Purpose: Polyphenolic curcumin is known to have potent anti-inflammatory effects; thus the present study investigated the hypothesis that curcumin ingestion would attenuate muscle damage after eccentric exercise.
Methods: Fourteen untrained young men (24 ± 1 years) performed 50 maximal isokinetic (120°/s) eccentric contractions of the elbow flexors of one arm on an isokinetic dynamometer and the same exercise with the other arm 4 weeks later. They took 150 mg of curcumin (theracurmin) or placebo (starch) orally before and 12 h after each eccentric exercise bout in a randomised, crossover design. Maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) torque of the elbow flexors, range of motion of the elbow joint, upper-arm circumference, muscle soreness, serum creatine kinase (CK) activity, and plasma interleukin-6 (IL-6) and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) concentration were measured before, immediately after, and 24, 48, 72 and 96 h after each eccentric exercise. Changes in these variables over time were compared between curcumin and placebo conditions by two-way repeated measures ANOVA.
Results: MVC torque decreased smaller and recovered faster (e.g., 4 days post-exercise: -31 ± 13 % vs. -15 ± 15 %), and peak serum CK activity was smaller (peak: 7684 ± 8959 IU/L vs. 3398 ± 3562 IU/L) for curcumin than placebo condition (P < 0.05). However, no significant differences between conditions were evident for other variables, and no significant changes in IL-6 and TNF-α were evident after exercise.
Conclusion: It is concluded that theracurmin ingestion attenuates some aspects of muscle damage such as MVC loss and CK activity increase.