Best supplements for muscle pain
What natural supplements are used for the treatment of muscle pain?
Traditionally, there are numerous natural supplements are used to treat muscle pain. Few among them are proven effective in clinical and pre-clinical
studies. While buying these supplements, be sure that there is enough backing
of scientific literature to prove these are effective. We have listed below some
of these supplements along with relevant scientific studies providing the current
knowledge of these supplements in treating muscle pain.
Turmeric Extract - Curcumin
Curcumin is an isolate from the turmeric powder and is one of the most widely studied herbs on the earth. It has been used since ancient times in India for medicinal and culinary purpose.
Since last two decades, there has been lots of interest in this herb from the scientific community. There were more than 10000 scientific literature were found in Pubmed searching the term “curcumin”.
There were nearly 200 clinical trials were conducted and several are ongoing. There are few patents too using the curcumin for its pain relieving properties. It is widely accepted across the globe for treating pain and as per the statistics the sale of curcumin in USA may reach $ 433 mn by 2020.
As per the US department of health and human services and national center for complementary and integrative health, curcumin is safe to be used in amounts tested and higher doses for long term may cause gastrointestinal side effects. I consider it as one of the best supplements for muscle pain as it is proven in scientific studies [R][R][R][R].
Title of the study: Reduced inflammatory and muscle damage biomarkers following oral supplementation with bioavailable curcumin
Summary: This study was conducted in university of Texas, USA. Oral bioavailable curcumin was administered to 28 subjects at a dose of 400 mg per day. The finding of the study supports the curcumin use to reduce the exercise induced muscle damage symptoms and biological inflammation.
Title of the study: Curcumin supplementation likely
attenuates delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).
Summary: This study was performed at SportsMed Canterbury, New Zealand. In this double blind randomised crossover clinical trial, 2.5 g of oral curcumin twice a day was given to seventeen men. The oral curcumin reduced pain during single leg squat at post-exercise 24 hours and 48 hours. Oral curcumin attenuates delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) in the subjects, study concluded.
Title of the study: Reduction of delayed onset muscle soreness by a novel curcumin delivery system (Meriva®): a randomised, placebo-controlled trial
This study was conducted at Olympic Training Centre (CAR), Barcelona, Spain. This study uses novel form of the bioavailable curcumin. This is called as Herbosome or Phytosome. “Meriva” is a trademark of the company selling phytosomes of the curcumin. Phytosomes are considered to be more bioavailable than the simple curcumin. This novel form is nothing but curcumin-phospholipic complex. This complex has excellent absorption in the human body and makes the curcumin reach the site of action faster.
In this randomised, placebo controlled, single blind clinical study, 20 male volunteers were given curcumin (Phytosome) twice a day (equivalent to 200 mg BID). The subject received curcumin reported less pain in the lower limb and anterior portion of both the thighs. There was lower level of markers of muscle damage and inflammation in curcumin group. Results defended the potential role of curcumin in preventing muscle injury and delayed onset of muscle soreness (DOMS)
Considering these clinical reports, we can consider curcumin as one of the best supplements for muscle pain in humans. The product containing at least 200 mg of curcumin along with other supporting ingredients may be effective.
Zingiber Officinale Extract (Ginger)
Ginger is widely used as culinary herb in Ayurveda and folk medicine. It has wonderful benefits supported by scientific studies. It has powerful anti-inflammatory, antioxidant effects, muscle pain, prevents nausea, vomiting, lowers cholesterol levels, improves nerve functions, acts as antibacterial etc.
Below are few scientific studies highlighting its benefits in treating muscle pain. The special extract of ginger is patented (pending) for treatment of pain. It is one of the best supplements for muscle pain [R].
Title of the study: Ginger (Zingiber officinale) reduces muscle pain caused by eccentric exercise.
Summary: This study was performed in Georgia College and state university, Georgia, USA. The aim of the study was to find out the effect of ginger on muscle pain (both raw and heat treated ginger). This study was performed in total of 74 volunteers. Volunteers were given 2 g of herb (raw or heat treated) for 11 consecutive days. The study resulted in moderate to large reduction in muscle pain in participants following muscle injury caused by exercise.
