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Papers of the Week

2022 Jul 13

Eur J Nutr

Effect of curcumin supplementation on exercise-induced muscle damage: a narrative review.


Nanavati K, Rutherfurd-Markwick K, Lee SJ, Bishop NC, Ali A
Eur J Nutr. 2022 Jul 13.
PMID: 35831667.


Curcumin, a natural polyphenol extracted from turmeric, is a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. In the past few decades, curcumin's ability to impact chronic inflammatory conditions such as metabolic syndrome, arthritis, and cancer has been widely researched, along with growing interest in understanding its role in exercise-induced muscle damage (EIMD). EIMD impacts individuals differently depending on the type (resistance exercise, high-intensity interval training, and running), intensity, and duration of the exercise. Exercise disrupts the muscles' ultrastructure, raises inflammatory cytokine levels, and can cause swelling in the affected limb, a reduction in range of motion (ROM), and a reduction in muscular force-producing capacity. This review focuses on the metabolism, pharmacokinetics of various brands of curcumin supplements, and the effect of curcumin supplementation on EIMD regarding muscle soreness, activity of creatine kinase (CK), and production of inflammatory markers. Curcumin supplementation in the dose range of 90-5000 mg/day can decrease the subjective perception of muscle pain intensity, increase antioxidant capacity, and reduce CK activity, which reduces muscle damage when consumed close to exercise. Consumption of curcumin also improves muscle performance and has an anti-inflammatory effect, downregulating the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, including TNF-α, IL-6, and IL-8. Curcumin may also improve oxidative capacity without hampering training adaptations in untrained and recreationally active individuals. The optimal curcumin dose to ameliorate EIMD is challenging to assess as its effect depends on the curcumin concentration in the supplement and its bioavailability.