As an Olympic rower, Dr. Rachelle Viinberg was no stranger to chronic injuries. With eighteen training sessions per week, some level of pain or discomfort was expected. At best the developing injury is minor. At worst it is a career ender. Three months out of the 2012 Olympics she faced the latter.
Fifteen years of grueling training and fierce selection won her a spot in the top ranked boat. Then disaster struck. she herniated my L4/L5 disc during weight training just a few days prior to the team announcement. In the past, this same injury sidelined her for an entire year.
She first heard about the powerful anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin (derived from the spice turmeric) during my medical training. However, She knew one of the limitations was absorption. Curcumin is insoluble in water, preventing dissolution of the particles in the aqueous environment of the intestinal tract. Consequently, these large undissolved particles do not pass through the endothelial cells in the intestinal wall and into the blood stream.
Fortunately, absorption technology has come a long way. By binding curcuminoids with phoshatidycholine, an essential component in cell walls, curcuminoids are now able to pass readily through the cell lipid bilayer and reach the blood stream.
With the deleterious effects of Non Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) in mind, she was completely open to giving high dose curcumin a try. What happened next was nothing short of extraordinary. she started out bed ridden, unable to even dress herself or drive a car. After taking 3 capsules (1.5g) 3-4 times per day, she progressed to being back on the water within three weeks, and fully recovered by five. Inflammation and Disease; the Dangers of Inflammation!
Now I don’t want to paint curcumin as magic. she had adjunctive treatment with some of the best chiropractors, physiotherapists and acupuncturists in the country. Yet even the medical team was shocked at her recovery rate, which was a far cry from my previous one year recovery time with the same injury.
Of course with her positive experience, she told many of my team mates suffering from chronic tendonitis due to repetitive strain. The mechanics of rowing caused the injury, and taking time off to heal was frowned upon so close to the Olympics. With the help of high dose curcumin many of them were able to bring the pain back to a low grade ache, and to maintain training on the water.
Curcumin does not benefit athletes only when they’re injured. Although a certain amount of inflammation post workout is a good thing and increases an adaptive response, curcumin is extremely effective in resolving delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). This is useful when you have to perform the next day, whether it is for team selection or international racing.
Her experience is not an isolated event. There are literally thousands of studies backing up the positive effects of curcumin. Currently I use it to treat clinents in my coaching practice with tremendous success for all inflammatory disorders, diabetes, and even depression, as it can pass the blood brain barrier.
Curcumin played a big part in expediting Rachelle’s healing process, thereby getting her to the Olympics to win a medal. It helped the team realize their potential, and it helps heal my clients with a high success rate. Magic? Perhaps not. Sound science? Definitely. TURMERIC TEA FOR PAIN-RELIEF (Recipe Included)
Excerpts from an article By: Dr. Rachelle Viinberg, BSc, ND, in AANMC