PainSci summary of Nicol 2015: ?This page is one of thousands in the PainScience.com bibliography. It is not a general article: it is focused on a single scientific paper, and it may provide only just enough context for the summary to make sense. Links to other papers and more general information are provided at the bottom of the page, as often as possible.
Curcumin “exerts potent anti-inflammatory effects.” In this study, “curcumin caused moderate to large reductions in pain” in 17 men with very sore leg muscles. It also helped some aspects of strength loss. The effect size here passes the “impress me” test. These results constitute the only really good science news about any kind of treatment for delayed-onset muscle soreness. Now it just needs to be replicated.
Note that curcumin is poorly absorbed without other agents such as black pepper extract (piperine).
original abstract †Abstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.
INTRODUCTION: Oral curcumin decreases inflammatory cytokines and increases muscle regeneration in mice.
PURPOSE: To determine effects of curcumin on muscle damage, inflammation and delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) in humans.
METHOD: Seventeen men completed a double-blind randomized-controlled crossover trial to estimate the effects of oral curcumin supplementation (2.5 g twice daily) versus placebo on single-leg jump performance and DOMS following unaccustomed heavy eccentric exercise. Curcumin or placebo was taken 2 d before to 3 d after eccentric single-leg press exercise, separated by 14-d washout. Measurements were made at baseline, and 0, 24 and 48-h post-exercise comprising: (a) limb pain (1-10 cm visual analogue scale; VAS), (b) muscle swelling, (c) single-leg jump height, and (d) serum markers of muscle damage and inflammation. Standardized magnitude-based inference was used to define outcomes.
RESULTS: At 24 and 48-h post-exercise, curcumin caused moderate-large reductions in pain during single-leg squat (VAS scale -1.4 to -1.7; 90 %CL: ±1.0), gluteal stretch (-1.0 to -1.9; ±0.9), squat jump (-1.5 to -1.1; ± 1.2) and small reductions in creatine kinase activity (-22-29 %; ±21-22 %). Associated with the pain reduction was a small increase in single-leg jump performance (15 %; 90 %CL ± 12 %). Curcumin increased interleukin-6 concentrations at 0-h (31 %; ±29 %) and 48-h (32 %; ±29 %) relative to baseline, but decreased IL-6 at 24-h relative to post-exercise (-20 %; ±18 %).
CONCLUSIONS: Oral curcumin likely reduces pain associated with DOMS with some evidence for enhanced recovery of muscle performance. Further study is required on mechanisms and translational effects on sport or vocational performance.
- “Curcumin boosts DHA in the brain: Implications for the prevention of anxiety disorders,” Aiguo Wu, Emily E Noble, Ethika Tyagi, Zhe Ying, Yumei Zhuang, and Fernando Gomez-Pinilla, Biochim Biophys Acta, 2015.
- “An investigation of the effects of curcumin on anxiety and depression in obese individuals: A randomized controlled trial,” Habibollah Esmaily, Amirhossein Sahebkar, Mehrdad Iranshahi, Shiva Ganjali, Akram Mohammadi, Gordon Ferns, and Majid Ghayour-Mobarhan, Chin J Integr Med, 2015.
This page is part of the PainScience BIBLIOGRAPHY, which contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers & others sources. It’s like a highly specialized blog. A few highlights:
- Relationships Between Sleep Quality and Pain-Related Factors for People with Chronic Low Back Pain: Tests of Reciprocal and Time of Day Effects. Gerhart 2017 Ann Behav Med.
- Modulation in the elastic properties of gastrocnemius muscle heads in individuals with plantar fasciitis and its relationship with pain. Zhou 2020 Sci Rep.
- Association Between Plantar Fasciitis and Isolated Gastrocnemius Tightness. Nakale 2018 Foot Ankle Int.
- No Added Benefit of Combining Dry Needling With Guideline-Based Physical Therapy When Managing Chronic Neck Pain: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Stieven 2020 J Orthop Sports Phys Ther.
- Effectiveness of customised foot orthoses for Achilles tendinopathy: a randomised controlled trial. Munteanu 2015 Br J Sports Med.