Turmeric is a rhizome that produces a yellow powder that is commonly known to give curry it’s characteristic yellow colour, however this herb has more uses than just in cooking. In both Chinese and Indian Ayurvedic medicines turmeric is used traditionally for inflammatory and digestive conditions. In today’s medicine this brilliant herb is also used for its many other properties such as antioxidant, anti-carcinogenic, antimicrobial, cardiovascular and liver actions.
What’s in it for Cyclists?
For progression and success with your cycling, recovery is key. Cycling or any increasing exercise is associated with inflammation, fibre damage, and delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Therefore ensuring adequate support to minimise length of recovery will help you achieve high-level performance and endurance for the future. A constituent of turmeric, curcumin, has been shown to exert anti-inflammatory effects and also offset some of the muscle damage. In response to exercise, muscle damage combined with the increase of free radicals can trigger our inflammatory pathways, which result in increased performance deficits in muscle function. Studies have found that the active constituent of curcumin has had similar, if not better, anti-inflammatory action to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Turmeric simply doesn’t have the same detrimental side effects as the NSAIDs, such as cardiovascular and gastrointestinal conditions, so certainly worth giving Turmeric a try before opting for the pharmaceutical path, especially due to the other beneficial actions Turmeric provides.
This herb is used regularly in natural medicine to treat many inflammatory conditions, such as lower back pain, knee pain, arthritis and repetitive strain injury. Athletes especially respond well by including this herb into their daily routine to enhance muscle tissue repair and ensure speedy recovery.
Anti-Inflammatory- Turmeric’s anti-inflammatory benefits don’t stop at the joints and muscles. The herb is used in many systemic inflammatory conditions such as, respiratory disorders, allergies, hepatic cirrhosis, pancreatic disease, gastro-intestinal inflammatory diseases and neurodegenerative conditions. Hence the regular use of Turmeric for acute conditions as well as chronic inflammatory states.
Antioxidant – Turmeric has a potent antioxidant action, due to its direct free radical scavenging activity as well as heightens antioxidant activity of other endogenous antioxidants, such as glutathione. Furthermore its antioxidant effects are shown to be 10 times more effective than ascorbic acid (vitamin C).
Antispasmodic – Other constituents of Turmeric, being curcuminoids exhibit smooth muscle relaxant activity resulting in an antispasmodic action that can assist with musculoskeletal spasm and gastro-intestinal spasm and pain.
Hepatoprotective – The constituent curcumin induces phase II enzymes of the liver that enhance and support detoxification. Studies have also found restorative properties in Turmeric to the liver, additionally to future protection of liver functioning when taking regularly.
Hypolipidaemic – Turmeric has shown to reduce lipid levels in the blood (cholesterol and triglycerides) and is commonly used in naturopathic clients with high cholesterol. Studies found that turmeric may stimulate the conversion of cholesterol to bile acids that results in increased elimination of cholesterol. The actions turmeric has on the liver also contribute to this beneficial action.
Antiplatelet – Curcumin has been indicated to inhibit platelet aggregation therefore reducing clotting of the blood and assisting adequate flow and functioning of the circulatory system. Thus increasing oxygenation throughout the body which is essential during all exercise.
- Juicing Turmeric from its raw state is a great way to incorporate it in your daily diet, simply juice as you would ginger in similar quantities
- Powdered Organic Turmeric: 1.5-3 g/day in water or cooking
- Supplementation of the extracts can vary depending on the individual and the supplement. Doses are usually between 100-300mg/day or 5-15ml/day of the liquid extract, however higher dosages are used. Check with your naturopath or herbalist to what dosages are relevant to you
When supplementing with herbs, or any supplement for that matter, it is crucial to be aware of potential drug interactions, some of which can be beneficial to use in adjunct therapy with the pharmaceuticals. Significant interactions are as follows:
- Antiplatelet drugs: due to turmeric having a antiplatelet action it may produce a additive effect
- Anticoagulants: high-dose turmeric may increase the risk of bleeding with used with anticoagulant drugs
- Cyclophosphamide: Turmeric may reduce drug efficacy
If in doubt with any medications or conditions, always check with your Naturopath or Herbalist who is qualified in the field of herbal medicine.