Got Sore Tendons! Curry Can Help

August 26, 2011

Got Sore Tendons! Curry Can Help 

 ReferenceJournal of Biological Chemistry 286(32):28556-28566, 2011 Competency:  Inflammation 

 Curry and sore tendons!  The connections here seem a little weak.  That’s what caught my eye.  How can curry help my sore thumb?  I’ve had tendonitis in it for a couple of months after straining it opening a jar.  A lot of us get tendonitis as we get older.  Pain around a joint, particularly with use, with a tender spot that hurts when you strain the joint is a pretty sure sign that you have an inflamed tendon.  Your elbow, thumb, shoulder, knee, heal, wrist may all be affected.   It can last for months and months and be rather annoying.  That limitation, not always serious, can spiral into real trouble when it causes a fall or limits your ability to react to a sudden unexpected event.  Plus it just plain hurts and keeps you from doing things you want to do. 

 What’s the curry connection?  Dr. Ali Mobasheri from the University of Nottingham in England took cells from tendons in tissue culture and created experimental inflammation.  That inflammation could be inhibited by curcumin.  He found that it down-regulated interleukin-1beta-induced inflammation and the gene products that mediate matrix degradation, prostanoid production, apoptosis, and stimulation of cell survival.  (That’s a mouthful!)  He said, “we believe that it could offer scientists an important new lead in the treatment of these painful conditions through nutrition”.   This could be the beginning of new drugs to replace NSAIDs. 

 Turning his language into English goes as follows.  We know that curcumin, the yellow color of curry powder and mustard, is a potent inhibitor of NFkB.  (pronounced NF kappa B)  And you should know that NFkB is the central controller for inflammation inside your cell.  NFkB has a protein fragment attached to it that is essentially its activation lock.  When it’s attached, it can’t turn on.  When it becomes detached through inflammation signals coming from outside the cell, NFkB then starts all the cascades in your cells that spiral into inflammation.  

Curcumin puts a headlock on NFkB and keeps it silent.  No inflammation, no activation of prostanoids, of interleukin-1 beta, no matrix degradation etc. The key idea for us to know here is that NFkB is being increasingly fingered in processes that don’t serve us well.  It’s an important controller for proper inflammation, like when you are fighting an infection. But when it turns on and doesn’t turn off, we have achy tendons for months at a time.  And curcumin keeps it from turning on.  Will this cure our current tendonitis?  Probably not right away.  It may help over a month or so.  I’m giving it a try. 

 WWW.  What will work for me?  I try and eat curry a couple of times a month.  And I take curcumin as a supplement.  Hasn’t cured my current tendonitis.  But I’m going to watch this story and see if curcumin doesn’t replace all those NSAIDS that tear my stomach up.  We need something new on this front.

Written by Dr John E Whitcomb, MD, Brookfield Longevity, Brookfield, WI 53045