There are several reasons why curcumin is special and has been studied so much. For example, it has been used for thousands of years in Asia in the same way Aspirin is currently used in the West. This is mainly because of the fact that curcumin has been found to have powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
Even though scientists have spent millions of dollars and many years developing and researching possible drugs for Alzheimer’s disease, it seems that one of the most popular spices in Indian cuisine may have quite a lot of potential as a promising treatment for this terrible disease.
Alzheimer’s affects more than five million Americans and is a progressive brain disorder that gradually destroys memory and eventually leads to dementia. Fortunately, scientists believe that curcumin, a compound that is only found in turmeric, can have positive effects on Alzheimer’s patients.
Turmeric is widely used in South Asian food, especially in Indian cuisine (this spice is almost popular in Iranian, Thai, and Nepalese cuisines.) However, turmeric is also used in traditional Asian medicine due to its powerful curative properties. If there is one thing that scientists have observed about the curative properties of food, it is that bright colors often mean power antioxidants present in an item. Curcumin is a powerful antioxidant that is present in turmeric and it gives this spice its bright yellow color. Similar to lycopene and carotene, found in tomatoes and carrots respectively, curcumine has powerful antioxidant properties that have a significant effect on the progress of Alzheimer’s disease. According to recent research, curcumin has an effect on beta amyloid plaque levels, a cause of Alzheimer’s. Curcumin can also prevent the buildup of this dangerous plaque in people that are yet not afflicted with this disease.
To visualize the progress of Alzheimer’s disease on an afflicted brain, it helps to imagine barnacles clinging to a boat’s hull or a rock. Similarly, amyloid beta is a protein fragment that can accumulate in the brain, causing plaque. Stopping the accumulation of plaque, or preventing it from building up in the first place can often help reverse Alzheimer’s symptoms as well as preventing Alzheimer’s from gaining hold in a person’s brain. In fact, most Alzheimer’s researchers believe that the key to preventing and curing Alzheimer’s disease is working on ways to prevent or reduce the build-up of amyloid beta plaque. This plaque alters how the person’s brain works by interfering with brain function. Too much plaque can cause or worsen dementia symptoms as well as other symptoms, such as memory loss.
Although eating lots of turmeric can be a way of getting a good dose of curcumin, it is also possible to buy curcumin extract which is usually sold in pill form. In fact, most Alzheimer’s disease research involving curcumin will use the pill form of this substance rather than giving subjects helpings of turmeric. In clinical trials involving curcumin, Alzheimer’s disease researchers observed that this antioxidant reduced the size of brain plaque in mice by about thirty percent. Most importantly, this significant reduction happened in the space of just one week! Alzheimer’s disease researchers have also noticed that turmeric, or curcumin more specifically, also has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. This means that this yummy spice may also have applications in preventing and treating other diseases and health issues, including arthritis, depression, and cardiovascular disease.
While curcumin taken alone can have powerful effects on the human body, it is possible to compound the effects of curcumin by taking vitamin D supplements. These two nutrients work together in stimulating the immune system. A specific immune cell that attacks and remove beta amyloid plaque is triggered by the presence of both of these substances. Of course, reducing brain plaque is not the only necessary step in curing Alzheimer’s disease, since there are many other factors associated with this disease. However, this is an important step in Alzheimer’s disease research. A thirty percent reduction in brain plaque and the corresponding reduction in Alzheimer’s disease symptoms should be celebrated and points to a very promising treatment for Alzheimer’s disease involving curcumin supplements. In fact, it is advised for Alzheimer’s disease patients or people that may be predisposed for this disease to incorporate turmeric into their diet regularly or to start taking curcumin supplements in order to help prevent the build-up of plaque in the brain.