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Turmeric Improves Muscle Recovery After Intense Exercise

22 May 2021
Giulio Prisco


A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial was conducted to evaluate the effects of turmeric extract on inflammation and muscle damage after a half-marathon race of about 13 miles.

Turmeric is a widely used spice that exhibits potent anti-inflammatory response. And it appears to decrease the muscle damage induced by strenuous exercise.

As a consequence of strenuous exercise, people can experience impaired neuromuscular function, greater oxidative stress, inflammation, reduced range of motion, muscle soreness, and muscle damage.

Strategies able to attenuate the exacerbated inflammatory response caused by strenuous exercise are becoming increasingly popular. Among them, nutritional supplements with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties have been widely consumed for this purpose.

In previous studies, curcumin was shown to attenuate inflammation, to prevent muscle damage, and to reduce the pain associated with muscle soreness after intense exercise, which favors recovery of muscle performance. Curcumin is a substance extracted from turmeric with powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

The trial is described in a study published in European Journal of Applied Physiology. It involved twenty-eight healthy, normal-weight men. They were randomly assigned to one of two groups:

  1. turmeric extract (3 capsules per day, 500 mg each)
  2. placebo (3 capsules per day, 500 mg of microcrystalline cellulose)

The participants received either turmeric extract or placebo for 4 weeks. And researchers measured markers of muscle damage, such as creatine kinase, lactate dehydrogenase, alanine aminotransferase, aspartate aminotransferase, myoglobin, and interleukins 6 and 10. Measurements were taken before, immediately after, and at 2, 24, and 48 hours after a half-marathon race.

The half-marathon race increased markers of inflammation and muscle damage. A greater increase in interleukin-10 was observed in the participants who received turmeric extract immediately after the competition, compared to the participants who received placebo. Myoglobin concentration was lower 2 hours after the race in the participants who received turmeric extract, compared to the participants who received placebo.

Interleukin-10 is an anti-inflammatory cytokine that acts by suppressing the activation and function of immune cells after an initial inflammatory response is established. Increased interleukin-10 concentration can accelerate the inflammatory recovery process. Myoglobin is one of the intramuscular proteins used to monitor muscle damage.

The conclusion of the study is that turmeric extract supplementation leads to an increase in interleukin-10 and a decrease in myoglobin in recreational male runners after a half-marathon race. Both these results indicate a positive impact of turmeric extract supplementation on the participants.

The researchers acknowledge that the limitations of this study include the inclusion of a specific population group (healthy, normal-weight men) and the performance of only one type of physical activity (half-marathon race), which is a very intense one. Further research is needed to investigate the effects of turmeric extract supplementation in other population groups (e.g., women, older adults, and individuals with obesity) performing different types of physical activity (e.g., resistance or aerobic exercise training and other sports).

Thrivous provides a clinical dose of turmeric curcumin in each serving of Tenacity Arthroprotector. Tenacity also includes complementary nutrients to enhance joint and bone function. And, like all Thrivous supplements, Tenacity passes through multiple rounds of rigorous quality control. Tenacity is available to purchase via the Thrivous website.

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