Title of the study: Acute effects of dietary ginger on muscle pain induced by eccentric exercise
Summary: This study was also performed at Georgia College and state university, Georgia, USA. In this study a single dose of 2 g of zinziber officinale (Ginger) did not reduce the eccentric exercise induced muscle pain and inflammation after 45 minutes of administration. However, it successfully reduced day to day increase in muscle pain and inflammation. In this double blind, crossover clinical study, 2 g of ginger was given to the participant after 24 h and 48 hours of exercise.
The main observations from these studies are the dosage used are very large (2 g) and the herb part used is raw ginger root or heat treated. It can be suggested to use it as raw root or along with food but not as a supplement in the capsules. If you have to put this 2 gm of the ginger in capsules you may need 3-4 capsules (size “0” or “00). This may not be the best supplements for muscle pain but it certainly has beneficial effect in its raw form and at large dosage (2 g)
It has been reported that Vitamin D deficiency is commonly seen in the people suffering from chronic muscle pain. As per the reports there are 6 % of the people are deficient in Vitamin D.
This turns out to be 1 in every 20. It is very difficult to get sufficient vitamin D3 from food alone as most of the foods may not contain active form of vitamin D. The less exposure to sunlight during early morning time may cause deficiency of Vitamin D.
There have been several reports relating vitamin D deficiency with muscle pain. Hypovitaminosis D is commonly seen in elderly people living in northern latitudes. The vitamin D level below 50 nmol/l is linked to body weakness and 30 nmol/l is linked to muscle weakness. The novel controlled release formulation of vitamin D was patented by opko holdings llc. This invention provides controlled release of vitamin D over longer periods of time in the body ensuring constant vitamin D levels [R].
A review study published in osteoporosis international journal reports a supplementing of 800 IU of cholecalciferol along with 1200 mg of elemental calcium can significantly reduces fractures in elderly population with vitamin D deficiency.
A research article published in scandinavian journal of primary health care in 2010 reported an important observation related to vitamin D and musculoskeletal pain.
Study warns the general practitioners to maintain awareness of hypovitaminosis D in patients reporting headaches, musculoskeletal pain, fatigue and have minimal exposure to sun. There were around 15% of the patients with headache were deficient in vitamin D (less than 50 nmol/l).
Another study published in medical journal of Australia reports muscle pain as an indicator of vitamin D deficiency in urban Australian aboriginal population.
Physicians having facility to diagnose the deficiency are well placed to treat high risk patients and may be able contribute in improving their lifestyle. The vitamin D deficiency can be one of the main culprits in patients reporting chronic muscle pain.
If you are suffering from chronic muscle pain, it is suggested to look at your Vitamin D levels and supplementing with vitamin D can help you alleviate chronic muscle pain. Vitamin D is one of the best supplements for muscle pain is such situations. It is recommended to look into the product having vitamin D as one of their ingredient or separate vitamin D supplements for treating such chronic muscle pain.
Magnesium is needed for normal muscle contraction and relaxation. Persons with magnesium deficiency experience weakness in the muscles, feel tired and experience muscle spasms and decreased function of the muscle. Like vitamin D, the magnesium deficiency may also cause muscle pain.
Magnesium supplementation can be one of the best supplements for muscle pain and highly recommended to consider treating the deficiency. It is generally seen to be supplementing in fibromyalgia. Few relevant scientific studies are discussed below
Title of the study: Management of Fibromyalgia: Rationale for the Use of Magnesium and Malic Acid
In middle aged women, primary fibromyalgia is commonly seen. This might be due to the enhanced gluconeogenesis leading to breakdown of muscle proteins. It is also a result of lack of oxygen and other ingredients needed for ATP synthesis in the body. The study proposed this may be the direct cause of magnesium deficiency. In the study 15 patients with fibromyalgia are treated with 300-400 mg of magnesium for 8 weeks. There was subjective improvement within 48 hours of supplementation of magnesium and malic acid.
A case study published in Canadian family physician journal reports that the magnesium deficiency more common than expected. Study suggests including a magnesium deficiency diagnosis in the patients reporting persistent/severe muscle pain. This article discusses the deficiency of the magnesium in 2 patients and its severity of symptoms.
