Benefits to Athletes of Curcumin and Java Turmeric

Curcumin is a natural anti-inflammatory. Inflammation isn’t always a red bump or swelling in a localized area. To put it simply inflammation is a natural defense of your body – it helps the body to heal naturally. The symptoms of that are swelling, redness and inflammation of the area. This is most certainly OK and almost necessary when you have an injury that requires rest and recovery.

Inflammation (especially in athletes) is often mild, but enough to hold us back and negatively affect our training process. Being sore after a heavy workout is a form of inflammation, but even a relatively mild injury is a cause for concern. Specifically inflammation has a nasty side effect known as “secondary muscle damage”, the very thing that causes you to feel sore after a workout.

British Journal of Sports Medicine – Proposed mechanism of the relation between the inflammatory response to mechanical injury and further muscle damage. Inflammation is part of the body’s immune response. At first, it’s beneficial when tissues need care and protection. But, in chronic cases, inflammation can cause further inflammation; it can become self-perpetuating. More inflammation is created in response to the existing inflammation.

For many athletes the issue of inflammation is never resolved, it’s an ongoing struggle. Piling up on top of each other are little injuries, followed by waves of inflammation, which cause more and more damage overtime. Acute inflammation is OK, chronic inflammation is a serious problem.

Curcumin, just might contain the answer. Let’s take a look at what the research says.

First of all, curcumin is more potent than some anti-inflammatory drugs, and I prefer to opt in the favor of natural vs. synthetic if the race is even close. Although the process isn’t yet well understood, the general consensus is that curcumin actually inhibits inflammation at the molecular level.

Here’s a possible, if not yet fully tested, explanation:

It seems that curcumin can block NF-kB, a molecule that travels into the nuclei of cells and turns on genes related to inflammation. But Curcumin doesn’t just prevent damage from chronic inflammation, it helps you to actually recover from and undo the damage.

Curcumin Helps Damaged Muscles Recover Faster. While the anti-inflammatory and protective properties of curcumin are pretty impressive, is it possible that this plant chemical can also promote and speed up the healing of a damaged tissue? Do you acquire wolverine-like powers if you eat a pound of curcumin? No. Can curcumin help athletes recover from slightly damaged muscles? One animal study suggests it can. It was found that mice treated with the optimal dose [20 microgram/kg/day] showed muscle recovery after 4 days that untreated mice only obtained after 20 days. So curcumin sped up muscle recovery by a factor of five.

Recovery is an important cycle in your training regiment. Simply “not working out” is not an efficient way to restore what you’ve lost during a grueling practice. Although taking time off is important, underutilizing your time off (especially if you are a competitive athlete) is often overlooked. Get plenty of sleep, drink plenty of water and eat well is all sound advice.

Combine it with improved muscle recovery and increased anti-oxidative activity and you have a real edge over the average recovery method.

At this point it’s important to point out that physical recovery is much tougher if your mind isn’t in the right place and, indeed, curcumin can help us there too.