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Could This Ancient Spice Hold The Secret To Preventing Alzheimer’s?

For decades researchers have been searching for ways to treat and cure Alzheimer’s disease with very little to show for it. 

As the disease rages on claiming more and more victims, desperate people have tried a variety of remedies ranging from drugs to nutritional supplements and everything in between. 

One recent finding of note is the understanding that amyloid-beta proteins build up in the brain and are not properly cleared out when a person begins to suffer from dementia. This in turn causes plaques to form and blocks neuron communication. 

Therefore, anything that shows the promise of breaking down amyloid-beta plaques shows potential for treating the disease. 

More recently, an ancient spice used in middle eastern cuisine has been found to have these properties. Turmeric, initially used as a dye and an alternative medicine, has been gaining ground in the field of neuroscience as new studies are performed. 

It appears that a compound found inside this spice has been showing great promise in the treatment of a variety of medical conditions. Curcumin, a turmeric extract has long been known to be a powerful anti-inflammatory as well as a potent anti-oxidant. 

And now, it has been shown to fight against the causes of Alzheimer’s disease.

So far, there is no conclusive evidence that curcumin prevents Alzheimer’s, but so far, the research is promising. 

In vitro studies show that curcumin is capable of breaking down the amyloid-beta plaques associated with Alzheimer’s disease. 

And in a few small human trial’s the results have been similar. 

In one study, 40 people aged 50 to 90 took either 90-milligram daily curcumin supplements or a placebo for 18 months and were then given memory tests.1

Those in the control group saw only minor improvement in their test scores (most likely due to an increasing familiarity with the test format), followed by a steeper decline. 

Those taking turmeric, on the other hand, saw a 28-percent increase in overall memory function. Levels on depression also remained unchanged for the control group, while those in the turmeric group showed improved mood. Later on, brain scans revealed lower levels of amyloid and tau protein accumulation in those taking turmeric.

“Exactly how curcumin exerts its effects is not certain, but it may be due to its ability to reduce brain inflammation, which has been linked to both Alzheimer’s disease and major depression,” said Gary Small, from the University of California, Los Angeles. “These results suggest that taking this relatively safe form of curcumin could provide meaningful cognitive benefits over the years.”

Here Are 7 Ways Turmeric
Helps Prevent Alzheimer’s

Turmeric and its active ingredient curcumin have been shown to benefit those with Alzheimer’s in multiple ways, here are 7.

1. It Prevents Accumulation Of Beta Amyloid Plaques

Curcumin has been shown to inhibit the formation of beta amyloid plaques. It does this by blocking the action of one of the core proteins that contribute to their formation. 

In animal studies, curcumin has also been shown to reduce the aggregation of amyloid plaques as well. 

Essentially, curcumin has anti-amyloidogenic properties- and prevents the formation of amyloid beta plaques. It also assists in the clearance of amyloid proteins and inhibits the aggregation of tau protein in Alzheimer’s disease.

2. It Naturally Reduces Inflammation

Inflammation of the brain is observed in Alzheimer’s disease.

This inflammation is typically due to trauma, exposure to oxidative agents, infection and formation of beta amyloid plaques.

In one study published in the Journal of Neuroscience, researchers from UCLA showed that curcumin can be a natural alternative to NSAIDs and help reduce neuroinflammation.2

In a different study published in Neurochemistry International showed curcumin to be one of the most promising ways to reduce inflammation in Alzheimer’s.3

Curcumin naturally helps to reduce inflammation in the brain and protects nerve cells from the degeneration associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

3. Improves Antioxidant Defense

Exposure to heavy metals can increase the risk of accumulation of these metals in the brain. This can trigger massive amounts of inflammation and the accumulation of amyloid beta plaques in the brain.

In one study published in Current Alzheimer’s Research, curcumin derivatives were found to inhibit the accumulation of these heavy metals in Alzheimer’s diseases.4

In a different study published in Food Chemistry researchers evaluated several different dietary antioxidants in Alzheimer’s.5

Curcumin was found to be beneficial in several ways, including the removal of heavy metals. 

Curcumin’s antioxidant capabilities allow it to scavenge free radical species, reactive oxygen species and heavy metal ions. The overall effect is the protection of nerve cells in Alzheimer’s.

