Rare ingredient in Turmeric may stimulate brain healing

October 14, 2014

Rare ingredient in Turmeric may stimulate brain healing

     The curry herb Turmeric has well known anti-inflammatory activities and is regarded as very safe making it an ideal supplement for joint tenderness. These pain reducing effects are provided by the curcuminoids content of the plant. However, scientists have recently found that the essential oil component may be very effective in rejuvenating brain tissue, an activity which is important for the brain diseases seen in aging. Unfortunately, most turmeric supplements lack these essential oil components.

Dr Ralph Martins is a world renowned Alzheimer’s researcher and he is using a form of curcumin called BioCurcumin in his yearlong study of patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Winner of the 2010 “Australian of the Year" award, Dr Martins is credited, in collaboration with Australian and German scientists, with isolating the destructive form of beta amyloid, a protein which forms the plaque deposits in the brain of Alzheimer’s patients, a characteristic diagnostic feature.    

Dr Martins is the director at the Centre of Excellence for Alzheimer’s Disease Research and Care, Edith Cowan University. He stated

     Curcumin studies in animal models of Alzheimer’s disease have demonstrated it can play a significant role in the destruction of beta amyloid plaque. It is also an antioxidant in the brain, with an ORAC value of 159,277 per 100 gm, as determined by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Studies have shown curcumin plays a role in neuronal regeneration. All these properties contribute to its potential utility in addressing this brain disease. Dr Martin then went on to demonstrate the Alzheimer’s brain is under oxidative stress which is now recognized to mediate the action of beta amyloid to cause Alzheimer’s and that Curcumin may alleviate this type of damage through it’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities.

Indeed, research from UCLA has shown that Curcumin is one of the very few natural ingredients that have potential for entering the brain and untangling the damaging beta-amyloid found in many brain diseases.

New research indicates that a particular oil in Turmeric may actually heal the brain which is something that Dr Martins has observed in his previous studies in animals. In this new study from the Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine in Julich, Germany, researchers have found that an essential oil known as Ar-Tumerone actually stimulates repair of grey matter in animals; this is where the neurons are located, which are the thinking, memory, problem solving cells in humans. In us humans two parts of the brain are involved with neurogenesis, or the growth of neurons (the subventricular zone and the hippocampus).

In the experiment adult rats were observed using PET imaging and a tracer to detect cell activity. When the rats were injected with Ar-Tumerone they found that the subventricular zone and the hippocampus had expanded. According to Dr Adele Reuger, the lead researcher of the study “While several substances have been described to promote stem cell proliferation in the brain, fewer drugs additionally promote the differentiation of stem cells into neurons, which constitutes a major goal in regenerative medicine. Our findings on Ar-Tumerone take us one step closer to achieving this goal”.

In a separate study by the same researcher’s neural stem cells from fetal animals; Ar-Tumerone was shown to increase neuronal stem cells by up to 80% within a 72-hour period.

BioCurcumin, the form chosen by Dr Martins contains large amounts of Curcuminoids and this is in an extremely well absorbed form according to the research from Baylor University. Additionally it has a large amount of Turmeric essential oils – up to 9% with a good part of this (about 50%) being Ar-Tumerone and its metabolites.