Another scientific study titled” Tension headaches and muscle tension: is there a role for magnesium?” Carried out at Department of Medicine and The Center for Cardiovascular and Muscle Research, New York, USA, show that magnesium metabolism and supplementation plays important role in the etiology and treatment of tension type of headache and muscle tension.
There are 70% of patients with tension type of headache exhibit muscular tenderness and tightness. This is linked to magnesium supplementation and deficiency. Study reports, the magnesium deficient state is associated with release of pain mediators, muscle cramps, muscle damage or strains, muscle tension and tension type of headache. Magnesium supplementation offers great benefit to the sufferers of these conditions.
Like vitamin D, magnesium deficiency also to be treated in the patients reporting chronic muscle pain. Supplementing with these could help to the greater extent for the patients. Supplement products with these ingredients could be better choice.
Bromelain is a digestive enzyme abundantly found in pineapple. Traditionally, it is been used as potential anti-inflammatory agent and in prevention of swelling and edema. The scientific studies demonstrated that it exhibits activities like fibrinolytic, antithrombotic, anti-edenomous and anti-inflammatory properties. It is also found to relieve muscle pain, osteoarthritic pain and help in cardiovascular disorders.
A review study published in 2012 reported that it also has anticancerous activities by promoting apoptotic cell death. Bromelain containing supplements can be considered for chronic muscle pain management giving additional benefits of digestion to the patients.
Glucosamine Sulfate Powder
Glucosamine is naturally occurring compound in the body. It is mainly present in the tissues and fluids that surround the joints. It can be synthesized in laboratory or extracted from shell fish naturally. There are several studies proving its potential use in prevention of pain in osteoarthritis. The long term administration of glucosamine sulphate in osteoarthritis patients can reduce their dependence on NSAID’s considerably and improve the quality of life of the patients by reducing NSAID side effects.
Another clinical study conducted in at University of Siena, Italy, for 12 weeks with daily dosage of glucosamine sulphate, a major component of human joints, 1500 mg QD resulted in significant reduction in joint pain and functioning. The patients experienced the carryover effect even after stopping the treatment.
Methyl Sulfonyl Methane (MSM)
Methylsulfonyl methane is one of the best supplements for muscle and joint pain. It is been used extensively for treating pain and inflammation. It is found naturally in several vegetables, fruits, grains and in animal urine. It is available as dietary supplement in tablet, capsule and powder form.
The general dosage used in scientific studies is 1000 mg to 3000 mg per day with meals. A pilot study published by Helfgott Research Institute, National College of Natural Medicine, Portland, USA, reported, MSM significantly reduced post exercise induced muscle and joint pain. The dose used was 3 gram per day and thirty two healthy volunteers were participated in the study.
Another clinical study, published in 2017, reports the MSM reduced significantly the oxidative stress and muscle damage after exercise in both male and female participants. The MSM at a dose of 3 gram per day was administered for 21 days and two days after the race. The blood samples were collected from the participants and analysed for markers of oxidative stress and muscle damage. MSM supplementation attenuated post-exercise muscle and joint pain at clinically, significant levels.
Pain is nothing but an unpleasant sensation. It can also be an emotional experience or the feeling of unpleasantness linked to tissue damage. The feeling of pain can be different from person to person. It can exist for short time or long time in the body. It may remain at particular part of the body or spread completely throughout. Whatever it is, it is unwanted experience.
Acute pain: As the name indicates, it is acute and short lived. It alerts the person to the local damage caused to his/her tissues.
Somatic pain: Somatic pain is felt on the skin or felt superficially
Visceral pain: As name indicates it originates in the visceral organs (internal) and in the body cavities
Referred pain: Here pain is referred to other organ. Actual damage is in one organ but the pain felt is in another organ.
Chronic pain: This is chronic in nature and often lasts for long period of time. The perfect examples can be arthritic pain and migraine pain.
Neuropathic pain: Damage to the nerves causes nerve or neuropathic pain
Muscle pain: Here some muscles experience pain. It can originate from any of the muscles of the body. The scientific terminology used popularly among medical community is Myalgia. Muscle pain can lead to tenderness, redness and swelling.
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