4. It Offers A Neuroprotective Effect

In a paper published in Current Medicinal Chemistry, researchers comment on the fact that curcumin can serve as a neuroprotective (protecting the brain) agent in Alzheimer’s disease due to its anti-amyloidogenic, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidative, and metal chelating properties.6

Turmeric as well as curcumin provide natural neuroprotective capabilities and help improve cognitive function in neurodegenerative diseases.

5. Protects Memory And Cognition

Research proves that curcumin enhances memory in those with Alzheimer’s.7 

Curcumin can protect nerve cells, while improving learning and memory capabilities.

In one study published in Plos One, a group of Chinese researchers found that curcumin may improve cognitive function in Alzheimer’s disease by elevating the levels of a protein that supports nerve growth.8

Multiple clinical studies demonstrate that curcumin has the potential to protect cognitive function in elderly.

6. Boosts Your Immune Response

Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by certain failures in the immune system. Normally, the immune system clears amyloid beta plaques but in Alzheimer’s this process is compromised. 

Researchers from The Biomolecular Research Institute in San Diego found that a natural curcuminoid restores immune function in Alzheimer’s and stimulates immune cells to clear amyloid beta plaques.9

What this means is that Curcuminoids appear to enhance immune system function which in turn helps to clear amyloid beta plaques.

7. Prevents Alzheimer’s

Taking turmeric protects the aging brain which may explain why India has a lower incidence of neurodegenerative disorders than the USA.

In an article published in British Journal of Nutrition the authors suggest that curcumin can prevent Alzheimer’s disease.10

They base their assumption on the facts that Curcumin prevents the deposition of beta amyloid plaques, affect its metabolism and prevents cognitive dysfunction.

Researchers from Ohio State University published a study in Nutrition Journal, revealing that low dose supplementation of curcumin with lipids (fat) in healthy individuals results in lower levels of plasma beta amyloid.

Can turmeric/curcumin clinically help in Alzheimer’s disease?

Approximately 5.4 million Americans are affected with Alzheimer’s, 5.2 million above the age of 65 while the remaining suffer from early onset Alzheimer’s.

Turmeric has been shown to benefit those suffering with Alzheimer’s through its neuroprotective action, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity. 

Taking turmeric daily can reduce prevalence of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.

Research supports the fact that curcumin and turmeric have multiple benefits that can be very therapeutic in Alzheimer’s. However more clinical studies are needed to confirm the effectiveness of turmeric and curcumin treatment in Alzheimer’s disease in the long-term. 

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References:

1. Hopper, Leigh. "Curcumin Improves Memory And Mood, New UCLA Study Says." UCLA Newsroom. N.p., 2018.

2. Lim, Giselle P. et al. "The Curry Spice Curcumin Reduces Oxidative Damage And Amyloid Pathology In An Alzheimer Transgenic Mouse." The Journal of Neuroscience 21.21 (2001): 8370-8377.

3. Venigalla, Madhuri et al. "Novel Promising Therapeutics Against Chronic Neuroinflammation And Neurodegeneration In Alzheimer's Disease." Neurochemistry International 95 (2016): 63-74.

4. Kochi, Akiko et al. "Inhibitory Activity Of Curcumin Derivatives Towards Metal-Free And Metal-Induced Amyloid-β Aggregation." Current Alzheimer Research 12.5 (2015): 415-423.

5. Chan, Stephen et al. "Metal Chelation, Radical Scavenging And Inhibition Of Aβ42 Fibrillation By Food Constituents In Relation To Alzheimer’S Disease." Food Chemistry 199 (2016): 185-194.

6. Chin, Dawn et al. "Neuroprotective Properties Of Curcumin In Alzheimer's Disease – Merits And Limitations." Current Medicinal Chemistry 20.32 (2013): 3955-3985.

7. Ahmed, T., S.A. Enam, and A.H. Gilani. "Curcuminoids Enhance Memory In An Amyloid-Infused Rat Model Of Alzheimer's Disease." Neuroscience 169.3 (2010): 1296-1306.

8. Zhang, Lu et al. "Curcumin Improves Amyloid Β-Peptide (1-42) Induced Spatial Memory Deficits Through BDNF-ERK Signaling Pathway." PLOS ONE 10.6 (2015): e0131525.

9. Cashman, John R et al. "Immune Defects In Alzheimer's Disease: New Medications Development." BMC Neuroscience 9.Suppl 2 (2008): S13.

10. Goozee, K. G. et al. "Examining The Potential Clinical Value Of Curcumin In The Prevention And Diagnosis Of Alzheimer’S Disease." British Journal of Nutrition 115.03 (2015): 449-465.

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