Turmeric continues to impress with its growing list of potential health benefits. In addition to the well-known benefit of reducing inflammation, several new studies indicate that turmeric shows promise for improved cognitive health as well. Of course, further research needs to be done, but look at what has been discovered so far.
Reduced Alzheimer’s in India
In February 2010, the BBC reported on a village in northern India called Ballabrath that had an unusually low rate of Alzheimer’s within its population; lower than anywhere else in the world. University of Pittsburgh researchers had spent years testing more than 5,000 subjects over the age of 55. They found that the rate of Alzheimer’s in India was less than one-third of the rate in the U.S. What they found was that the diet in that village was mostly vegetarian, and traditional Indian cuisine containing curry, which contains turmeric. The conclusion was that turmeric may hold the key to dementia.
Animals and Alzheimer’s
A recent study appearing in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that curcumin (found in turmeric) supports neurogenerative health in transgenic mice, bred to get Alzheimer’s disease. Another study found that curcumin improved memory in amyloid infused rats. Amyloids are aggregates of proteins that become folded into a shape that allows many copies of that protein to stick together, forming fibrils. In the human body, amyloids have been linked to the development of various diseases, including Alzheimer’s.
People and Alzheimer’s
A study published in 2016, looked at eight studies involving Alzheimer’s and curcumin. Curcumin was found beneficial. Another review published in Geroscience, stated that in vitro and in vivo studies have found that curcumin can significantly decrease oxidative stress and systemic inflammation. One small human study, published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, looked at subjects between the ages of 50 and 95 who had mild memory issues. For 18 months they were randomly given 90 mg of curcumin twice each day or they were given a placebo. All the subjects were given standardized cognitive assessments at baseline and at six-month intervals. At the end of 18 months, memory test scores improved by 28% in the curcumin group compared to the controls. Curcumin may have cognitive benefits.
Human studies specific to curcumin and Alzheimer’s are limited at this point, but these few studies to date show promise.
Is Curcumin the Cure for Alzheimer’s?
Based on the handful of studies out there, curcumin looks promising in benefitting cognitive health. However, at this point, it’s simply too soon to say for certain how far turmeric can go in preventing or curing Alzheimer’s. With its overall impact on reducing inflammation, turmeric most certainly offers a range of health benefits and should be considered as an addition to a healthy routine.