Turmeric and Alzheimer's Disease

Tumeric and Curcumin Information


General Turmeric

Using Turmeric as a Spice

Turmeric and Alzheimers

Turmeric as an Anti-Inflammatory

Turmeric and Arthritis

Turmeric and Atherosclerosis

Turmeric and Cancer

Turmeric and Cataracts

Turmeric and Cholesterol

Turmeric and Crohns Disease

Turmeric and Cystic Fibrosis

Turmeric and Liver Disease

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Research Updates

A team of researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles, led by Dr Sally Frautschy, are currently exploring the link between turmeric and certain neurodegenerative diseases.  Initial findings suggest that that turmeric could play a significant role in slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and other related conditions. 

Turmeric, a popular spice and a common ingredient in many Indian and South Asian dishes, has attracted attention in recent years as a potential treatment for a variety of neurodegenerative diseases.  Some studies have reported that, in certain parts of India, Alzheimer’s affects only a small minority of people—perhaps 1% of the elderly population.  In the United States, however, the Alzheimer’s Association reports that there are an estimated five million people living with the disease, which amounts to approximately 13% of adults over the age of sixty five.  Alzheimer’s is currently fifth leading cause of death for individuals aged sixty-five and older, as well as the seventh leading cause of death overall.  In addition to the emotional burdens placed on the relatives and caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients, health care costs related to Alzheimer’s disease, including Medicare and Medicaid costs, amount to over 148 billion dollars every year.

Alzheimer’s disease is one of a group of conditions called Dementia.  Dementia refers to disorders that cause irreversible cognitive decline resulting from biological mechanisms that damage brain cells.  While a healthy adult brain relies on around 100 billion neurons and 100 trillion synapses to conduct information quickly and efficiently from one area to another, the brain of an Alzheimer’s patient suffers from lack of information transfer at the synapses.  As the synapses decline and die, the brain shrinks from cell loss and the disease progresses unchecked until the patient dies.

Scientists do not yet know what causes Alzheimer’s, but one prominent theory is the “amyloid hypothesis,” which attributes the disease to a build-up of plaque in the brain.  A protein called beta-amyloid is thought to be responsible for this plaque.  Unknown factors are believed to trigger overproduction of the protein, and the brain is unable to dispose of it efficiently.  The plaque clogs the synapses, and prohibits the flow of the chemical pulses that transfer information, eventually leading to brain cell death.

Curcumin, the active compound in turmeric, because of its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, is believed to prevent the build-up of amyloid plaque in the brain, as well as reducing inflammation in the brain caused by the disease. 

In the UCLA study, a group of middle-aged and elderly rats were placed on a curcumin-rich diet, while simultaneously receiving injections of amyloid in their brains, in order to mimic the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.  The rats fed with curcumin demonstrated less evidence of amyloid plaque build-up than control groups.  Moreover, the curcumin-fed rats outperformed normal rats in a series of memory tests. 

The use of turmeric, especially in conjunction with other anti-inflammatory drugs, may prove to be a useful preventative treatment for Alzheimer’s, as well as potentially decreasing the symptoms of current patients and slowing the progress of the disease.


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