Science Update

Recent Review Explores the Impact of Nutraceuticals on Tendon Health and the Inflammatory Response

Tendinitis is a condition of the tendons involving an inflammatory response. It can often involve pain, swelling, and limitations in function. A recently published review article by Mueller and colleagues investigated the relationship between certain nutraceuticals, tendinitis, and the inflammatory response.  

Curcumin is a polyphenolic compound derived from turmeric (Curcuma longa) and is used both medicinally and as a spice. Curcumin and curcuminoids have been shown to support a healthy response to oxidative stress and inflammation within the body. An animal study explored the efficacy of curcuminoid administration on tendon health in diabetic rat models. Significant reductions in oxidative stress and improvements in biomarkers related to collagen health and the attenuation of accumulation of advanced glycation end products were observed. Glycation can lead to the formation of end products that can cause increases in collagen crosslinking and loss of tendon flexibility. 

Another animal study showed curcumin helped promote collagen I and II synthesis and support tendon healing and regeneration. Curcumin was also shown to help prevent tendon calcification and promote tenogenesis in other murine studies.  

Green tea contains epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), a constituent that has been shown to support health in many ways. The role of EGCG in support of collagen and tendon health has been studied in animal and laboratory settings. In one murine study, the administration of EGCG was shown to help support the synthesis of glycosaminoglycans and components of the extracellular matrix and to help promote recovery from Achilles tendinitis. Another animal study reported improvements in recovery from Achilles tendinitis, which were believed to be attributed to the supportive role of EGCG in modulation of certain inflammatory cytokines, including interleukin (IL)-1 beta. EGCG was also shown to slow collagen aging through the inhibition of crosslinking in a mouse study. 

Flavonoids, such as genistein, were also reported by Mueller and colleagues for their potential to support tendon health. Genistein is a flavonoid derived from legumes, such as fava beans and soybeans. Genisten has been shown to support bone and cellular health and the body’s response to inflammation. Studies show that genistein may influence pro-inflammatory cytokines, such as tumor necrosis factor-alpha, IL-1ꞵ, and IL-6. A murine study showed that genistein played a protective role in Achilles tendon ovariectomy-induced collagen reduction. Another animal study reported enhanced tendon function in the presence of genistein. Quercetin, another flavonoid, was shown in murine studies to help prevent tendon tissue adhesion and collagenase-induced tendon damage.  

Although more research is needed, particularly in human studies, the article by Mueller and colleagues suggests that certain nutraceuticals may support tendon health and the body’s response to inflammation.  

By Colleen Ambrose, ND, MAT