A study published August 21, 2017 in the journal Acta Physiologica, conducted by Swedish researchers, found that the anti-inflammatory drug ibuprofen inhibits muscle growth. These results are quite significant, for the simple fact that many athletes, gym rats and bodybuilders may take ibuprofen for pain and inflammation before and after workouts.
Researchers tested a group of individuals aged 18-35 and found that ibuprofen stopped them from building muscle (muscle hypertrophy). Dr. Tommy Lundberg, lead author of the study, recommends that people who do weight training and want to increase muscle mass avoid high doses of ibuprofen or any anti-inflammatory drugs.
The researchers also found that muscle strength was impaired by high doses of ibuprofen. The researchers chose ibuprofen because it is the most well studied anti-inflammatory drug on the market.
This research suggests that muscular inflammation along with weight training are required for the development of new muscle mass. This study was done using young subjects. We don’t know if these results will be the same in older people with sarcopenia (muscle wasting with age). Some research suggests that muscle loss with age is the result of excess inflammation, the total opposite effect.
The bottom line is that the body needs some inflammation— not only for building muscle in the young, but also for proper and healthy immune function. Inflammation is also needed for killing harmful viruses and bacteria.
Unfortunately, excessive inflammation has been linked to degenerative diseases such as heart disease, cancer and many autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid and osteoarthritis. Ibuprofen and other anti-inflammatory drugs inhibit hormone-like compounds called prostaglandins that are required for muscle growth and recovery. When people take ibuprofen, they suppress these inflammatory prostaglandins (PGE-2/PGF-2) and inflammatory cytokines, such as tumor necrosis factor (TNF) and interleukin (IL-6)— consequently, reducing inflammation and suppressing muscle growth.
Recent research has also shown that ibuprofen and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) could contribute to heart attacks, cardiovascular disease, strokes and kidney injury, which is just another reason why you should avoid excessive use!
Will an anti-inflammatory Mediterranean diet— consisting of healthy fats such as olive oil, fish oil, beans, legumes, fruits, vegetables and nuts, which are rich in anti-inflammatory compounds— have a less than optimal effect on muscle growth and strength? The Mediterranean diet has been shown to prevent many diseases such as heart disease through its anti-inflammatory benefits.
Fuel for thought: what’s good for bodybuilding (inflammation) may not be best for optimal health!