Tendonitis is painful inflammation of one or more tendons. A tendon is a tough band of collagen-rich connective tissue that connects muscles to bones and enables them to handle force. This is similar to the idea of a shock absorber. Repetitive use, as occurs in many sports, can induce wear and tear to the point that tendons become inflamed and begin to accumulate progressive damage. One study shows that curcumin can turn off inflammation in tendon cells by modulating the core inflammatory gene signal, NF-kappaB. Researchers believe their findings on curcumin “offer scientists an important new lead in the treatment of these painful conditions through nutrition. Curcumin, and chemically-modified versions of it, should be the subject of future investigations and should be used as complementary therapy to reduce the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, the only drugs currently available for the treatment of tendonitis and various forms of arthritis.”
The study examined human tenocytes, carpenter cells within tendons that produce the collagen structures forming the tendon. Curcumin was able to stop inflammation in such a way as to prevent the occurrence of inflammatory signals that cause tissue matrix degradation. In other words, the longer the tendon is subject to ongoing inflammation, the more likely increased tissue damage or deterioration will occur. Clearly, curcumin can improve tenocyte function, especially under conditions of inflammatory stress.
This means that curcumin is synergistic with other tendon-supporting nutrients. I have previously reported that bromelain stimulates the formation of new tenocytes, thereby increasing the number of tendon-building carpenters on duty. I have also reported that hyaluronic acid can help tendons glide more easily, reducing another key aspect of tendon pain and inflammation.
This information is helpful to any athlete, anyone trying to achieve better fitness, and anyone recovering from an injury involving tendons.