We’ve been talking a lot about inflammation the last few weeks, and how food can help limit it. Yet, despite the best intentions, sometimes you need a little extra help. Of course, the most popular go-to anti-inflamatory drugs are the NSAIDs, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen. However, we don’t recommend you use NSAIDs - they come with a handful of serious side effects.
Fortunately there’s a lot of natural alternatives to NSAIDs that have the same benefit, without the side effects of gastrointestinal bleeding, kidney and liver damage, and leaky gut.
Perhaps one of the most popular natural anti-inflammatories is curcumin. Derived from the Indian spice turmeric, curcumin works at several steps in the very complicated inflammatory pathway in our bodies. Compared to other anti-inflammatory drugs, curcumin can be just as, if not more effective than prescription drugs.
Curcumin also has some more specific anti-inflammatory effects for athletes - it can help with the pain and inflammation from training. It can be taken on an on-going bases to keep inflammation under control, and side effects are minimal.
Delayed onset muscle soreness or DOMS is caused by the inflammation and oxidation from muscle use beyond that which the body is adapted. Athletes who took curcumin before and after a downhill running test had less muscle injury, and fewer chemicals in their bloodstream that signify muscle damage and inflammation. Another study looked at the effects of curcumin in people who performed weight-training exercises. Those taking the curcumin had less pain and showed signs of enhanced muscle recovery compared to those taking a placebo. Other animal studies have shown a benefit from using curcumin for pain and inflammation after downhill running.
Unfortunately, curcumin by itself is poorly absorbed into the bloodstream. It should be taken in a specialized form so you can actually absorb it where it can go to work on the rest of your body. Meriva is a form of curcumin that’s been attached to a compound called phosphatidlycholine (PC). PC is found throughout nature in plants and even as part of the make up of our cells, and is easily absorbed in the gut. Meriva curcumin is bound to PC and is absorbed much more efficiently.
*Note - for taking care of inflammatory issues in just the GI tract, you’d want to take a standard form of curcumin. That way, it will stay in the gut and exert its effects there, rather than being absorbed and going elsewhere.
Curcumin has also been researched for its benefits in other conditions:
For preventing DOMS; consider taking 2 capsules twice daily a few days before and after an event or heavy training session. Let us know how it works for you!
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