Can Curcumin Aid Post-Exercise Recovery? (And a Bonus Curcumin Smoothie recipe!)
Curcumin is generally known for its anti-inflammatory properties, making it a useful natural alternative to help relieve pain. However, recent clinical studies reveal that curcumin may have the potential to aid not only in pain relief, but also in helping the body recover and become stronger after intense exercise.
Curcumin’s healing properties
Clinical studies have pointed to the potential of curcumin to possess anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, glucose-lowering, anti-oxidant, wound-healing and anti-microbial properties (Gupta et al., 2013). Because of the reported benefits of curcumin over the world, it is gaining the attention of clinical researchers investigating how it may play a part in improving outcomes for patients suffering from neurodegenerative diseases, arthritis, diabetes, and cancer (Aggarwal & Harikumar, 2009).
What is bioavailability and why does it matter?
Bioavailability is an important factor in the effectiveness of curcumin absorbed in the body. Taken alone, curcumin’s effect is limited because its chemical structure inhibits the body from being able to absorb it. Increasing the bioavailability of curcumin by buffering it with black pepper enables the body to absorb it better. Increasing the bioavailability of curcumin has been found to produce a better regenerative response and studies show that this is a vital factor for curcumin’s effects to be felt (Anand et al., 2007).
How can curcumin help the body heal?
Researchers studying the effects of intense exercise found that taking curcumin supplements helped the body, specifically the muscles, to recover better and faster. Studying the effects of curcumin on various forms and types of exercise, such as running, cycling, weight-lifting and swimming, for different ages, abilities and fitness levels, research suggests that curcumin works in a variety of ways to decrease the signalling response of receptors in the body which work against recovery (Campbell et al., 2021).
Cumin, inflammation, and delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMs)
While gentle and light exercise can help reduce inflammation, intense and prolonged exercise can lead to inflammation, muscle damage and oxidative stress which is why recovery after training is important.
Intense exercise sends receptors, or signals, around the body to begin a process to heal and rebuild itself after it has been put under stress. Inflammation is one of these receptors and is an important factor for the body to begin the healing process.
Another product of intense exercise is delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMs) which usually occurs 1-2 days after intense workouts, and is usually treated with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen.
Taking NSAIDs after workouts may have a therapeutic effect, however studies show that it does not improve recovery after intensive workouts (Schoenfeld, 2012). This may be because NSAIDs block the inflammatory response in the body and at the same time, stopping the signals which tell the body to start the healing process from being sent (Koes et al, 2018). Repeated NSAID use may also have long-term health consequences (Auriel et al., 2014).
On the other hand, curcumin may be a natural alternative for people doing intensive exercise because it works to regulate the signals responsible for inflammation and DOMs instead of stopping these signals from being sent altogether (Fang & Nasir, 2020). It may also improve the time it takes for the muscles to repair themselves, decreasing the time it takes to recover from intense workouts (Campbell et al., 2021).
How much curcumin should I take?
Studies indicate that taking curcumin with high bioavailability before and after exercise may effectively reduce muscle soreness, decrease inflammation, improve performance, and reduce oxidative stress (Fang & Nasir, 2021; Campbell et al., 2021).
Nutra Nourished Electrolyte Powder contains a half-dose of curcumin, which means that you can choose to have two servings to equal one daily dose, or by having a Turmeric 95% coffee or cocoa hot chocolate, or Turmeric 95% Curcumin capsules to supplement the half-dose. I create a Curcumin smoothie to reach my full daily dose.
My Curcumin Smoothie Recipe
Blend ½ teaspoon (or less if you have already had a half-dose) of Tumeric 95% Curcumin Powder with 1 banana, a splash of your choice of milk (I use soy milk), and protein powder (I use vanilla) to create a smoothie. I also add a drop of high-quality Australian Manuka honey and add a little extra milk to reach desired consistency. I keep this smoothie in the fridge to enjoy after workouts.
Do you have a favourite curcumin recipe? We’d love to hear from you!
*This does not constitute as nutritional advice and as always, please consult your healthcare professional for health advice.
Aggarwal, B. B., & Harikumar, K. B. (2009). Potential therapeutic effects of curcumin, the anti-inflammatory agent, against neurodegenerative, cardiovascular, pulmonary, metabolic, autoimmune and neoplastic diseases. The International Journal of Biochemistry & Cell Biology, 41(1), 40-59. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocell.2008.06.010
Anand, P., Kunnumakkara, A. B., Newman, R. A., & Aggarwal, B. B. Bioavailability of curcumin: Problems and promises. Molecular Pharmaceutics, 4(6), 807-818. https://doi.org/10.1021/mp/700113r
Auriel, E., Regev, K., & Korczyn, A. D. (2014). Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs exposure and the central nervous system. Handbook of Clinical Neurology, 119(1), 577-584. https://doi.org/10.1016/b978-0-7020-4086-3.00038-2
Campbell, M. S., Carlini, N. A., & Fleenor, B. S. (2021). Influence of curcumin on performance and post-exercise recovery, Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 61(7), 1152-1162. https://doi.org/10.1080/10408398.2020.1754754
Fang, W., & Nasir, Y. (2020). The effect of curcumin supplementation on recovery following exercise-induced muscle damage and delayed-onset muscle soreness: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Phytotherapy Research, 35(4), 1768-1781. https://doi.org/10.1002/ptr.6912
Gupta, S. C., Patchva, S., & Aggarwal, B. B. (2013). Therapeutic roles of curcumin: Lessons learned from clinical trials. The AAPS Journal, 15(1), 195-218. https://doi.org/10.1208/s12248-012-9432-8
Koes, B., van Ochten, J., & van Middelkoop, M. (2018). NSAIDs use in athletes. SPORTSMEDICIN, 25(1), 25.
Schoenfeld, B. J. (2012). The use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for exercise-induced muscle damage: implications for skeletal muscle development. Sports Medicine, 42(12), 1017-1028. https://doi.org/10.1007/bf03262309