Creatine has anti-inflammatory properties: it tempers inflammation caused by free radicals, at least exercise related inflammation. The results of a study (90) of creatine’s effect on muscle soreness and inflammation “indicate that creatine supplementation reduced cell damage and inflammation after an exhaustive, intense race.” The study used experienced runners performing in a 30-kilometer race. The subjects were broken into two groups, a test/creatine group and a parallel/control group. The first group was given 20 gram of creatine and 15 grams of maltodextrine per day for five days prior to the race, and the control/parallel group was given only the maltodexrine for five days prior to the race. The researchers looked for signs of inflammation and soreness in the muscles (blood was taken looking for: creatine kinase, lactate dehydrogenase, prostaglandin E2, tumor necrosis factor-alpha) in all participants both before and after the 30 Km race. Blood samples were re-taken directly after the race, and at the 24-hour post race mark. The results showed the following: the treatment /creatine group had only a 19% increase in creatine kinase for the treatment/creatine group, vs a 400% increase in creatine kinase for controls; no change in lactate dehydrogenase plasma concentration for treatment/creatine vs. a 43% increase in lactate dehydrogenase in the control group; a 61% increase in prostaglandin E2 for treatment/creatine group vs. a 600% increase in prostaglandin E2 for controls; and a tumor necrosis factor-alpha increase of 34% for treatment/creatine vs. a 200% increase in tumor necrosis factor-alpha for the controls. And, no one in the treatment group reported any side effects.
Preliminary studies (using animals) demonstrated that creatine (either taken by mouth or injected) decreased the inflammatory response in several different models of acute inflammation. This is proving to be true in studies of chronic inflammation as well. Arthritis for instance has been shown to benefit from creatine treatment in animal models/studies (92). And, studies with people are also indicating that these effects help treat post-exertion/exercise related muscle-based inflammation. Creatine has been shown, in two different animal studies, to have favorable effects on the progression of arthritis. Most importantly, regarding inflammation, human trials have shown these effects to translate to exercise; studies have demonstrated that creatine reduced markers of inflammation following an Iron Man style triathlon (90), a thirty-kilometer food race (93), and an aerobic (running) test (94).
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Creatine can also reduce fatigue and tiredness (23). This is because it can improve energy production within cells while also increasing dopamine levels. Dopamine is both a neurotransmitter and a hormone, depending on where it is found in the body. It is used in the brain to send signals from one cell to another. It is associated with motivation as well as motor control and the release of numerous hormones. Regarding creatine’s role in fatigue reduction, one study of fatigue, testing the use of creatine by athletes taking a cycling test in high heat, found that it did reduce fatigue (58;59). Regarding fatigue and the effects of creatine, a study looking at how creatine impacted dizziness on those suffering from traumatic brain injury, found that while 80% of the control group reported fatigue, only 10% of the test (creatine) group did (23). Regarding dizziness, creatine supplements reduced this by 50% (23). A study on sleep deprivation noted that creatine supplements reduced fatigue while increasing energy levels (24). Creatine helps guard against heat related fatigue during exercise as well as lowering the amount of sweat produced and helping the body to better regulate temperature (60). In one study of male athletes, 21 endurance trained volunteer who were not used to training in high heat and who had not taken creatine for 8 weeks prior to the study, were broken into two groups. Before being given creatine or a placebo/sham the athletes trained for seven days to exhaustion (constant load exercise). They were then broken into two groups. The creatine/test group received 5 grams of creating four times a day, plus 35 grams of carbohydrates, for seven days. The other/control group received 40 grams of carbohydrates four times per day or 160 grams in total, for seven days, the time needed to move the creatine into the muscles. After taking the creatine long enough to get into the muscles the tests were performed again. The findings: the creatine/test groups’ time to exhaustion became significantly longer, and their body mass increased, they also experienced a significant change(lowering) in the body temperature of the creatine/test group as well as a significant decrease in the rate of sweat they produces. The finding was that creatine induced an improvement in the water content of the body, called hyperhydration, which resulted in a more efficient thermoregulatory response. This is the body’s ability to maintain a consistent temperature or to regulate its temperature, even when it is different from the environment, and example is sweating in heat.
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