Turmeric May Help Prevent Alzheimer’s

June 08, 2009

The herb Turmeric, also known as Curcumin, might help fight Alzheimer’s disease, according to initial stages of a study and mounting evidence. The yellowish spice is a core ingredient in curry, and tests on laboratory rats have provided evidence that curry helps prevent dementia. Currently a human clinical trial is under way in California.

Dr. Murali Doraiswamy, director of the mental fitness laboratory at the Duke University Medical Center's psychiatry department, told a conference that Curcumin, the major antioxidant-polyphenol in Turmeric, appears to prevent the accumulation of amyloid plaques; a core pathological occurrence in the brains of Alzheimer’s diseased patients. The plaques are toxic proteins that interfere with the electrical signals between brain cells.

In animal trials, high doses of Curcumin not only prevented the plaques from forming but also dissolved existing plaques. “You can modify a mouse so that at about 12 months its brain is riddled with plaques,” Dr. Doraiswamy told United Kingdom’s Doncaster Free Press. “If you feed it a Curcumin-rich diet it dissolves these plaques. The same diet prevented younger mice from forming new plaques in the first place. “Studies looking at populations show that people who eat a curry meal two or three times a week seem to have a lower risk for dementia.” The research studies are testing higher doses to see if they can maximize the effect. It would be equivalent of going on a curry spree.”