Olympic answer to joint problems
L AST year’s Olympic and Paralympic Games showed us just how far you can push the human body.
Now Olympic physiotherapists and Premier League football coaches are recommending turmeric as the best way to keep joints in lifelong working order.
A turmeric supplement is being used to reduce the risk of inflammation caused by intensive training, and to treat damaged joints without exposing athletes to the problems caused by over-the-counter painkillers.
It has already been used by stars from FC Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao, and is being tried out at Barcelona’s Olympic Training Centre as well as in other centres in Britain and France. ‘We are always looking for something that’s better than paracetamol or aspirin, which don’t work very well and cause side-effects,’ says Francek Drobnic, head of research at the Barcelona centre.
The powerful effect of the plant extract on joint health has also been welcomed by doctors, who are concerned about the side-effects of long-term painkiller use.
The rise of turmeric came about because many scientists noticed that populations with high intakes of turmeric as a curry spice have lower rates of arthritis and joint damage.
The key element of turmeric, called curcumin, comes from the underground stems of the turmeric plant.
Scientific studies found that turmeric works by interrupting mechanisms involved in joint inflammation and arthritis. Until now it has been difficult to boost the body’s absorption of natural turmeric sufficiently for it to have a really rapid effect on aches and pains.
That has all changed with the launch of a formulation, supported by Cambridge scientists, that combines turmeric with soy lecithin.
This combination, which now has 22 published clinical research papers to confirm its effect, is 30 times more ‘bioavailable,’ or better absorbed, than natural turmeric alone.
Longer-term studies are expected to show that the turmeric formulation is the most effective treatment for joint health currently available.