Curcumin Benefits | Uses | Dosage | Toxicity

curcumin

What is curcumin?

Curcumin is a substance found in the spices turmeric and mango ginger, and it is one of several curcuminoids. Curcumin makes up about 8 percent of Tumeric and is the compound that gives Tumeric its golden colour. Curcumin is a long-standing staple in Asian medicine to treat various illnesses. Because of its antioxidant properties, it may reduce inflammation and swelling. Inflammation seems to play a role in cancer, so it’s under investigation as a cancer treatment. In addition to cancer, it can help treat or improve arthritis, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and wound healing and infections.

Benefits of Curcumin

Curcumin has many proven benefits for health and athletic performance. A lot of research is being done using curcumin and looking at all the possible health benefits it can yield. The most notable are the studies on cancer-fighting benefits that this curcuminoid possesses. [1][2][3] However, in this article, we will be focusing on the athletic and bodybuilding benefits that curcumin has.

Testosterone Booster

As all bodybuilders and athletes know, testosterone is the primary anabolic hormone. It is responsible for improvements in muscle mass, performance and power output. If testosterone increases, then muscle recovery and growth can significantly increase. Curcumin can increase testosterone naturally and to a significant extent. One research study demonstrated a 257 percent increase in testosterone levels in rats given curcumin. The rat’s 3-beta-HSD and 17-beta-HSD enzyme activity had increased because of the curcumin supplementation. These enzymes are responsible for testosterone production in the testes. [4] When converted for humans, the dosage used to get this increase in testosterone works out to be approximately 1 to 1.5 grams of curcumin daily for 30 days.

Muscle Growth

Curcumin, as mentioned above, increases testosterone production. [4] By having more testosterone circulating, you will inevitably have improved muscle growth. Another way it increases muscle growth is by stopping or inhibiting apoptosis of skeletal muscle cells. [5] Another rat study indicated that curcumin was given orally for four months, resulting in a 40 percent increase in muscle mass than the control group, who consumed the same amount of calories a day without the curcumin. [6] The researchers noted that the Nrf-2 gene was more active in the curcumin group, and they theorize that is the reason for the muscle growth. Nrf-2 gene mediates a lot of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant pathways. The decrease in inflammatory damage and the protection given by the increased antioxidant activity spares the skeletal muscle from damage. 

Muscle recovery and repair

Curcumin can diminish the pain associated with intense training and workouts and reduce DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). Markers of inflammation and muscle damage drop with curcumin supplementation. Test subjects also reported lower subjective measures of pain. [7][8] Emory University in 1999 did a study that found that curcumin can speed up muscle recovery post-workout by 500 percent. [9] The curcumin mice had muscle recovery in 4 days that took the control group mice 20 days to get. In addition to speeding up muscle recovery and repair, it also protects skeletal muscle from catabolism and breakdown. [10]

Weight loss and fat burning

A Tufts University study found that curcumin inhibits the growth of fat tissue while at the same time stimulating fat burning in the body. [11] A meta-analysis was done using eleven previously published curcumin studies. What the researchers found was that curcumin is an effective weight loss supplement. The average dose in the studies was between 800mg to 1.5 grams of citrulline per day. The researchers also discovered that the longer curcumin was supplemented, the greater the weight loss results. [12]

Anti-Estrogen

As most bodybuilders know, anti-estrogen substances can help increase testosterone levels and muscle growth. If men can reduce estrogen, the body will detect low estrogen levels and increase testosterone levels. Curcumin can decrease circulating estrogen, as demonstrated in a rat study. [13] Studies show that curcumin can act as a selective estrogen receptor modulator (SERM) in the body by binding to the estrogen receptor on cells. [14][15] SERMs are well established in the medical literature to effectively increase testosterone production in men.

Blood Sugar control

Curcumin is proven to lower blood sugar levels. It is up to 400 times more potent at reducing blood sugar levels than Metformin, a commonly prescribed diabetic drug that helps lower blood sugar levels. [25] The primary mechanism by which curcumin lowers blood glucose is by increasing AMPK (Adenosine Monophosphate Kinase). AMPK increases the uptake of glucose in skeletal muscles. [26] Curcumin improves the effectiveness of insulin and works synergistically with insulin to increase insulin sensitivity and glucose uptake into muscles. [27]

Anti-inflammatory

Curcumin is proven to have anti-inflammatory properties, and numerous studies back this up. Curcumin reduces the inflammatory signals in the body, which helps reduce the inflammation in the body. [18] One study found that curcumin’s anti-inflammatory properties were just as effective as Celebrex (celecoxib), a cox-2 inhibitor. [19] This same study found that curcumin was a more potent anti-inflammatory than common over-the-counter drugs such as Aspirin and Ibuprofen. [19]

Pain Killer

Curcumin is a proven pain reliever established in numerous studies to help with many different types of pain. Below is a list of the kinds of pain for which curcumin is an effective pain reliever.

  1. Arthritis pain [20] [21]
  2. Burn pain [22]
  3. Sciatic nerve pain (sciatica) [23]
  4. Dental pain [24]

Arthritis

Researchers and scientists have been trying to answer the question, can curcumin help with arthritis? They have found that curcumin does help reduce the pain and symptoms associated with arthritis. Curcumin is proven to reduce the symptoms of osteoarthritis by over 40 percent. [16] Studies have also shown that curcumin reduces the inflammation associated with arthritis. [17]

Side Effects of Curcumin

No human studies have been done to determine the toxicity of curcumin. Even though toxicity has yet to be determined, some studies have examined the side effects and safe dosages for curcumin. 

