The Spice Curcumin, in Use for Ages, Shows Great Promise
Curcumin, one of the four spices used to make Curry, is heavily used in India, where the
incidence of Alzheimer's is a fraction of what it is in the U.S. A.
Alzheimer's disease is one of the great problems of our times. Worldwide it affects nearly 30 million
people, a number which continues to rise... It is the subject of a great deal of Alzheimer's disease research.
While Alzheimer's disease cannot yet be cured, there is a growing body of evidence indicating that it
can be prevented or postponed. One simple, low-cost and surprisingly promising preventative identified by
Alzheimer's disease research is the spice curcumin, that gives Indian curries their golden color... And possibly
prolongs the Alzheimer's-free lives of those that consume it...
Alzheimer's disease is one of the effects of accumulated sticky clumps of proteins called beta-amyloid plaques
and tangles of tau protein in the brain. These are associated with the progressive death of neurons, nerve cells
vital to the brain's function.
These clumps and tangles begin to form early in life, while people are in their 30's and 40's. They are
often observed in the brains of adults of all ages who showed no signs of Alzheimer's before. Just why they form
and what triggers the transition to observable outward problems is still a mystery.
The problem of identifying the exact causes of this deadly, debilitating affliction is the subject of much
Alzheimer's disease research and investigation.
So far there is no cure for Alzheimer's, but there seem to be several paths to prevention that are very
One is the spice curcumin. Curcumin (diferulomethane) is an identified yellow pigment and potent polyphenolic
antioxidant with anti-inflammatory and cholesterol-lowering properties. It is found in organic solvent extracts
from turmeric root powder, and is used in Indian curries.
Alzheimer's disease research tells us that there is a reduced age-adjusted incidence and prevalence of the
condition in India. In short, Alzheimer's doesn't show up nearly as often in India as in the U.S. amongst people of
the same age groups. A possible explanation is that curry is an important part of the Indian diet.
This possibility caused Alzheimer's disease research to focus on curcumin, the ingredient that gives curry
its golden color.
Curcumin has a very interesting molecule that easily transits the blood-brain barrier and crosses over into the
brain. Early research has shown that curcumin binds to and even breaks up amyloid protein deposits.
Curcumin is also a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. It seems to reduce the damage from
amyloid protein accumulation.
Mouse studies showed that daily, small doses of curcumin had the best results. The equivalent dose of curcumin
in humans would be roughly 1,200 to 1,600 miligrams per day as a dietary supplement. That's about a half
tablespoon of spice powder. Somewhat surprisingly, higher doses had a reduced benefit.
Beneficial results in mice do not always translate over into similar benefits for humans. The physiology
of humans and mice differ in a number of ways. However, mice are short-lived mammals with many parallels to
humans. They are very useful in researching whole life-cycle diseases.
So curcumin is a safe, low cost and easy to use possible AD preventative. There is no known downside risk.
And Alzheimer's disease research is pointing out that, based on its effectiveness on several levels, its low cost
and its strong oral safety profile, curcumin is a promising candidate for AD prevention or therapy.
Besides, curries can be delicious! And it's fun, learning to cook with curcumin!