If you’re looking to add a little spice to your supplement regimen, look no further than curcumin—a potent compound extracted from the turmeric herb. In Ayurveda, an ancient healing practice originating in India, turmeric has a longstanding history of medicinal use. In modern times, curcumin is well-known as a powerful anti-inflammatory capable of inhibiting some of the strongest inflammatory reactions in the body. Curcumin helps your body defend against oxidative stress, and research has shown it to be as effective as ibuprofen or other over-the-counter anti-inflammatories.
As a runner, curcumin may be a great tool to have in your arsenal to keep your training at optimal levels. Let’s take a look at some of curcumin’s many benefits.
- It can assist in your recovery after a tough workout. Runners are no strangers to inflammation, especially following an intense training day or a long race. Although inflammation has a role in helping our bodies heal, too much inflammation is linked to fatigue, pain and chronic diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, and heart disease.
But there’s good news for athletes! Research in the European Journal of Applied Physiology demonstrated curcumin reduces inflammatory chemicals known as cytokines. And it helps to mitigate pain and delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) following a heavy bout of exercise. In other words, you’re less likely to feel sore in the 24 to 72 hours following a tough workout than you might be if you weren’t taking it.
- It reduces joint pain. If you’re pounding the pavement day in and day out, you’re bound to end up with pain in your joints from time to time. A 2016 study showed patients who took curcumin had improvements in pain in the affected joints, enhanced physical function, and a better quality of life.
As mentioned earlier, research suggests curcumin may be as effective at relieving pain as some over the counter medications, and it might work as well as certain pharmaceutical drugs. If you’re looking for natural, pain relief strategies, curcumin could be just the supplement you need to ease discomfort.
- It can elevate your mood. Curcumin may elevate your mood and combat depression, according to a 2012 study. The herb can affect mood-boosting neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine and protect against major depressive disorder. Plus, its antioxidant super status makes it a winning herb to diminish oxidative stress and guard against mitochondrial damage.
As more runners turn to complementary or integrative ways to sustain their health, curcumin is a promising supplement to manage depression without the side effects of traditional medication.
Are there risks factors involved in taking curcumin?
If you’re taking other medications, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor before adding turmeric to make sure it doesn’t interact with your prescriptions. Here are a few things to consider when taking turmeric
- Turmeric is considered a uterine stimulant, so it should be avoided during pregnancy.
- Turmeric may thin your blood, so you might want to consult with your physician if you’re already on blood thinners or you’re planning to undergo a surgical procedure.
- In some people, turmeric may cause an upset stomach, so don’t add this to your health regimen right before race day. If you experience digestive upset, cut back on the dose or leave it out altogether.
- Allergic reactions to turmeric are rare, but discontinue its use if you experience an outbreak of hives, itching, or swelling.
What kind of product should I take?
For a little culinary kick, you can add the turmeric to just about any food that you make—soup, salad, meat, vegetables, even, smoothies. But if you’re shopping for a supplement, you’ll want to buy one that contains at least 95% total curcuminoid for the most robust anti-inflammatory and antioxidant support.
Additionally, you may not notice the benefits of curcumin immediately, so you’ll likely need to take it for a few weeks to see results. With consistent use, curcumin can keep your inflammation levels in check and keep you running strong.
Have you tried this potent anti-inflammatory before? We would love to hear about your experience in the comments below!