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The term ‘curcumin’ is often used interchangeably with the golden spice ‘turmeric’, but what is it? Curcumin (the best bit) is extracted from turmeric and is sold as a food supplement.

Curcumin is actually the name given to a group of powerful anti-inflammatory* and antioxidant* polyphenols called curcuminoids. Antioxidants help to remove damaging free radicals which build up as a result of physical activity. Several studies have shown just how beneficial curcumin can be for sports participants.

Reducing muscle damage may improve performance and recovery, allowing for improved training quality and adaptations. Therefore, one study sought to examine the effect of two doses of curcumin supplementation on performance decrements following downhill running.

Sixty-three physically active people (31 men and 32 women) were randomly assigned to ingest 250 mg of CurcuWIN® (50 mg of curcuminoids), 1000 mg of CurcuWIN® (200 mg of curcuminoids), or a corn starch placebo for eight weeks. At the end of the supplementation period, subjects completed a downhill running protocol intended to induce muscle damage. Muscle function and perceived soreness was assessed prior to and at 1 h, 24 h, 48 h, and 72 h post-downhill run.

When compared to changes observed against placebo, a 200-mg dose of curcuminoids (1000mg of CurcuWIN®) attenuated reductions in some observed changes in performance and soreness after completion of a downhill running bout.

This means faster recovery from hard workouts, which leads to more consistent training and higher intensity levels, leading to increased performance.