It’s hard to discuss dietary supplements without mentioning turmeric. Extracted from the dried-up roots of the Curcuma longa plant, turmeric powder has become a key ingredient in the kitchen and modern natural medicine. It’s also become a target of numerous clinical trials.
In recent years, we’ve seen a dramatic uptick in the number of proven health benefits of turmeric and its primary extract, curcumin. But, does turmeric help fibromyalgia, muscle pain, and chronic fatigue syndrome?
Turmeric for Fibromyalgia
When paired with piperine (black pepper) for increased absorption, curcumin offers substantial healing properties for the body and mind. Turmeric has shown excellent promise as a blood thinner and as a complementary treatment for cancer. It can even help weight loss and skin health.
New evidence suggests that turmeric can help reduce the muscle pain and discomfort associated with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. While it cannot cure fibromyalgia, it still appears to be a promising way to control symptomology and disease progression.
Before we analyze the studies, let’s cover fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome in a bit more detail.
What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia (fibrositis) is a chronic disorder often accompanied by widespread musculoskeletal pain. This condition can induce extreme fatigue, difficulty sleeping, memory problems, and mood instability. It may even amplify pain signals based on how it affects neurotransmitters in the brain.
Sometimes, certain events such as physical trauma, infections, or surgery can trigger fibromyalgia. In other cases, there is no singular event. Instead, the symptoms slowly accumulate over time. This phenomenon may somehow be linked to genetics, as fibromyalgia tends to run in families.
Fibromyalgia development is more common in women than in men, and it may co-exist with other conditions such as:
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Migraines and headaches
- Painful bladder syndrome or interstitial cystitis
- Temporomandibular joint disorders
There is no cure for fibromyalgia, only the possibility of using medications to combat symptoms as they arise. These drugs can include anti-inflammatories, anti-depressants, and other treatment options. (1)
What is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a challenging disorder to manage, characterized by extreme fatigue, often unrelated to any underlying medical condition. Physical and mental activity may worsen the fatigue, but, the exhaustion does not improve with rest.
Chronic fatigue syndrome also goes by two other names. They are:
- Systemic Exertion Intolerance Disease (SEID)
- Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME)
Currently, the cause of CFS is unknown. However, it may ascend from a combination of factors including viral infections, illnesses or immune system problems, hormonal imbalances, or psychological disorders. Prolonged CFS may lead to depression, social isolation, increased work absences, and various other lifestyle restrictions. (2)
Why Turmeric Curcumin?
While there is no recognized cure for chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia, there are numerous ways to control your symptoms. Turmeric is arguably the most effective antioxidant and natural medicine to reduce inflammation in the body.
Curcumin has shown significant potential in treating hypothyroidism, which shares many of the same symptoms that arise during bouts of chronic fatigue. These effects include managing stress and depression, inhibiting the body’s inflammatory response, boosting immunity, enhancing memory and brain health, and even reducing headache severity.
In this post, we’ll dive into the research behind curcumin’s ability to reduce muscle pain and treat the symptoms of fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.
Turmeric and Fibromyalgia: Is Curcumin Good for Muscle Pain?
The first study we’ll look at assessed the efficacy of turmeric on delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) in a group of mice. This trial was double-blind, randomized, and placebo-controlled using oral curcumin supplementation on 17 male subjects.
Researchers measured limb discomfort, muscle swelling, and serum markers of inflammation and muscle damage. The results showed that curcumin reduced pain related to DOMS and enhanced both performance and muscle recovery.
This conclusion suggests that turmeric may help with symptoms related to muscle pain and fibromyalgia. (3)
Another study used a trademarked curcumin formula to analyze its ability to reduce delayed onset muscle soreness in 20 otherwise healthy male volunteers. The groups received either a placebo or 200 mg of curcumin twice daily with a delivery system to enhance bioavailability.
Subjects treated with turmeric reported a reduction in lower limb pain not seen in the placebo group. The most significant decreases in pain appeared in the left and right anterior thighs. The curcumin group also showed much less MRI evidence of muscle damage, with notable reductions in muscle pain and stiffness. (4)
A third study further supported the idea of using turmeric for fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome symptomology. This trial administered either oral curcumin at 400 mg per day or a placebo rice flour capsule to a group 28 subjects with exercise-induced muscle damage (EIMD).
The results showed that turmeric supplementation significantly reduced the biomarkers of inflammation. Although, in this study, there were no statistically significant differences in quadriceps muscle soreness between the groups.
Still, the observed reductions in biological inflammation allude to the use of turmeric for enhanced muscle recovery and improved functional capacity following exercise. (5)
The combination of curcumin and piperine appears to overcome the problem of low bioavailability that accompanies turmeric by itself. One study tested the pair on muscle recovery and damage in a randomized and placebo-controlled trial.
Once again, there were moderate improvements in the overall condition of EIMD. The measurements taken to assess efficacy were muscle pain, weakness, stiffness, and swelling. Curcumin supplementation before and after exercise significantly reduced the loss of strength and muscle damage post-workout. (6)
When dealing with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, it can be mentally draining being physically limited by muscle pain and discomfort. In the next study, researchers sought to test curcumin’s effects on inflammation and performance recovery in the practical scenario of downhill running.
The results showed that the tested mice saw improvements in levels of fatigue and voluntary activity following downhill running and curcumin supplementation. The downhill running also increased inflammatory cytokines, a trend that reversed itself following turmeric administration.
This result suggests that turmeric may offset performance deficits associated with exercise-induced muscle damage. (7)
Further research indicates that turmeric pills may also stimulate skeletal muscle regeneration following a traumatic injury. Studies show that curcumin administration may stimulate both cell differentiation and proliferation under certain conditions through inhibition of inflammatory pathways.
Turmeric’s antioxidant properties also demonstrate an ability to reverse impaired exercise performance resulting from oxidative stress in skeletal muscle. These findings suggest possible therapeutic applications for the treatment of muscle injuries, as well as controlling symptoms of fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. (8, 9)
Another animal study administered curcumin to a group of mice with chronic fatigue syndrome. The study assessed overall oxidative stress levels as they pertained to immunologically induced fatigue. Again, the results showed a favorable decrease in immobility with attenuation of oxidative stress. Thus, turmeric may be an excellent natural treatment option for CFS. (10)
Final Thoughts on Turmeric for Muscle Pain and Fibromyalgia
Is turmeric good for fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome? The answer appears to be, yes, and with almost no side effects at lower dosages. Studies have shown significant evidence that curcumin can reduce both oxidative stress and chronic inflammation associated with these disorders and widespread musculoskeletal pain.
Turmeric’s properties may help with muscle pain, growth, and recovery following exercise-induced muscle damage. If you’re looking for a natural way to control symptoms related to fibromyalgia while maintaining an active lifestyle, talk to a certified medical professional and ask if a curcumin supplement can improve your situation.