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Study Links Curcumin in Turmeric to Sports Performance and Recovery

Last updated: June-28,2021

Role of Curcumin in Sports Performance and Recovery

Turmeric for Athletes

Curcumin, the increasingly popular (and well-researched) curcuminoid found in Turmeric has been dominating industry headlines. One of the driving forces behind curcumin’s seemingly meteoric rise to fame has been its own versatility.

Already recognized for its potential as key supplement ingredient for the “healthy aging”/“beauty from within” categories, the results of sports nutrition studies like this one published in The FASEB Journal during April of 2017 have suggested that curcumin may be able to play a key role in supporting athletic health and muscle recovery.

Turmeric for Muscle Pain

Recognizing that for both competitive/professional level and novice level athletes, training will almost always require the introduction of new or unaccustomed exercise that will – more likely than not – result in the kind of skeletal muscle tissue damage, swelling, (temporarily) decreased force output, and secondary inflammatory response and soreness that we’ve come to associate with healthy exercise.

So where could curcumin come into play? In the words of the researchers:

The antioxidant curcumin is able to counteract the two leading causes of muscle damage, oxidative stress and inflammation, as it interacts with multiple inflammatory pathways.

The researchers argued that if the results of the study supported their hypothesis, then curcumin might prove to be a valuable asset for athletes looking to support muscle recovery and accelerate recovery times.

Turmeric for Muscle Recovery: Study Setup

Working with a popular trademarked form of curcumin currently available to the sports supplement manufacturing industry, the researchers tested and recorded the effects of different sized doses of curcuminoids versus a placebo over the course of an eight-week, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, parallel designed study.

Working with a sample size of 30 healthy male and 29 healthy female volunteers, ranging in age from 20 to 22 years, the researchers measured and recorded the effects of 50 mg curcuminoids, 200 mg curcuminoids, and the placebo before, immediately after, 1 hour after, and 24, 48, and 72 hours after a downhill running protocol.

Study Results

Among other points, the success/failure of the hypothesis was gauged in terms of how much of a primary muscle damage marker, creatine kinase, was present following the bout of muscle damaging exercise. When compared to the results of those participants who were in the placebo group, participants in the curcuminoid groups experienced a significantly reduced spike in creatine kinase following muscle damaging exercise.

This result, paired with the other variables measured during the study, the researchers were able to conclude that:

These data demonstrate curcuminoids reduce muscle damage and improve muscle soreness in healthy young subjects following a bout of muscle damaging exercise. Faster recovery allows for consistent training at competition intensity and might lead to enhanced adaptation rate and performance.

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June 8th, 2017

About the Author:

Gene Bruno

Gene Bruno, MS, MHS, RH(AHG) - Mr. Bruno possesses over 43 years of dietary supplement industry experience. With a Master's degree in nutrition and a second Master's degree in herbal medicine, he has a proven track record of formulating innovative, evidence-based dietary supplements. Mr. Bruno currently serves as both the Senior Director of Product Innovation at Twinlab Corporation and Professor of Nutraceutical Science at Huntington University of Health Sciences.