Definition: "An ergogenic aid is any substance or phenomenon that enhances performance "
Curcumin boosts positive effect of exercise on blood vessels
At the start of the programme the researchers got 22 subjects to walk or cycle for 30 minutes three times a week at 60 percent of their maximal heart rate. At the end of the test the women were doing 40-60 minutes at 70-75 percent of their maximal heart rate.
Eleven women did the exercise only [Exercise]. Eleven other women exercised and also took a daily 150 mg curcumin [Curcumin]. The women used Theracurmin, a product manufactured by the Japanese Theravalues Corporation. According to the manufacturer the body absorbs this form of curcumin better than regular curcumin.
A control group consisting of another ten women did nothing at all [Control].
Before starting on the exercise programme and at the end the researchers measured the women's flow-mediated dilation. They closed off a blood vessel in the arm, and then released it so that the blood could flow freely and measured the extent to which the blood vessels widened. The bigger the widening, the healthier the blood vessels.
The researchers showed a greater success in another publication, from a study in which they had looked at a different indicator of blood vessel health: the carotid arterial compliance. [Am J Hypertens. 2012 Jun; 25(6): 651-6.]
The carotids are the blood vessels that supply the brain with blood. Because the brain's blood vessels are vulnerable, the carotids have to be able to supply large quantities of blood, but at the same time the blood pressure in the brain mustn't get too high. They achieve this by widening. The higher the carotid arterial compliance is the suppler the carotids are and the better they do their work. Ageing causes a reduction in the carotid arterial compliance, and this speeds up after the menopause.
The figure below shows that exercise increased carotid arterial compliance, and that curcumin supplementation boosted this effect significantly. Click on the figure for a larger version.
How curcumin boosts the effects of exercise the Japanese researchers don't know. They speculate that curcumin blocks the effect of the inflammatory protein TNF-alpha, but have no data to back this up.
"Regular curcumin ingestion and aerobic exercise may be effective lifestyle modifications for minimizing and reversing the loss of carotid arterial compliance with advancing age in women."