For years, I’ve used Ibuprofen after heavy lifting and high-intensity workouts to reduce inflammation and pain. Taking ibuprofen however, has always been a secondary measure. Supplementing with products proven to help reduce exercise-induced muscle soreness such as L-Glutamine, BCAAs and Whey Protein Isolate is always the first plan of action. However, when the extra plates came out, so does the Ibuprofen. That is until I found out about Turmeric.
Recent evidence suggests, that Turmeric a rhizomatous herbaceous perennial plant, which has been used as an Ayurvedic medicine for over 4,000 years, provides similar analgesic (pain reducing) and anti-inflammatory effects as ibuprofen. Considering that Turmeric is a naturally sourced herbal remedy and ibuprofen is an over the counter NSAID (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug), Turmeric is proving to be a safer and more efficacious alternative to Ibuprofen for inflammation and post-workout joint pain. Both Turmeric vs. Ibuprofen are used as a powerful anti-inflammatory, but which one is better?
NOTE Not all inflammation is bad. The body does require a small amount of inflammation to efficiently recover post workout. However, if you’re experiencing debilitating pain and soreness, it could be caused by injury or substantial physical trauma that can create systemic long-term inflammation.
What Is Ibuprofen?
Ibuprofen is an over the counter (OTC) nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that works by reducing hormones that cause inflammation and pain in the body. Some of the most popular brand names that ibuprofen is sold under are Advil, NeoProfen, Motrin IB, Ibuprin, and more.
Ibuprofen was first introduced into the market for pain and as an anti-inflammatory, by big pharma in the 1960s, and now are sold under the names of Advil and Motrin.
Classical NSAIDs are cyclooxygenase (COX) inhibitors that inhibit prostaglandin and thromboxane synthesis, thereby reducing inflammation [R]. New NSAIDs selectively inhibit COX-2 and are usually specific to inflamed tissue, which decreases the risk of peptic ulcer [R]. However, their long-term use cannot be sustained due to inadequate pain relief, immune disturbances, and serious gastrointestinal and cardiovascular adverse events [R].
Turmeric Vs. Ibuprofen: The Problem With Ibuprofen
Ibuprofen is commonly taken to decrease exercise-induced pain and inflammation associated with injury. Many people (yes, I used to be one of these people) take Ibuprofen after a strenuous workout prophylactically as a safeguard against post-workout inflammation and muscle soreness. However, studies conducted over the last 10 years, have contributed to a growing body of evidence supporting the notion, that ibuprofen taken after a workout may be causing more harm than good, specifically to the GI tract in terms of damage and the musculoskeletal system in regards to muscle recovery, growth, and inflammation.
Recent studies suggest that Ibuprofen taken post workout can be causing damaging effects and symptoms such as
- Gastrointestinal Damage
- Compromised Absorption of Nutrients
- Slowed Muscle Growth And Muscle Recovery
- Higher Levels Of Systematic Inflammation
- Poor Tendon Health And Ligament Repair
For more information regarding the clinical studies on the damaging effects of ibuprofen taken post workout, read the related article below.
RELATED ARTICLE Should You Take Ibuprofen After Your Workout?
What Is Turmeric?
Turmeric is a rhizomatous herbaceous perennial plant (Curcuma longa). Sometimes referred to as Indian Saffron or the golden spice, Turmeric is part of the Ginger family and is a tall plant that grows in Southeast Asia and cultivated in India. The turmeric that you find in supplements is directly derived from the plant's roots. Through several studies, Turmeric been proven to provide countless health benefits from improving joint health and mobility, reducing exercise-induced inflammation and muscle soreness, thus enhancing recovery and performance.
Turmeric contains over 100 unique chemical properties that contribute to its countless therapeutic and anti-inflammatory effects. The most active ingredient in Turmeric is Curcumin a polyphenol that has been shown to target multiple signaling molecules at the cellular level. Curcumin is responsible for giving the turmeric root its beautiful yellow-orange color. Curcuminoids, the group of chemical compounds accountable for the health benefits of turmeric, include curcumin, demethoxycurcumin, and bisdemethoxycurcumin. Turmeric also contains volatile oils, including tumerone, artumerone, and zingiberene. Curcumin has been shown to have multiple health benefits, including inflammatory conditions, metabolic syndrome, and degenerative eye conditions.
