Selected root plant supplementation reduces indices of exercise-induced muscle damage: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 2022 Oct;92(5-6):448-468. doi: 10.1024/0300-9831/a000689. Epub 2020 Nov 16.


This systematic review and meta-analysis examined the effects of selected root plants (curcumin, ginseng, ginger and garlic) on markers of muscle damage and muscular performance measures following muscle-damaging protocols. We included 25 studies (parallel and crossover design) with 353 participants and used the PEDro scale to appraise each study. Forest plots were generated to report on standardised mean differences (SMD) and p-values at 24 and 48 hours following the muscle-damaging protocols. The meta-analysis showed that the supplemental (SUPP) condition showed significantly lower levels of indirect muscle damage markers (creatine kinase, lactate dehydrogenase and myoglobin) and muscle soreness at 24 hours and 48 hours (p < 0.01) than the placebo (PLA) condition. The inflammatory markers were significantly lower for the SUPP condition than the PLA condition at 24 hours (p = 0.02), although no differences were identified at 48 hours (p = 0.40). There were no significant differences in muscular performance measures between the SUPP and PLA conditions at 24 hours and 48 hours (p > 0.05) post-exercise. According to our qualitative data, a number of studies reported a reduction in oxidative stress (e.g., malondialdehyde, superoxide dismutase) with a concomitant upregulation of anti-oxidant status, although other studies showed no effects. Accordingly, selected root plants minimised the level of several biomarkers of muscle damage, inflammation and muscle soreness during periods of exercise-induced muscle damage. However, the benefits of these supplements in ameliorating oxidative stress, increasing anti-oxidant status and accelerating recovery of muscular performance appears equivocal, warranting further research in these outcome measures.

Keywords: Curcumin; garlic; ginger; ginseng; phytochemical; polyphenol; recovery.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Biomarkers
  • Creatine Kinase / pharmacology
  • Curcumin* / pharmacology
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Exercise / physiology
  • Humans
  • Lactate Dehydrogenases
  • Malondialdehyde
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Myalgia* / prevention & control
  • Myoglobin / pharmacology
  • Superoxide Dismutase


  • Antioxidants
  • Biomarkers
  • Myoglobin
  • Malondialdehyde
  • Lactate Dehydrogenases
  • Superoxide Dismutase
  • Creatine Kinase
  • Curcumin