Effect of Curcumin Supplementation on Exercise-Induced Oxidative Stress, Inflammation, Muscle Damage, and Muscle Soreness

J Diet Suppl. 2020;17(4):401-414. doi: 10.1080/19390211.2019.1604604. Epub 2019 Apr 26.


Curcumin has been shown to reduce exercise-induced oxidative stress (OS) and inflammation. The purpose of this investigation was to examine the effects of curcumin supplementation on OS, inflammation, muscle damage, and muscle soreness. Nineteen males participated in a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial to examine the effects of curcumin supplementation (1.5 g/day) compared to a placebo (PLA) following a muscle-damaging protocol (MDP) on OS, inflammation, muscle damage, and soreness. Participants were randomized to two groups, curcumin or placebo group. The MDP was performed before and after supplementation (28 days). Blood was sampled pre- and postexercise and 60 min, 24 h, and 48 h postexercise and analyzed for total antioxidant capacity (TAC), malondialdehyde (MDA), tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α), and creatine kinase (CK). In addition, a visual analog scale (VAS) was used on each blood sample to measure perceived muscle soreness. After supplementation, curcumin significantly blunted CK levels (199.62 U/L) compared to the placebo (287.03 U/L), overall (p < 0.0001). In addition, curcumin resulted in decreased muscle soreness, overall (VAS scale 2.88), when compared to the placebo (VAS scale 3.36) (p = 0.0120). There were no differences found in TAC, TNF-α, or MDA. Curcumin may reduce muscle damage and perceived muscle soreness without negatively impacting a natural inflammatory response following exercise. Future research should investigate chronic curcumin supplementation and its mechanistic effects on muscle recovery from exercise.

Keywords: antioxidants; eccentric exercise; inflammation; recovery.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Creatine Kinase / blood
  • Curcumin / pharmacology*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Exercise*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation*
  • Male
  • Malondialdehyde / blood
  • Muscle, Skeletal / drug effects*
  • Myalgia / prevention & control*
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / blood
  • Young Adult


  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Malondialdehyde
  • Creatine Kinase
  • Curcumin