Side effects are usually only seen with high doses above 12 grams per day. Below is a list of the most common side effects seen from curcumin.

  1. Diarrhea
  2. Nausea
  3. Vomiting
  4. Elevated liver enzymes

Dosage

Curcumin can be taken for long periods at high doses, with little to no side effects. Studies have shown that doses as high as 12 grams per day are safe and cause no side effects. [28][29]

The body poorly absorbs curcumin, so higher oral doses are required. Because of the poor absorption, you should take curcumin with the black pepper extract known as piperine and with food. Piperine increases the absorption of curcumin. Other forms of curcumin are more bioavailable to the body, such as Meriva and BCM-95.

Sources

Curcumin is in only a couple of natural sources. Below are the two natural sources of curcumin.

  1. Tumeric
  2. Mango Ginger

References

  1. Frontiers | Turmeric and Its Major Compound Curcumin on Health: Bioactive Effects and Safety Profiles for Food, Pharmaceutical, Biotechnological and Medicinal Applications | Pharmacology (frontiersin.org)
  2. Curcumin inhibits angiogenesis in endothelial cells using downregulation of the PI3K/Akt signaling pathway – ScienceDirect
  3. Curcumin and cancer (nih.gov)
  4. Combined administration of curcumin and gallic acid inhibits gallic acid-induced suppression of steroidogenesis, sperm output, antioxidant defenses and inflammatory responsive genes – PubMed (nih.gov)
  5. Curcumin treatment prevents increased proteasome and apoptosome activities in rat skeletal muscle during reloading and improves subsequent recovery – PubMed (nih.gov)
  6. IJMS | Free Full-Text | Effects of Prolonged Dietary Curcumin Exposure on Skeletal Muscle Biochemical and Functional Responses of Aged Male Rats (mdpi.com)
  7. Influence of curcumin on performance and post-exercise recovery – PubMed (nih.gov)
  8. Curcumin and Piperine Supplementation and Recovery Following Exercise Induced Muscle Damage: A Randomized Controlled Trial (nih.gov)
  9. Systemic administration of the NF-κB inhibitor curcumin stimulates muscle regeneration after traumatic injury | American Journal of Physiology-Cell Physiology
  10. Curcumin and muscle wasting: a new role for an old drug? – PubMed (nih.gov)
  11. https://jn.nutrition.org/cgi/content/abstract/jn.108.100966v1
  12. The effects of curcumin supplementation on body weight, body mass index and waist circumference: a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials: Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition: Vol 60, No 1 (tandfonline.com)
  13. Effects of curcumin on the skeletal system in rats – PubMed (nih.gov)
  14. Curcumin counteracts the proliferative effect of estradiol and induces apoptosis in cervical cancer cells – PubMed (nih.gov)
  15. Reference profile correlation reveals estrogen-like trancriptional activity of Curcumin – PubMed (nih.gov)
  16. Efficacy and safety of Meriva®, a curcumin-phosphatidylcholine complex, during extended administration in osteoarthritis patients – PubMed (nih.gov)
  17. Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of Curcuma longa (turmeric) versus Zingiber officinale (ginger) rhizomes in rat adjuvant-induced arthritis – PubMed (nih.gov)
  18. The antioxidants curcumin and quercetin inhibit inflammatory processes associated with arthritis – PubMed (nih.gov)
  19. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents differ in their ability to suppress NF-kappaB activation, inhibition of expression of cyclooxygenase-2 and cyclin D1, and abrogation of tumor cell proliferation – PubMed (nih.gov)
  20. Intrathecal curcumin attenuates pain hypersensitivity and decreases spinal neuroinflammation in rat model of monoarthritis | Scientific Reports (nature.com)
  21. Efficacy of Turmeric Extracts and Curcumin for Alleviating the Symptoms of Joint Arthritis: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Clinical Trials (researchgate.net)
  22. Curcumin: a novel therapeutic for burn pain and wound healing – PubMed (nih.gov)
  23. Effects of curcumin on pain threshold and on the expression of nuclear factor κ B and CX3C receptor 1 after sciatic nerve chronic constrictive injury in rats | SpringerLink
  24. Evaluation of antihyperalgesic effect of curcumin on formalin-induced orofacial pain in rat – PubMed (nih.gov)
  25. Curcumin activates AMPK and suppresses gluconeogenic gene expression in hepatoma cells – PubMed (nih.gov)
  26. Curcumin stimulates glucose uptake through AMPK-p38 MAPK pathways in L6 myotube cells – PubMed (nih.gov)
  27. Synergistic effect of curcumin and insulin on muscle cell glucose metabolism – PubMed (nih.gov)
  28. Dose escalation of a curcuminoid formulation – PubMed (nih.gov)
  29. Efficacy and safety of Meriva®, a curcumin-phosphatidylcholine complex, during extended administration in osteoarthritis patients – PubMed (nih.gov)

The information in this article should not be taken as medical advice. Consult your doctor before starting any supplement.