Curcumin – The Pain Equaliser

by DeanMcKillop 7538 views Supplements

Curcumin – The Pain Equaliser

Whether you are an elite athlete who puts their body through hell day in and day out, a recreational gym goer or someone who has suffered from injuries in their childhood and is now paying for it, Curcumin may be your unsung hero for pain relief.

Derived primarily from Turmeric, Curcumin can also be found in small amounts within ginger and is now being recognised as a potent anti-inflammatory, pain reducing yellow-pigmented molecule of heaven.

Ok perhaps calling it a molecule of heaven is a little extravagant, but perhaps not?

Read on and you can make up your own mind.

Current research suggests that Curcumin may help to:
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Reduce pain
  • Reduce blood pressure
  • Reduce triglycerides
  • Reduce arthritic symptoms
  • Increase HDL cholesterol

And the list goes on, in fact, it’s extensive! Curcumin is a wonderful ingredient that has been used in Chinese Medicine for years and is one that shows tremendous promise for all users even in today’s society, whereby our reliance on big pharmaceutical prescription is increasing with each day.

Whether you are looking to drop your prescription medication or you simply are not getting the relief you expect, adding Curcumin into your daily supplemental regime could prove to be extremely beneficial.

In one of the longest studies looking at the benefits of Curcumin supplementation over 8 months, Belcaro and colleagues (2010) compiled perhaps one of the most comprehensive data points for Curcumin use.

  • Patients using Curcumin (Meriva) showed a noticeable positive change in both their self-reporting of pain but also in all biochemical markers of inflammation.
  • General pain was down 50%
  • Movement stiffness was down 50%
  • Physical performance increased
  • Treadmill walking distance improved 500% compared to 200% in the control group
  • 63.4% reduction in all pain killer medication use in those supplementing with Curcumin
  • 63% reduction in notable gastrointestinal stress symptoms
  • All inflammatory blood markers were decreased with statistical significance

And if that’s not enough to make your eyes open wider, patients using Meriva Curcumin have also shown comparable pain and inflammation reduction when compared to standard westernised non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs  (NSAID) such as Acetaminophen (2).

That's right, Curcumin is as good, if not better than some over the counter or prescription medications!

Curcumin did not, however, outperform Nimesulide, although, when you consider the fact that this NSAID can only be used for 2-3 weeks before negative side effects kick in, the long term benefits Curcumin may offer are what make it exciting.

Following on from this, while also acknowledging the potential risk for gastrointestinal dysbiosis associated with NSAID use, Curcumin is in a league of its own.

Not only does Curcumin appear to reduce pain and inflammation in patients suffering from osteoarthritis, but it has also been linked to a reduction in symptoms associated with gastrointestinal inflammatory diseases such as Crohn’s and Intestinal/Rectal Proctitis (3).

Despite being a novel food, Curcumin is no longer a novel ingredient but instead should be seen as a staple in any person's supplemental regime who suffers from the symptoms mentioned above.

Curcumin has been shown to reduce acute pain in the post-operative or post-injury phase of up to two weeks (4), offers benefits for long-term arthritic symptom relief (1, 2) and has also been linked to improved gastrointestinal health (3).

So whether you are looking for general pain relief, a reduction in inflammation or improved gastrointestinal health, taking Curcumin daily is a fantastic idea.

Unfortunately, Curcumin does have poor bioavailability when taken orally from Turmeric, however, utilising the patented version known as Meriva, shows much better efficacy (1, 2).

For benefits across all facets discussed in this article, consume 200mg of active Curcumin daily, split into two 100mg dosages with food daily.

Cycling Curcumin is unnecessary and long term supplementation is in fact recommended. 

Recommended Products

Bio Curcumin 4800+ by Herbs of Gold

Contains Meriva curcumin, a patented form of curcumin, specifically designed for effective natural relief of pain and inflammation. Meriva has been shown to be 27 times more bioavailable than regular curcumin.

More Info

Bioactive Curcumin by Nutralife

Contains a clinically trialled and patented form of Curcumin, which delivers increased bioavailability and efficacy through improved absorption. It is much better absorbed than standard Curcumin extracts.

More Info

Belcaro, G., et al. (2010). Efficacy and safety of Meriva®, a curcumin-phosphatidylcholine complex, during extended administration in osteoarthritis patients. Alternative Medicine Review, 15 (4) pp 337-344.

Togni, Di Pierro, F., Rapacioli, G., Di Maio, E., Appendino, G. and Franceschi, F. (2013). Comparative evaluation of the pain-relieving properties of a lecithinized formulation of curcumin (Meriva®), nimesulide, and acetaminophen. JPR, p.201.

Holt, P., Katz, S. and Kirshoff, R. (2005). Curcumin Therapy in Inflammatory Bowel Disease: A Pilot Study. Digestive Diseases and Sciences, 50(11), pp.2191-2193.

Agarwal, K.A., et al. (2011). Efficacy of turmeric (Curcumin) in pain and postoperative fatigue after laparoscopic cholecystectomy: a double-blind, randomized placebo-controlled study. Surgical Endoscopym 25(12). Pp 3805-3810.



Exercise Scientist

I completed my Exercise Science Degree at the University of QLD and have worked in the fitness industry for over 8 years, including a short stint at the Brisbane Broncos in 2010 as a student. I also hold my Level 2 Strength and Conditioning Coach accreditation (ASCA) and have competed in 1 bodybuilding season, placing 2nd at the IFBB u85kg Nationals.

ViewDean's Articles