Data supports curcumin’s post-exercise muscle benefits for sedentary people

By Stephen Daniells contact

- Last updated on GMT

© microgen / Getty Images
© microgen / Getty Images

Related tags: Curcumin, Sports nutrition, recovery

Supplementation with curcumin may protect against muscle damage and enhance performance after acute physical exercise for sedentary individuals, says a new systematic review of the data that supports the effects observed in athletic adults.

Writing in Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity​ scientists report that curcumin supplementation was also associated with decreases in levels of inflammatory markers.

“Curcumin supplementation is safe and probably represents beneficial sport potential, demonstrating effectiveness before and/or after acute physical exercise in sedentary individuals,” ​wrote the reviewers, led by Professor Ceres Mattos Della Lucia in t the Department of Nutrition and Health at the Federal University of Viçosa in Brazil.

$135+ million in sales

The data adds to the ever-growing body of science supporting the potential health benefits of turmeric and curcumin.

According to the 2020 Herb Market Report published by the American Botanical Council (HerbalGram​ 131), turmeric is the number three selling herb in the natural channel, with $41.5 million in sales. It is number four in the mass channel (MULO) with $97 million in sales in 2020.

Consumer awareness and understanding of the botanical’s potential benefits are now very high, with data from the ITC Insights 2020 Consumer Survey showing that 86% of supplement consumers are familiar with curcumin/turmeric.

Systematic review

While previous studies have reported the potential beneficial effects of curcumin in physically active adults, there is less data in the literature about the effects of the botanical for less active adults, so the Brazil-based scientists performed a systematic review of the literature to assess if similar benefits are observed.

Five clinical trials were identified and included in their review.

“Our review showed that curcumin supplementation reduced inflammation and muscle pain resulting from acute physical activity. In addition, it has improved muscle recovery and sports performance and reduced fatigue,” ​they wrote.

The researchers also noted that to reduce pain and muscle damage (measured using serum creatine kinase (CK)) associated with acute exercise, curcumin doses ranging from 0.18 g to 0.4 grams per day have been reported.

“It is possible that the direct action of curcumin in the inhibition of NF-kappa B can inhibit enzymes that generate ROS, such as COX-2,” ​wrote the researchers. “It has also been reported that another possible mechanism for reducing CK activity through curcumin is the inhibition of the production of histamine and prostaglandin due to the suppression of the positive regulation of COX-2, showing a protective effect of the membrane, influencing vascular permeability.

“Although the mechanisms linked to the positive effects of curcumin during physical activities, as well as the doses and exposure time, are poorly understood, the evidence on the anti-inflammatory potential of these molecules is more objective and suggests a reduction in proinflammatory markers promoting a rapid tissue recovery after stress.”

“We believe that the results presented in this study are important and valuable as they bring new knowledge about the potential use of curcumin and its benefits in the practice of strenuous exercise by sedentary individuals. However, they should also be treated with caution, as the low number of clinical trials found on the subject can be pointed out as a limitation of this review because when there are fewer studies, the power of the tests is too low to distinguish chance from real asymmetry,” ​they concluded.

Source: Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity
Volume 2021, Article ID 9264639, doi: 10.1155/2021/9264639
“Effects of Curcumin Supplementation on Inflammatory Markers, Muscle Damage, and Sports Performance during Acute Physical Exercise in Sedentary Individuals”
Authors: K. Aparecida Dias et al.

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