muscle Soreness After Exercise

According to a new study, ten days of pre and post exercise Curcumin supplementation was associated with reductions in muscle soreness without affecting muscular power when compared to a placebo.

Over 20 people (men and women) in their early 20’s participated in this study.  Participants were randomly assigned to receive either 500 mg of Curcumin standardized to 475 mg of Curcuminoids, or a placebo twice a day for a 10 day period (6 days of pre-exercise, exercise day and 3 days after the exercise test).  On exercise day, the participants were required to do five bouts of 20 drop jumps.

Results showed no significant difference in serum creatine kinase (CK), a marker of muscle damage, between the supplement group and the placebo group at either 48 or 72 hours post exercise.  However, muscle soreness as perceived by the participants was significantly greater in the placebo group at 48 and 72 hours post exercise.  Additionally, inflammation markers tended to be lower in the supplement group when compared with the placebo group.  This supports Curcumin’s role in Inflammation reduction.

Further studies are need to determine the relationship between muscle damage and inflammation as well as the potential impact of Curcumin in sport specific settings.

Here is some additional information about inflammation:

When the body has an inflammatory response to whatever stimulus that might occur, like an injury, an enzyme called COX (cyclooxygenase) is released.  This COX enzyme promotes the inflammation response.  There are 2 COX enzymes at work in the body COX-1 and COX-2.  The COX-1 enzymes are found in most tissues and are needed for many important functions.  The COX-2 enzyme is needed when the body tries to heal itself when inflammation occurs.  When inflammation is ongoing or chronic, like when a person has arthritis or another chronic disorder caused by inflammation, a person will experience pain and discomfort.  Herbal COX-2 inhibitors are extremely helpful for these types of situations because they block the release of the COX-2 enzyme and aid in the reduction of both pain and inflammation.

Here is a breakdown on some of the nutrients that might work for supporting your body’s response to inflammation and what they do:


This bright yellow spice, derived from Curry, has been used as a traditional remedy dating as far back as 600 BCE.  The benefit found in Turmeric comes from its phyto-nutrient Curcumin and its benefits are dependent on to its curcuminoid content.  Curcuminoids stop the release of LOX (5-lipo-oxygenase and COX (cyclo-oxygenase) enzymes.  In previous studies supplementation with Curcuminoids was as effective as cortisone or other similar type medications in cases of severe inflammation and at least 50% as effective as these drugs for treating chronic inflammation (like Rheumatoid Arthritis).  One study found Curcuminoids to be more effective than either the NSAID (non-sterioidal anti-inflammatory drug) Phenylbutazone or a placebo for inflammation occurring after surgery.


This enzyme found in pineapples is called a proteolytic (protein-digesting) enzyme.  Bromelain exhibits protein digesting activity on many proteins by breaking these proteins down into smaller particles (peptides and amino acids).  Research also shows Bromelain has anti-inflammatory capabilities.  At least 4 studies have shown Bromelain to be effective for treating minor injuries like abrasions, lacerations, hematomas, sprains, strains and bruises as well as major injuries like fractures, minor surgery and low back pain.  Research has also shown Bromelain to reduce swelling and inflammation after surgery.  A few clinical trials have shown Bromelain to be effective in decreasing vein inflammation (thrombophlebitis) and to reduce pain from vein inflammation and angina.  Rheumatoid arthritis sufferers also saw a 73% improvement when supplementing with Bromelain in one clinical study. In a double blind study 87% of participants supplementing with Bromelain reported benefits with reducing acute sinusitis symptoms when compared with a placebo group.

Although Bromelain is not recognized as a COX-2 inhibitor, it is not completely understood how Bromelain works.  It however appears to be both a safe and effective supplement.


Mostly known for its anti nausea properties, Ginger is a very effective anti-inflammatory herb.  Historically Ginger has been used to aid arthritis and rheumatism.  Studies show Ginger has been useful in reducing symptoms of muscular discomfort, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis.  One specific double blind trial found Ginger extract to be more effective than a placebo in reducing pain in participants with osteoarthritis of the hip or knee.

Ginger is believed to be a COX-2 and LOX inhibitor.


Boswellia comes from the resin of Boswellia serrata and is used to treat inflammatory conditions like cervical spondylitis (inflammation of the vertebrae), osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Boswellic acid is the phyto-nutrient found in Boswellia that gives this herb its beneficial properties.  Boswellic acid inhibits the synthesis of inflammatory compounds (leukotrienes) that are produced when oxygen interacts with polyunsaturated fatty acids.  Many conditions are associated with the formation of these inflammatory compounds.  Boswellic acid stops the formation of these inflammatory compounds but unlike corticosteroids it does not have any toxicity or side effects.  In a clinical study, Boswellic acids where given to over 260 participants with rheumatoid arthritis.  Reductions in pain and swelling were seen when compared with participants supplementing with a placebo.  Participants also reported they were able to reduce their intake of NSAIDs during the study period.

White Willow Bark (Salicin):

There are 300 different species of Willow (Salix) which are native to North America, Asia, Europe and England.  Ancient Egyptians used the Willow bark for pain and inflammation.  Native Americans used Willow for pain relief.  Salicin, Willows phyto-nutrient was discovered in 1829.  Almost 10 years later Salicylic Acid was synthesized by an Italian chemist from Wintergreen and other plants.  In the 19th century, Salicylic Acid and Salicin were used for fevers, inflammation, pain, and gout.  However, high dosages of Salicylic Acid lead to gastric irritation.  In the late 19th century Bayer Company synthesized acetylsalicylic acid and aspirin was introduced.

Salicin from Willow, or other plants like Meadowsweet, can be used by the body to form Salicylic Acid which provides pain relieving and anti-inflammatory actions as well as the COX-2 inhibition properties of aspirin but without the blood thinning effects of aspirin.  One study showed taking White Willow Bark (Standardized for its Salicin; 240 mg of Salicin) helped modestly in reducing pain caused by osteoarthritis of either the knee or hip.  Another study found 120-240 mg of Salicin from White Willow Bark Extract reduced pain in some participants.


Phellodendron Amurense, also known as CorkTree, is one of the 50 fundamental herbs issued in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Phellodendron contains certain alkaloids known to have the ability to inhibit both COX-1 and COX-2 release as well as block the actions of Tumor Necrosis Factor alpha (TNF-a), a pro-inflammatory cytokine, which is a major component of the inflammatory response.  Phellodendron has been shown to stop the progression of osteoarthritis in cartilage.


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