Delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS, is something every athlete has experienced. Most of us have a love-hate relationship with it. DOMS is a pain, literally, but you can’t tell me you don’t enjoy massaging a sore muscle a day or two after a tough workout. The worst part of DOMS, however, is the associated loss of strength and function. Not only does it make you want to avoid exercising that muscle again, but even if you did, you wouldn’t be as strong.


One of the major components of DOMS is inflammation of the tissues. For this reason, anti-inflammatory strategies like massage, supplementation, or over-the-counter drugs are frequently suggested for reducing symptoms. In a recent study in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, researchers looked at the anti-inflammatory effects of anatabine supplementation as a possible method for reducing DOMS.


Anatabine is an alkaloid found in the Solanacaea family of plants, which includes eggplant and peppers. It is, however, better known for being chemically similar to nicotine, and can be found in tobacco. Anatabine has recently been making waves for its ability to reduce inflammation, including brain inflammation that is associated with Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers in this study proposed that it may also be a boon for frequent DOMS sufferers.

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There are many studies out there dealing with DOMS and how to best alleviate it. There are many more home remedies you've probably heard from a guy at the gym. While some of these remedies may seem to speed up recovery, nothing seems to work as well as we’d all like. The researchers of this study thought anatabine would be different.


But alas, much like those remedies that came before it, anatabine failed to show a benefit. The researchers didn’t look at just pain. They also examined resting joint angle, strength, blood pressure, heart rate, and muscle circumference. But in the end, they were forced to conclude that the anatabine pills shouldn’t start rolling off the trucks to your local supplement stores. And I mean it when I say that, since a few of the researchers worked for pharmaceutical and nutrition companies, one of which was the primary reviewer and designer of the study.


Unless these companies were trying to knock out a competitor, it looks like the evil powers that sometimes control the results of studies like this took the day off. Nothing magical here. DOMS is still a problem we will have to resolve with a massage and time.


The good news is, we won’t start seeing cigarette and eggplant flavored workout shakes at the gym. Anatabine isn’t the holy grail of eliminating DOMS. However, the researchers did suggest further study into the effects of anatabine on chronic inflammation, which is often found in obese people, to improve overall health. The future may hold bright things for anatabine, but for now, it will remain on the sidelines.



1. Nathaniel Jenkins, et. al., “The effects of anatabine on non-invasive indicators of muscle damage: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study,” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 2013, 10:33.


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