RELATED ARTICLE The Health Benefits Of Turmeric
Despite the health benefits associated with Curcumin, the major problem with ingesting curcumin by itself is its poor bioavailability. Adding a digestive bioavailability enhancer such as Bioperine or piperine the major active component of black pepper can increase the bioavailability of curcumin by 2000%.
If you’re looking for a good turmeric supplement, make sure it’s 95% curcuma longa and that it contains piperine or BioPerine for optimal absorption. At Swolverine we add 5mg of Bioperine, to our Turmeric supplement for optimal absorption and bioavailability. Find out more about our Turmeric product below.
RELATED ARTICLE The Benefits Of BioPerine
RECOMMENDED PRODUCT Turmeric (750mg)
Turmeric Vs Ibuprofen: What The Research Says
The Journal Of Medicinal Foods conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of Randomized Clinical Trials of Turmeric and it’s active ingredient curcumin for treating arthritic pain, specifically its association with inflammation and joint pain. The major goal of arthritic treatment with anti-inflammatories such as Turmeric and Ibuprofen is to reduce joint pain induced by inflammation. Curcumin is a powerful constituent derived from Turmeric. Evidence suggests that curcumin has powerful anti-inflammatory effects and is a strong anti-oxidant, which can be used as a possible treatment for inflammation and post-workout joint pain.
In a randomized, double-blind noninferiority trial, the safety and efficacy were compared in Turmeric vs. Ibuprofen. 367 patients with knee osteoarthritis with a pain score of 5 or higher were randomized to receive ibuprofen 1,200 mg per day or Curcumin Domestica extract at 1,500 mg per day for 4 weeks.
Outcomes measured were joint pain, joint stiffness, and functional scores. The results indicated that Turmeric and curcumin extracts were non-inferior to ibuprofen. Both groups showed significant improvement in pain, inflammation, and functional scores when compared to baseline. The study concluded that curcumin is just as effective as ibuprofen on knee osteoarthritis inflammation and pain. Moreover, the turmeric group showed lower adverse effects on gastrointestinal health than the ibuprofen group [R, R]. This study shows that turmeric is just as effective, if not more as ibuprofen with less adverse effects.
In yet another randomized, double-blind trial 107 patients with knee osteoarthritis were administered either 800 mg of Ibuprofen per day, or 2g of curcumin for a period of 6 weeks. Outcomes were measured at weeks 0, 2, 4, and 6 and showed a significant improvement when compared with the baseline values in both groups. The study concluded that Turmeric vs Ibuprofen provides similar outcomes in efficacy on arthritic pain [R].
Turmeric Vs. Ibuprofen: The Takeaway
For years, I was taking Ibuprofen as an anti-inflammatory to help with increased exercise-induced muscle soreness and pain, post workout. However with the overwhelming and pivotal evidence supporting the fact, that Turmeric is just as effective as Ibuprofen for inflammation, joint mobility, and reducing pain (with less adverse effects and long term health effects) using turmeric instead of ibuprofen is a no brainer. There is definitely a need and a time to use NSAIDS for injury and pain. However, using them post-workout for inflammation and faster recovery is not the right time.
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Daily, James W et al. “Efficacy of Turmeric Extracts and Curcumin for Alleviating the Symptoms of Joint Arthritis: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Clinical Trials” Journal of medicinal food vol. 19,8 (2016): 717-29.
Kuptniratsaikul V, Dajpratham P, Taechaarpornkul W, et al. Efficacy and safety of Curcuma domesticaextracts compared with ibuprofen in patients with knee osteoarthritis: a multicenter study. Clin Interv Aging. 2014;9:451–458.
Perkins, Kimberly et al. “Efficacy of Curcuma for Treatment of Osteoarthritis”Journal of evidence-based complementary & alternative medicine vol. 22,1 (2016): 156-165.
Suokas AK, Sagar DR, Mapp PI, Chapman V, Walsh DA: Design, study quality and evidence of analgesic efficacy in studies of drugs in models of OA pain: A systematic review and a meta-analysis. Osteoarthritis Cartilage 2014;22:1207–1223
Schnitzer TJ: Update on guidelines for the treatment of chronic musculoskeletal pain. Clin Rheumatol2006;25 Suppl 1:S22–S29
Kuptniratsaikul V, Thanakhumtorn S, Chinswangwatanakul P, Wattanamongkonsil L, Thamlikitkul V.Efficacy and safety of Curcuma domestica extracts in patients with knee osteoarthritis. J Altern Complement Med. 2009;15:891–897.