Exercise Recovery: Curcumin and Quercetin

Heading to the gym again after weeks of having to exercise at home? Make the most of your exercise with supplements that have proven to support muscle recovery and more. Check out these studies on curcumin and quercetin.

Curcumin reduces muscle damage, soreness

In this study, 63 physically active, overweight men and women took a placebo, 50 mg, or 200 mg of curcuminoids per day for eight weeks before running downhill in a test designed to damage muscle.

Muscle strength and power, up to 24 hours after the test, declined for placebo and the low-dose curcumin group, but remained stable in the high-dose curcumin group. All groups reported sore muscles, but the high-dose curcumin group recovered from soreness more quickly.

Prior studies found curcumin reduced oxidative stress and inflammation after exercise. Doctors wanted to test its effect on muscle damage and soreness. In this study, 19 men took a placebo or 1,500 mg of curcumin, which contained 69 mg of curcuminoids, per day, for 28 days. Before and after taking curcumin, the men performed an eccentric muscle-damaging protocol that contracted muscle while extending under load.

Although there were no differences in signs of oxidative stress and inflammation after taking curcumin, doctors did find a 31.4 percent decrease in levels of an enzyme that signals muscle damage, called creatine kinase, compared to levels in the placebo group. Muscle soreness was also 14.2 percent lower for curcumin compared to placebo.

Discussing the findings, doctors said curcumin reduced muscle damage and perceived soreness while allowing the natural inflammatory response that follows exercise.

Reference: Nutrients; 2019, Vol. 11, No. 7, E1692, Published Online;  Journal of Dietary Supplements; 2019, 1604604, Published Online

Quercetin boosts performance, recovery in triathletes

Intense exercise creates oxidative stress, delaying muscle recovery and increasing pain after exercise. In this study, 48 amateur triathletes, aged 30 to 40, took no supplement or 250 mg of quercetin twice per day for two weeks. All went through the same training including a 750 meter swim in open seawater, cycling 29 kilometers, and running 5 kilometers.

On day one, and again after two weeks, participants completed a baseline run. Runners in the quercetin group beat their original time by 11.3 percent compared to a 3.9 percent improvement for the non-supplement group. Afterwards, the quercetin group reported less post-run muscle pain, fewer cramps, less localized pain, and faster recovery times.

Reference: Minerva Medica; 2018, Vol. 109, No. 4, 285-9

Quercetin protects muscles

Earlier exercise studies using antioxidants have had inconsistent muscle-damage results. In this study, 12 moderately active men, average age 26, took a placebo or 500 mg of quercetin at breakfast and again 12 hours later over two weeks. After a three week non-treatment period, the men switched groups.

Putting muscles under load while lengthening them is the fastest way to induce damage. At the start and end of the study, the men did 10 sets of 10 maximal muscle-lengthening contractions. While the placebo group had not changed, men taking quercetin saw a 4.7 percent increase in isometric strength, and muscle fiber decay was significantly lower.

Doctors also saw fewer biochemical signs of damage, and observed better muscle function, commenting that quercetin seems to be a suitable nutritional supplement to reduce discomfort, maintain strength, and may improve overall fitness.

Reference: Nutrients; 2019, Vol. 11, No. 1, 205

Quercetin boosted antioxidant defenses

Intense exercise increases oxidative damage. In this study, 14 men, average age 25.5 years, took a placebo or 500 mg of quercetin twice per day, for two weeks before and after an exercise designed to damage muscle. This was an “eccentric” exercise, meaning one that lengthens the muscle while it is under load. For example, a bicep curl enters the eccentric phase as the arm slowly lowers the dumbbell back down until the arm is fully straight.

Doctors measured levels of lipid peroxidation—oxidative damage—in red blood cells, and its byproduct, reactive oxygen species called TBARS. Compared to placebo, those taking quercetin had significantly lower levels of lipid peroxidation and TBARS.

Discussing the findings, doctors said that consistently supplementing with quercetin before and after strenuous exercise makes red blood cells better able to recover from oxidative stress.

Reference: Nutrition Research; 2018, Vol. 50, 73-81

BetsyHealth Note: This article is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease. Consult your healthcare provider before starting a supplement, especially if you have a medical condition, including being pregnant or nursing, or take prescription or over-the-counter medication. For example, curcumin and quercetin may also thin blood.

Article copyright 2020 by Natural Insights for Well Being. All rights reserved. Used with permission.